Photo: Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Report on P4O
Meeting in D.C.
By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Last night (5/22) a Progressives for Obama event was held at a restaurant in DC. We had about 40 people and collected about $400 for the campaign. Speaking were myself and the noted writer Barbara Ehrenreich.
The meeting had several aims including, winning over progressives who were not yet committed to the campaign, as well as encouraging both financial contributions and volunteer work. Because the meeting had people who were both already committed as well as those who were ambivalent there was a certain level of 'tension' that existed that I believe was actually quite healthy.
I found it important to note how it was that I came to support Obama. Barbara Ehrenreich also explained her journey as well as how supporting Obama was not inconsistent with being a feminist.
Where things became interesting was in our willingness to express where we have had (and continue to have) disagreements with Senator Obama, in my case, around certain matters of foreign policy (e.g., the Middle East). Nevertheless, we discussed the potential opening that the Obama campaign presents for progressives.
This opening does not mean that we abandon our disagreements, but rather that we understand the 'moment' and the opportunities it presents. One critical issue that came up in various forms was the concern about what comes next, i.e., what happens after November whether we win or not. In fact, an individual came up to me and stated that she was not convinced that she and others should support Obama rather than voting with their hearts.
This led into an important, though incomplete, discussion concerning the need to build independent, mass electoral organizations that are guided by progressive politics.
(Note: This was a major theme of the article that Danny Glover and I wrote about in our article in The Nation in 2/2005--"Visualizing a Neo-Rainbow").
I walked away from the evening feeling very strongly that while the Progressives for Obama motion should NOT attempt to be an organization as such, there is a critical need to think about post-November and the long-term strategic need for a mass, progressive electoral formation.
I believe that many of us share the worry that a victory could be Pyrrhic if we lack the vitality to build a progressive force that can halt slippage to the Right by the Senator from the great state of Illinois, should he be elected; or for that matter, to resist any pro-active efforts to the Right should someone from the dark side of the Force be elected.
[Bill Fletcher, Jr. is co-author of "Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and A New Path Toward Social Justice" See: http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/11121.html]
Friday, May 23, 2008
Photo: Bill Fletcher, Jr.