Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Progressives For Obama

Barack Is Our

Best Option

–And You’re

Needed Now!

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 America a more just and democratic country. We believe that the movement today supporting Barack Obama continues this great tradition of grass-roots participation drawing millions of people out of apathy and into participation in the decisions that affect all our lives. We believe that Barack Obama’s very biography reflects the positive potential of the globalization process that also contains such grave threats to our democracy when shaped only by the narrow interests of private corporations in an unregulated global marketplace. We should instead be globalizing the values of equality, a living wage and environmental sustainability in the new world order, not hoping our deepest concerns will be protected by trickle down economics or charitable billionaires. By its very existence, the Obama campaign will stimulate a vision of globalization from below.

As progressives we believe this sudden and unexpected new movement is just what America needs. The future has arrived. The alternative would mean a return to the dismal status quo party politics that have failed so far to deliver peace, health care, full employment and effective answers to crises like global warming.

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 Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, and in the November general election. We can contribute our dollars. We have the proven online capacity to reach millions of swing voters in the primary and general election. We can and will defend Obama against negative attacks from any quarter. We will seek Green support against the claim of some that there are no real differences between Obama and McCain. We will criticize any efforts by Democratic super-delegates to suppress the winner of the popular and delegate votes, or to legitimize the flawed elections in Michigan and Florida. We will make our agenda known at the Democratic national convention and fight for a platform emphasizing progressive priorities as the path to victory.

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 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.

- 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 Iran and Pakistan. We should not stop urging Barack Obama to avoid leaving American advisers behind in Iraq in a counterinsurgency quagmire like Afghanistan today or Central America in the 1970s and 1980s. Nor should he simply transfer American combat troops from the quagmire in Iraq to the quagmire in Afghanistan.

- Iraq cannot be separated from our economic crisis. Iraq is costing trillions of dollars that should be invested in jobs, universal health care, education, housing and public works here at home. Our own Gulf Coast requires the attention and funds now spent on Gulf oil.

- Iraq cannot be separated from our energy crisis. We are spending an unheard-of $100/barrel for oil. We are officially committed to wars over oil supplies far into the future. We instead need a war against global warming and for energy independence from Middle Eastern police states and multinational corporations.

Progressives should support Obama’s 16-month combat troop withdrawal plan in comparison to Clinton’s open-ended one, and demand that both candidates avoid a slide into four more years of low-visibility counterinsurgency.

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 United States, while only 15 percent believe the war has been positive. Without this solid peace sentiment, neither Obama nor Clinton would be taking the stands they do today.

Further, the battered and abused people of Iraq favor an American withdrawal by a 70 percent margin.

The American government’s arrogant defiance of these strong popular majorities in both America and Iraq should be ended this November by a powerful peace mandate.

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 Middle East and the Muslim world. Getting out of Iraq, sponsoring a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, ending alliances with police states in the Arab world, unilaterally initiating real energy independence and moving the world away from the global warming crises are the steps that must be taken.

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 US trade deals and hegemony. We are isolated in Latin America by our Cold War and drug war crusades, by the $500 million counter-insurgency in Columbia, support for the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela, and the ineffectual blockade of Cuba. We need to return to the Good Neighbor policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, which rejected Yankee military intervention and accepted Mexico’s right to nationalize its oil in the face of industry opposition. The pursuit of NAFTA-style trade policies inflames our immigration crisis as well, by uprooting countless campesinos who inevitably seek low-wage jobs north of the border in order to survive. We need balanced and democratically-approved trade agreements that focus on the needs of workers, consumers and the environment. The Banana Republic is a retail chain, not an American colony protected by the Monroe Doctrine.

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.

Clinton’s most bizarre claim is that Obama is unqualified to be commander-in-chief. Clinton herself never served in the military, and has no experience in the armed services apart from the Senate armed services committee. Her husband had no military experience before becoming president. In fact he was a draft opponent during Vietnam, a stance we respected. She was the first lady, and he the governor, of one of our smallest states. They brought no more experience, and arguably less, to the White House than Obama would in 2009.

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 Clinton victory could only be achieved by the dashing of hope among millions of young people on whom a better future depends. The style of the Clintons’ attacks on Obama, which are likely to escalate as her chances of winning decline, already risks losing too many Democratic and independent voters in November. We believe that the Hillary Clinton of 1968 would be an Obama volunteer today, just as she once marched in the snows of New Hampshire for Eugene McCarthy against the Democratic establishment.

