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You blame Obama, I blame You

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The progressive left is all over our president for failing them. I think it's the other way around.

Our leaders don't lead, they follow. That's how politics works in a democracy. Every rights movement, from woman's suffrage and racial equality to gay liberation and medical marijuana proves that point. They all happened--are happening--because people pushed and kept on pushing until the powers had to yield.

Movements may triumph in the halls of congress, the court's chambers and the President's desk. But they start in the streets.

Civil rights didn't just happen. Our politicians, even liberal politicians like FDR and Truman, were content with mere tokens of progress against America's original sin. Segregation, lynching, voter intimidation, apartheid schools and all the rest of the racist crimes that were inflicted on one set of Americans by another didn't just fall down and die of their own, evil weight.

They were pushed. People like you and me, we did it. Not the politicians, but the marchers, the college kids who spent their summers down south, the Black folks who stood up and said they wouldn't take it anymore so they took to the streets instead.

We forced our so-called leaders to pay attention to the problem with our actions. If we'd have waited for congress or the president to take the lead we'd still be waiting and Barack Hussein Obama would be a professor at Howard University. Maybe.

I'm getting old, but I've never seen so much whining combined with so much pitiful progressive passivity in my life. You believe health care is a right? You want to see every American covered? You feel betrayed by the compromises a cowed congress and a frightened President are making in the face of phony, shrill protests and bullhorn toting thugs at town meetings?

Try getting off your ass and doing something. September is a nice month in WashingtonDC. Get your friends together, scour your community for the uninsured halt, lame and dying--you won't have to look too far--and drive to Capitol Hill. Show the politicians what the wrath of the people looks like. A million angry, marching, sign-holding, outraged citizens chanting "Cover Everybody!" within earshot of the congress will do wonders for their backbones. The symbolism of a thousand wheelchairs perched on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King had his dream 45 years ago, will do more in an hour than all the blogging, texting and ostentatious alienation will do in eternity.

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Or you can just watch the Rachel Maddow Show and nod your head.

If you want progress on any part of the progressive agenda you'll have to fight. Is "don't ask, don't tell" a travesty in your book? Do you think it's time for our gay brothers and sisters to have every single right the rest of us heteros have, not one whit less, including the right to marry?

Well, of course you do. We already know that. But what have you ever done about it? Outside of sending angry comments to your favorite echo chamber of a blog and demonstrating your heartbroken disappointment with the tragedy that is Barack Obama.

Has it ever occurred to you that if you and a few hundred of your like-minded friends went to City Hall, found the Justice of the Peace's office and freaking sat there with a sign that said "Marriage is for Everyone," until they arrested you, the media showed up, or a few thousand on-the-fence citizens joined the protest and all government business ground to a halt, that maybe, just maybe, you could hasten the day of liberation? Have you ever heard of civil disobedience?

Change isn't something that happens, it's something you make. If you want it, you have to push. You can piss and moan about the duplicitous Democrats until America loses hope, once again, and hands the whip to the GOP. You can discredit Obama so hard that we won't see his likes for another generation. A lost generation.

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Or you can help him do the right thing by making him do the right thing. You outnumber the birthers and the deathers and the homophobes and the hateful haters ten to one. Why do you let them outshout you, outwork you, out-hustle you? Why do you let them push you around and pick you off, issue by issue, one by one? Are your iPod's earplugs jammed in so deep you can't hear the storm? Do you think that being correct is good enough? Do you believe that with enough conferences and blogs and tweets you can smug your way to the future?

You call yourselves progressives. It's an honorable calling. And it comes with an obligation. To make some. Find a strategy, sit in, stand up, shout out, stage an uninsured cancer patient die-in on the Mall, scream bloody murder to power, but do something.

Spread the word any way you like, by blog post, text and tweet. But know this: You can't make history with your thumbs. You make it with your feet.

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San Francisco based columnist, author, gym rat and novelist. My book, "The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie" is the best memoir ever written by a cat. Available on Amazon.com, or wherever fine literature is sold with no sales tax collected. For (more...)
 

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FDR told activists in his own party, "I agree with... by E. Nelson on Thursday, Aug 20, 2009 at 12:45:04 PM
Let's not really make wrong conclusions. FDR wante... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Aug 20, 2009 at 1:11:20 PM
said the same thing. I have noted before that poli... by Daniel Geery on Thursday, Aug 20, 2009 at 1:19:47 PM
Of course, Alan's essay too is just virtual, just ... by Don Smith on Thursday, Aug 20, 2009 at 4:09:47 PM
place, knowing well in advance he is nothing but a... by Stanimal on Thursday, Aug 20, 2009 at 4:28:23 PM
Obama does not need an uprising from the streets t... by Jeffrey Rock on Thursday, Aug 20, 2009 at 8:01:03 PM
I think we need to make some distinctions between... by Richard Lee on Thursday, Aug 20, 2009 at 9:37:59 PM
I've said as much myself. You have to help steer t... by J. Edward Tremlett on Thursday, Aug 20, 2009 at 11:11:27 PM
And also there are family and friends--real live f... by Margaret Bassett on Thursday, Aug 20, 2009 at 11:21:28 PM
This should be hanging on every Progressive's wall... by John Sanchez Jr. on Friday, Aug 21, 2009 at 8:32:02 AM
I knew it was only a matter of time before the Oba... by Perry Logan on Friday, Aug 21, 2009 at 10:25:29 AM
So Allan will be organizing an action, right? Say ... by d.o. on Sunday, Aug 23, 2009 at 5:08:12 PM