Barack Is Our
March 24th, 2008
by Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher, Jr.,
Barbara Ehrenreich, and Danny Glover
All American progressives should unite for Barack Obama. We descend from the proud tradition of independent social movements that have made
As progressives we believe this sudden and unexpected new movement is just what
During past progressive peaks in our political history—the late Thirties, the early Sixties—social movements have provided the relentless pressure and innovative ideas that allowed centrist leaders to embrace visionary solutions. We find ourselves in just such a situation today.
We intend to join and engage with our brothers and sisters in the vast rainbow of social movements to come together in support of Obama’s unprecedented campaign and candidacy. Even though it is candidate-centered, there is no doubt that the campaign is a social movement, one greater than the candidate himself ever imagined.
Progressives can make a difference in close primary races like
Obama’s March 17 speech on racism was as great a speech as ever given by a presidential candidate, revealing a philosophical depth, personal authenticity, and political intelligence that should convince any but the hardest of ideologues that he carries unmatched leadership potentials for overcoming the divide-and-conquer tactics which have sundered Americans since the first slaves arrived here in chains.
Only words? What words they were.
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
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.
- The Iraq War must end as rapidly as possible, not in five years. All our troops must be withdrawn. Diplomacy and trade must replace further military occupation or military escalation into
Progressives should support Obama’s 16-month combat troop withdrawal plan in comparison to
The Democratic candidates should listen more to the blunt advice of the voters instead of the timid talk of their national security advisers. Two-thirds of American voters, and a much higher percentage of Democrats, oppose this war and favor withdrawal in less than two years, nearly half of them in less than one year. The same percentage believe the war has had a negative effect on life in the
Further, the battered and abused people of
The American government’s arrogant defiance of these strong popular majorities in both
The profound transition from the policies of the past will not be easy, and fortunately the Obama campaign is lifted by the fresh wind of change. We seek not only to change the faces in high places, however, but to save our country from slow death by greed, status quo politics, and loss of vision. The status quo cannot stand much longer, neither that of politics-as-usual nor that of our security, energy and economic policies. We are stealing from the next generation’s future, and living on borrowed time.
The Bush Administration has replaced the Cold War with the War on Terrorism led by the same military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned against. The reality and public fear of terrorism today is no less real than fear of communism and nuclear annihilation a generation ago. But we simply cannot continue multiple military interventions in many Muslim countries without increasing the vast number of violent jihadists against us, bleeding our military and our economy, becoming more dependent on Middle East oil, creating unsavory alliances with police states, shrinking our own civil liberties and putting ourselves at permanent risk of another 9/11 attack.
We need a brave turn towards peace and conflict resolution in the
Nor can we impose NAFTA-style trade agreements on so many nations that seek only to control their own national resources and economic destinies. We cannot globalize corporate and financial power over democratic values and institutions. Since the Clinton Administration pushed through NAFTA against the Democratic majority in Congress, one Latin American nation after another has elected progressive governments that reject
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
We take very seriously the argument that Americans should elect a first woman president, and we abhor the surfacing of sexism in this supposedly post-feminist era. But none of us would vote for Condoleeza Rice as either the first woman or first African-American president. We regret that the choice divides so many progressive friends and allies, but believe that a Clinton presidency would be a Clinton presidency all over again, not a triumph of feminism but a restoration of the aging, power-driven Wall Street Democratic Hawks at a moment when so much more fresh imagination is possible and needed. A
We did not foresee the exciting social movement that is the Obama campaign. Many of us supported other candidates, or waited skeptically as weeks and months passed. But the closeness of the race makes it imperative that everyone on the sidelines, everyone in doubt, everyone vacillating, everyone fearing betrayals and the blasting of hope, everyone quarreling over political correctness, must join this fight to the finish. Not since Robert Kennedy’s 1968 campaign has there been a passion to imagine the world anew like the passion and unprecedented numbers of people mobilized in this campaign.
[TOM HAYDEN is author of Ending the War in