Houston Working the Citizen Wealth has been fascinating for me in both New Orleans and Houston for lots of reasons, but especially as a “listening post” when the discussion moves to the question part of the agenda whether at the events or on the radio shows. One theme has emerged more than any other: progressives are restless. They are holding their breath, but there is a real and profound worry that President Obama does not have the kind of backbone that these grizzled warriors in the rough-and-ready politics of Louisiana and Texas know that it takes to win real reform.
They are worried that the compromises are signaled too quickly and the concessions are too broad. As exhilarated as many of them were at the election results here in dark red country, they are worried that the president may not be able to stand and fight, and most of them are clear that that is the only way to win against the rock ribbed resistance they have seen in these conservative states.
I’m not going to jump to any quick conclusions based on Seattle, New Orleans, and Houston and the hundred or so folks who have raised their hands, usually with something to say, rather any real question, but there are trends. People partially want to be reassured that things are not going to turn out as badly as they are worried that it might. Health care is at the top of the list of questions. Second is whether or not the Administration has done enough in the stimulus package to make a difference. Thirdly, they don’t understand how the banking industry, now virtually nationalized, continues to fight against credit card and bankruptcy reform.
There is a pent up demand for change, and Obama whose political instincts are so strong is missing the restlessness at the base.
A friend made the point to me the other day in conjunction with immigration that there “was a lot of energy” not being used to move the demand for reform farther and faster. Listening carefully to the questions that Citizen Wealth provokes, the progressive natives are very restless and they are ready and waiting for the call to do something to make a difference, and starting to worry that they are not being called into action when it is so obvious that the game is on the line.