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Archive for the ‘pushing obama’ Category

Can We Defeat the Racist Southern Strategy in 2012?

October 11th, 2012 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2012 Election, GOP, pushing obama, racism, rightwing, Tea Party, Voting Rights, women, youth and students

By Bob Wing*

Progressive America Rising

*Bob Wing has been an organizer since 1968 and was the founding editor of ColorLines magazine and War Times/Tiempo de Guerras newspaper. He lives in Durham, N.C. and can be contacted on Facebook. Thanks to Max Elbaum for his always insightful suggestions. This article was posted on Oct. 11, 2012.

The 2012 election is a pitched battle with race at the center.

It may not be “polite” to say this, but far from an era of “post racialism”, the United States is in a period of aggravated racial conflict. Though often denied and certainly more complex than the frontal racial confrontations of the past, race is the pivot of the tit-for-tat political struggle that has gripped the country for the past twelve years and, indeed, for decades prior.

The modern era of this conflict jumped off with the white conservative backlash against the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and has been deepened by their decades-long fearful reaction to the dramatic change in the color of the U.S. that resulted from the civil rights-motivated immigration reform act of 1965.

The conflict heated to a boil when white conservatives flatly rejected the legitimacy of the “premature” victory of our first Black president in 2008. Nearly 40 percent of Republicans are so enraged they cannot even admit that Obama is a U.S. citizen. Isn’t this really another way of saying they refuse to recognize a Black man as the president? Or perhaps it is the white conservatives’ modern day Dred Scott decision declaring Obama a Black man that has no rights that they are bound to respect?

The bottom line is that we have now come to a point where voters of color are so numerous and so united behind Obama that, to be victorious, Mitt Romney must carry a higher percentage of the white vote than any modern Republican candidate has ever won. If recent trends among voters of color hold, he must carry about 63 percent of white voters. Not even Reagan won more than 61 percent.

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Why We Must Leash Every Blue Dog and Defeat Every Republican We Can

September 24th, 2012 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2012 Election, GOP, pushing obama, rightwing

Can This Election Settle Anything?

By E.J. Dionne Jr.
Progressive America Rising via Washington Post

September 23, 2012 – The most important issue in the 2012 campaign barely gets discussed: How will we govern ourselves after the election is over?

Elections are supposed to decide things. The voters render a verdict on what direction they want the country to take and set the framework within which both parties work.

President Obama’s time in office, however, has given rise to a new approach. Republicans decided to do all they could to make the president unsuccessful. Their not-so-subliminal message has been: We will make the country ungovernable unless you hand us every bit of legislative, executive and judicial power so we can do what we want.

Judging by the current polls, this approach hasn’t worked. Mitt Romney is suffering not only from his own mistakes but also because a fundamentally moderate country has come to realize that today’s GOP is far more extreme than Republicans were in the past. Romney’s makers-not-takers 47 percent remarks made clear that the current GOP worldview is more Ayn Rand than Adam Smith, more Rush Limbaugh than Bill Buckley, more Rick Perry than Abe Lincoln.

Yet can one election turn the country around and make Washington work again?

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Saving Obama, Saving Ourselves

September 5th, 2012 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2012 Election, GOP, Long War, pushing obama, rightwing, Tea Party, youth and students

 

By Tom Hayden

Progressive America Rising

The threat of a Romney-Ryan regime should be enough to convince a narrow American majority to vote for Barack Obama, including the disappointed rank-and-file of social movements.

A widening of economic and racial inequality. Cuts in Medicare and Medical. More global heating. Strangling of reproductive rights. Unaffordable tuition. The Neo-cons back in the saddle. Two or three more right-wing Supreme Court appointments to come. Romney as Trojan horse for Ryan the stalking horse and future presidential candidate.

The consolidation of right-wing power would put progressives on the defensive, shrinking any organizing space for pressuring for greater innovations in an Obama second term.

Where, for example, would progressives be without the Voting Rights Act programs such as Planned Parenthood, or officials like Labor Secretary Hilda Solis or EPA administrator Lisa Jackson?

But the positive case for More Obama and Better Obama should be made as well. History will show that the first term was better than most progressives now think. A second-term voter mandate against wasteful wars, Wall Street extravagance, and austerity for the many, led by elected officials including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Barbara Lee, Raul Grijalva, Jim McGovern and Keith Ellison, would be a target-rich field of opportunities as they say in the Pentagon.

