Political realities are a bitch, the battle that is in front of you is not always the only focus and frequently not even the most important. The long game requires a view of the whole board and a plan that allows maximum return on the whole range of objectives, not just the one or two that are currently in play. By its very nature the long game is rarely a group endeavor, mostly because it requires too much discipline but also because groups lack vision.
President Obama plays the long game, we watched it in the primaries, we watched it in the election. Obama is wired for it, he doesn’t get flustered, he doesn’t lose focus, he leaves that for his opponents. The long game is how progressives buck the trends of the last thirty years and swing political discourse in their direction.
The progressive agenda looks something like this: ending DADT, achieving marriage equality, ending the war in Iraq, ending the war in Afghanistan, pushing alternative energies, moving on climate change, pay equality, immigration reform, banking regulation, environmental protections, dealing with budget deficits, reaching diplomatic understanding with Iran and North Korea, enabling a continued and honest push for peace between Israel and Palestine and reforming the health care system.
I know that everyone has their own desired agenda and you think that President Obama should be able to deliver everything that he even mentioned during the two year campaign because “he promised”!
What people don’t seem to realize is that the board changed when the economy crashed, that didn’t change the agenda it changed the order, the method and the tools, it changed the strategy necessary to keep the entire agenda in play.
So yes we need to pass health care reform, even a weakened reform and get a win. It will be a win, the current bill is still better than what we currently have and the new legislation creates a framework for additional reforms moving forward. We need to leverage that win in the 2010 election showing the right as obstructionist AND ineffective in order to hold majorities in congress.
The long game is how progressives get their agenda worked on, note I didn’t say getting the agenda passed or enacted, I said getting the agenda worked on. You build on your success, you keep the pressure on you push your politicians, you protest, you write, you swing the narrative, you fight.
Just for effect let’s recap the short game, it goes something like this:
Progressives say that health care reform isn’t good enough and they kill the bill, certain that defeat is better than a compromised victory.
Teabaggers go berserk as they see that their vitriolic hate-ins and obstructionist minorities have taken down Obama.
The narrative will be healthcare IS Obama’s Waterloo.
The MSM will report the defeat on health care reform as a crushing blow and collectively shake their heads at how quickly and completely the progressives have fallen.
DADT is delayed for lack of political will.
The right wing fringe builds on victories in NY and California to spread bans on gay marriage to more states.
The majority in the house gets so small and the blue dogs so scared that it will seem like the GOP has regained control of congress… I won’t go on, it is just too damn depressing.
The point is we are eleven months into a four year and possibly an eight year administration. It is the first quarter and maybe only the halfway point of the first quarter. Now is not the time to gather up your marbles and go home, if you do your game won’t even be in play when you come back.