The rush to tag along with Barack Obama's presidential juggernaut shows beyond doubt that progressive "movement" politics is "on its death bed" in the United States, on both sides of the racial divide. Move On gave its millions-strong mailing list no choice but to endorse one or the other of the political twins, Clinton or Obama, affirming its allegiance to "lesser-of-evils" politics. The Nation magazine noted the glaring evidence that Obama is no progressive - and then rewarded him with an endorsement for "reaching out to independent and Republican voters." Race pride motivates veteran activists and rank-and-file African Americans to imagine Obama's program for racial equality actually exists, despite all evidence to the contrary. White and Black Democrats reveal that they want nothing more than a ceremonial "seat at the table" - anything to avoid the hard work of opposition to corporate rule.
Freedom Rider: Progressives Cave to Obama
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
"There is no movement left to speak up or fight back."
The progressive movement is on its death bed, in critical condition for many reasons. Activists are demoralized after George W. Bush cheated his way into office, committed crimes against humanity, and subverted the constitution without punishment or even serious risk of political damage. Eight years of evil doing have taken their toll on activists' willingness to take action.
The Democrats are not blameless. The prospect of a Hillary Clinton nomination was another slap in the face to the most loyal Democratic voters. The Yale educated lawyer claimed she didn't know the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq was just what it said. The sorry excuses went on forever and the disgust only grew. Her vaunted inevitability silenced Democrats, who prepared to hold their noses and support the lesser of two evils.
The prospect of more humiliation from yet another Clinton put restless Democrats in the mood to look for other options. Barrack Obama scored points because he expressed opposition to invading Iraq back in 2003 when the crime was first committed. It doesn't seem to matter that as a United States Senator his votes on Iraq are the same as Hillary Clinton's. It doesn't matter that he once opposed establishing a deadline for withdrawal. It doesn't matter that he parrots the words of Republicans when he speaks of "the excesses of the 60s and 70s." None of what he says matters, because speaking up would mean fighting back, and there is no movement left to do that.
"MoveOn never bothered to make demands of Obama."
The end of movement politics has infected nearly everyone, like a mysterious illness in a science fiction film. If a movement still existed, MoveOn would not have made an Obama endorsement via popularity contest. They never bothered to make demands of him, to ask questions before giving him their support. Their endorsement is worthless because it gives Obama cover and asks nothing in return.
MoveOn spreads the conventional wisdom that super delegates are more likely to be pro-Clinton and are willing to subvert the popular will on her behalf. They have even circulated a petition to prevent super delegates from choosing the nominee. What MoveOn doesn't say is that both Clinton and Obama have used their political action committees to make contributions to super delegate campaign funds. They also fail to mention that Obama leads in making these contributions.
His PAC has given $698,200 to super delegates. Hillary Clinton has made $205,500 in contributions to super delegate coffers. In other words, Obama is more adept at buying votes than Clinton. "Yes we can" indeed.
"Obama is more adept at buying super delegate votes than Clinton."
MoveOn is not alone. It is incomprehensible that The Nation magazine endorsed Obama after making the following statement. "This magazine has been critical of the senator from Illinois for his closeness to Wall Street; his unwillingness to lay out an ambitious progressive agenda on healthcare, housing and other domestic policy issues; and for post-partisan rhetoric that seems to ignore the manifest failure of conservatism over these past seven years."
If The Nation has so many qualms about Obama, why endorse him at all? The editors could have simply made a statement of non-support for Obama or Clinton. The sad plight of progressives is all too obvious. "While his rhetoric about ‘unity' can be troubling, it also embodies a savvy strategy to redefine the center of American politics and build a coalition by reaching out to independent and Republican voters disgruntled and disgusted with what the Bush era has wrought." The Nation should explain to readers why Democrats ought to "redefine the center" with independents and Republicans instead of having their own agenda and fighting to make it a reality.
If even The Nation bows down in thrall of the over hyped "center," then all hope for true change is gone. In other words, capitulation is the order of the day, and Obama makes it more palatable than Hillary Clinton does.
"Capitulation is the order of the day."
After eight years of Clintonian triangulation, and another eight years of Bush lawlessness, the center isn't what is used to be. The center will accept an occupation of Iraq, as long as there is pretense that it will end. The center will not undo the Bush attacks on the Constitution. The center will tell black people that they are "90% of the way" towards equality. Actually, Obama already declared that "there is no black America" so the fight for equality will become irrelevant.
Black voters are overwhelmingly pro-Obama. Now supposedly anti-war and progressive organizations have also thrown in the towel. Race pride, however misguided in this case, explains Obama's appeal to black Americans. White progressives have no such excuse. Nevertheless they have chosen to suspend disbelief and jump on the winning bandwagon.
The stampede to Obama reveals the emptiness of the Democratic left. They are every bit as cynical as the man they support. They want a seat at the table. They don't really care what is decided at that table as long as they are included. Pro-war, anti-war, who cares? Just spell the name right on the White House invitation and let the triangulation begin.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com. Ms. Kimberley maintains an edifying and frequently updated blog at freedomrider.blogspot.com. More of her work is also available at her Black Agenda Report archive page.