Obama's second term: 'a diverse group of people are working on a
progressive agenda within the Demo Party that demands a second New Deal.'
By Mark Rudd
October 9, 2008
I'm thinking a lot about the 2012 election, for Obama's second term.
All of his advisors are Clintonites, ie., Republican lite. They did
nothing to reverse the privatization, anti-union, free market trend
begun under Reagan, quite the contrary. They laid the basis for the
current wars, accomplishing next to nothing toward diplomacy and
international law. They will inevitably fail to rescue the economy
from depression and will win no war in Afghanistan or anywhere else.
But meanwhile, a diverse group of people are working on a progressive
agenda within the Demo Party that demands a second New Deal (with
disarmament and international law). That's our four year goal. It
will take that long to set up an infrastructure for the Demo Party
that will do what the right-wing think tanks did for the Republicans.
They took power and held it for twenty years and dominated the
intervening eight with a network that included university endowments,
publications, prizes, fellowships, radio and tv stations, internet
outlets. They even had whole universities of their own with schools
to feed them.
Of course one big difference is that the Repubs for the last 35 years
have had a single unifying concept, to shrink government (except for
the military) and let the markets rip. The strategy was to create a
coalition of ideological conservatives and Christian conservatives.
What's the left's unifying concept? What's its winning strategy? The
most common formula I hear is the reversal of Reagan's dogma: the
state, as the concentration of the democratic whole, has the
responsibility to use its resources to help the citizens and the
planet. The coalition to achieve power for this concept is much less clear.
People in the progressive political class are beginning to build a
progressive infrastructure in the Demo party. Good examples are Media
Matters, the Center for Independent Media, with a network of ten
statewide online newspapers. There are funding organizations coming
into existence behind them. Many other institutions and outlets are
in place, mostly small and on the young side, which is great. But
this infrastructure needs to expand very quickly to challenge the
center-rightists of the party, who have been in power since at least
1992, actually longer. They're a legacy of the McGovern defeat of
1972. At the Democratic National Convention in Denver I saw no
indication that this new progressive infrastructure was even noticed
by those in power. Not even a tip of the hat. Tom Hayden says that
not one Obama foreign policy advisor is an anti-interventionist or of
the peace camp.
The Republicans are leaving Obama with such a mess that free-market,
trickle down remedies will fail and will have been exposed as
bankrupt, corrupt, and insufficient: the wars will continue, at least
in Afghanistan, if Obama makes good on his campaign promise. So the
reelection campaign four years from now will be an historic opening
for the progressive agenda. This will be equally true if, perish the
thought, McCain/Palin are elected. But in that case the right-wing
populist movementracist and militaristwill be much stronger than
had it not been nurtured by the government.
Sooner or later there will be a power struggle within the Demo party
between the progressives and the rightists, the Clinton/DLC wing. It
won't be pretty, but it has to be, just as the conservatives had to
wrest the Republican party away from the Rockefeller wing. It's still
not clear who "we" are. This election will go far to solving that problem.
For over a year, Tom Hayden's been urging people to think about the
movement necessary to push Obama to the left. That's our goal. The
Obama field campaign has been making good progress at building actual
grass-root electoral organization. I haven't seen the peace movement
do anything comparable in the last five years, have you? The top
down, progressive infrastructure model has zero chance of working
unless there's a movement at the base. Obama has built that structure
and will maintain it. We'd better be in it or near it or we're out in the cold.
Is all this obvious and known by everyone, or does it bear further discussion?