With President Barack Obama and Congress set to return to work Monday, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel stressed the need for progressives to push for accountability not just for Obama, but for lawmakers like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
“The job here isn’t yelling at the president, it’s yelling at those house members,” Harris-Perry said on her show Saturday. “The accountability is in part by saying, ‘Mr. Boehner, last week you said ACA, Affordable Care Act was the law of the land. This week, you’re putting it on the table during the ‘fiscal cliff’? No. We need health care in this country. The Supreme Court has said it is legal. There is an accountability question on the things that presidents do, like [drone strikes]. But on the domestic policy side, it can’t be just presidential.”
In some communities, panelist Lester Spence said, those types of people are already in place, organizing — “real organizing, not mobilizing, ‘Come vote for my boy’” work. He pointed to the recent grassroots fight in Maryland against a proposed $104 million jail “for youth charged as adults” that garnered backing from the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
“That type of organizing is the type of things we have to create,” said Spence, an associate professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University. “Then, that creates a moral incentive for the president and other legislatures to do it. That’s the only way we can actually do this.”
And one big target, panelist Anthea Butler said, should be the midterm elections in 2014.
“It is time to get some of these folks out,” said Butler, who teaches Religious Studies and African Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. “Because if obstruction is going to continue, and we’re gonna have a chance to really do something from 2014 to 2016, what people need to do is to start mobilizing on the state level to begin to push these representatives out.”
Watch Harris-Perry and her panel discuss the road ahead for progressives under Obama, as aired Saturday on MSNBC, below.