I know it’s hard to move on, but I really hope that in the months and weeks leading up to January 20th, this community will not focus its attention single-mindedly on every rumor of Obama cabinet appointments or even every toothsome morsel of gossip about Republican backbiting and infighting.
It seems there are three main responses progressives and leftists are taking to the new administration-in-formation.
The first is the classic honeymoon:
Cut the guy some slack, he’s got a lot on his plate. Already the election has had a transforming effect on the mood of people in the country and more good stuff is on the way. Now is not the time to be tugging his coattails.
[Crossposted at Docudharma]
The second is to try and lobby or bring direct pressure to bear on the Obama/Biden team, the Congressional Dems and/or the Democratic Party machine around a broad agenda or, more commonly a particular issue. In particular, This takes the form of trying to call in markers by forces who worked hard to produce the Obama landslide. The clearest example is the drive announced by the Change to Win union coalition to get the Employee Free Choice Act "card check" law passed in the first 100 days of the new administration. The AFL-CIO, for its part, is calling for a million EFCA petition signatures to be delivered on Inauguration Day. Similar calls have been launched by health care reform groups, (The push here to defend the 50 state strategy and its organizing core seems to fall into this category.)
The third is the one I want to argue for. It has already been modeled modeled by the Proposition 8 activists in California and their supporters around the country in the wake of Tuesday’s vote.. They chose a target, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (a/k/a the Mormon Church), and lit it up with militant demonstrations, extensive muckraking exposure of the facts, and public online debate over, and planning for, a possible boycott of Utah.
I would characterize this third option as creating a firestorm of struggles, locally-based in the main, around critical issues. These will by and large not make the administration-to-be their main target but will create facts on the ground in terms of social unrest among important sections of the people, which will have to be factored into their planning and policy-making.
A couple of additional points on this strategic approach:
- Those arguing for the second approach should bear in mind the FISA battle of this spring, when folks across the left liberal blogosphere, a sector Obama owed bigtime, fought urgently to get him to stand up for constitutional rule in this country. A broad united front of progressives, liberals, civil liberties advocates and libertarians was quickly built. Funds were raised and teevee ads even made. What his backers got from Obama was one live-blog session with some staffers defending his unconscionable support for the Bush-engineered FISA bill, which passed.
- Some may object that this doesn’t deal with the big picture can be made, but let’s take the example of the global economic meltdown and the rapidly deepening depression in this country. Obama’s seventeen-advisor panel is drawn from the very clowns and crooks who dragged the world into this mess. The best thing that could happen before the inauguration would be a wave of protests—against plant closings here, foreclosures there, tuition hikes on campus, service cuts in broke communities. The bankers, the automakers, the shippers are already whispering in every ear they can find, amplifying their urgency with "common sense" and the rustle of lobbying cash. We have to show that listening to them has real social costs as well as fiscal ones.
- The worst thing about Obama for many of his supporters was his "tough guy" military stance, The promise of an eventual substantial withdrawal from Iraq—providing the high command agrees—is more than undercut by his pledge to dump thousands more troops into Afghanistan (the Graveyard of Empires, going back millennia) and "plans to increase the size of the Army by 65,000 soldiers and the Marines by 27,000 troops." It is time for the anti-war movement, which has done so much to crystallize opposition to the occupation of Iraq (and thus to turn the public away from the Republicans), to step up again. Troops are dying, Iraqis are dying. The war has brought unimaginable devastation to their country and costs ours $2.5 billion a week. We can’t wait for Inauguration Day to make our voices heard. A good place to start is the Iraq Moratorium. This locally-based Third Friday protest will be observed by groups and individuals around the country on November 21, for the fifteenth straight month. Make plans to take part now!