Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Well folks, Obama has "given up" on the public option...as if he ever wanted it in the first place. This article says that's good--because it shows he's willing to "stare down" his own party. Of course, he has NEVER demonstrated a willingness to stare down Republicans. Ralph Nader was right when he said, months ago, that Obama would never bring us public health care.

Don't blame me--I voted for McKinney. But all you progressive Democrats should take a long look into your souls; you will conclude that it's time to build a new, independent progressive movement. Because so many people on the left put blind trust in Obama, millions of people will continue to be uninsured, and many of them will die...just like the deaths in Afghanstan and Iraq, also on Obama's hands.

Barack Obama: Corporatism with a human face.


Anonymous said...


The direction on health care and other issues is very troubling, a view I have communicated to you previously, even if it is far from shocking. But your argument is not validated by a single frickin article (or 5 or 10). Should I post an article that concludes the other way? Would that end the debate? It is OK to want Obama to fail in this effort. It is OK to believe it was never his intention to succeed in creating real health care reform. But cherry picking data does no one any good. My goodness.

No one is blaming you, and the same consideration in return would be reasonable, but voting for McKinney did not alter by any quantity the odds of a) Obama's election; b) the chances of public health care reform; or c) the realization of any other elements of a progressive agenda. Not by any quantity that modern science can measure.

No one is blaming you, at least not me, because McKinney was too marginal to potentially play a spoiler role (and therefore potentially drive the terms of the debate) or to attract meaningful support, let alone win. She did little to nothing to build local party structures or to mobilize local citizenry, even less than Nader. You should not smugly pat yourself on the back. In terms of this discussion, your vote was literally meaningless. That's harsh, but that is my view, for what it is worth. Active Green Party building, community organizing, your blogging and radio show, counseling young people in ethics and argument: these make a big, big difference and are much appreciated by all who are aware of them. Walking into the polling place and voting for McKinney, not so much.

Surely some progressives placed a blind faith in Obama, just as some progressives place a blind faith in the value of voting for McKinney. But most progressives likely did not place blind faith in Obama. They made the least bad choice within a constrained choice set. Hopefully, they also engage in community activism outside the electoral sphere. If they do not, I would question whether or not they are actually progressives.

And if those progressives who did vote for Obama blindly, whatever their unknown numbers, had made a different choice, such as not voting or the functional equivalent in voting for McKinney, voting for another Democratic nominee, voting for McCain, voting for someone else, millions of people would have continue to be uninsured, many would have continue to perish overseas, capitalism would have continued, and so on.

Election decisions are essentially defensive maneuvers at this historical juncture. It is not where we move forward but where we do our best to prevent or limit backsliding. Large scale social changes of the scale now required begin and are sustained outside the electoral arena, on the shop floor, in the community hall, in non-mainstream media. Making national-level elections the defining essence of a small but worthy party like the Greens is so strategically blind as to defy description. Given their current infrastructure, elections at that scale necessarily trade off with the local political and organizing activities required to become sufficiently robust as to make a social impact. It sets back the progressive cause. One does not jump to The Show; you go through A to AA to AAA first.

Much love, Detroit

matt said...

I read your comment on my podcast tonight, without rebuttal. Your points are fair, germaine, and not in the least bit offensive. You always make me think about the things I say. Thanks.