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Every Senator plays an important role in the crafting of laws, and has a duty to uphold the Constitution.  When one is in an elected office and seeking a higher office, how seriously one takes their job can say a lot about how they will perform.

A Senator, however, is utterly benign next to the power of a President - especially a President with the powers established over the last fifty years, ESPECIALLY a President with the exponentially greater powers established over the last seven years.  If there were any doubt what the Presidency can accomplish even when facing an opposition party Congress, this weekend, if not the year preceding it, shattered those illusions.

Obama's main job, to put it bluntly, is to become President and prevent another eight years of this shit, and then reverse damage to our government and our standing in the world that has set us back fifty years.  

That's a BIG job.  It was a job that I thought would be utterly impossible in anything less than fifty years until I heard about this Barack Obama guy.  No one has a bigger job, or a more important one.  It is so profound in its historical implications, so sudden a pivot from the arc, that it makes the impact of most Presidencies pale in comparison.

What's more, the fact is that I am no less enthusiastic or impatient today for the implementation of universal health care, a sane foreign policy, and a solvent fiscal policy.  None of those things are any less urgent.

In addition, everything objectionable that has happened to the Constitution in the last seven years has happened due to a neoconservative Republican President.  The first logical route towards defending the Constitution, therefore, is to prevent more time under a neoconservative Republican President.  We nominated a candidate with an unparalleled record on ethics reform and Constitutional expertise, and no single matter of tactics should allow us to forget the level of trust that record built, or we didn't really appreciate that trust in the first place, and certainly not enough to convince undecided voters to share in that trust with us over anything that is flung at Obama this fall; for those who find Obama's methods fundamentally too cautious, it is all the more reason that he will need as a big an electoral victory as possible, as opposed to thinner margins that would inevitably lead to more compromise.  Pulling back somewhat on support for the Obama campaign so that he gets less of a mandate is only a way to guarantee more cautious behavior, not more bold behavior, by the same logic that finds him too cautious to begin with, but everyone is reacting so emotionally that many are not considering that fact.  

Let me be absolutely clear: I believe in pushing candidates to embrace more progressive positions, and using donations and time as levers to make that happen. However, deciding to pull back any time and money from a Presidential campaign that means what this campaign means in the course of history - a chance to elect a Constitutional expert after the worst Presidency ever, a chance for a truly ethical government after the most corrupt administration in history, a chance for global reconciliation after the worst President in history - is not progressive.  It's just not. To do so completely ignores the historical uniqueness and value of this moment, and one of the best things about the progressive mentality is its inherant sense of history, which sees us in the middle of the journey - moving forward towards achieving our ideals in an endless march - as opposed to the here-and-now reactionary mentality that believes the perfect manifestation of all our ideals has already been met, and to question it is betrayal.  It was progressives who, despite loving the Constitution and the rule of law, pushed against slavery, who pushed for women's suffrage, who pushed for civil rights, who still push for equal rights for GLBT citizens to this day, and do so because our sense of history makes us humble enough to acknowledge that reaching our ideals is work in progress, and not an annointed gift to be worshipped at a silent altar.  I appeal to that sense of history today, because someone with the unique strengths of Obama, having talents so perfectly suited to make up for the dire problems we face that it's almost impossible to believe, will likely not happen again in our lifetimes.  It probably will not happen again in our republic.

So criticize, write, call, make your voice heard; I say nothing here for a moment to suggest people shouldn't publicly hold our leaders to the highest standards, and be ardent and vocal in the defense of our most basic rights.  Beyond that, you can give to candidates who made the correct vote, and withold donations from the DCCC while giving to individual House candidates if you prefer.  

However, if you intend to work any less hard for the election of our nominee - and the strongest possible Congressional majority behind him - then you have lost the very sense of history our future Presidents must have to prevent this era's affronts to the Constitution from happening again.

Originally posted to ShadowSD on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 06:21 AM PDT.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    If Obama's lifetime record is not enough to gain your trust on the issues that matter, then no Democratic nominee ever will.

    If Obama's tactics are flawed and overcautious, I recommend reconsidering the decision to put him at a tactical disadvantage when he is President.

    Obama/McCaskill vs. McCain/Jindal? Call it a funny feeling.

    by ShadowSD on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 06:22:12 AM PDT

  •  Sorry (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MadRuth, danmac, shann, BoiseBlue

    Every future penny I might have had for Obama is going to the aclu. The fisa fight has to be taken to the courts now.

    •  Great idea. (10+ / 0-)

      Because the ACLU has been such an effective check on executive power these past 8 years.

      "The more I wish him the most gruesome deaths, the more he haunts me" - Kinski on Herzog, but somehow newly relevant.

      by oxman on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 06:29:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  To What End? (4+ / 0-)

      Congress has the power to grant retroactive immunity.  If this stands through next year's Congress (which it will not), it means that lawsuits are useless.  Sure, you can challenge the law, and you'll fail.  At the cost of millions of dollars.  And even if it succeeded, and we obtained proof of guilt in civil discovery, the consequences for the phone companies would be minimal -- a pledge never to do it again, and $5 for everybody tapped unlawfully (ok maybe $10).  