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 Iraq, a five-time Democratic convention delegate, former state senator, and board member of the Progressive Democrats of America. BILL FLETCHER, JR., who originated the call for founding “Progressives for Obama,” is the executive editor of Black Commentator, and founder of the Center for Labor Renewal; BARBARA EHRENREICH is the author of Dancing in the Streets[2007] and other popular works and, with Hayden, a member of The Nation’s editorial board. DANNY GLOVER is the respected actor, activist, and chairman of the board of TransAfrica Forum. ]


Massense said...


I have worked for progressive causes for over 20 years -- working on behalf of hotel workers, women in need of abortion services, gays and lesbians seeking recognition of their unions, etc., etc. -- and I know of the work each one of you has done. I respect that we may differ on the best candidate in this race.

But I am sharply disappointed in the way you have written this piece and in the need you apparently have to tear down and twist Senator Clinton's record to support your cause. I thought each one of you better than that.

I am also afraid that you are not being consistent with your own values over the years: Where is your call to the Obama campaign and to the DNC to stop suppressing the votes of residents of Florida and Michigan?

I would like to hear from you that you are truly engaged in democratic principles and will press your selected candidate -- and the DNC -- for a revote. Moreover, I hope you will turn your considerable financial resources to this effort.

I have been in audiences and at rallies where each of you has spoken over the years. I have found your insights often probing and important.

I would ask that you conduct yourself with respect not only for your chosen candidate, about whom I am more cynical than you, but that can happen -- but also for Senator Clinton and for those of us supporting her candidacy ... and for the notion that, this year, every vote really should count.

Unknown said...

I don't mind that you feel Barack Obama is your best candidate. But why did you write a piece littered with so much dishonesty?

LDFan said...

Why Hillary Should be our Choice: An Open Letter to Progressives,

There is one thing that we as progressives should all agree on: after eight miserable years of George Bush we cannot lose in November, the stakes are too high. There is a war that needs to end in Iraq, a recession that must be dealt with, and the possibility of two or even three Supreme Court nominees looming in the next four years. Not only do I believe that Hillary has the best shot at beating John McCain, I would like to state my case for why Hillary deserves the support of progressives at this crucial stage.

Why does Hillary deserve our support?

The fact is, whether we are talking about healthcare or the bread and butter economic issues that will make a difference in the lives of millions her proposals shine above his. Let's begin by looking at healthcare. I know I would be preaching to the choir to point out that the United States stands alone in the industrialized world in its lack of universal healthcare. I'm also sure that most of you support the concept of a "single payer" system. Well, unfortunately, neither Hillary nor Barack are pushing Medicare for All. But, without question, Hillary's plan stands much closer to what we are looking for than Barack's does.

Simply stated, her plan covers everyone and his does not. His plan is more of a band-aid because it lacks a mandate and would leave out at least 15 million people. As Paul Krugman and many other independent experts point out, a mandate is absolutely necessary for a universal healthcare plan to succeed. I don't know how Senator Obama has convinced so many people that the lack of a mandate is a positive aspect of his plan because it is a critical flaw. If a voluntary plan is better than one with a mandate then why were we opposed to Bush's Social Security reform plan? After all, at its core the plan simply wanted to eliminate the "mandate" that everyone participate in Social Security. It is because everyone has a stake in Social Security and Medicare that those programs have survived decades of ring-wing assaults.

As important as the mandate is, that is not the best part of her plan. The best part is that her plan, like the one John Edwards put forward, has the option for anyone to buy into a public plan based on Medicare. This would be a revolutionary change in the healthcare system. For the first time people would have a public option instead of being forced to buy private insurance. I agree with Senator Edwards that if people prefer the public plan (which I believe they will) it could eventually lead to a single payer system. Mr. Obama's plan falls far short...the public plan he proposes would not be open to everyone. It would only be available to those who do not currently have insurance. My question is: what about those who are underinsured? There are millions of people who are "insured" but whose plans are basically worthless. What happens to them? Please look into the differences in these plans because they are drastic.

Healthcare is not the only core issue where Clinton and Obama differ. She is also proposing the expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to include 13 million people who are not currently covered. In addition, under her planned expansion of FMLA, all workers would be guaranteed seven paid sick days per year. Think about it, for the first time people won't have to choose between calling in sick and paying the electric bill.

It doesn't end there. She is also proposing universal pre-kindergarten, raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, and a five year rate freeze on sub-prime adjustable loans. The fact is, if you go on their websites and compare issue after issue you will find that she stands much closer to John Edwards and the values that we hold as progressives than Barack Obama does.

Why aren't more progressives supporting Hillary?

