Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Beginning of a New 'New Left'!

Photo: Victory in Chicago

Main Lesson:
Really Counted

By Tom Hayden

Friends, the lesson I draw from tonight's election returns is that everything really counts.

Look at the results at this point: Obama gets a huge electoral college victory because that's where he threw his resources [for example, $40 million into Florida, outspending McCain 4-to-1 in Virginia, etc]. He wins a bunch of battleground states by two percent, losing none. His popular vote is 51-48 percent. The best presidential campaign ever run, the Wall Street collapse in the foreground, and Barack sweeps – by two and three percent margins.

I think of Jessica Levy, a grad school dropout in North Carolina who took on the reddest part of the state, raised her own money, opened an office, set voter registration records, established a goal of running up Barack's numbers in an area still influenced by the KKK tradition.

Type rest of the post herePeople like Jessica made North Carolina 50-50 and, collectively, they made the difference for Barack in the key states. They are the foundation of our movement now and in the future.

It was everything they did - the 23,000 people who went through Obama's training, the millions poured in from, AFSCME and SEIU, the quiet volunteers who worked the phones 24/7, and of course, the presence of an incredible candidate and superior campaign team.

Unfortunately, many of our progressive friends did little or nothing for the Obama campaign while spending so much of their time on his shortcomings. Many of them seemed more comfortable with a scenario where they could blame him for losing than credit him for winning.

I heard one of our friends tonight actually claiming that the election protection movement forced Karl Rove's minions to "throw in the towel" just this week rather than risk rigging another national election.

What a strange idea! The election protection movement was definitely an important factor in making theft more difficult, but the point is that there was an election worth protecting, and that's what made thousands of lawyers and ordinary citizens drop everything and become observers and litigators at sites around the country.

In my experience, only good things happen when 96 percent of the African American community is united, when two-thirds of Latinos are united, when unprecedented numbers of young voters are turning out, when thousands of activists are becoming a new generation of organizers. I am more interested in what these energized throngs of people throw themselves into next than what the sidelined Left proposes that they do.

I haven't heard any of the Obama grass-roots supporters proposing that we expand the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, extend NAFTA or tinker around with global warming. They are our newest best hope for creating the climate and the pressure necessary to achieve social change, and we need to listen, follow and work with them. A new New Left is at hand, and we need to avoid the irony of becoming the Old Left.

Great job fighting against racism, the war and for green jobs out there in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Carl! You are one of the most practical theoreticians I know.


Sue Webb said...

Excellent article, but maybe Tom Hayden should recognize that some of us of what he calls the "old 'old left'" (and isn't that term kind of "old hat"?) are very much a part of the "new 'new left'" that he is looking to. Kind of yin and yang, or is it dialectical? Anyway, I think today we're on the same page, fighting the good fight together.

Carl Davidson said...

I had been discussing with Tom, just before he wrote this, of a spreadsheet I'd been keeping of every group on the left and where they stood on Obama. I mentioned that only the CPUSA and CCDS got a score above 95, two others got a 'C', but the vast majority of the class flunked miserably. I think it's the frustration of Hayden, Fletcher and myself with this miserable bunch that was what was on his mind. It sure was on mine.

Marguerite said...

Happy to read this- this am. Last night in Chicago I went to a Public Square roundtable on "what's next". It should have been billed as "keep hope dead" so the ultra left can continue to have a cottage industry. The event was simply incredible for the arrogance and disconnect of the panelists and chorus of party plants in the audience who's main line could be summed up / Obama is a tool of the man surrounded by arch neo-cons and we (the left) should be leading the masses past their blind naive love affair. Comments from people who actually had been out canvassing and were bearing witness to the extraordinaryness of the moment were derided as not sufficiently appreciative of Obama's position on Palestine, the death penalty, Venezuela, I have been around so many left events -and have been amused mostly to listen to the sectarian nonsense without much effect -but listening to it last night from pundits I used to admire, was really irksome. The gains we have made are significant- As someone who worked for three months in Indiana and talked almost exclusively to white working class undecideds - their move to economic self interest and away from scapegoating non-whites is HUGE.

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