Obama’s progressive vision

The president’s grand plan will work only if his supporters push hard

President Barack Obama used his inaugural speech Monday to lay out a grand vision of American egalitarianism and progressiveness, going all the way back to the foundational texts of American democracy, the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution.

“We, the people,” he reiterated like a refrain, reminding us that the Constitution is a collective document designed to protect “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” in the immortal words of the Declaration.

Woven into the soaring rhetoric was a call to action: to combat income inequality and strengthen the middle class, to enable women to “earn a living equal to their efforts,” to make sure “our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” to “find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity,” to make sure that “all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and always safe from harm,” and “to respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

Obama made similar promises four years ago, but there was something in his tone this time that suggested he was more committed to these goals. With the war in Iraq over, the war in Afghanistan winding down, the economy recovering, a decisive victory behind him and no need to worry about re-election, he can afford to push hard to accomplish his goals.

The president has admitted that he erred in 2009 by failing to sustain the immense Obama for America organization and its thousands of volunteers. He’s not going to make that mistake again.

Last Friday it was announced that his campaign organization would continue under a new name, Organizing for Action, and be headed by Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina. Initially it will focus on three key issues: gun control, immigration reform and climate change. This important practical step to keep the troops mobilized is an indication that the president is determined to take the energy and enthusiasm of his re-election campaign—and his inaugural speech—and apply them now.