It's a new day and a new slogan for Obama supporters. Overnight, the infamous "Yes We Can" transformed into "Yes We Did." Voters proclaimed it from their Facebook statuses, their Twitter updates, and I even saw the affirmation branded across the chest of a baby's jumper.
A strange thing happens when you ask an Obama supporter what the subject of their slogan entails. What did they do? Most reply that the "Did" means collectively supporting and electing the first African-American president. Anyone with a beating heart knows this is indeed a momentous occasion, and it's very moving to see relatives of MLK celebrating the evolution in American society.
But by that definition of the "Did," the journey is over. Yes We Did Elect A Black President. For some, the slogan means Yes We Did Elect Someone Better Than Bush. True, but by that definition, John McCain would have been better than George Bush, and I like to give Obama supports more credit than assuming they would vote for the lesser of two evils.
Other Obama supporters claim a massive overhaul of the executive agenda is their "Did." And early signs are encouraging with the Obama camp claiming they're ready to reverse the Bush administration's stacks of ill-conceived executive orders. However, there is no collective citizen mandate rumbling from the people to help guide Obama's fledgling White House.
If the people aren't asking anything of Obama, then he owes them nothing in return. That's like you right now being pissed at me for not having mailed you twenty dollars. You didn't ask me for money, so why should I have sent you anything? (I'm not giving you money.)
Yes We Did What? Elect Barack Obama on good faith alone? It appears Obamanites think their journey is over, and that good people are at the helm, and all will be well.
But Obama is indebted to Wall Street for about $9.5 million. That amount of cash transforms into favors once your guy gets elected. Obama will be hesitant to strongly regulate the billions of bailout dollars if the people he's dealing out the cash to are his donation buddies. On day one, Wall Street will thrust a litany of demands before president Obama, but the American people will not be represented in the Oval Office. Yes We Did Leave Our President with the Wolves.
Others claim the "Did" is a movement toward universal health care. It's totally illogical to assume Obama will defy his insurance company friends and his past rhetoric, and suddenly adopt single-payer health care. Thousands of physicians have already gone on record to say that Obama's idea for a hybrid of private health insurance plans and government subsidies will not work, and in fact has already failed in Oregon, Minnesota, Washington and several other states, including Massachusetts, whose second go-round at incremental reform is already failing.
It's not enough to know in the warmest places of your little hearts that Obama really is a good man, and he wants to end Americans' suffering. The American people have to swiftly demand single-payer health care, or the insurance companies will greet Obama at the White House and quickly neuter any plans for universal health care coverage.
Yes We Did Elect a Good Man. President-elect Obama does seem like a decent guy, and a good family man, but the government system doesn't care if he's a good man. It's impossible for Obama to keep his fingers on the pulse of the nation when he's living in a severed limb like Washington. It will take an engaged citizenry living in the real, breathing world to help him fight every step of the way.
Now is the time to outline a plan for the Big Four, four ultra-important demands that need to be addressed within the first 100 days. I would suggest something like: universal health care, strong regulation of the bailout cash, ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan (enough of this Afghanistan is the "good war" silliness,) and serious movements toward building a green economy and ending our dependency on foreign oil.
Google the issue nearest and dearest to your heart, find a local group that shares your agenda, and get together. Your strength is in numbers. If you're not really the go-out-and-change-the-world type, just add your name as a contribution, or open your wallet to an already established Progressive group like November5.org.
It's not enough to simply watch over president Obama, either. As director Eugene Jarecki explains, the three branches of government are like the stand-off in a Quentin Tarantino film with each body aiming a gun at someone else. It's not enough to change one part. We have to change them all. Obamanites must also monitor the behavior of their Congressional representatives and put pressure on them to implement the Big Four.
If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it's because it is. But that's the point. Democracy is a constant battle to suppress the evil motives of corrupt politicians. Or, in the words of our beloved Dubya: "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
He will be missed.
Add your voice to the Yes We Are forces. Yes We Are Living Wage Warriors. Yes We Are Congress Watchdogs. Stay alert, engaged, and don't be afraid to offer Obama some tough love. He can take it. He's already asking for help with his Change.gov website, so get working.
This is an exciting time. Unlike the bullheaded asshole playing Snood in the White House for the past eight years, Barack Obama is an intelligent, reasonable, open politician that we have the chance of influencing if we are at the negotiation table alongside Big Business. But we have to demand our seat the table. No one is going to come hand it to us.
So I would suggest the Yes We Did camp change their slogan to Yes We Will Be, or Yes We Are, but they can't quit yet.