      Your money is better spent defending the Constitution elsewhere, say, by ensuring a durable Supreme Court majority.  Think about it.

      •  Its about more than immunity (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Its about the powers of the presidency STILL being expanded after the last 7.5 years. Very little could be more disappointing to me than this capitulation.

        •  Well that's an even bigger losing cause (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The changes to FISA this would make are entirely consistent with the existing (and not credibly-challenged) judicial view of the Executive and Legislative power to surveil foreign communications, even to the extent it could lead to increased incidences where US citizens are "accidentally" surveiled.  I'm not saying I agree with that view.  I'm saying it is the view that would prevail in court.

          So again, waste of time, effort, and money.  If you want FISA reformed properly, elect a dominant Democratic-majority government.

        •  Ok, then... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ShadowSD, not this time

          What kind of FISA protections would satisfy you?  Should the government have only 3 days to procure a warrant instead of 7?  Should they strip the emergency extension provision?  Should there be an additional judicial review?  

          These area all reasonable preferences, but they seem awfully small-bore compared to, you know, ending wars and saving planets and what not.

          "The more I wish him the most gruesome deaths, the more he haunts me" - Kinski on Herzog, but somehow newly relevant.

          by oxman on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 06:37:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Presidents have always expanded their powers... (0+ / 0-)

          Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt...

          Most every President has in one way or another.  People like us have consistently stood and argued against throughout our nation's history.

          This is not the end.

          "War is a Racket" - MajGen Smedley D. Butler, USMC Ret

          by PvtJarHead on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 06:47:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  So to you this is more important than: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pat208, not this time, OrangeMike

      climate change?  war in Iraq?  Supreme Court?  health care?  

      It's a serious question, not intended as snark.  Everyone has their priorities which is totally fine, I'm legitimately curious.

      Absolute Horror: The Best in Bad Horror Movies

      by dansac on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 06:29:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Absolutely. You purists out there (7+ / 0-)

    are hurting any chance we might have of truly changing the country.  If you think ANY single candidate is going to give you everything you want, you are in as much of a fantasy world as the Bush administration has tried to create for the reich wing.

    Obama HAS to move to the center for the duration of this campaign.  McTorture must be trounced, and the left in the Senate and the House must be bolstered as much as we can with his coattails.

    FDR did the same in 1932.  This is indeed our generation's 1932 election.  AFTER we get him and many more representatives and senators elected, we can push and push hard to turn the country to the true left that it is.  After being elected, FDR created the New Deal -- not during the election cycle.

    To me, whatever it takes to get the electoral landslide we deserve after the last seven years and, in my opinion, the coups d'etat of 2000 from the Supreme Court and 2004 in Ohio, is what must be done.  Giving money to the ACLU is absolutely commendable, but the ACLU will be empowered by the election of Obama and a Democratic Congress.

    Please consider this.  The Supreme Court is at stake, which could turn this country to the hard right for the next twenty years.

    Impeachment! Indictment! Incarceration!

    by followyourbliss on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 06:33:10 AM PDT

  •  I'm saying (0+ / 0-)

    I'm saying that Obama is in danger of losing all those first time voters and discontented non voters who believed he spoke for change. To pass a specious law that provides retroactive immunity to corporate lawbreakers is not the kind of change these people are looking for.

  •  His primary job is to become president (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    not to become Unitary Executive.  But more and more it is becoming obvious that Democratic party operatives and would-be operatives are perfectly satisfied, delighted actually, with the Unitary Executive doctrine, as long as the Unitary Executive is a (capital-D) Democrat, in the same way capital-R republicans feel about the Unitary Executive doctrine.  At the same time, as all-knowing all-wise pragmatists, you shouldn't be surprised when us small-d democrats and small-r republicans get off the bus rushing headlong toward the Permanent Unitary Executive System.  Otherwise you're not very pragmatic, not very much of a realist, now are you?

    A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. ~Edward R. Murrow

    by ActivistGuy on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 07:39:26 AM PDT

    •  I don't see any credible scenario where Obama (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      will increase the overall powers of the executive, and he would likely reduce them.  He has not only the Constitutional background, after all, but time in Congress, an attribute not shared by recent Presidents; if there are a swath of power hungry Democratic operatives out there who want a unitary executive (and I don't doubt there are), then it seems especially important to get this Democrat in with the strongest mandate possible, as opposed to the next Democrat to come along who will likely be a governor or VP with no extensive Constitutional background or first hand appreciation for the balance of powers.

      Obama/McCaskill vs. McCain/Jindal? Call it a funny feeling.

      by ShadowSD on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 08:07:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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