Why Obama’s achievements are dismissed or denied by many on the white liberal-left is a question worth serious consideration. It may only be a matter of legitimate disappointment after the utopian expectations of 2008. It could be pure antipathy to electoral politics, or a superficial assessment of how near-impossible it is to change intransigent institutions. It could be a vested organizational interest in asserting there is no difference between the two major parties, a view wildly at odds with the intense partisan conflicts on exhibit every day. Or it could even be a white blindness in perceptions of reality on the left. When African American voters favor Obama 94-0 [that's right] and the attacks are coming from the white liberal-left, something needs repair in the foundations of American radicalism.

I intend to explore these questions further during the election season. The point here is that they cumulatively contribute to the common liberal-left perception that Obama is only a man of the compromised center, a president who has delivered nothing worse celebrating. The anger with Obama on the left, combined with broad liberal disappointment with the last three years, results in a dampened enthusiasm at the margins which could cost him the election.

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What to Do in November, and Beyond

August 14th, 2012 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2012 Election, GOP, pushing obama, racism, rightwing, Tea Party

The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama’s Record … Which Is Why We Are Voting For Him

The 2012 election will be one of the most polarized and critical elections in recent history.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Carl Davidson
Progressive America Rising via Alternet.org

August 9, 2012 – Let’s cut to the chase. The November 2012 elections will be unlike anything that any of us can remember.  It is not just that this will be a close election.  It is also not just that the direction of Congress hangs in the balance.  Rather, this will be one of the most polarized and critical elections in recent history.

Unfortunately what too few leftists and progressives have been prepared to accept is that the polarization is to a great extent centered on a revenge-seeking white supremacy; on race and the racial implications of the moves to the right in the US political system. It is also focused on a re-subjugation of women, harsh burdens on youth and the elderly, increased war dangers, and reaction all along the line for labor and the working class. No one on the left with any good sense should remain indifferent or stand idly by in the critical need to defeat Republicans this year.

U.S. Presidential elections are not what progressives want them to be.

A large segment of what we will call the ‘progressive forces’ in US politics approach US elections generally, and Presidential elections in particular, as if: (1) we have more power on the ground than we actually possess, and (2) the elections are about expressing our political outrage at the system. Both get us off on the wrong foot.

The US electoral system is among the most undemocratic on the planet.  Constructed in a manner so as to guarantee an ongoing dominance of a two party duopoly, the US electoral universe largely aims at reducing so-called legitimate discussion to certain restricted parameters acceptable to the ruling circles of the country. Almost all progressive measures, such as Medicare for All or Full Employment, are simply declared ‘off the table.’ In that sense there is no surprise that the Democratic and Republican parties are both parties of the ruling circles, even though they are quite distinct within that sphere.

The nature of the US electoral system–and specifically the ballot restrictions and ‘winner-take-all’ rules within it–encourages or pressures various class fractions and demographic constituency groups to establish elite-dominated electoral coalitions.  The Democratic and Republican parties are, in effect, electoral coalitions or party-blocs of this sort, unrecognizable in most of the known universe as political parties united around a program and a degree of discipline to be accountable to it. We may want and fight for another kind of system, but it would be foolish to develop strategy and tactics not based on the one we actually have.

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Angry Silents, Disengaged Millennials

June 22nd, 2012 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2012 Election, elections, pushing obama, youth and students

The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election

November 3, 2011

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Not since 1972 has generation played such a significant role in voter preferences as it has in recent elections. Younger people have voted substantially more Democratic in each election since 2004, while older voters have cast more ballots for Republican candidates in each election since 2006.

A new Pew Research Center study suggests this pattern may well continue in 2012. Millennial voters are inclined to back President Barack Obama by a wide margin in a potential matchup against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, while Silent generation voters are solidly behind Romney. Baby Boomers and Generation X voters, who are the most anxious about the uncertain economic times, are on the fence about a second term for Obama.

At the same time, the polling identifies potential fissures at both ends of the age spectrum that may affect these patterns. Older Republican-oriented voters, unlike younger people, rate Social Security as a top voting issue. While they favor the GOP on most issues, this is not the case for Social Security. Younger Democratic-leaning voters continue to support Obama at much higher levels than do older generations. But Obama’s job ratings have fallen steeply among this group, as well as among older generations, since early 2009. Perhaps more ominously for Obama, Millennials are much less engaged in politics than they were at this stage in the 2008 campaign.

