The incoming presidency was going to be about change, but Barack Obama has surrounded himself with agents of the status quo, Democrats who stand on the rightward side of the party, and represent the politics of power over principle.
Don’t get me wrong. It seems likely that President Obama will do a better job than George W. Bush, and won’t be as extremely conservative, but by no means is the Obama White House getting established as a force for truly progressive policy. So, it would be great if there was a collection of Democratic politicians in Congress who declare themselves as dedicated to progressive principles, who could come together and try to keep the Obama Administration from taking its current rightward drift too far.
Oh, hold on a minute… There is such a group. It’s the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
How could I forget the Progressive Caucus? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the Progressive Caucus hasn’t actually done anything yet this year, other than elect its leaders.
The most recent of the Progressive Caucus’s Hot Topics comes from September 26 of last year: Progessive Caucus Members Speak Out on the Financial Bailout. How current is that?
At least one of the Caucus’s press releases is a little more up to date – from December 2008: Progressives on trillion dollar recovery package: ‘You can’t put out a forest fire with a squirt gun’.
But then there’s the top item on the Progressive Caucus list of official positions. It’s “On Reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Protecting Our Civil Liberties”. Oh wow! Is the Progressive Caucus waking up? Are they actually challenging Barack Obama to repeal the FISA Amendments Act that he voted for last year? No, no. This official position was released on October 5, 2007.
That position statement was also the last entry for CPC in the News, and the last listed Caucus Op-Ed was from April of last year.
Maybe the Progressive Caucus is doing something behind the scenes, but from the looks of it, there isn’t much going on. The Progressive Caucus seems to present not so much a voice for progressive Democrats as a silent presence. It’s little wonder that the rightward side of the Democratic Party has exerted such influence over President-Elect Obama, when the Progressives in Congress seem too nervous to even offer a little dinner table conversation.