If You Build It...

From a piece by Dana Goldstein and Ezra Klein:

If Bill Clinton's project for the Democratic Party was mostly ideological, Obama's is mostly organizational. Clinton sought to change the party's ideas; Obama is more interested in building its infrastructure. But for what? Obama's health-care plan was the least ambitious of the three major candidates, and his recent gestures toward the center on government wiretapping, choice, and gun control have some of his supporters concerned. At times, Obama can seem so focused on building that it's unclear if he's really thought through the blueprints.

Obama's supporters have invested so much in their candidate that betrayal, or even insufficient fulfillment, could be devastating.

It's bad enough to be disappointed by a candidate you don't believe in. Being let down by the one who inspires you is a much more demoralizing experience. "The issue," says Joe Trippi, who ran both Dean's and John Edwards' presidential campaigns, "is not what happens if Obama loses or if he wins and continues to build, but if he gets there and leaves out his grass roots." winning elections, counting votes. There's little new about that. Obama's theory of change is simultaneously less inspiring and far more pragmatic than he's given credit for. It relies less on a new vision of politics than on an uncommon mastery of old procedures, institutions, and organizing tactics.