You know what a liberal firebrand sounds like? You know what a liberal firebrand sounds like, if you heard tonight's State of the Union address by the President. Wow, what a speech! He didn't let Congress breathe for a second, and John Boehner looked ready to begin crying. Let's just go through a quick list of the president's newly invigorated agenda:
- Raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour and index it to the cost of living! (Wow, this guy is talking about a living wage!)
- Pass the Violence Against Women Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.
- Universal preschool.
- Create jobs by helping the middle class and making the wealthy pay more. (That's right, the rich aren't done paying yet.)
- Build more renewable energy resources and attack climate change.
- Full benefits to same sex families of the military.
- Victims of gun violence and their families deserve a vote on taking weapons of war off the streets, on limiting the size of magazines, and on universal background checks.
- A comprehensive immigration reform plan must include a pathway to full citizenship.
- Congress must address election reform; no citizen should be deprived of their right to vote because they have to wait too long to cast a ballot.
Let me be clear: if there is such a thing as libgasm, and you didn't have one during this State of the Union address, you aren't a liberal.
Think about this: this president has already achieved, in his first term, progressive milestone legislation and administrative policies:
- The Affordable Care Act will for the first time in history bring us strikingly close to universal health insurance, if not provide it.
- Massive expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program, covering 11 million children.
- Student loan reform, credit card reform.
- The strongest regulations on Wall Street since the 1930s, and the nation's first ever consumer protection agency.
- Ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
- Ending the ban on combat service for women.
- The largest investment in history in renewable energy technologies through the American Recovery Act (yep, the stimulus).
- Saving the American auto industry, and bringing it back stronger, making American manufacturing resurgent again.
- Ending two wars.
- Reducing nuclear stockpiles.
Add to this even a subset of the agenda he just laid out. Add the most likely ones: immigration reform, renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, some version of expanded/universal preschool and a set of gun safety reforms. Add to that the successful full implementation of the Affordable Care Act beginning in 2014. Why not the minimum wage, too? That may not pass in this Congress, but if it doesn't, the president just showed us what the Democrats' calling card will be in the midterm elections in 2014. Pinning the Republicans on the Affordable Care Act once people begin benefiting from it, and, a wildly popular plan to increase the minimum wage, if only the Speaker's gavel could be handed back over to Nancy Pelosi.
Add all of that up and tell me that you can remember a single president in history that has achieved as much true forward progress for liberal causes as this president already has combined with what he is likely to have achieved by the end of his second term. In real policy achievement terms, there are other presidents that have done a significant thing or two, but no president has ever achieved as much progressive policy agenda panning as many different policy areas as Barack Obama has and will have.
Republicans keep saying that Barack Obama is the most liberal president in history. They're right. Not because as they would portend, Barack Obama is a radical hothead, but because he's a liberal firebrand who actually knows how to pursue and put into policy a progressive agenda. He's a liberal firebrand that is also a tireless organizer. And the Republicans know this. There would be nothing for them to fear Barack Obama if he were just another liberal. Their problem is this is a liberal who can connect the American people to their liberal values, speak to them, and organize to get that agenda through.