How progressives can move Obama to the left

Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, has an idea on how progressives can move President Barack Obama to the left:

As things stand, Howard Dean is perceived to be to the left of all of the Democratic senators in Washington (not because he’s more liberal than Bernie Sanders or Harry Reid; it’s because unlike them, he’s willing to fight for his positions (sorry Bernie, at this point, it’s true)). That’s unconscionable. Washington has shifted so far right that Dean is considered some sort of wild-eyed liberal. We have to move it back if we are to have any hope that Obama will move further left (and much closer to the true center of the country).

So, how do we do this? It’s not pretty, but it’s necessary. We have to attack Obama relentlessly from the left. Right now he is a giant that is unmoved by anything in his left flank, he keeps looking to his right and ducking and worrying and moving to accommodate them. They are so loud and so visible. It’s hard to miss them. We have to make him look left. We have to shake him off his foundation.

As Uygur notes, the White House has been largely dismissive of progressives, with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel explaining to the Wall Street Journal that the White House has nothing to worry about from the left. Perhaps it’s time the White House had something to worry about from the left, because this administration – which was elected thanks in large part to progressives – shouldn’t take the left for granted.


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4 thoughts on “How progressives can move Obama to the left

  1. There are far more voters in the center than on the left. We just tend to be quieter, because we have less to complain about. Obama isn’t going to lose the center in order to placate a noisier left. Progressives who keep attacking Obama from the left and support third party candidates instead are no different from the Naderites who claimed there was “no difference” between Al Gore and George W. Bush. They are entitled to their opinions, but they will lose credibility with the center-dwelling majority. I wonder how many Naderites still believe that there was no difference between Gore and Bush?

    1. Jill, you’re absolutely right that there are many more voters in the center than on the left, but I don’t believe that means that a Democratic president should simply ignore those voters on the left who helped elect him. I don’t believe there should be a movement for a third party on the left to challenge President Obama, but I do believe progressive need to remind President Obama of the promises he made to progressives as candidate Obama.

  2. By all means, remind him of his promises. However, to “attack Obama relentlessly from the left” will simply result in a loss of credibility and respect, in my opinion. Progressives need to choose their battles and support their arguments with facts, not emotion. Otherwise, they will simply become mirror images of the tea-partiers.

  3. The center is a pretty vague concept though, it’s not as if there is a united centrist ideology. And really, more people lean right or left when it comes down to it.

    I think the criticism. to be successful, has to be issue focused. I don’t think that most people will care if we offer a sort of ideological-purity based criticism (like Obama isn’t progressive enough). Instead we should focus on policy issue stuff. For example, an insurance mandate without a public option is basically a gift to the insurance companies and is total BS. Or the lack of price control measures on prescription drugs. A ban on re-importation is ridiculous.

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