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A growing movement

You know you're on to something when somebody puts out a rush-edition book on the topic. And sure enough, in yesterday's mail, arrived Yes, We Can! 365 Ways to Make America A Better Place, by Paula Munier. It lists an action a day for an entire year that readers can take to improve America. Among the ideas are several we're looking to Obama for leadership on, and others will push him in progressive directions. Here are some examples:

-teach an unskilled laborer a marketable skill

-switch banks if your bank took bailout money and won't report how it's spending it

-shoot a documentary about local corporate greed

-start an e-mail campaign against instances of government waste

-support legislation to regulate Wall Street (a separate action is to support regulating the banking industry, too)

-report environmental hazards to the EPA

There are many more, including supporting local businesses, patronizing arts organizations and artists, getting fit, helping others, etc.

Today's Washington Post also asks what will become of the movement that backed Obama. The biggest hint is at the very end, when the reporter describes the thousands of neighborhood and house meetings organized with the social-networking tools on my.BarackObama.com to push Obama in the people's direction.

In recent days, Matt Stoller at Open Left has chronicled how various members of Obama's team differ from progressives on policy positions, and reveals that the administration is to the right of House Dems, but about in the center of Senate Dems. He warns that while Obama's strategy of incremental change may be hailed as "pragmatic" by those who wish to oppose him, but "incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place."

Paul Krugman at the New York Times has warned that Obama's cabinet picks are squandering political capital he will badly need in the days ahead.

The Nation has editorialized that the key to Obama's success - or the signal of his failure - will be his approach to fixing the economy, and whether his reach is vast enough to effect sweeping change. And elsewhere in the same publication, a progressive blogger has said: "There's been a lot of hand-wringing about what Obama is going to do with his e-mail list, but that has it a bit backward... It's really, What is the list going to do with Obama?"

And it goes without saying that the whole mess between Israel and Hamas is so disastrous and so dire that Obama will probably have to wade in on the afternoon of Inauguration Day.

So where does this leave us, out here in progressive-land, waiting for our president-elect to have time to think about us? The answer is to continue the house meetings, to continue the e-mail campaigns, to continue to pressure Obama to do what needs to be done. We need him less than he needs us.

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