From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/news/148742/what_obama_can_learn_from_the_social_movements_that_changed_the_world/
History reminds us that any social movement that changes the terms of debate will eventually change the national conversation. Why don't Democrats have the guts to do that?
By Ruth Rosen*
In the wake of the election, progressive movements and their members are debating what went wrong. Some say the media amplified the bizarre statements of the Tea Party. Still others argue that Obama didn’t offer sufficient leadership or remind us what he had actually achieved during his first 18 months in office. Many blame no one, knowing that midterm elections bring a backlash, regardless of who is in power.
All of these are basically true. But something gets lost in this wringing of hands or resigned acceptance of inevitable defeat. Barack Obama ignited a hope for change and then squandered the opportunity -- right in the middle of high unemployment, terrible economic anxiety, and widespread fear of a declining America -- to hold tightly to the terms of debate that vaulted him to power and might have resulted in many fewer Democratic losses.
But he is not alone. Progressives all over the country sat back for 18 months without pushing him to guard those terms of debate, namely those of equality, fairness, decency, and a society that must depend on the state to protect the poor and the vulnerable. During his presidency, FDR confided to unions and progressive activists that they had to “force” him to do things that would be politically unacceptable. Progressives didn’t do that during the last eighteen months. Had they pushed much, much harder, we might have kept more people in their homes, and had a national jobs program that would have softened the terror of having no livelihood.
Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/news/148742/what_obama_can_learn_from_the_social_movements_that_changed_the_world/
*Ruth Rosen is the author of: The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America, a must read for anyone interested in what actually happened during the Second Wave period of feminism which extended from the mid 1960s through the mid 1980s.