I don’t care what any super-radical folks, anarchist folks, socialist folks say. Obama’s win is a huuuuuge deal for the left. It is fantastic news for all progressive social justice movements. I’ve followed this very closely for the last two years and I know just as well as any nay-sayers that Obama is no radical. He’s definitely center-left, super-pragmatic, and he doesn’t seem to hesitate much when it comes to choosing conservative positions over progressive ones. That’s all true, and it doesn’t matter much. What matters is that he won the presidency, and HOW he won the presidency. It is a HUGE vindication for grassroots organizing and politics, and it will create an infrastructure that will be potentially transformative in 10, 15, 20 years.
In Seattle, thousands of people poured into the streets, all spontaneously and from multiple different locations all over the city. This happened all over the country. I would bet that a lot of those people don’t go out and protest much. That is significant.
I remember when I was in high school in Anchorage, trying to teach myself about politics and activism, I used to walk to the nearest bookstores and look through their current affairs and political science sections. I remember, especially at Barnes and Noble, how hard it was for me to find writers like Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, etc. The sections were so small! Now, ten years later, I walk into those sections and not only are Zinn and Chomsky all over the place, but there is Naomi Klein on mainstream news, bell hooks and Freire in the education sections…so much out there. Our country is shifting, and the left is growing, getting smarter, and getting more sustainable. This Obama win is a sign of that.
Now there is a chance that everyone will be mesmerized into a stupor and just let Obama do whatever sell-out things he wants, but I don’t think that will happen. I think people know what they have to do, they know they have to keep watching and keep active…and luckily I think Obama knows this as well. Because although he doesn’t want to be a radical left president, Obama does want to be a “great” president, an FDR type president, and so he knows he needs grassroots pressure on him, something to keep him honest and accountable to some extent.
I’m telling you, this all matters, and radicals like my friends and comrades write it off at their peril. The US is changing, and the left needs to change with it, or else we will watch as masses of people shuffle right past us towards other ideas of justice and peace…leaving us old, crotchety, and irrelevant.
I’m so excited for the next 6 months or so. I think it’s a tremendous time to be a lefty, even though Obama himself isn’t thinking that way.
Love you all,