Liberals 'Let Obama Down'

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If the opinion world is anything to go by, the left is just as irritated as the right by Obama's first year difficulties. Liberal attacks on the Obama administration are becoming more common; progressives are short on patience, irked by domestic spending freezes, a toothless health care reform bill, and apparent coziness with big bankers. But in the Guardian, Los Angeles ex-pat Clancy Sigal breaks with his fellow liberals. Obama's failure to produce the "change" leftists wanted, he says, isn't Obama's fault: it's the leftists' fault.

Obama came into office with a mandate for change. That should have been our signal not to sit back and wait for him to deliver but to mobilise to make sure he followed through. Instead, we relaxed our "Chicago muscle", the hard volunteer work that elected him.

What should liberals have done instead? For one thing, they shouldn't have relied on "'non-profit' liberal foundations themselves funded by corporations, a women's movement obsessed by the abortion issue, a gay movement fixed on gay marriage." Obama needed both support and pressure from "a serious antiwar movement (there isn't any)" and all other varieties of "grassroots activism." Nor is mere 2008-style grassroots fundraising enough: "Fundraising is no substitute for hell raising, as the Palin-loving Tea Baggers and Town Hallers are teaching us."

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