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Obama’s Hurdle: America Lacks a Movement for the Middle-Class

Randy Shawbyline‚ Feb. 12‚ 2013

After his 2012 campaign focused on reviving the middle-class, President Obama’s State of the Union speech will offer specifics on creating jobs and restoring prosperity. But Obama’s agenda faces a steep hurdle: the United States has no grassroots movement pressuring Congress members to address jobs, education, housing and other domestic concerns. The lack of any real grassroots vehicle for pressuring reluctant Republicans to act on jobs and domestic spending is a longstanding problem.

The labor movement prioritizes such issues but has not swayed Republicans on spending in recent years and is understandably focused on immigration reform. Middle-class bread and butter issues are important to progressive groups like MoveOn, but are among a laundry list of competing concerns. Obama’s new Organizing for Action could mobilize in enough Republican House districts to win support for new public investment and job creation, but this is not currently among its top priorities. Absent a grassroots movement, talk about jobs, education and other domestic needs will remain just that---talk.