Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cathy Cohen: A Message to President Obama

Special to NewBlackMan

"Now is not the time to veer away from those who supported you today—Blacks, young people, Latinos and Asian Americans.”

A November 3rd Message to the President
by Cathy J. Cohen

“With the Republicans in control of the House and increased numbers in the Senate, the question now is what do the President and Democratic Party need to do to correct their course before the 2012 election?

First, they have to listen to the economic fear that voters expressed in exit polls and set their focus on the creation of jobs, jobs, and jobs.

Second, they have to deal with the fact that they lost white women and independents to the Republicans and find a way to explain to those constituencies why the adoption of health care reform, wall street reform, credit card reform, and other parts of the President’s agenda have impacted their lives in a positive way.

Third, we have to hope that the President does not pander to the center, making silly statements like Representative Boehner did in speaking of some homogenous “people’s agenda.” There is no people’s agenda, instead there are conflicting interests and preferences among the American populace. It would be easy for this administration to point to the losses among progressives such as the defeat of Russ Feingold as a lesson about the negative consequences of moving too far left from the center. President Obama and the Democratic Party must remember that they have to work to secure those parts of their base that supported them today, especially Blacks, young people, Latinos and Asian Americans.

This will mean taking on issues such as immigration reform and support for urban cities, while remembering that if individuals are provided a living-wage job they are more likely to support a progressive agenda.


Cathy Cohen is the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, co-principal Investigator on the Mobilization, Change and Political & Civic Engagement survey, and author of Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of the American Politics

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