"A Progressive Mandate — ‘Now Comes The Hard Part’"
“The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly,” Sen. John McCain said last night during his concession speech. He’s right.
As Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman explains, “In this election, Obama proudly stood up for progressive values and the superiority of progressive policies; John McCain, in return, denounced him as a socialist, a redistributor. And the American people rendered their verdict. Now the work begins.”
A mandate for progressive change exists. In a memo released today, the Center for American Progress Action Fund writes, “Obama ran on the most progressive platform of any presidential candidate in at least 15 years, including a promise of universal health care coverage, a dramatic transformation to a low-carbon economy, and a historic investment in education.” Read the full memo below:
Our nation today is only now realizing the extent of the resounding victory for progressive ideals registered on election day. Progressives triumphed in all regions of the country and won overwhelming support from individuals of all different backgrounds. President-elect Barack Obama defeated Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) decisively, winning the most votes in history and the largest share of the popular vote of any presidential candidate in two decades. Candidates running on progressive platforms helped Democrats expand their majorities in both houses of Congress. Democrats now have the most elected members of Congress any party has held since 1995.
Now comes the hard part. Our country faces enormous challenges, many the direct result of eight years of hapless conservative governance. The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression is only the latest blow delivered to the American people after years of stagnant wages and the worst job-creation record since Herbert Hoover. Our increasingly costly health care system leaves out more and more Americans every year.
Years of war in Iraq have left Americans less safe at home and abroad despite the incredible sacrifice of our brave fighting men and women there and in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and the Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are mounting a comeback. And our planet is now eight years closer to catastrophic climate change.
Sen. McCain and other conservatives supported these policies, and they ran this election year on ambitious conservative plans that would have gone even further. The American people rejected these stale ideas yesterday, understanding the dismal consequences of conservatism these past eight years. The urgency of our problems was central to the decisions of American voters, who were significantly more likely to say that the economy, taxes, heath care, and energy were “very important” compared to four years ago, according to the Pew Research Center.
That’s why candidates who embraced progressive solutions to these problems won. Obama ran on the most progressive platform of any presidential candidate in at least 15 years, including a promise of universal health care coverage, a dramatic transformation to a low-carbon economy, and a historic investment in education. Winning congressional candidates also embraced progressive policies. And polls showed that voters supported progressive solutions by wide margins.
In a few short months, leaders who support progressive ideals will take up the reins of government in Washington. We must rise to the occasion. We must move beyond the false choice of left versus center to embrace solutions as big as the challenges we face.
We need investments now to jumpstart our economy while laying the foundations for sustained economic growth. Restoring confidence in our economy will require a new direction for the economy, health care, clean energy, and education. And we must be willing to set priorities on government spending to restore budgetary responsibility in the coming years.
If we do these things, then we can translate yesterdayís victory at the polls into a victory for health care, clean energy, national security, and a stronger and larger middle class. The American people are ready. Now it’s time to deliver.
President Bush was re-elected in 2004 with 286 electoral votes, the smallest popular-vote margin since 1976 (excluding the 2000 election) and the lowest electoral vote count for an incumbent president’s re-election since 1916. Nevertheless, many in the media were quick to echo Vice President Dick Cheney’s assertion that “the nation” gave Bush “a mandate.” It remains to be seen whether the media will apply the same standard in assessing the results of the 2008 election.