As Barack Obama’s deputy campaign chairman, Steve Hildebrand helped put the man in the White House. Now, he’s got a new job: the president’s loudest new critic.
Hildebrand, the Democratic political strategist who once called Obama “a different kind of politician,” wasn’t just charged with helping lead Obama’s general campaign for the masses, but specifically went after the gay vote. Makes sense, Hildebrand being gay and all.
Except Obama’s one-time right hand man is now turning against him. For all the right reasons.
Last seen trying to take some heat off the White House by encouraging LGBTs to focus on their representatives in Congress, Hildebrand used the podium Queer San Diego Democratic Club’s Freedom Awards to sandbag Obama for the very thing you’d expect: his failure to keep his commitment to LGBT Americans.
“The problem is Obama isn’t listening enough,” says Hildebrand. “This is my President, this is our President. I love him, I love Michelle, I want him to succeed, but all of us need to put pressure on him and Congress to do the right things. The American people put confidence in the Democrats because they though we could get things done, and if we fail, they’re not going to give it back.”
But it wasn’t just the president on his hit list. The Hill got its own lashing: “There are a lot of Blue Dogs in the House and moderate Democrats in the Senate who are standing in the way of getting things done. I gave up a lot to elect Democrats, and I expect them to give it up for me. I’m going to speak loudly. The Republicans don’t have power unless the moderates and the Blue Dogs give it to them — which is what they’re doing now. … We all lose as a party if we allow the moderates and the Blue Dogs to continue [to set the agenda].” And, as he notes, just because Dems control the executive and legislative branches now doesn’t mean they will in 2010 — in which case they won’t be able to push through a progressive agenda. Namely, our rights.
Which explains why, moving forward, Hildebrand is taking a new strategy: No more supporting individual candidates, which has been his M.O. Instead, he’ll focus on “building campaigns to put pressure on politicians from outside the electoral system,” relays Mark Gabrish Conlan. Says Hildebrand: “We have to help elect good people to office, but we also have to push them from the outside. I don’t want to have to listen to one more candidate talk about ‘reforming health care’ and not get it done. I’m tired of it.”
You’ve got to hand it to the guy: Hildebrand isn’t kidding around. He could have easily graduated from putting Obama in the White House and moved on to advising other political clients for handsome fees.
But he’s not. And nor is he mincing words. He may have spent 22 years helping put people in office, and the last year getting Obama into the White House, but it’s clear Hildebrand is operating off his own agenda now. One of true equality, which he’ll enact not by getting anyone elected, but by forcing them to stick to campaign promises and the needs of their constituents.
We’d suggest Hildebrand himself run for political office, but that’d be a waste of a perfectly good American.