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What's Next?

Well, yesterday was pretty amazing. Here in Chapel Hill, NC, students and other community members rushed the streets of downtown celebrating the Obama victory. Although the presidential race in North Carolina is still too close to call, it hardly matters, since Senator Obama has already won a decisive victory. Still, after 30 years of North Carolina being a reliably Republican state, we've at least succeeded in turning in purple.

Senator Obama managed to flip nine states that Bush won in 2004: Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and I'm going to be optimistic and say North Carolina as well.

Democrats will have at least a 56-seat Senate majority, possibly more, depending on the outcome of a few undecided races. In the closely watched Minnesota Senate race, incumbent Norm Coleman is ahead of former Air America radio host Al Franken, but only by about 700 votes, so that may change, who knows. Some prominent incumbent Republicans are gone, including North Carolina's Elizabeth Dole, who's been a staunch ally of President Bush.

It looks like Democrats will pick up somewhere around 20 seats in the House of Representatives, which will make Nancy Pelosi the most powerful speaker we've seen in some time.

Perhaps the most hopeful aspect of Obama's victory is that he did not just eke out a narrow win in Democratic states along with a hard-fought swing state or two as Senator Kerry tried to do. His victory is national and decisive. He's not only held on to Democratic states, but also expanded Democratic gains to the southeast, midwest, and mountain west. His national popular vote majority is the largest we've seen in a long time, the first Democrat to win a national majority since Jimmy Carter.

Other than the passing of California's Proposition 8 banning gay marriage, it was a pretty good night. I hope you all have taken time to celebrate and enjoy the moment. Tell us about it.

But after a night and a day savoring victory after a long dark eight years, it's time to think about what comes next. Democrats have to now think about governing instead of being the opposition. Progressives and other activists have to think about how we hold this new Democratic majority in Washington to the promises and ideals that made us all vote them in.

Now is not the time for the activist community go to sleep. We have a hard road ahead. All of the things we wanted from an Obama Administration are not going to happen without some pretty stiff opposition from some very powerful, well-funded, and well-entrenched people. Obama will need our support to push his agenda and he will need our critical eye to hold him to task for implementing a true progressive agenda.

So...what's next?

1. Obama has a huge well-organized and well-founded ground operation all across the country. It would be a waste if it were to simply fade away. There has to be more good that can be done with all this energy and passion and infrastructure besides just getting Obama elected. But what should be done with it, what should the next goals be?

2. A lot of government positions have to be filled. It looks as the White House chief of staff job is going to Representative Rahm Emmanuel, a member of the Democratic House leadership. Who might be good for other positions? Secretary of the Treasury will be particularly important. George Soros? Paul Volcker? Larry Summers? Someone else?

jajy1979 and I have talked about how we'd like to see administrative positions be expanded to include more than just prominent Washington figures, particularly agency heads and the administrative levels just below Cabinet rank. Let's get some businessmen, teachers, emergency responders, ordinary workers, college professors, and other smart people we're going to need to truly come up with comprehensive solutions to pressing problems.

3. We can't forget that huge corporations and other special interests who oppose progressive ideals have huge well-funded lobbying efforts who spend every hour of every day trying to influence people at all levels of government. We need to make sure that our leaders, from President Obama on down, are listening to the people who put them in office. How do we do this? How do we counteract the corporations and lobbyists?

4. What do you want out of an Obama administration? We've had a large and diverse coalition that's been focused for the most part on winning. But now that's been achieved, so what is it we want to achieve next?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 5th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
Rumor mill has John Corzine of NJ wanting the Treasury job. I'm not sure he's the right choice.
Nov. 5th, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC)
Why would anyone even think he's the right choice? Just because he has a gazillion dollars means he somehow is an expert in fiscal policy? That sounds like a bit of Palin-esque logic there.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )