Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I don't think America is ready for a "revolution" (whatever that means), nor do I think Obama is likely to deliver one by his own effort.  What he might be, however, is a catalyst for larger changes -- the right symbol at the right time that can spark the necessary realignment.  Much of politics is a matter of timing, and, to his credit, Obama clearly has (at least in my view) a phenomenal sense of timing.

Obama the Candidacy (not Obama the Guy) is a product of many different forces at play, both old and new, in both philosophical and practical terms.  The Obama campaign is, for all practical purposes, what the Dean campaign was supposed to look like but never could for a variety of reasons.  Obama and his people, to the surprise of many (myself included), just happen to be a hell of a lot better at organizing than Dean and his people were.  They're better funded, too.  And Obama is much better than Dean was at tying his basic program into a broader theme, and, yes, that's important in a presidential campaign.  Obama's coalition is essentially a more mature version of Dean's coalition, albeit much broader.

I think America is generally angry and depressed, as well as increasingly worried for obvious reasons.  I wouldn't put it at a revolutionary mood, just as I wouldn't have quite called the country anti-war at this point in 2004.  (It was close, but it wasn't quite there yet.)  The mood is changing faster this time, though, and, by the time the election rolls in, we might be there.  I get the sense that the country has had enough of the Republicans and their policies, and is ready to give the Dems full control.  So the degree of change is wholly dependent upon (1) the Democrats selling a program well enough to gain a large majority, and (2) having the guts to implement said program.

The Obama candidacy can do that.  The frustrating thing, for me, about Obama is that he's probably the most talented politician to come along since Roosevelt.  Here's someone who really could deliver massive changes if his skills were properly directed.  But, as of this point in time, they have not been.

Whether they will be eventually, I don't know, but best to not get one's hopes up.  He could be Jimmy Carter, after all.  But, then again, if he governs half as well as he campaigns, he could be FDR.  We'll see.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 09:01:45 AM EST
Drew, the Dems don't really have a program. They have a marketing strategy. There's a huge difference.
Sure, there are isolated pockets of sentience in the US political universe, but ---how much has John Conyers been able to accomplish, with all the good intentions and skills in the world? Or Feingold?

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 09:14:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, but, while they're undoubtedly cowards in general, it's also true that they can't accomplish much without a Democratic president.  I think next year we're likely to see at least a new Senate Majority Leader, because Harry Reid seems to have worn out his welcome.  (I'm hoping for Chris Dodd and dreading the prospect of Hillary Clinton.)  If it's Dodd, it'll be a step in the right direction.  That's not to say that Dodd is some kind of uber-liberal, but I think it's fair to say that he's not gutless.

Getting rid of Reid and Pelosi would be a good start.  I'm less optimistic about ditching Pelosi, since she seems to have a good bit more support among her colleagues, and knowing that she's earned at least some praise from the grassroots on issues like FISA thus far, even if she's been gutless on other issues.

We all know that with a Dem president and larger majority in Congress, health care will be a big issue.  (I'm not optimistic about bills like HR676 passing, but I do think we'll get something at least reasonably good.  Then again, if by some miracle Democrats grew a set and passed it, you can be sure the president would sign it.)  Iraq will be less of an issue, since the president controls the troops, and the Republicans thus can't really do anything but whine on it.  Beyond that, the program they should concentrate on should include the following: An infrastructure initiative, as a means to fixing things that need to be fixed while also coping with the recession and getting the energy plans out and rolling; rebalancing the tax code, and in particular, raising the capital gains tax and wiping out (or at least substantially raising) the cap on payroll taxes; and then perhaps one or two more big issues.

It's typically the case that a president will only accomplish two or three big things.  Doing those things in the first term would, in my view, be reasonable and make for an overall strong success.  More might be done, but I think that's putting the bar up at a decent level.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 09:36:30 AM EST
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