Media Advisory: Looking back, looking forward: Politics professor evaluates Obama’s first term and previews second-term policy issues

As Obama’s Jan. 21 inauguration approaches, Wake Forest University politics professor David Coates can analyze political lessons learned from Obama’s first term and evaluate how progressive Obama’s second term is likely to be.

Will Obama move farther away from compromise and bipartisanship to follow a markedly more liberal agenda in his second term?  Will his second term bring the elimination of the debt ceiling, the introduction of new gun legislation, the expansion of welfare, or immigration reform?

In his new book, “Pursuing the Progressive Case? Observing Obama in Real Time,” Coates presents a collection of commentaries pondering the strengths and weaknesses of the president’s first term. The essays provide a detailed review of the key political developments of the last four years, covering topics such as financial reform, health care, stimulus and deficits, poverty and unemployment, the foreclosure crisis, immigration, welfare, and troop distribution.

Coates says:


“The president regularly talks a populist rhetoric, but he has yet to deliver on progressive policies.  It is now the job of every American liberal to urge him to bring rhetoric and policy together and to critique him when he does not. This country desperately needs a progressive tidal wave in November 2014, and you don’t get tidal waves without first creating the headwind that drives them. It is time for that driving to begin. There is an Inaugural Address, a State of the Union, and a budget, all coming now in quick succession. Each will need to be watched for signs of fundamental re-framing. The President re-framed the gun law issue superbly by the quality of his address at Newtown. If he can do that vital job on something so horrific and so specific, let us hope he can do it too on something more structural and more general. America needs a new path. This President has the opportunity to set it. The question is: will he?”

Coates, Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies, is also the author of “Answering Back: Liberal Responses to Conservative Arguments” and “Making the Progressive Case.” He maintains the website and blogs regularly on The Huffington Post.

About Wake Forest University: Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at


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