On the cusp of the January 20 inauguration of Barack Obama, America's first black president, progressives spent the week eagerly offering up their hopes and high expectations.
Never before has a soon-to-be occupant of the Oval Office been more deluged by grassroots tidings, advice and admonitions. From reversing Bush's "anti-terror'' traumas to rescuing the economy from possible depression, everyone has a wish list for the Yes We Can man. Here are some excerpts from Obama's expectant constitutents.
"Letter to Obama: scale out arms dealing and make it illegal by the year 2020; write into every defense contract a requirement for a peacetime project; convert military bases to housing for the poor; require military personnel to devote part of their time to rebuilding infrastructure; fund social services and take the balance out of defense and homeland security budgets."
DEEPAK CHOPRA, author of Quantum Healing, Tikkun Magazine
"My advice to the Obama team is to scrap the business tax cuts, and, more important, to deal with the threat of doing too little by doing more. The way to do more is to look more broadly at the possibilities for government investment to provide further relief to Americans in distress - enhanced unemployment benefits, expanded Medicaid and more."
PAUL KRUGMAN, economist, New York Times
"Remember his 2007 words about Palestinian suffering and his campaign pledge to talk unconditionally with adversaries. The silence on Gaza, Obama must know, is extremely costly. The bright promise of moral leadership is sullied and squandered, along with the potential of America's ability to be an even-handed mediator."
TOM HAYDEN, peace activist
"For all Richard Nixon's faults, his trip to China is remembered as a courageous, far-sighted initiative that opened a new era in Sino-American relations. A trip to Cuba by President Barack Obama would be no less historic."
WILLIAM M. LEOGRAND and PETER KORNBLUH, Los Angeles Times
"Make a clean break from the George W. Bush regime's law of rule to our declared commitment to the rule of law. Bush-Cheney's stream of criminal and unconstitutional actions are on auto-pilot. Break these daily patterns as soon as you ascend to the presidency or be held increasingly responsible for them."
RALPH NADER, commondreams.org
"Speak not so much to him as to America. After Franklin Delano Roosevelt's election in 1932, FDR met with Sidney Hillman and other labor leaders. Hillman and his allies arrived with plans they wanted the new president to implement. Roosevelt told them: ‘I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.'"
JOHN NICHOLS, The Progressive
"We have to stop looking at him and start looking to ourselves, the people who knocked on doors, reached out independently of the campaign, signed petitions, registered voters around the clock and organized the most amazing campaign in American history to see who has the leverage to defeat the lobbyists, special interests and Republican operatives who will do everything to derail change."
DANNY SCHECHTER, mediachannel.org
"A shift from green jobs to a broader focus on green technology. This would require federal investments on the scale of $500 billion over the next decade."
TERYN NORRIS and JESSE JENKINS, Huffington Post
"It's troubling that Obama ramped up his rhetoric about exiting Iraq to focus on what he calls the ‘central front in the war on terror,' Afghanistan. An escalation would drain resources vital to his goals for an economic recovery, health care and social justice at home. Too few people in the mainstream media are asking tough questions."
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, The Nation