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Liberal Base "Worried" About Obama Agenda

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Jane Hamsher, the founder of liberal blog, said in an interview Tuesday that the liberal base is "worried" about the Obama administration and may "stay home" in the 2010 midterm elections.

Hamsher compared the current situation to the 1994 elections, when, she said, the Democratic base (including union members) was demoralized and disengaged following the passage of The North American Free Trade Agreement. Republicans took control of both the House and Senate in that contest.

She argued that the Obama administration is paying little attention to its base even as the opposition gins up support among the Republican base with events like the Tea Party protests.

"If you're suppressing your base, and the other side is revving up theirs, and midterm elections are all about turning out the base, I sort of question what their strategy is here," she said.

Hamsher has signed on to a financial boycott of the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America (the DNC-run operation to mobilize Obama supporters) and the Obama campaign. The boycott was organized by Americablog's John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay over what they see as President Obama and his party's failure to keep its commitments to the gay and lesbian community.

"LGBT Americans, our families, and our friends kept our promise at the ballot box, we now expect President Obama to keep his in the White House," they wrote. In addition to Hamsher, cosponsors include the liberal blog Daily Kos, writer and editor Dan Savage and radio host Michelangelo Signorile.

The boycott will be lifted, Aravosis and Sudbay write, when legislation is signed enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama pledged action on all these issues but has not pressed them since entering office.

"We respect the right of anyone to express their views and always are willing to listen," a DNC official told Hotsheet in response to the boycott. "And, we recognize that there is much more to do. We do, however, take pride in the historic accomplishments which we have been able to achieve with the help of the community just nine months into the president's term and are we going to continue to work for greater equality and justice for all Americans."

Accomplishments cited by the official included signing into law an extension of hate crimes protections for LGBT citizens, extending benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees, hiring record numbers of LGBT Americans, and extending the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act.

That's not enough for some on the left, however – and LGBT issues are not the only ones generating anger. Separate from the Americablog effort, another boycott is being organized by Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos. He is calling on his readers not to donate to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee because it is supporting candidates who voted against the health care reform bill. "Instead, give to those elected officials who best reflect your values," he writes.

In addition to signing onto the Americablog boycott, Hamsher pushed her readers to unsubscribe to the Organizing for America mailing list, which is believed to include 12 - 13 million names. Liberals have been unhappy with OFA for not doing more on progressive causes like the gay marriage referendum in Maine.

"They don't want to go out on issues that would make supporters of that list happy," said Hamsher. "They're triangulating against that list."

The DNC official counters that the president remains popular with liberals (and "across the political spectrum") and notes that Democrats have won all five special elections this year – evidence, the official suggested, that the base is not demoralized.

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