Being in the opposition may have created numbers for President Obama’s election; however, according to The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, the annual Take Back America conference, a gathering of liberal activists and Democratic party leaders in Washington, D.C. changed its name to America’s Future Now to help regenerate new interest this week. Mr. Obama sometimes spoke at this conference in past years. He and others speakers excoriated the former Bush administration. However, after taking the White House in addition to having majorities in both the House and Senate, Democrats are finding it difficult to rally their own base since the 2008 election. Mr. Milbank writes:
The president of the most powerful country in the world is doing all right, but there are a lot of people in this country who are not doing all right,” writer Naomi Klein told the crowd. “Obama is making us stupid,” she added. “Love can make you stupid.”
Rahm Emanuel may not have as many fans among Steelworkers as once thought. In fact, it looks as if some on the left may be concerned that the president may not be as in control of his administration as once hoped.
Leo Gerard, head of the United Steelworkers, warned that if his fellow activists don’t “seize the opportunity to lead with our progressive ideas,” then “Rahm Emanuel will lead.” And while “Rahm has the president’s back,” the union leader said of Obama’s chief of staff, “I don’t think he has our back.”
Being in power means one becomes a middle manager of some sort. While the Obama administration is making the rules, his supporters are beginning to discover they only enjoy politics in the midst of complaining about those in power they do not like. Otherwise, the Washington D.C. process of creating legislation can be as fun as watching paint dry.
“This place was more high-energy last year,” said Roger Hickey, who co-directs the Campaign for America’s Future with Borosage. “Last year people were jazzed up… . Now we’re getting into the sausage making of legislation.”
While most media continues to cheer on the Obama administration, it is apparent they have realized that their mission is indeed accomplished, and their man is in office. Mr. Millbank points out the lack of broadcast media at the conference this year as opposed to prior conferences.
But defending the state isn’t very exciting, and in the big ballroom for the luncheon, no television news cameras were on the risers, which had been crowded in recent years. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) tried to work up the crowd. “How you guys doin’?” he asked. Isolated cheers. “C’mon, now, let me hear you!” More isolated cheers.
While same-sex marriage continues to be a controversial topic this year, supporters of that cause did not come out to the D.C. conference en masse.
It’s been much less busy this year,” said a guy in the nearly empty exhibit hall who was handing out stickers from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force saying “Power is Sexy.”
Mr. Obama and his allies can continue to blame the prior administration for whatever obstacles the country faces, but the lack of a George W. Bush in office is beginning to set in for the president’s base. Mr. Obama is still popular with his supporters, but that may not necessarily mean as many activists pushing his agenda in the near future.