I think Cenk Uygur’s post on Huffington Post today is a really important marker that people who are about the progressive movement and moving the Democratic Party to the left should read. After conceding that Obama is, more than anything else, a cautious politician who will naturally move to the center in any debate, Uygur moves to how the progressive base should be responding.
The next time Obama pushes a corporate agenda, progressives have to knock him upside the head. Deny him. Or as the kids would say, send his shit. And make a big stink out of it. Draw everyone’s attention to how far right Obama is and how out of whack he is with the American people.If that scares you and you start to worry about damaging a Democratic president, you’re never going to win at this game. You’re never going to get the policies you want. They don’t listen to reason, they listen to power.
If you don’t move the island, the rest is futile. You have to shift the ground underneath them. And the only way to do that is to create such a strong and aggressive progressive movement that they cannot help but notice it – and respond to it. Move the center and you’ll move Obama. And he’ll move the country. There is no other choice.
I think this is pretty important analysis. Obama isn’t going to move to the left on his own – doing so would mean he’d have to fight with conservative and centrist Democrats to make them do something. He is averse to that sort of action. Instead, he has to be made to understand that the progressive base’s support is plastic and will shift away from him if he continues to ignore it. The surest way of demonstrating this is for progressives to create a space for him to occupy more to the left – to move the Overton Window and create enough space for him to move without having to actually fight for it himself.
Uygur thinks the best place to do this is in the fight for financial regulation and I think he’s right. The added bonus is that beyond the Democratic Party being to the left of Obama on it, the entire country is already substantially supportive of serious regulation of Wall Street. There will be real opportunities here; hopefully leaders on the left seize them and try to force Obama to the left for the good of the country and his presidency.