Thursday, October 23, 2008

Eric Mann on turning out for Obama

Eric Mann at the Los Angeles Strategy Center has this brilliant, but somewhat lengthy article on why progressives should support Obama. For someone who traditionally sees the Democratic party as the lesser of two evils, this has been a question I've been wrestling with (and obviously Mann has given this a lot of thought).

I won't post all ten reasons to support Obama here (but I do suggest you check out the whole article) but here's an excerpt of what I think is the most compelling reason to vote for Obama, especially if you're in a Swing state. (If you're not in a swing state, or even if you are, you could also check out vote pacts, a guilt-free way to support third party candidates.)

6) Because the McCain campaign is an attack on the Left.

The McCain campaign wants to kill the Left in the U.S. and internationally, kill social security, the social safety net, and anything “social” including even the hope of social-ism. Obama is being attacked as an enemy because he is Black and because he is a moderate liberal. The attack on the Left broadly defined must be met by a counter-attack against McCain and for Obama in the last two weeks of this campaign.

Look at McCain’s targets:

* William Ayers, billed a “terrorist” by the McCain camp, worked against the war in Vietnam in which four million people were killed. Ayers is a symbol of the anti-war movement and its most militant wing.

* Reverend Wright. Reverend Wright is a respected theologian whose “crime” was saying that racism is “endemic” to the United States and that the U.S. sees the world through the eyes of an empire.

* ACORN is being attacked by the McCain campaign for registering Democratic-leaning voters. ACORN may have gotten some bad names in the voter registration process but none of those people could vote or be counted. By contrast, the Republicans prevent people from voting who are registered to vote, deny valid signatures and voters, and close down polling places in Black and heavily Democratic districts. They defy the electoral process and have stolen state and national elections.

* Socialism. McCain has begun attacking as “socialist” Obama’s efforts to make income taxes more progressive and to use some of the wealth to help the poor. McCain said, “At least in Europe the Socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives. They use real numbers and honest language.” McCain proposes cutting capital gains taxes and giving more subsidies to the rich.

Obama’s ties to Ayers were minimal and nothing to apologize for. His ties to Reverend Wright were profound and his disassociation from his mentor deplorable. Obama’s distancing himself from ACORN reflects weakness. But, as Reverend Wright pointed out, Obama is a politician running for office; he makes his tactical moves according to his strategic aim of getting elected. I wish that Obama would defend socialism but he is not a socialist and if he were, he would not be the Democratic nominee for president.

Whether or not Obama chooses to disassociate, denounce, or distance himself from the anti-Vietnam war movement, from the rhetoric and analyses of the Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movements, from grassroots voter registration, and from socialism—those of us on the Left have our own interests in this election that include but also go beyond Obama’s objectives.

Whether Obama chooses to identify with or to renounce these connections, we on the Left need to grasp that these attacks from McCain are against us, not just Obama. If McCain is elected, what do we think he will do to those of us who fought against the war in Vietnam and are fighting to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq ? What will he do to those who will continue to speak and act against the endemic racism of the United States , or to those of us who would study and advocate socialist alternatives to capitalism? I fear for those on the Left who do not see the writing on the wall.

Let’s turn out the vote for Barack Obama, Now.

And a little reminder of what those more militant days looked like:


There was dancing at the revolution...

1 comment:

eric mann said...

Thanks to Shirin and Sameer for posting my article. I hope people read the entire article on my blog, Left Views, which you can reach at
I spent a lot of time thinking through each argument. Obviously I think the victory for Obama is a victory for the Black community, a victory for the Left, a victory for the movement against fascism in the U.S. I see Obama as a great organizer taking on the Right. I also see Obama as the commandeer in chief of imperialism and in my article I go through the many reactionary policies or positions Obama has taken, namely his hyper-aggressive stance towards Afghanistan, his position on Iraq which is not immediate or total withdrawal but a "less combat troop" occupation, and his aggressive statements of violating Pakistan's sovereignty (just as today the US violated Syria's) Please note that in my article I talk about my own work with the Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union, my own work with Camp Obama, that is, I talk to hundreds of people and hundreds of Black people and while of course I have my own views, I also listen to the people. It is a contradictory situation, as is all politics, but in the end, as my article says I am an organizer and you take sides, make choices, and once you do, really fight to win. I want Obama to win and the McCain Palin, Joe McCarthy, Lou Dobbs, Bush Cheney ticket to lose. When I read some blogs people say things like, "We should, we must, this is not right, this is right" with no realtionship to time, place, and conditions, and no sense of having their own base. They don't say, Our 20, 40, 100, (give a real number) members (do they have a group, do they have any members?) have been talking about this and some think Obama is coopting them but many are enthusiastic about his election. In my experience, virtually every Black friend, member, ally is totally enthusiastic about an Obama victory as am I.
On election day, think of all the fraud and corruption the Republicans have pulled off, all the stolen elections, and I tell you, Black people are going to surround those polls like the days of the civil rights movement when people died to vote, "Aint gonna let nobody turn me around"; they will not go home if the polls close at 2 in the morning, they will demand their votes are counted. I am proud to be part of this movement and feel that both my participation, and also my article, which is getting a lot of response, is my small way of carrying out "independence and initiative" in the united front that is, it also reaches out to Obama supporters to say, "Hey look, I am with you on the front lines of this election, but we have to think about what "we" want, not just what Obama wants, after the election. For many of his supporters the election will be the end of the story, but as an organizer, I am targetting the 1 million most progressive people of the 18 million who voted for him in the primaries and the what, 40 million, 50 milllion people or more who will have voted for him in the general election. The Left cannot be isolated from mass struggles, we cannot always be the leader, sometimes we have to work with others more on their terms and fight to find our own terms inside that movement. In the article, reason 9 to turn out the vote for Obama is, "I have faith in the Black community, I have faith in the Obama people, I have faith in the Left" conveys my sense of hope that Obama is helping the country go to the Left and in turn, a Left can push the movement beyond Obama's intentions or aspirations.
Thank you for posting my article,
Eric Mann