Of Obama's winning coalition, first progressives and independents, then rank and file Democrats started souring on the president, seeing his cabinet, his economic policy choices too closely aligned with those of Wall Street. All the GOP had to do was lay low, just keep restating that they were against an unpopular president and they could probably have coasted to victory on vague hopes and photo ops.
Instead Rick Perry comes out with a tax plan that increases income inequality even though we are now tied with Uganda, then actually said, "I don't care about that" when pressed by a reporter. Tell that to the two-thirds of Americans who "said that wealth should be distributed more evenly," according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. (9 in 10 Democrats, 2/3 or independents and 1/3 of Republicans).
But what about the other GOP candidates in this the most anti-Wall Street electoral climate since the 1930s? Cain's going no further than a lead-in talk show to Huckabee on FOX, let's be real, and Romney, the actual eventual GOP nominee -- no matter how many corn dogs he downs -- is Gordon Gecko.
This presents a relatively straightforward path to victory for Obama should he consistently abandon his policy of appeasement. On the stump recently he's been funny and forceful, just as he was toward the close of business last year, but all too often an opportunity for action, even a simple action like not rescheduling his jobs speech for Boehner, arises and he capitulates. He demanded that Congress "pass that bill" and they just didn't, making him look more and more Carterian. Obama's path to victory lies in assuring skittish voters that he will not only fight the GOP, but defeat them in their War on Working Americans.
And when I say "Working Americans" I mean the 99% of us who work or are trying to.
The recent pivot to the slogan, "We Can't Wait," followed up by a barrage of executive orders is exactly the way forward in the short term but in the long term Obama needs a grander plan. He needs to make the case that in the last four years he was an outsider to the ills of Washington, a trusting reformer boxed out by entrenched interests. He needs to lay out a specific New Deal, even a relatively deficit neutral one, that harnesses stockpiled uninvested private capital, the army of the unemployed and necessary public works projects to bring our nation, finally, into a new century already over a decade old.
This plan needs to be his and his alone, not an amalgamation of ideas from all sides of the aisles. The president needs to tell us what the nation would look like if he had his way, and then work with the Democratic Campaign Committee to make sure that in 2012 he has the votes in Congress to turn those plans into actions.
From Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party, Americans are mad and politicized (though in the Times/CBS polling OWS is twice as popular as the TP). We're also dissatisfied with our outlets for change. The president needs to remind us to once again stow our cynicism and channel our angry energy through our best hope... him and party he leads.
He needs to promise us that he won't let us down, remind us that change is hard and always slower than we'd like. He needs to tell us that if we reelect him and like minded congresspeople he'll take it from there. He needs to look us in the eye and say, "I got this."