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Steve Hildebrand Headshot

A Message to Obama's Progressive Critics

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Five short weeks ago, Barack Obama won a decisive victory against John McCain - winning 365 electoral votes to McCain's 173 and winning the popular vote by 9 million - the largest popular vote margin ever for a non-incumbent.

After a strategy of expanding the electoral map, nine states that George Bush won in 2004, went to Obama - some by significant margins. The Obama victory changed the course of politics - from a candidate who bucked the system saying no to PAC and lobbyist money, to a disciplined campaign, tht beat expectations at every turn, building an unprecedented grassroots movement and raising record sums of money that dwarfed his Republican opponent. Campaigns in this country will never be the same.

Now comes the hard part - assuming the presidency at a time when there are more major problems facing our country and the world than at the beginning of any administration. Our economy is in shambles, affecting people at every income level. Nearly 500,000 jobs were lost during November alone. Retirement and investment accounts were shattered as the Stock Market dropped by historic proportions. Record numbers of families are being forced from their homes. Banks are hardly making loans to anyone right now. Auto manufactures and auto dealers have seen their sales drop between 30 and 40 percent.

We have a war with Iraq that needs an exit strategy and attention by our new president and his foreign policy team. There is unrest with Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and a host of other countries. We desperately need to repair our Nation's reputation around the world. And we need to do all we can to protect our soldiers overseas and our people here at home.

Nearly fifty million Americans have no health insurance, left vulnerable and one catastrophe away from bankruptcy or worse yet, death. This number will increase if we see unemployment continue to grow.

Every day that goes by, where the U.S. and other countries fail to stop the irreparable damage of global warming, is a day closer to changes in climate that we may never gain back.

I could go on and on. The point I'm making here is that our new president, the Congress and all Americans must come together to solve these problems. This is not a time for the left wing of our Party to draw conclusions about the Cabinet and White House appointments that President-Elect Obama is making. Some believe the appointments generally aren't progressive enough. Having worked with former Senator Obama for the last two years, I can tell you, that isn't the way he thinks and it's not likely the way he will lead. The problems I mentioned above and the many I didn't, suggest that our president surround himself with the most qualified people to address these challenges. After all, he was elected to be the president of all the people - not just those on the left.

As a liberal member of our Party, I hope and expect our new president to address those issues that will benefit the vast majority of Americans first and foremost. That's his job. Over time, there will be many, many issues that come before him. But first let's get our economy moving, bring our troops home safely, fix health care, end climate change and restore our place in the world. What a great president Barack Obama will be if he can work with Congress and the American people to make great strides in these very difficult times.