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Use me!

It's still too early to know whether President-Elect Obama (!!!) will be a split-the-difference politician in the Clinton mold, or if his rhetoric about "changing Washington" means he'll fight for transformative policies once he's inaugurated.

But if it's the latter, I have a small request. Use me.

Washington is all about the status-quo, so if Obama wants to change anything he'll have to draw on reservoirs of support outside of the beltway political class. George Packer puts the problem thusly in his New Yorker piece:

Transformative Presidents -- those who changed the country's sense of itself in some fundamental way -- have usually had great social movements supporting and pushing them. Lincoln had the abolitionists, Roosevelt the labor unions, Johnson the civil-rights leaders, Reagan the conservative movement. Clinton didn't have one, and after his election, [Robert] Reich said, "everyone went home."

Packer argues that Obama doesn't yet have any social movements behind him -- his supporters came together for the purpose of electing Obama and not for any particular reasons of policy. But Obama does have a huge list of email addresses linking him to people who could be persuaded to support transformative change beyond the simple fact of a President Obama. If he keeps us informed of what's going on; if he explains to us what he wants to do and where he wants to go, he could build a power base outside Washington with enough pull to get the Congressional wankers to actually change something. It does happen -- the recent House votes against the bailout bill come to mind as an example of how constituent anger can thwart the establishment leadership (for a week, at least).

In the meantime, we'll try to hold on until Bush is gone. First things first.

UPDATE: I meant to link to the transition team's site, http://change.gov, which shows a lot of promise as a way for the Obama administration to communicate directly with citizens.

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