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I was rubbing my hands together with glee before last night’s debate. So many damning truths, so many positives for the economy, and the promise of the Bain stain getting the spotlight; these would all be possible with the free-flowing, direct response format for the first debate. I was at a watch party in Rohnert Park, CA with about 20 new progressive friends, and the anticipation for annihilation was rampant. But after 25 minutes, none of our desires had been satiated.

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Where was the mention of 30 straight months of jobs growth? Why not mention the effective turnaround of the auto industry, when Romney is on record urging to let it all die on the vine and start over? Why didn’t the president mention the Republican obstruction of his jobs bill, or even last week’s snubbing of the VA jobs bill? What about the DOW doubling in the last four years? All this dangling red meat, and no nibbles taken.

And that’s just a snippet of the lost opportunities President Obama had on economic issues. There were similar opportunities on Obamacare, and a few were taken, but it still seemed the big guns were holstered.

Why? Who tied Obama’s tongue? Surely he was coached to say these things at one point. Who made the choice to not use them? I can’t believe he was just rattled or nervous and forgot to bring them out.

I’m thinking that somebody told him NOT to produce an effective attack. Was it Big Oil, or Wall St., or the defense industry, or Big Pharma, or just a bevy of billionaires? Did somebody give him the word, throw the fight or we’ll throw another $500 million to the Romney superPAC, and another individual $200 million to House races as well?

This wasn’t a ploy to give Romney enough rope to hang himself. There is no strategy that would explain this. Allowing weakness is never part of a campaign. You never give away momentum, never give an opponent a chance to have an upswing that will help them generate more campaign donations, big or small.

Could the pressure have come from the DLC, the Democratic Leadership Council, which resides within the corporatist wing of the Democratic Party? Obama is not a true progressive like Dennis Kucinich, but we’ve known that all along. You can see that through his opening up more offshore oil leases, talking about “clean coal,” and funding new nuclear power plants.

So who is holding the strings? The DLC? The Koch brothers? Some ex-Clinton advisers  who have their own agenda? Is it the threat of more money flooding into the Romney coffers? Was there a warning shot across the bow from the corporate titans? Is it the Republican Party kingpins saying, lay down here and we’ll take impeachment off the table? What was the bargain? Who are the players?

Why wasn’t President Obama the man we expected him to be last night? We’ll never know, most likely.

But whatever the deal, we still have to minimize the effects. Obama must be reelected, and ALL down-ticket Democrats need to win on federal, state, and local levels. We must remember and value all the work that we’ve put into exposing the Republican CORPservative machine, and not let it achieve its goal of putting the final nail in the coffin of the middle class.

While enthusiasm may have wavered, our approach must not. We’re voting for more than just a man. Love them or hate them, Democrats in office provide the only path towards any of the goals progressives hold in terms of fairness, equality, equal opportunity, and in keeping up the qualify of life for the poor, elderly, and infirm. And there’s always at least a few strong willed, kind hearted Democrats to champion because their views mirror ours, idealistic as they may be.

And lets face it; idealism has driven us for a long time. But Obama let us see that it can have a tangible effect, and it still will, but now it will be our idealism that will push his. We will be the spine solidifiers. In the next five weeks, President Obama needs to see that. He needs to understand that not only can we push him to a second term, we can give him a progressive mandate that, if fully embraced, can make him one of our great presidents. A progressive surge can turn the tide on corporatism, and by revising and strengthening the tax codes so the rich pay their fair share, there will be money give schools, our infrastructure, and our cities a shot in the arm.

So whatever they’ve said to President Obama, let’s make sure that it doesn’t have the desired effect. If Obama doesn’t call out the lies directly, WE MUST DO SO ON THE STREETS. With great enough numbers, maybe he’ll realize that our big push provides his best shot at a lasting legacy.

So don’t despair. Don’t get down, double-down on activism. Keep calling for the change Obama promised, and let him know we understand that we’re a key cog in the gears, and we’re up to speed. Even without the torque we expected Wednesday night, we’ll keep on turning no matter what.

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