What Now, Mr Obama?

Now that he’s safely reelected, will Obama quietly approve the Keystone XL pipeline, or will he insist that it be rerouted away from the Ogalalla aquifer? Will he continue to invite the dismantling of the social safety nets, or provide for their future?

Like every progressive, Juan Cole has a wish list — Top Ten Wish List Progressives should Press on President Obama — which he prefaces with:

President Obama’s reelection should mean more to progressives than simply dodging the bullet of a Romney presidency indebted to the Tea Party. Democratic politics has to be more than relief, while playing Russian Roulette, that this time we got the empty chamber. Progressives are a significant wing of the Democratic Party, and if we continue to be ignored, the party will ultimately falter.

True enough, but being significant means more than just voting, more even than electioneering. Being significant means organizing, sitting through boring meetings and demonstrating in the streets. Some of our younger people learned about these firsthand in the Occupy rallies, but many are still disaffected. Cole continues:

Clearly, Obama does not have progressive instincts, and prefers to rule from the center.

I think Obama does have some progressive instincts, and some conservative instincts, but both are tempered by his political pragmatism. As shown in the recent election, a lot of the people that own America do not support Obama, maybe because he is part African, maybe because he is a Democrat, maybe because they truly believe their Libertarian or Tea Party dogma. Whatever the reason, he has to govern and deal with all those people that don’t agree with him, too. And many of them don’t seem all that devoted to the success of the United States.

In addition, the nation that Obama governs is no longer the spectacularly wealthy and growing empire of the 20th century. Though our government and media deny it, our sources of cheap energy are depleted, our competitors are leaner and more effective, we have made many, many enemies and we are making more every day. We spend our fortune on defense only to maintain the status quo. We are starting to feel the effects of climate change.

While I also have a wish list, I don’t expect Obama to suddenly morph into Dr Jill Stein. He can do more, though, if we fight for those goals ourselves.

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