About 200 laid-off factory workers are all having a magical sit-in in a closed plant in Chicago, because 1933 just broke out. The Republic Windows and Doors employees, members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, have been occupying the window factory ever since management announced their abrupt, immediate layoffs, without pay, in violation of federal law. Republic Windows and Doors had their credit cut off by Bank of America, which just got a cool $25 billion from the Treasury, in order to help them, uh, unfreeze credit. But it's an old-fashioned labor/management standoff, with a big evil bank involed, and hey, Barack Obama came out in support of the workers this weekend. Maybe he will be a liberal!
Basically, the popular conception of "liberalism" is anything from "opposition to Bush" to "driving a Prius" to "abortions for all" to "well-behaved women seldom make history" bumper stickers. By those narrow campus activist/aging hippie standards, Barack Obama is not quite a liberal. But as a community organizer, a constitutional lawyer who believes the founding document leads the way to a "more perfect union," Obama is probably very much a "liberal" of the pre-1960s variety. The kind concerned less with the diversity-for-the-sake-of-diversity of his cabinet and more with fixing America's ingrained institutional problems.
Obama introduced his magic economy-fixing team last month, and they were all lined up behind him in order to reassure "the markets," because the markets are very important. But Obama, who's also got his national security team now in place, hasn't yet appointed a labor secretary, which is making some people concerned.
But we hold out hope that market-reassuring aside, Obama will give us a powerful Labor secretary, pass the Employee Free Choice Act, and use this terrible crisis to shore up the remaining American workers. Of course in order for that to happen "The Left" needs to exert some of that grassroots pressure in actually effective and helpful ways, and not all just fight amongst themselves like usual.
And maybe he'll be the guy who pushes crazy liberal ideas like worker protection and national health insurance into the mainstream, allowing him to reshape the American political scene like a Reagan, who made his revolution seem inevitable and natural.