Although many progressives are supporting Hillary, there has been a vocal chorus from the beginning claiming that Hillary Clinton does not deserve our vote. From the DailyKos to the Huffington Post, the support for Senator Obama is loud and forceful. I have noticed that the arguments usually center around three main points. The first is what I will label the "Michael Moore reasoning." It follows that since Senator Clinton voted for the war it would be "immoral" for us to cast our vote for her. The second is what I will label the "Larry David reasoning" who famously said "aren't you tired of all these Bushies and Clintons?" Finally, we are told that the inspiration Mr. Obama brings to the table is reason enough to vote for him; this is the "Ted Kennedy reasoning".

I am in complete agreement with Mr. Moore that this war has been a complete tragedy for the United States and especially for Iraq. Thousands of American soldiers are dead, tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, hundreds of billions of dollars have been wasted, and our image in the world has been shattered. This is the reality we face as a nation and it is all because George W. Bush made the decision to go to war.

I was one of the hundreds of thousands of people marching against this war back in 2002 and I commend Barack Obama for speaking out when he did! That being said, I do not blame John Edwards, John Kerry, or Hillary Clinton for what has happened. I believe that when they voted in favor of that resolution back in 2002, they all did so believing it was the right thing to do. All have said that if they knew then what they know now they would not have voted the same way. This begs the question: why have John Kerry and John Edwards been given a pass while Hillary Clinton has not? It seems it is due to her refusal to "apologize" for her past errors. Well, on this note I commend her. I am not looking for a repeat of the Moscow show trials here and I don't need Hillary Clinton to confess her sins to the party. I feel very strongly about this and I hope she continues to stand her ground. There is one person to blame for this catastrophe and his name is George W. Bush.

The fact is that Barack Obama's anti-war activities took a hiatus right after the war started. The same weekend he spoke at the Democratic convention in 2004 he told the Chicago Tribune "there is not much difference between my position on Iraq and George Bush's position at this stage." Remember, this is after George Bush escalated the war with his horrific attack on Fallujah. Ironically, except for one vote on the promotion of a general, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have the exact same voting records on the war! It is safe to say that over the past few years neither one has been a lightening rod for the anti-war movement.

That is why the issue in front of us today should not be who has or has not apologized for what they thought at the time. Even Obama once said "I'm always careful to say that I was not in the Senate, so perhaps the reason I thought it was such a bad idea was that I didn't have the benefit of U.S. intelligence." The issue in front of us now is: how do we get our troops home as quickly and safely as possible? Hillary's position today is to start bringing them home within 60 days of taking office. I find it interesting that General Wesley Clark (Michael Moore's original choice back in 2004) is one of Hillary Clinton's strongest supporters while Barack is advised by Zbiginew Brzezinsky, one the architects behind arming the folks who later turned into the Taliban. Look, as a progressive I am interested in ending this war and if the best person to do that originally voted to authorize it...so be it. I don't see Senator Obama complaining about John Kerry's vote.

Next up is the "dynasty" argument. Larry, I'm sorry but on this one I choose Ted and Mary (Hillary supporters). First of all, there is a gigantic difference between "the Bushies and the Clintons" and as Hillary famously said "it took a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush, it may take a Clinton to clean up after the second." In all seriousness, if progressives back in 1928 were worried about seeing a familiar name on the ballot (and it was the fourth time in 28 years the Roosevelt family was on the ballot) we just might have missed out on a gentleman with the initials FDR.

The final argument is one of "inspiration" and "change". Personally, I think that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are both incredibly inspiring individuals. 43 people have been elected President of the United States and all 43 have been white males. The election of either one would be historic and bring about change. But Obama supporters claim he is more than just something new, they believe his election would be a rejection of the status quo. But one look at Mr. Obama's advisors will tell you there is not much "new" here. Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Tom Daschle, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Paul Volcker...this list of Washington insiders goes on and on. Honestly, is he really an "anti-establishment" candidate?

Barack Obama eloquently calls for a return to "bi-partisanship" to get things done in Washington. This is at the core of the "change" he seeks. He thinks the Republicans and Democrats can come together and agree on the issues that polarize us. This is why it makes perfect sense to me that his mentor in the Senate was Joe Lieberman. I respectfully disagree with this call to work things out with those who fundamentally disagree with us. The vast majority of the Republicans in Congress carry a very different philosophy than we do. They view government as the enemy and their goal is to dismantle the "great society" programs of the 60s and ultimately the New Deal as well.
Why we need a Fighter!

I don't believe that the Republicans in Congress are going to be won over by a great speech. The battles ahead are not going to be easy and if we're going to succeed we need a fighter in the White House. FDR didn't reach out to Republicans in the 30s; he steamrolled the New Deal through Congress and we are better off for it. I'll never understand why we fail to learn our lesson on this. We're talking about the party of Gingrich and Delay. Have we forgotten Florida, Impeachment, Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, and the Contract with America? Do we really believe that Karl Rove has retired? Why are we following the Lieberman model when we need to be following the Roosevelt model? Believe me, when the Republicans try to get rid of Medicare and Social Security it's not because they think Democrats aren't nice people. Sometimes there's a reason partisanship exists! The fact is if we really want universal healthcare it will take a fighter to make it a reality.

