Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Green reply to 'Progressives for Obama'

From Ben Manski of the Wisconsin Green Party....

Re: this article:
["Progressives for Obama" in The Nation, pasted

I wrote the following letter in reply:

- - -

When Hayden et al write that, "We can and will
defend Obama against negative attacks from any
quarter," red flags should go up in the mind of
every progressive reader.

Is it a "negative attack" to inform voters that
Obama is opposed to immediate withdrawal from
Iraq, favoring instead, as the authors
acknowledge, a "sixteen-month combat troop
withdrawal plan?"

Are criticisms of Obama's records and current
positions on trade (poor at best), single-payer
health care (he does not support it), and
corporate power (he's no John Edwards),

I agree with the authors that the Obama campaign
represents something new for the Democratic
Party. And I believe that it is in the interest
of independent progressives - Green, Libertarian,
populist, Socialist, communist, of whatever
stripe - to adopt a positive approach toward the
political opening that the Obama campaign
represents. But the authors seem to suggest that
this is not enough; that, indeed, the antiwar
movement must embrace Obama's position on Iraq;
that, indeed, progressives must brook no
criticism of the candidate or his campaign. Obama
is no more a messiah to be protected against all
criticism than he is a charlatan to be denounced
on every corner.

Nonetheless, whether he were a messiah,
charlatan, or more honestly, a liberal seeking
the Democratic presidential nomination, on the
day Obama takes the oath of office, the same
reality will remain: It will take independent
popular mobilization to end the occupation and
end empire. Regardless of whether we see
mobilization as a means to stiffen Obama's
resolve or as a means to make him do what his
voters believe him to have promised, the
mobilization must happen, and it can only be
based in the genuine independence of the anti-war
movement. A position of "we will brook no
criticism" of the Obama campaign makes genuine
independence impossible.

What makes the Obama campaign different and
distinct from most recent Democratic presidential
campaigns is that it is an aspirational campaign,
not an anti-campaign. In the same vein that those
of us supporting the prospective Green Party
nominee, Rep. McKinney, or the independent
candidacy of Ralph Nader, would do well in this
year to raise and channel popular demands for
genuine progressive change, and to avoid falling
into the trap of Anybody But Obama (or McCain),
so too should Obama's defenders adhere to the
aspirational notes of their candidate's campaign.
While the arc of history is long, it is also
wide; there are many paths to justice.

- Ben Manski, former co-chair, Green Party of the
U.S. -

No comments: