In assessing the Obama Presidency from a progressive and left perspective, two questions I would argue loom large: First, what was the concrete relationship of political and social forces – the balance of power – in the capital and country during his presidency? Second, is a transformative presidency a realistic possibility without a movement that possesses transformative power and a Congress that is disposed to social change?
The answers to each question isn’t the end of any assessment of his presidency. But both have to figure into any judgement of the Obama years. Otherwise, hollow and abstract pronouncements become the result. And, generally speaking, they do little to expand our political understanding of the achievements and limits of Obma’s presidency, nor do they shine much light on our own insufficiencies and what needs to be done going forward.