No matter who is elected President in November there will be "change". The question is what kind of change are we looking for? I want to elect a President who will fight for real universal healthcare, someone who will fight to guarantee paid sick days for millions who don't currently have it, and someone who knows that the Republicans aren't looking to play nice. If you agree go to hillaryclinton.com and get involved because this contest is far from over.

Carl Davidson said...

I'm very clear that, should Clinton win the nomination, she'll get my vote vs McCain.

So the point is well taken against any scorched-earth tactics in the primary, but that works both ways.

This site, in any case, is independent of the Obama campaign, and you'll find critiques of it here as well, especially challenges to do better.

We know Obama's ups and downs on the war and occupation very well, but we know Clinton's, too. He comes out as more ready and more likely to end it rapidly. There's nothing underhanded or unfair here at at. She could have taken that space, which is not crowded, but chose not to do so.

So Obama is our option in the primary and hopefully beyond. But I'll make one point to him and all the candidates: The harder and clearer you oppose the war and occupation, the more support you will get, at least that's who I see it.

Joseph Horgan said...


Let be pragmatic: Hillary can't win in November. Obama can. Period. The End. Clinton can win 45%, but there's no Ross Perot on the right this year.

Progressives are partial to organizers, and that's why the vast majority of progressives support Obama. He's an organizer, and his organizing skills are reflected in his campaign.

As a Nader voter in 2000, I get a lot a shit (undeserved) from people about my vote (in Maryland!) causing W's win. While I can (but won't) argue ad nauseum that W didn't win, that Nader didn't cause any Gore loss, I am hopeful that those who disagree with me recognize that, should the Dems lose the White House this year, regardless of who the nominee is, the reason will be the Clintonistas. And they should be just as venomous to the Clinton campaign as they have been to Nader. Where's the outrage? I know a lot of people, Democrats, Republicans, independents, who've said that, should Clinton be the nominee, they'll forego voting.

While my first choice was John Edwards, I have been impressed with Obama right from the start. I supported Edwards in part because he called for an end to the Iraq quagmire, and he talked honestly about poverty. After Obama's speech last Tuesday, my wife and I looked at each other and, after some wows and commentary with our daughter, we decided that we're gonna work for him somehow and send him money.

Progressive support for Clinton requires a severe case of amnesia: She sat as a director at Wal-Mart while they were developing their anti-worker policies and spreading their bigboxitis (a disease of the landscape); Bill, in a blatant, election-year maneuver, signed into law Welfare's demise without any safety net; Clinton's leadership at healthcare reform was lackluster and ensured that single payer stayed off the list of options, and the push in Congress was weak, especially compared to the arm twisting Bill did to get NAFTA passed --promising to campaign for two right wingnut Republicans who voted FOR NAFTA!; and so on. In short, Alan Greenspan was right when he called Clinton the best Republican president yet.

Obama is charismatic with a brain and a heart. He manages to communicate with the electorate (people like me and some of my more conservative friends) and get his message across. O'bama is the kind of guy you could have a cup of Irish coffee with.

If the clintonistas continue their outrageousness, I expect that they'll shrink their lead --even lose the lead-- in PA. I worked philly in 2004, and the working families of philly know bullshit when they see it. Kerry was no Bill Clinton, but Obama outshines the Clintons with dignity and grace.

Prediction: Obama will be the presumptive nominee by Flag Day, but the Clinton camp won't concede. In the process, they will lose more of their superdelegates, and alienate so many that it will ruin her chance to replace Harry Reid as Majority Leader.

It's sad, really. She may have made a good Majority Leader.

Ethan's Corner said...

I consider myself very left of center and have been an activist for progressive causes for many years. I also have great respect for many of the creators of this blog (especially Barbara Ehrenreich as I have read and agreed with many of her books and articles).

I have to disagree, however, that Obama is the choice for us progressives. He may have had the judgment to be against the war from the beginning but I'm not entirely convinced that he would not have voted for the authorization. Since being in the Senate, he has not been forceful in trying to end the war and he has the same voting record as Hillary. Now they both want to withdraw our troops from Iraq and they both have said that they would do this cautiously and with the advice of advisors.

