Fat cats and underdogs

President Obama was elected with the support of both fat cats and underdogs.  He raised more money than any President in my adult lifetime, drawing significant corporate and Republican support while arousing the enthusiasm of young people who’d never before participated in politics.

After he was sworn in, it seems to me that he had a choice of two alternatives.  He could have tried to lock in corporate support through a Democratic version of the Republican K Street Project.  Or he could have tried to mobilize his grass-roots supporters behind a public option in health care, a breakup of the “too big to fail” banks and New Deal-scale public works projects.

I have no way to know what was on his mind, but it seems to me he tried to have things both ways. I think he thought it was possible to reform health care, regulate the “too big to fail” banks and bring about an economic recovery without threatening the interests of his Fortune 500 supporters.

Now the elections are coming up.  The Republicans have regained their money advantage and the Democrats suffer an enthusiasm gap among their core supporters.  I think a great opportunity for progressives has been missed, and it may not come again anytime soon.

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