Arkansas and America’s Future Now

I’m spending the time I can spare while not editing OtherWords’ upcoming commentaries at America’s Future Now, which runs through Wednesday. This annual progressive summit fittingly coincides this year with Arkansas’ Democratic primary runoff. Speaker after speaker bemoaned the Obama administration’s timidity and called on the Democratic-controlled Congress to become more unified and assertive. “We have to stop waiting for Obama,” said Bob Borosage, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, which organizes this massive Washington gathering. “We have to stop taking the President’s temperature.”

The heated battle between incumbent Blanche Lincoln, backed by former President Bill Clinton and mounds of corporate money, and challenger Lt. Gov. Bill Halter may be the first of many. Lincoln has loudly protested the support that Halter’s gotten from organized labor, yet he’s gotten only seven percent of his campaign contributions from PACs, vs. 38% for Lincoln. Watch developments in this race on the Daily Kos blog as Arkansas voters go to the polls today. “We need to go to the mat for the real deal,” is how Ilyse Hogue, MoveOn.org’s campaign director put it. “We’re going to take the imposters out.”

So many influential progressives are publicly venting their frustration with the Obama administration at this conference that prominent media outlets are finally noticing this hardly new trend. Good examples include Politico‘s Glenn Thrush and Philip Rucker at the Washington Post. This strikes me as a good thing. I’ve attended this conference, formerly known as Take Back America, off and on for seven years, and often seen major media outlets give this key conference short shrift—focusing on comments made by political candidates and politicians at the expense of reporting the pulse of progressive America.

Twitter fans can follow the debate with the #AFN hashtag. Even if you’re not big on Twitter, check out the top tweets from the conference’s first day on Campaign for America’s Future website.