What I do see as a major difference between the two candidates comes down to economic issues. Hillary has a much more progressive agenda for working class people. Her healthcare plan sets up a public plan that will be open for anyone to buy into that would compete with private insurance companies. This plan was modeled on Edwards' plan and could lead to a single payer system. She is also advocating raising the minimum wage significantly, guaranteeing 7 paid sick days to all workers, creating universal pre-k for all 4 year olds, creating a new GI bill of rights, and she has a very detailed concrete plan to keep people from losing their homes.

I agree that Obama has inspired millions of people to get involved in the political process and this is great. I also think that Hillary has a large grassroots following and has inspired millions of people as well.

I hope that we can all unite behind our nominee but if we are looking for the more progressive candidate, I think it is clear that Hillary is that person.

Anonymous said...

Johanna, as someone who was there in Oct 2002, in Chicago, when Obama made his speech, and at other rallies where he spoke for us, I'd bet the house that he would have voted against the authorization, as a great many elected Democrats did.

It really wasn't a big mystery. It just took judgement and the ability to take risks for what's right.

If I and millions other people were able to figure out that this war was launched on a platform of lies, I don't buy for a minute Clinton's excuse about what she was being snookered by the obfuscations of Bush's War Party.

I think she was being 'political' with the war, and in the worse sense of that word.

I would, if it came to that, give her my vote against McCain. But she failed a critical test here that Obama passed. That's why he's the first option of those of us trying to stop this war with every effective instrument we can deploy.

Anonymous said...

I am proud to have found a home within the Progressive movement and even more proud that Obama has resonated with the Progressive community. As a student intending to pursue a career in the public sector, I feel that Obama is the best candidate in 2008. My generation has embraced Obama and I hope that America will as well.

AwakeinOregon said...

Thank you for seeing the "light".
As Barack often says himself, it is time for a change of mindset in Washington. This is in my opinion the most important factor in this election. True, Hillary would be a better Pres. than Bush or McCain. However, she comes with a Washington mindset. She voted for this war, period! (no matter what she was thinking) She supported her husbands Nafta plans, again no matter what she says now. After this nasty campaign the end of any respect I may have had left for her, came as this last week she not once, but several times, told blatant lies about her trip to Bosnia. Are you kidding me? She actually stood there and told bold faced lies. That was bad enough as goodness only knows what motived that, but she then got downright flippant when asked why? It was almost as insulting as Chaney with his flippant "So" remark last week.
Enough Hillary! For the sake of the party and the country, step aside. Enough!!!
Enough of the old mindset, old politics and just plan old BS. We need Obama. Folks who appreciate Obama know he offers something different. As Richards referred to the other day in indicating he couldn't put his finger on it but there is something special about Obama. You can feel it! It's why so many are attracted to him. Plus he is refreshing. He spreads his message of hope and change and you know it's real. You simply can feel it and for once it feels good. He is not just the best candidate, but we need him. To actually have a mind that is open and fresh and brilliant running our country would not only bless us but the world in the process.

Anonymous said...

I was in Boston when Progressive Democrats for America was born. That was a wonderful happening. Perhaps the word Democrat in the name is keeping you only looking at Democrats. I will not vote for Obama, Clinton or McCain. I will choose between Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney. Am sad you hsve made the decision to go with Obama.

Anonymous said...

We understand that a number of progressives will vote Green, especially in 'safe states,' and we consider you our longer-term allies.

What we do ask you to consider is HOW you campaign and go to the polls. What we suggest is practicing some small 'd' democracy and encouraging every new and young antiwar voter you can reach to go to the polls with you, whether they intend to vote Green or not. Obviously, you can make your case to them along the way, but just get them there, and in large numbers.

If you choose to campaign this way, or something like it, we can still retain a degree of unity.

Anonymous said...

For social change and progressive yet openly opposed to having my vote counted. It's hypocrisy. Here is something progressive: If my vote is not counted, I wont be a hipocrite, I'm changing party. No, not Republican, dead and buried first. But certainly not a Democrat. I still can't believe Senator Obama is more concerned with his opponents Tax Returns than with the disenfranchisemnet of million of voters. That's Progressive?
With respect to the war, It was a bloody mistake. But it's too late we are there for a while. To say that we should leave unconditionally is irresponsible considering the carnage that will follow. No one seems to be counting Iraqi casualties. Senator Obama should go to Iraq and see for himself the faces of the people he plans to leave in total anarchy. The war sucks but let's not loose our humanity by preaching premature disengagement.

Anonymous said...

'Anon,' you probably said the same thing about the war and occupation three years ago, and look at the carnage since then.

Future carnage is not a fact, but a working hypothesis, one among many. Another one is once we withdraw, nationalism causes Iraqi Shia and some Suni to unite against the other 'outsiders' who are responsible for the worse carnage, and toss them out. But as long as we are ther, we are 'the main danger.'

