Clearly, Obama does not have progressive instincts, and prefers to rule from the center. This impulse is wrong-headed, since the center didn’t man his campaign offices or make phone calls for him. Ruling from the center means taking his base for granted while reaching out to relatively conservative constituencies. This tactic is why we don’t have a single-payer health insurance plan. It is why Wall Street reform has consisted of half-measures. It is why we are imposing a financial blockade on Iran that could easily spiral into a war. When it comes to the arch-conservatives, for the most part, Obama has never learned to just say ‘no.’
It does not help that Obama will face virtually the same, obstructionist Tea Party House of Representatives that stymied him for the past two years. Instead of going to them and asking how he could make them happy, he has to threaten to make an all-out push to turn them out of office in 2014 if they continue to say ‘no’ to everything.
Progressives will have to push Obama to the left if we are to get what we want. This situation is nothing new– FDR’s New Deal would not have amounted to much if workers hadn’t engaged in widespread wildcat strikes and if people had not resorted to civil disobedience.