Barack Obama says he is neither a “Scoop Jackson Democrat” nor a “Tom Hayden Democrat,” providing the author with a key to understanding the inevitable outsider role of the Left during the Obama era. In this framework, Hayden writes, progressives have to reshape what passes for the center in U.S. politics by pushing from the outside. This process will lead to major changes that nevertheless will disappoint the Left, as in the recent cases of health care and Wall Street reform. Hayden maintains that Obama will be the most progressive president of his political lifetime, but that his centrist positioning may well lose the Left in close elections ahead.

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