Of all the attempts to analyze the post-election “now what?” question, by far, the clearest-headed effort has come from Peter Dreier, a professor of politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He composed his thoughts in an email that he sent to friends, family and colleagues, and now this email is going viral. Here’s an excerpt:
Amazingly, as Harold Meyerson notes in today’s Washington Post, Americans who blamed Wall Street for the nation’s economic problems favored Republicans over Democrats by a 14% margin!! It is time to reframe the debate over which party is in Wall Street’s pocket!
In his column Tuesday, Robert Reich reminds us that during FDR’s first term, almost every major business organization and leader, as well as almost every daily newspaper in America, attacked his New Deal ideas — such as Social Security and the National Labor Relations Act — as unwarranted “big government” and even “socialism.” During his re-election campaign in 1936, FDR mobilized public opinion against his political enemies. “Never before have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today,” he thundered. “They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.” FDR won re-election in a landslide. Reich suggests that Obama and progressives should follow FDR’s example.
Obama’s biggest victory (which the Republicans now hope to repeal) was the passage of the historic health care reform. As I wrote last May in the American Prospect, that victory happened because progressive groups — unions, consumer groups, community organizing groups, and others — mounted a grassroots protest campaign that saved the health care bill from defeat. The activists focused public attention on the influence and greed of the insurance industry, and gave wavering Democrats, including the President, the support they needed to push for a reform bill. Progressives and liberals need to sustain an permanent protest campaign focusing on the outrageous greed, irresponsible practices, and political influence-peddling of big business. It would help if the President and the Democratic leaders were partners in this “inside/outside” strategy.
In an op-ed in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, Marshall Ganz, who helped design Obama’s grassroots organizing effort in 2008, argues that Obama needs to find his voice as an inspiring “transformational” leader, and, in doing so, help unleash the potential power of his 2008 supporters.
We need to constantly reframe the public debate to remind Americans that the Republicans, like Cong. John Boehner (the likely next Speaker of the House) and Sen. Mitchell McConnell, are wholly-owned subsidies of corporate America. That’s where they get their money. That’s their agenda. In case you’ve forgotten already, here it is again.
Boehner, McConnell, and their corporate sponsors have already declared war on Obama, the Democrats, and any attempt to tame corporate abuses, or reduce income inequality and poverty. McConnell today repeated that his top priority in Congress is to make Obama a one-term President. As Ganz, Reich, and others have written, this is no time for Obama and the Democrats to compromise principles for the sake of an illusionary bi-partisan consensus. Boehner, McConnell, DeMint and the other Republican leaders have absolutely no interest in bipartisan compromises.
Read more: Thinking Through and Beyond the Election
Thanks for the heads up, James McCardle!