Now neither you nor I know, for a fact or to a certainty, which one of these, if not still another, will come to be.

But we do know, for a fact and to a certainty, what is happening as this unjust occupation persists, and the time to end it is now. Obama is our best shot of the three at getting this done.

Anonymous said...

I welcome and endorse your call for progressives to unite behind Obama.

There is a single detail I find unfortunate in this otherwise excellent essay, namely the comparison of Obama's campaign with Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign. Wasn't Robert Kennedy, despite mythologizing to the contrary, an architect of the strategy that assigned counterinsurgency so important a place in United States foreign policy? This was a strategy that had already resulted in horrendous human cost, and its costs have been rising ever since.

Robert Kennedy, like Richard Nixon in 1968, called for an end to the Vietnam War, but he had been a fierce advocate of the that war, and of counterinsurgency in Latin America and the Third World, as well as an advocate of assassination as a tool of foreign policy.

I don't want to end on that note. Thank you Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Danny Glover for all you have done for public life in America.

Anonymous said...

Progressives for Obama.
This is the next best thing Hayden's written in over forty+ years.. hard to beat The Port Huron Statement!
'Bout Time, Tom..

Anonymous said...

I can't but think this comment spot has been targetted by the Clinton campaign, from the several initial pieces. I have never been so disappointed in the public behavior of people in my life, as in the actions of both Clintons recently. After so many outright lies come directly from the candidate, regarding events for which a record exists, one is left feeling pretty depressed by the lame explanations of Senator Clinton, excuses that would make a 14 year old blush. This has been a great shock. I was a strong supporter of this couple during and after their time in the White House. On the other hand, Senator Obama produced a speech that was so win-win, so non-scorched-earth oriented, that as a retired professional in human behavior, I cannot think that his approach to publicly dissecting the race issue could have come from anywhere but his true thoughts. This is a treatment of race in this country such as we only hear in several generations. This is a man with much more to offer than I at first thought when he was not my first choice. He should have been. This is a man with character, a quality in short supply in recent years.

Anonymous said...

Obama was far from my first choice for president, but he's a lot more palatable to me than Clinton.

And it isn't a position I take based on their positions, because if that were the case neither one of them would get my vote.

It's a position based on who these two people are. In this case I would rather take my chances with the unknown--Obama, than with the known--Clinton.

It was the Clinton's who drove this Party to the right with the DLC and drove me to become active in the party eight years ago to undo the damage they have done through the DLC.

During the first Clinton reign, Bill was about the only Democrat who benefited--we lost governorships, state legislatures, Congress and finally the presidency under their leadership as the electorate failed to be able to tell the differences between the Democrats and the Republicans.

They abandoned the poor and the workers of this country in favor of corporate special interests. It was Bill Clinton who deregulated the banking industry, which allowed sub-prime mortgages in the first place. We cannot forget the abandonment of the poor with the Welfare reform and then there's NAFTA.

Quite frankly, I much prefer losing with my principles in tact, than losing after selling out, and lose we will with Clinton as the nominee.

The Clinton's are abhorred in red states. Where straight party voting is allowed--with Hillary at the top of the ticket--damage will be done to Democrats further down. Her nomination will create a sense of urgency among Republican voters to get out and vote against her where otherwise they might stay home.

Hillary Clinton has fought Dean tooth and nail over the disbursement of funds in the 50 state strategy, which has made a world of difference for those of us in red states.

Whether Obama is true to his rhetoric is yet to be determined, but I find his talk of working together much more appealing than Clinton's take no prisoners attitude. And, Obama has done more to build this party already by bringing so many young people into his campaign than Clinton could ever hope to achieve. He is reaching across party lines and striking a chord with the voters in the murky middle.

To me, it is a case of the status quo--Washington insiders running this country--versus the possibility of "We the People." With Obama at least a glimmer of hope exists, and my eight years of party organizing may not go completely down the tubes.

Long ago I stopped believing that politicians can be trusted--there is just too much corruption in our system. So I wait to see what they do, and there are some who manage to keep their principles in tact. Clinton has proved she can't be trusted to lead our party and this country in the direction progressives desire. With Obama, the chance still exists.

I do have to give credit where credit is due--the Clintons have probably done more to create the progressive movement than any of the rest of us as disgruntled lefties came to realize that we needed to organize in order to undo what they had wrought.

Anonymous said...

Yours is the right call. I believe Obama is more progressive than we realize. In his speech on race he said:
"Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many."

That sounds like a dyed-in-the-wool progressive to me. BTW, there's a great new music video about Barack Obama on YouTube, which puts a lot of this in perspective:

All power to a progressive agenda for the next 8 years with President Obama!

Adam Ash

Anonymous said...

