Monday, October 13, 2008

Progressives and Obama (Part 4)

Social activist and historian Howard Zinn (pictured at left) has an op ed in the latest issue of The Progressive in which he outlines why he’s voting for Barack Obama. Following is an excerpt.


One might assume . . . that I see no difference between McCain and Obama, that I see them as equivalent. Not so. There is a difference, not a significant enough difference for me to have confidence in Obama as President, but just enough for me to vote for Obama and to hope he defeats McCain.

Whoever is President, the crucial factor for change will be how much agitation there is in the country on behalf of change. I am guessing that Obama may be more sensitive than McCain to such turmoil, since it will come from his supporters, from the enthusiasts who will register their disillusionment by taking to the streets. Franklin D. Roosevelt was not a radical, but he was more sensitive to the economic crisis in the country and more susceptible to pressure from the Left than was Herbert Hoover.

Even for the “purest” of radicals, there must be recognition of differences that may mean life or death for thousands. In France at the time of the Algerian War, the election of DeGaulle — hardly an anti-imperialist but more aware of the inevitable decline of empires — was significant in ending that long and brutal occupation.

I have no doubt that by far the wisest, most reliable, with the most integrity, of all recent Presidential candidates is Ralph Nader. But I think it is a waste of his political strength, a puny act, to expend it in the electoral arena, where the result can show only weakness. His power, his intelligence, lies in the mobilization of people outside the ballot box.

So, yes, I will vote for Obama, because the corrupt political system offers me no choice, but only for the moment I pull down the lever in the voting booth.

Before and after that moment I want to use whatever energy I have to push him toward a recognition that he must defy the traditional thinkers and corporate interests surrounding him, and pay homage to the millions of Americans who want real change.

- Excerpted from “The Obama Difference” by Howard Zinn (The Progressive, October 2008).

NEXT: Part 5

Recommended Off-site Link:
Obama Opens a Double-Digit Lead in New Poll - Newsweek, October 10, 2008.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Progressives and Obama (Part 1)
Progressives and Obama (Part 2)
Progressives and Obama (Part 3)
Obama, Ayers, the “S” Word, and the “Most Politically Backward Layers in America”
Historic (and Wild!)
One of Those Moments
An American Prayer

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

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