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The Nation

Lessons Not Learned

A year ago I was freezing on the Mall with a few million others, watching the inauguration of a new President. Today I'm sweltering in my unnaturally hot office, fearing the inauguration of a new movement.

A year ago, the mall was packed with grassroots democratic voters; young people, people of color, and activated independents whose massive discouragement with the political status quo had driven them to dig down, dismiss the conventional nay-sayers and work hard for change and for Obama.

On inauguration day, this program, live in Washington, raised the question to voters. "If we are the ones we can believe in, and change is not simply about someone else, namely a president, what will progressives inaugurate?"


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A year on it looks as if it's not progressives who've spent the year inaugurating. If the Democrat's loss in Massachusetts is anything to go by, it's the anti-Obama Right who've spent the year creating a movement: some of it racist, some corporate, and some plain desperate.

As John Stauber at the Center for Media and Democracy writes today, Scott Brown's Massachusetts win got a shot in the arm from a Tea Party-organized online money-bomb and get out the vote campaign, which borrowed tactics from Obama's netroots to raise way over a million dollars online in 24 hours and turn out voters.

"Freedomworks and other groups behind the Tea Party populists have long claimed that they would create the Right's equivalent of MoveOn, and they have." writes Stauber. I'd bet my lunch corporate anti-change donors didn't hurt either.

Nonetheless, the Right's MoveOn is only half the equation. Democratic leaders are the other. From war, to health care, to the Employee Free Choice Act, Democrats in the Obama administration have walked away from every proposition that stood a chance of igniting their grassroots base. Those now calling Coakley smug, know whereof they speak. Smugness is epidemic.

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders is a best-selling author and broadcaster who hosts the The Laura Flanders Show, where she interviews forward thinking people about the key questions of our time.  The LF Show airs weekly on KCET/LinkTV, FreeSpeech TV, and in English & Spanish in teleSUR. Flanders is also a contributing writer to The Nation and Yes! Magazine (“Commonomics”) and a regular guest on MSNBC. She is the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004) and Blue GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (Penguin Press, 2007). The Laura Flanders Show first aired on Air America Radio 2004-2008. You can find all her archives and more at or via Twitter @GRITlaura

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