Did you all miss the line in the speech where he took a stand in favor of Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people?

It seems that there are many, many lines by Obama that you folks are missing.

Margaret Kimberley, Bruce Dixon, Glen Ford, Paul Street, Pam Martens and many other progressives are documenting them. I would encourage folks to go read their many fine exposes of Obama at blackagendareport.com, zcommunications.com and counterpunch.org

Obama is not a progressive, he's not running as one, and he's not going to govern as one.

Anonymous said...

We certainly didn't miss it, 'anon,' but you must have missed the line in our piece about Obama's taking a centrist position while we take a progressive position.

As we keep repeating, we set this up as independents precisely because we didn't feel the need to toe the campaign's line on everything. We'll stregthen our influence, use it to push Obama as best as we can, and defend him against the right--at least that's my take on it.

The best you can say about his lousy position these days on Palestine/Israel is that it's not worse than the other two. Didn't do him any good with AIPAC either, so if it makes a difference to you, regardless of his stated position, they consider him the worse of the three.

There is not a majority for an anti-imperialist or even a militant left progressive in this race this year. There is a shot for a candidate of a coalition of the left an center, however, which is Obama and what he is.

If you want agreement on Palestine to be decisive in your vote, your best best is PSL or maybe the Greens. But if you're also interested in a left-center victory, don't go to the polls alone. Bring all the antiwar under-40 voters you can find with you, whether or not they agree with you on Palestine. You can talk to them on the way. They'll still figure out what to do.

Anonymous said...

Tom, I'm glad to hear that you are supporting Obama! Me, too!! Big Time!!!!!


Pearl Jr.

Anonymous said...

One clear link between war/military industrial complex and the economy is the fact that DOD is the single largest consumer of oil products in the world. The feedback loop is clear, US military invades/occupies regions with oii, subsequent instability raises cost of oil, instability causes more US military actions, increasing consumption of oil. we reduce war, we reduce demand for oil, reduce prices of energy. Lets make it plain for everyone to see the links in the real world.

Anonymous said...

Progressives for Obama speak to the political bankrupcy of the so called progressive movement that in reality is about as centrist as Obama himself. Like Obama these progressives have never taken on the issue of racism and white skin priviledge within their own movement, its to be avoided at all cost unless of course the chickens come home to roost as they did for Obama with the Jeremiah Wright affair. That Obama was forced into glory with his neo-liberal speech on race was bad enough but now to have Fletcher,Hayden and their fellow travelers suspend reality with this bogus analysis of an Obama progressive movement no less with global implications leaves me breathless! Big disappointment knowing Robin Kelly has join the Obamamania feeding frenzy. Fletcher's position comes as no surprise give his elitist arrogrance, Obama suits his fine! It just hit me, now I understand why Fletcher is the darling of the white left he's their Obama!

Phyllis Bennett called you folks out, Obama's position on Israel is as right wing as you can get, put him in the Joe Liberman camp. Hey in fact he was in Liberman's camp, Obama endorsed him over Ned Lamont! But with these so called progressives the genocidal policies of Israel against the Palestinian people isn't even up for discussion nor the distance Obama has put between his campaign and Arab Americans. Is this a progressive movement with a tent big enough for everybody? Seems not! Does the progressive movement ultimately share Obama's position, that the Palestinians are expendable, after all we're trying to make history here just get me in office! Let me ask you Black progressives something, would we advocate support for a "progressive white" candidate if he or she had ignored apartheid South Africa? Doesn't seem fair to me!

Now befoe you Obama koolaid drinkers come after me with your typical knee jerk reaction of putting one automatically into Hillary "war maiden" Clinton's camp let me say for the record the Harlem Tenants Council, a grassroots left tenants rights organization in Central Harlem that I am the Director of picketed Bill Clinton's office, Charlie Rangel's birthday party for Hillary (she didn't show after our press release) and most recently we join others to protest her appearance at the the Abyssinian Baptist Church where the good rev Calvin O. Butts gave his one million dollar endorsement behind shades as cool as any rapper! Ain't life grand! Enough said, but don't dump your Hillary load here when your boy Obama comes under scrutiny.
In my forty years in the Left movement I've never seem anything like this, rational thought and logic abandoned, completely. Progressives want to jump in your face if you aren't an Obama supporter. Friendships have been lost, and there are damn few folks one can get involved in a public discourse on Obamamania. Thank the ancestral spirits for Glen Ford and Tony Monteiro.
Now what's really interesting, none of you folks want to entertain the worst case scenario, what happens to this movement if he loses? I don't think the Republicans are going to stand around while Obama is swept into the White House without dipping into their well used trick bag, Al Gore got a whacking, then John Kerry: smears, lies mixed in with the truth, a dozen or more terrorist alerts with a lookout for some swarthy fellow name Hussien might do the trick, if not there are those new rigged voting machine. But in the end all of this will mean absolutely nothing because despite the Nation style progressive rap on Obama he is the twin of Hillary, even to the right of her on certain issues. This broke and debt ridden country in a post deindustrialization stage can only substain itself with wars for resources and dominance. It's barely staying afloat and not for long, the $30 billion dollars bail out for Wall Street is just the beginning. Obama can't save the country let alone us and certainly not in his mythical world of a post race America. Hester Bailey
I place my unrepenting being before the Obama throne but I won't drink the koolaid!!!!

