Friday, March 28, 2008

Here come the progressives for Obama

Tom Hayden, back in the day

Everyone should read this article by Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Danny Glover - a pretty tough quartet of longtime activists - about why they are supporting Obama. And before Bimbo starts screaming about Obama's centrism, he should note that these authors don't deny it, and say that in fact that centrism is why progressive involvement in his campaign is critical:
However, the fact that Barack Obama openly defines himself as a centrist invites the formation of this progressive force within his coalition. Anything less could allow his eventual drift towards the right as the general election approaches. It was the industrial strikes and radical organizers in the 1930s who pushed Roosevelt to support the New Deal. It was the civil rights and student movements that brought about voting rights legislation under Lyndon Johnson and propelled Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy’s anti-war campaigns. It was the original Earth Day that led Richard Nixon to sign environmental laws. And it will be the Obama movement that makes it necessary and possible to end the war in Iraq, renew our economy with a populist emphasis, and confront the challenge of global warming.

We should not only keep the pressure on, but we also should connect the issues that Barack Obama has made central to his campaign into an overarching progressive vision.

And then there is the alternative:

We are pleased that Hillary Clinton has been responsive to the tide of voter opinion this year, and we applaud the possibility of at last electing an American woman president. But progressives should be disturbed at her duplicitous positions on Iraq and NAFTA. She still denies that her 2002 vote for legislation which was called the war authorization bill was a vote for war authorization. She now promises to “end the war” but will not set a timeline for combat troop withdrawal, and remains committed to leaving tens of thousands of counter-terrorism troops and trainers in Iraq amidst a sectarian conflict. While Obama needs to clarify his own position on counterinsurgency, Clinton’s “end the war” rhetoric conceals an open commitment to keep American troops in Iraq until all our ill-defined enemies are defeated-a treadmill which guarantees only the spawning of more enemies. On NAFTA, she claims to have opposed the trade deal behind closed doors when she was First Lady. But the public record, and documents recently disclosed in response to litigation, proves that she was a cheerleader for NAFTA against the strong opposition of rank-and-file Democrats. The Clintons ushered in the Wall Street Democrats whose deregulation ethos has widened inequality while leaving millions of Americans without their rightful protections against market shocks.


Montserrat Nicolás said...

centrism is progressive????

this is what 8 years of Bush have made to this country!

as we say in latino chat speak, "mish".


Nancy D., Girl Detective said...

I don't understand how Obama supporters on this blog oscillate between declaring Obama the true progressive to the true centrist (in a context where centrism is good, of course). Which is it?

Carl Davidson said...

It's not hard to figure at all. To be president today, the majority coalition is made up of both left and center.

That's what Obama's campaign is.

If you want to have a voice and keep from rightward drift, strengthen the progressive pole in the broader alliance.

It not rocket science. All you need to know is how to count.

Betty & Bimbo said...

I don't know about this article.

Overall, the points it makes in support are good and obviously I agree with the basic politics.

But Obama (like any candidate these days) doesn't "openly define" himself as anything, as far as I can see. And the centrist point that Koko emphasizes is hardly central to this
endorsement. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. The endorsement claims that Obama defines himself as a centrist but also calls him the leader of a "social movement" that all progressives should obviously gravitate towards. Huh?

Gabriela said...

Progressives need to learn to spell Colombia right!!

Koko the Clown said...

Obama doesn't call himself a centrist, perhaps, but he does essentially define himself as that in this campaign, in spite of his more liberal record. Clinton defines herself similarly, but has a more of a conservative record, in my view. So he is the more progressive candidate - which is different than being "the" progressive candidate. I do stand by the assertion that he's the best candidate for progressives to rally around, which is all I have ever asserted. And I've only asserted that since John Edwards dropped out of the race -- but I do believe it very strongly nonetheless.

Nancy D., Girl Detective said...

I'm with you Betty: this is all pretty speculative. He "positions" himself as this, but he is really that, as we are to understand from the way he blinks his eyes, perhaps?

Check out HC's latest speech on the housing crisis for some incisive policy discussion. Campaign or no campaign (and it's looking like no campaign), you can count on her to pound out these issues regardless.

Montserrat Nicolás said...

we are suffering here, man!
we are sticking it up to the big guy, theorizing about small and important differences between whatever the Dems major fundraisers says we should like...

Or even better, URI-BI-A...

Love that sense of humour, sweetie!