Saturday, June 18, 2011
My head is still spinning a bit after listening to three solid days worth of speeches and panels at Netroots Nation, but some things have become clearer. Activists on the left are less focused on President Obama and his agenda, and have moved on to more fundamental issues. What I heard over and over again this weekend were references to the battles of Wisconsin and other states to beat back the Republican assault on public employees' right to collective bargaining; the battles on a national level over the Republican plan to modify Medicare; and the corruption of politics on all levels by corporate money. Obviously, it was the mid-term election of 2010 that brought all these issues to the fore, and the Republican resurgence in 2010 has galvanized a powerful counter-backlash centered around these issues.
Nothing could represent a more frontal assault on cherished Democratic values than the Republican attacks on collective bargaining rights and Medicare. When the Republicans came after these most basic cornerstones of the Democratic program, they should have expected a major fight. And they are getting one. So in a sense we have moved backwards, from thinking about the new politics of working together to devise consensus solutions for the common good represented by the Obama administration, to good old fashioned knock-down, drag out fights to preserve the most important achievements of the New Deal and the Great Society many years ago.
(Video: Rep. Keith Ellison closing speech)