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Shocking: High School Grads Twice As Likely To Be Jobless Than College Grads – and Right-Wingers are Profiting From Their Pain

The economic meltdown has hit non-college grads much harder than the educated. And conservatives are very good at exploiting their anger and unease.

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When Barack Obama won the presidency, the euphoria felt by progressives was understandable. But now it's grown-up time -- time to remember that millions of Americans voted for Obama only reluctantly. They weren't voting for the nation's first black president or for a progressive agenda; they were voting against the legacy of George W. Bush, under whose leadership the Republicans completely screwed up the economy. Unless progressives push Obama to deliver on jobs, and unless progressives reach out to the jobless to engage them in this fight, the Obama presidency could soon be regarded as a failed progressive experiment, full of arguments about abstract topics like cap-and-trade and net neutrality, a game of badminton played by elites, while in the big, bad coliseum of life, regular people are getting mauled.

In the meantime, the president's approval numbers are falling precipitously among white people and independents. Since his inauguration, Obama's approval numbers, according to a Gallup poll released this week, have fallen 22 points among whites.

It's time for liberal leaders to embark on a path that connects progressive goals to the plight of everyday people; one that channels the fierce urgency felt at the ground level to an enormous push for a major jobs program (and the deficit spending it will require), and that has progressives talking to people in their own neighborhoods via local media. More than anything, we need to get over the notion that we know how bad it is. Time to pull the iPod buds out of our ears and meet the thundering dissonance.

Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.

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