Was the 2008 election a Progressive Mandate, or is America still a Center-Right Nation? (perhaps it depends on how you define "center-right") I think it was not only a progressive mandate, it was a "For the love of God, just FIX THIS SHIT ALREADY" mandate. After eight years of government run by the Seven Deadly Sins, Americans are desperate for someone to clean up the mess, and – surprise! – the Obamacrats made a much more convincing case than the Maverepublicans.
But now the entire country will be watching the Democrats and President Obama to see whether they can pull the economy out of its tailspin, get us out of Iraq, and help those struggling Americans they showcased get jobs and education and healthcare. If they pull it off, they will solidify the Republican brand as the party that fucks everything up beyond recognition, and the Democratic brand as the party that puts it back together again and makes it better.
Obama and the Democrats will be heroes if:
1) They secure affordable, quality healthcare for everyone. (Note: "Free" is a form of "affordable.")
2) They pull the economy out of its nosedive.
3) They start getting our troops out of Iraq immediately. Bonus points if Iraq does not become a bloodbath during or after withdrawal.
4) We can stop taking off our shoes and surrendering our precious toiletry fluids and beverages at the airport. Enough already.
5) They capture or kill bin Laden. This would be the ultimate fuck-you to Bush, especially if it happens in Obama’s first year.
6) They allow everyone to obtain a college degree without going into debt.
7) Gas prices go down.
8) They cut taxes for the lower and middle brackets and raise it for the upper ones. This would take away one of the GOP’s favorite anti-Democratic boogeymen.
9) They handle natural disasters brilliantly.
10) They stop a real terrorist plot, as opposed to some yahoos with blowtorches. Especially if they do it without torture or warrantless wiretapping.
Obama and the Democrats will be goats if:
1) The economy continues to crater.
2) They fail to deliver on Obama’s core promises of healthcare, energy, and education reform. Especially if they don’t hold Blue Dogs and Republicans accountable for obstructing them.
3) They fail to get our troops out of Iraq. (That went over really well after the 2006 election…)
4) They abuse their power like BushCo did: settling scores, rewarding cronies, protecting their own.
5) They cave to corporate interests again and again.
6) The federal government doesn’t do its job because it’s stacked with industry lobbyists and well-connected incompetents. (I’m cautiously optimistic on this one.)
Bear in mind, I’m looking at this from a universal crowd-pleaser perspective rather than a progressive or wonk perspective – i.e., what will make Americans excited and positive about Democrats. Obama and the Democrats need to make a lot more changes than just the ones I’ve listed, but I’m not so sure diplomacy and good-government initiatives are big vote-getters (although I sure hope they are). It’s a two-pronged task, really. They need to fix the country, and they need to buy enough time to finish the job.