Here in the United States of America — the Land of the Free and the Brave — our national mid-term elections are just 12 weeks away. And don’t fool yourself: the stakes are as high as they’ve ever been. Sometimes, it seems like we’re right on the brink of countrywide crazy.
With the NFL pre-season getting underway, let me put the situation in a context that those who watch more ESPN than MSNBC can appreciate…
The election of President Barack Obama two years ago was not a Super Bowl-winning touchdown spiked in the end zone. Democrats and progressives who suffered for eight years while George Bush ran amok, simply got the football back, first and ten, on our own five-yard line – with 95 yards to go for a score. It was lousy field position to start with, and little room to operate.
When Obama dropped back deep to look for a long yardage play upfield (Health Reform with a public option), he was nearly sacked in the end zone for a safety. So he rolled to his right and threw an outlet pass for 10 yards and a first down to his halfback rolling out of the backfield. We didn’t get the public option most of us wanted, but we got some measure of Health Care Reform. We moved the chains.
The chains continued to move as President Obama kept his opponents off balance with a flurry of short yardage plays like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Credit CARD Act (which reformed the way credit card companies do business), increased funding for veteran’s health care, and the naming of the Steve Goodman Post Office Building in Chicago, Illinois, signed on August 3, 2010.
Oh yeah, and there was that Stimulus Bill, too. The crazy things is that even before we got the football to start our drive, we were already facing third down and unfathomably long yardage after eight years of GOP economic malpractice. Obama did what he had to do to move the chains again – but there were a lot of injuries on that play.
When Obama dropped back to go long on Financial Reform, guys on his own team (like Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska) simply fell down on the play. Obama tossed the ball to Senator Chris Dodd — but Dodd, who’s playing out his contract before retiring, hauled in the pass but never turned on the jets. He settled for another first down — when everyone in the stands was looking for a touchdown. All Elizabeth Warren could do was watch from the sidelines and hope she could get in the game and truly advance the ball as the head of the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
For most of the game, it’s been three yards and a cloud of dust. It hasn’t always been thrilling – certainly not when you compare it to the pre-game show with a sea of flag-waving Obama supporters in Washington and a 70% approval rating after his inauguration. But Obama has kept us in the game, moving us down the field against a doomsday defense unwilling to yield an inch of common ground without holding, tripping, clawing, scratching and biting.
So, if we look at the mid term elections as Half Time in America – it’s clear that, in order to keep moving forward, progressives must stay unified as a team, elect more teammates in the House and Senate that are willing to play hard — and get President Obama as many snaps as he can get between now and 2012. You can’t score many points if you don’t have the ball.
The chalk talk is over. Here’s the bottom line.
On November 2, 2010, the citizens of this stressed and agitated nation will go to the polls to decide who we want to be our Congressmen, Senators, Governors, and local officials. On a national level, the balance of power on Capitol Hill hangs in the balance. This is not an abstract concern for millions of blue collar working people and Americans of all economic classes worried about the future of our democracy. We can either vote to go backward on Election Day 2010 – or elect to continue our 234-year struggle toward a more perfect union.
But it will be critical.
Make no mistake. We cannot afford to allow the Democrats to lose their majorities in either the Senate or the House of Representatives.
I can understand my progressive friends who feel that President Obama’s administration hasn’t moved fast enough on an array of important agenda items. (I’m not Press Secretary Gibbs.) But while I’m just as tired as anyone of hearing, “Let not the perfect be the enemy of the good” – the fact is, we’ve got to keep that bromide in mind this Election Day.
Now, we’ve got less that three months before the kick-off on November 2. It’s time to button up our bonnets, dig down, play hard – and stay focused on the end zone. Without a big push from progressives, President Obama could lose possession of the football. And if that prospect doesn’t scare you, I have five words for you…
And here’s six more…
Okay, on three, set…