Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Has Obama forgotten his grassroots?" (the full GRAHAM-FELSEN)

Sam Graham-Felsen:

In the wake of President Barack Obama's deal to extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, pundits have focused on how Obama has alienated the left. But the issue isn't the left -- it's the list.

Obama entered the White House with more than a landslide victory over Sen. John McCain. He brought with him a vast network of supporters, instantly reachable through an unprecedented e-mail list of 13 million people. These supporters were not just left-wing activists but a broad coalition that included the young, African-Americans, independents and even Republicans -- and they were ready to be mobilized.

I worked as Obama's chief blogger during his presidential campaign, and my primary focus was telling the stories of these supporters, many of whom had never been engaged in politics or were reengaging after years of disillusionment. There was a common thread in my conversations with the hundreds of people who gave time, sweat and small donations -- that amounted to $500 million -- to Obama's campaign.

They were inspired by Obama's promise to upend Washington by governing from the bottom up. ``The change we need doesn't come from Washington,'' Obama told them. ``It comes to Washington.''

Yet at seemingly every turn, Obama has chosen to play an inside game. Instead of actively engaging supporters in major legislative battles, Obama has told them to sit tight as he makes compromises behind closed doors. MORE...

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