This article was originally published at The Huffington Post.
Based on his 2008 campaign and 2009 exigencies, Barack Obama’s mandate includes two huge and imminent priorities–an unprecedented “stimulus” to revive the economy and a plan that gets us out of Iraq.
Eighteen months ago, John Podesta, head of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and I agreed to collaborate on Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President, a volume that gathered together the best progressive scholars, advocates and experts to specifically describe, agency-by-agency, what a progressive, forty-fourth president could do on Day One, Year One, Term One. John had to recuse himself in August after he was tapped to head Obama’s transition team–so this month CAPAF and my New Democracy organization published the results–progressive leaders pooling their best ideas and practices into a program we call “progressive patriotism.”
As Obama prepares to take his oath, expectations are sky-high. Rightly so. The planets appear to be in alignment for a possible political realignment: Obama won by triple Bush’s last margin; conservative stock is at Lehman Brothers levels, after a preventive war of choice, a deregulated economic meltdown and the conservative compassion of Hurricane Katrina. Democrats now enjoy a 10 percentage point edge in voter registration, which is likely to grow, given minority, youth and suburban professional trends; Democrats appear more united than any time in recent memory, with no obvious DLC-MoveOn.org fights over wars or deficits. And there’s an authentic crisis that trumps pious platitudes about the free market and “family values.”
Now, rather than stale left-right debates, there’s a new mainstream for more progressive values, as surely represented by the shift of thirteen US Senate seats and fifty-four House seats over two Congressional elections. This may not be 1932, but it’s a bigger attitudinal shift than the one in 1980 to Reagan and “Reagan Democrats,” when National Review publisher Bill Rusher prematurely gloated, “Liberalism is dead.”
Anticipating this shift, our Citizens Transition Project developed scores of workable solutions, built on four cornerstones: more democracy, diplomacy, economic opportunity and green-collar jobs. Since ad hoc policy-making can peter out unless the public sees changes being thematically interconnected–like the “New Deal”–we linked proposals to these core values of progressive patriotism. Especially after what Jared Bernstein called the failure of YO-YO (You’re On Your Own) conservatism, what could be more pro-American than the idea of progress?