Obama’s First 100 Days:
The Situation and
Tasks of the Left
By Carl Davidson
Asking for a Report Card on Obama’s first 100 days is easy enough—as long as your don’t take it too seriously.
First figure out the vantage point from which you want to grade him. Women’s Rights and Green Jobs people will measure him differently than, say, the peace movement. Then measure him with a combination of his campaign promises and how he contrasts with McCain or Bush.
This approach will easily give him a C+ or even a B, but it doesn’t tell us much other than it was a good idea to vote for him. But this is not what matters most.For the left, the wars matter most, and on these he gets a D-. He’s just barely better than Bush in Iraq, and doing worse in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If he doesn’t seize one of his caveats and reverse course, this will destroy his presidency.
On the financial crisis, he gets a C-. First, because he’s got something going that can help, such as green jobs and high speed rail, while still clinging to what makes matters worse, such as bailing out ‘nonbank banks’ and backing anti-single-payer health care scams.
On his appointments, I’m somewhat satisfied because he did what I thought he would: realign the ruling class into an anti-NeoCon bloc. Dick Cheney’s attacks and a House GOP in 100 percent opposition is the evidence of that. We got Solis and Van Jones, while all the rest is the center and center-right of the power elites.
This gets to my main point. The most important question is not what Obama’s done in 100 days, but what are we doing, ‘we’ meaning the American left. In an important way, Obama’s picks accurately reflect the relation of political forces in the country. If we, the socialists, had gotten more, it wouldn’t be because we had the clout to deserve it, especially since more than half of the socialist groups flat out opposed him.
We are not going to get anything at the top that we haven’t already won and consolidated at the base. Obama has given us a new ball game, but the ball is in our court. We have to build the serious organizations, both socialist groups and much wider coalitions and popular fronts, which can make both him and the Congress do what needs to be done. Whining and carping doesn’t help one bit. Right now, what we need is a lot of organizers bent on uniting the left and progressive forces, winning over the middle, and isolating and defeating our neoliberal and rightwing populist adversaries.