Anonymous said...

Now let me get this straight, 'Anon'.

In the name of repudiating white-skin privilege, we're supposed to sit out voting for the first Black man with a shot at the White House, and one of the reasons is that he'll come under a barrage of racist fire from the right?

I was a friend of Ted Allen, who made this term popular in the late 1960s, and he got on my case back then until I adapted my youthful ultraleftism enough to cast a vote for Shirley Chisolm when she ran for the presidency. He'd likely turn over in his grave at your notion here.

But since it's April 1, I'm just going to take your suggestion as appropriate to April Fool's day and not give it any more attention.

Anonymous said...

An Appeal for Revolutionary Unity:

By Keith Joseph

I know Jeremiah Wright…

Well, I never met him, but I know his ideas, he is a part of the American political left. Nothing he said outraged me, or even upset me. I agreed with a lot of it, and disagreed with some of it. If we were to meet in person I imagine we would get along just fine, and we probably could do some good work together.

Obama had to distance himself from his pastor in order to remain a viable candidate -- a smart move.

Gary Wills, writing in the May 2008 NY Review of Books, pointed out that Abe Lincoln, who Obama invoked when announcing his own candidacy, was associated with John Brown and the "radical" abolitionists. Like Obama, Abe had to distance himself in pubic from the "extremists." But the abolitionists remained the left wing of Lincoln's coalition, and although he publicly disavowed them (gently) he was secretly and indirectly connected to them.

About 100 hundred years later, in 1968, Robert Kennedy's candidacy for president represented a similar coalition. His brother, John Kennedy's election marked the achievement of full citizenship for Catholic (Irish and Italian) workers (that's why Kennedy's picture hangs in all those Irish bars). Bobby Kennedy continued to lead those "white" workers and he was bringing them into an alliance with the Civil Rights Movement (Kennedy was meeting and marching with two of its most prominent leaders, Dr. King and Caesar Chavez). In other words, Kennedy's campaign was a next phase in the Civil Rights struggle.

But the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965 and the FBI repression of the left made it difficult for a left wing to get into that coalition and soon King and Kennedy would also be murdered.

These assassinations sent most left wing forces in the United States into a disorientating tailspin that we have yet to recover from. If it were 1968, Hilary would be Hubert Humphrey, McCain would be Nixon, and Obama would be Bobby Kennedy. Some of our friends on the left have asked us to "Recreate '68." Yes, but let's not repeat the blind rage, instead let's do it over and send Humphrey and Nixon packing.

So, we must build a John Brown, Malcolm X, Jeremiah Wright bloc— a left bloc allied to but independent from Obama's campaign.

As Malcolm and the movement developed, he emphasized uniting with other left forces. He and King drew closer together, but after Malcolm's assassination left wing forces pushed liberals and center-left forces away and into the hands of the right. Obama's campaign is the potential rebirth of the Kennedy-King Coalition. And it is time for the radical left to do what Malcolm would have done—get into the coalition as an independent force, consolidate a left wing and build a liberal and left coalition to stomp the war loving right wing in this country while building our own independent left movement.

We have a couple of immediate basic tasks: Obama must be the Democratic Party candidate—By Any Means Necessary. We should plan to camp right outside of Denver during the Democratic Party's Convention and hold anti-war demonstrations and our own left convention. If right wing Democrats try to force Hilary-Herbert Humphrey-Clinton on us we march on the convention and make sure Obama gets the nomination--By Any Means Necessary. In November, we must make sure Obama defeats the war criminal John McCain. And finally, after the election, we must be prepared to convene anywhere in the country (Florida, Ohio etc.) to make sure that the Supreme Court does not decide the contest.

Some of our fellow leftists have been very critical of Obama. The problem with their criticism is that they want Obama to be a leftist. He is not a leftist, he is a representative of the progressive, democratic wing of the capitalist class and he is making an appeal to workers of all nationalities to support him. Obama is a liberal. He is a center-left candidate. He is a part of the mainstream of the Democratic Party. We are the left!

It is time we got back in the game.

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