Photo: Campaign Volunteers
Voting for Peace,
By Tom Hayden
Now that the long primary is over, it becomes urgent for progressives to shift gears to our role between now and November. Millions of dollars will be spent for voter outreach on issues from womens' rights to workers' needs to environmental protection. Considerable resources are expected to go to independent campaigning against Iraq and its economic impact. Here is a sketch of the possibilities.
The role of 'Progressives for Obama'
It is clear that we are a network, as Bill Fletcher says, and not an organization. Still, we serve as an effective rallying point for progressives through the November election and, if Obama is elected president, into the early phase of 2009. So what are our tasks?
1. Providing a forum for discussion among progressives. We are a forum for analysis and discussion with those progressives still skeptical about Obama, the Democratic Party, and/or the whole electoral process. We create space for maintaining differences with Obama - on Iraq, trade, etc. - while persuading skeptics to fully support him as the best option for progressives this year. Making this case is an important priority in what appears to be a very close election. As Obama moves toward the center-right, making the case could become more difficult.
2. Making the progressive community a factor Obama must keep in mind. Without an independent critical progressive force there will be little to slow the candidate's rightward direction through November. The worry is that Obama will be able to take the entire left-of-center vote for granted with McCain the Republican nominee.
Progressives should try to persuade the Obama campaign that they depend on aroused progressive voters in certain states and districts, among other constituencies. [Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, even parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania.] In addition, Obama will need to push up his vote in safe Democratic states to ensure a popular majority.
The most important immediate tool is the anti-war plank being proposed for the Denver convention, supported by 50 members of Congress, saying: withdraw all combat troops, leaving no permanent bases, conduct a diplomatic surge including negotiations with Iran, end the use of torture, and the closure of Guantanamo. [See details below]. There may also be amendments proposed by a fair trade coalition, and others.
3. Taking the progressive message beyond the progressive base. Soon there will exist independent organizational channels to reach voters around the war, the economy and trade, and global warming. These will be deployed through the internet, phone banking, direct contact at the door and other voter mobilization approaches. Progressives should see this as a unique chance for base-building. There's no rule that says one has to only build the organization of the Democratic Party. One can work independently at the grassroots, so be sure to retain the lists and contacts to build the progressive infrastructure.
4. Helping win this election at every level. In addition to electing Obama, progressives should welcome the political surge among African-Americans and young people of all backgrounds as a trend that might change the electorate for years to come. There are progressive pockets all over the country where trend-setting candidates can and should be elected this November. Money, phone banking, internet messaging and door to door work can be targeted to these many progressive pockets.
Here is a tentative list of dates and anti-war events being considered. Stay in touch with progressivesforobama.blogspot.com for daily updates!
NOW: Support the antiwar plank proposed for the Democratic convention by Reps. Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, and Sam Farr. Go to www.winwithoutwar.com , Nation 6/23.
JUNE - Decentralized actions at gas stations to drive the message about Iraq, the economy, and the power of Big Oil. Ads and actions against Republican priorities.
JULY - Roundtables [perhaps like the Dean or MoveOn meetups] to bring attention to Iraq's devastating impact on the economy, emphasizing costs like veteran's health care.
AUGUST - An intense local mass action and education campaign directed towards convention delegates, Democratic and Republican, about the costs of Iraq, from budget crises to torture's stain on our reputation.
LATE AUGUST - Forums and mass action at both conventions, including a possible meeting of progressivesforobama.com in Denver.
SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER - "A Million Doors for Peace" campaign. A national effort to identify voters according to the war/peace/economy/trade issues, with an emphasis on swing states and districts. Activists will be able to download a walk list of voters in their neighborhoods, knock on doors and seek voter pledges to vote against Iraq War. Also likely: phone banking straight from your home to persuadable voters, allies, friends and family in another state.
There's more, and we'll keep this list growing.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Photo: Campaign Volunteers