Saturday, June 20, 2009

We've Got Your Back, Mr. President

By now, many democrats have found some or several reasons to feel disappointed with the President and his administration; that he’s too compromising or too timid on health care, financial reform, union rights, gay rights, immigration and more.

Yet most of us still clearly see a remarkably talented leader with enormous potential.

Republican strategy - a familiar replay of their nasty and torrid attacks on President Clinton and Senator Kerry – is already succeeding in peeling away some support among independents. Democrats are confounded by their options.

What’s the best way to blunt republican criticism and help Obama succeed with Congress and the public?

Choices being made right now will have enormous political and historical consequences.

My approach is to give this president tremendous latitude to decide how to tackle these challenges.

I know how difficult it is to subordinate deeply held values and principles for a vaguely authoritarian notion such as loyalty.

My tendency to defer is based partly on having spent 25 years in the Labor Movement and a willingness to accept the premise that what workers want is not based on my vision of their world, but on their experience of their own lives. Likewise, I usually accord union leaders - notwithstanding the enormous range of talent, commitment and integrity among them - a great deal of respect.

The point is that I’m used to living with very imperfect solutions, engineered by very imperfect leaders on behalf of members whose values may be quite different from mine.

Progressive democrats right now may be feeling that President Obama is losing his bearings, and that he’s giving away too much, too soon. Maybe so.

But it is extraordinarily difficult to shift power, resources and opportunities from economic elites toward workers - and to do it in a political culture skeptical of government and collective action.

I’m convinced that that’s what our President wants to do. And I’m with him 100 percent of the way.

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