Obama's president. Now, make him do it!
Okay, everybody: Back to work.
If you're a progressive, your work isn't supporting everything Obama does in the name of unity, or always deferring your agenda to what someone would have you believe is the greater good.
It's to keep on organizing to create constituencies that will compel Obama to govern like a progressive. I'm reminded of an anecdote about Franklin Roosevelt's relationship to his progressive base:
"FDR was, of course, a consummate political leader. In one situation, a group came to him urging specific actions in support of a cause in which they deeply believed. He replied: I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it," William J. vanden Heuvel, 2002.
Obama's opponents--the Republican hacks, the religious fringe, the crony capitalists, the corporate welfare bums, and the corporate state dead-enders--will never stop badgering him from the right. If the left doesn't keep up at least equal and opposite pressure, Obama will cave to the right every time as a matter of political necessity.
Lately, I've heard the leaders of liberal interest groups talking about shifting from being opposition groups to being power players within the larger Democratic coalition. Often, this means keeping up, or stepping up, their organizing efforts in order to consolidate their power. Good thing, too. It's not enough to have a seat--it's all about what you bring to the table and what you can take away, if you don't get what you want.
The Chamber of Commerce isn't powerful just because it represents a wealthy contingency, nor lot of powerful people were (and are) sympathetic to its agenda. The Chamber is powerful because it's well-organized.
Whenever a policy threatens the Chambers' interests, its supporters will call the White House and members of Congress and write op/eds and disseminate talking points and generally make a nuisance of itself until it gets its own way. It helps that the Chamber has a lot of money to pay for extras like ads and lobbyists and lawyers, but the basic pressure tactics are cheap and endlessly adaptable.
The Obama campaign itself is the ultimate proof of concept for small-dollar fund raising and online organizing.
Of all people, President Obama respects and understands the power of grassroots organizing. It's not enough to trust that he will follow through on his promises, we have to be in a position to insist that he does.
Progressives will always be the loyal opposition.
[Photo: Here's an image from what seems like a long time ago, when Barack Obama spoke to a small group of bloggers at Yearly Kos 2 in Chicago in 2007.]