Posted by rflacks on:
I'm writing this a couple of hours before the Obama Oval Office speech, which is being hyped as a key to the future of his presidency. The progressive blogosphere is hoping that he'll push strongly for energy/climate policy that really pushes toward alternatives. It's a tough act to bring off since he also has to show his leadership in dealing with the Gulf catastrophe as such.
Obama is maybe asserting new leadership on jobs as well. He's called on congress to pass a $50 billion dollar jobs bill that involves support for state and local government and protecting teachers and public safety workers as well as restoring help for the long term unemployed. Media reports congressional leaders reacted coldly, having decided to be scared of the mounting deficit hawker. It's the deficit talk rather than the deficit that is truly scary; as Bob Herbert said today, it's as if you were managing to drive a car up a steep hill with the gas pedal down to the floor and told to take your foot off the pedal just before you get to the top. So its admirable that Obama now is calling for a major jobs bill, but he will have to fight for it . His pedagogical skills with respect to the deficit question need to be displayed as well as his determination to struggle.
I've been hoping to some major grassroots mobilization in this regard. A good sign is the apparent intention of the NAACP and a major SEIU local of a march on Washington for jobs to be called for October 10. The idea however is being resisted by politicos who say that organizing for a march will distract from the need to organize for the congressional election campaign.
The constant warning drumbeats that the Democrats will lose big in those elections have been amplified today by release of an NPR poll, which called likely voters in 60 districts that are regarded as battlegrounds (districts that have been toss-ups between the two parties in recent elections). The poll shows voters in these districts favoring Republicans and disapproving of Pres. Obama. Buried in the reporting oin this poll is that the likely voter sample was heavily weighted toward voters over 60 and greatly under represented young voters. That feature of the poll is the most useful aspect of it for Democrats and progressives: it indicates that the task for the fall is to reach those voters who are most hurt by the recession and at the same time least likely to turn out.
Isn't it possible that organizing by labor and minority rights activists for jobs is a primary way of reaching out to such potential voters? Isn't there a way to frame a march so that it contributes to understanding of what's at stake? Of course, it will be hard to produce that turnout in behalf of blue dog candidates who won't support a jobs program. But it seems evident that the jobs question has to become a real struggle even to change the electoral future. As far as I can tell the so-called 10-10-10 march hasn't yet been made real.
Another potentially positive development in California, as we speak. Assembly speaker John Perez has announced a"California Jobs Budget" challenging the draconian budget disaster Gov Arnold has proposed. Perez' plan is centered on the creation of an oil severance tax and postpones a variety of fairly outrageous corporate tax cuts. He proposes to save thousands of jobs in education, and stop Arnold's proposals to shred the social safety net. As far as I can tell, it's the most progressive initiative that a legislative leader has taken recently in this state.
I'll stop here with this: the news is bad, the times are tough, the poisoning of democracy is astonishing. But I submit that we not buy the media story that the ‘public' is hostile to progressive change. We've just finished a primary election in our county that resulted in progressive victories despite the fact that the electorate was weighted toward the GOP. Organizing pays off, it appears.