Read the full report for more information on these subjects:

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2012: The Best ‘Framers’ May Win

June 21st, 2012 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2012 Election, GOP, pushing obama

Why Conservatives Sell Their Wildly

Destructive Ideology Better Than Democrats

By George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling
Progressive America Rising via AlterNet

June 18, 2012 -Framing is (or should be) about moral values, deep truths, and the policies that flow from them.

As of their kickoff speeches in Ohio, Romney and Obama have both chosen economics as their major campaign theme. And thus the question of how they frame the economy will be crucial throughout the campaign. Their two speeches could not be more different.

Where Romney talks morality (conservative style), Obama mainly talks policy. Where Romney reframes Obama, Obama does not reframe Romney. In fact, he reinforces Romney’s frames in the first part of his speech by repeating Romney’s language word for word — without spelling out his own values explicitly.

Where Romney’s framing is moral, simple and straightforward, Obama’s is policy-oriented, filled with numbers, details, and so many proposals that they challenge ordinary understanding.

Where Obama talks mainly about economic fairness, Romney reframes it as economic freedom.

As the authors of Authors of The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic, here’s a discussion of Obama’s speech.

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Obama began his kickoff campaign speech in Cleveland stating that he is "in complete agreement" with Romney: "This election is about our economic future. Yes, foreign policy matters. Social issues matter. But more than anything else, this election presents a choice between two fundamentally different visions" regarding economic policy.

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Note to Team Obama: We Need a Bill of Rights Candidate

April 10th, 2012 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2012 Election, Civil Liberties, pushing obama, youth and students

Protecting Face-to-Face Protest

By RONALD J. KROTOSZYNSKI JR.
Progressive America Rising via NYT Op-Ed

Tuscaloosa, Ala, April 8, 2012 – EVERY four years, we witness the spectacle of the presidential nominating conventions. And every four years, host cities, party leaders and police officials devise ever more creative ways of distancing protesters from the politicians, delegates and journalists attending these stage-managed affairs.

The goal is to trivialize and isolate dissenting speech without actually banning protest outright. One result is something of a Potemkin village: government proclaims its full commitment to respecting the First Amendment without actually permitting any observable dissent to take place near the convention.

Tampa, Fla., which will host the Republicans from Aug. 27 to 30, and Charlotte, N.C., which will host the Democrats from Sept. 3 to 7, are already following the trend. Charlotte has adopted an ordinance that expands the power of the local police to detain, search and arrest persons in its downtown core. (The Charlotte ordinance also bans camping on city-owned property, a clear response to the Occupy movement.) Tampa is also considering new municipal laws to limit, and in some instances flatly prohibit, downtown protest activity.

Citizens generally have a right to use public streets, sidewalks and parks for expressive activity — unless the government has a substantial reason for requiring expressive activity to take place somewhere else or at another time. Because the rights of speech, assembly and association do not include a right to communicate a particular message to a particular audience, the government’s willingness to let would-be protesters speak somewhere else, some other time, has usually been seen by courts as satisfying the First Amendment.

No reasonable person could argue that local officials or federal courts should ignore the genuine imperatives of security. In the post-9/11 world, and only a year after a gunman killed six people and critically wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona during an outdoor public meeting in Tucson, it might seem naïve to suggest that ordinary members of the public should have a right to communicate directly with elected government officials. Yet if democracy is to function properly, the ability of ordinary citizens to petition their government — directly and in person, if they choose — is essential.

Although virtually ignored today, a right to petition is part of the First Amendment, and the Constitution does not leave it to the government to decide who should have access to it.

The historical model of petitioning, going back to medieval England, literally involved laying a petition at the foot of the throne — while the king was sitting on it. The presentation of petitions has deep roots in American political culture. Quaker abolitionists used mass petitioning campaigns to advocate an end to the slave trade in the 1790s and the American Anti-Slavery Society renewed such efforts with similar campaigns in the 1830s and ’40s. Female suffragists embraced petitioning — as did Native Americans and veterans in later decades.

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Obama’s Best Shot: GOP Will Keep On Pissing Off Millions

April 2nd, 2012 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2012 Election, Organizing, pushing obama, women, youth and students

Hope 2.0: Inside Obama’s Campaign

The president’s reelection machine is gearing up to mobilize millions of volunteers. But are they too fed up to turn out?

By Tim Dickinson
Progressive America Rising via Rolling Stone

Pass through security into the headquarters of Obama 2012, and the effect is like stepping into the world’s most high-tech dorm room. Spanning the entire floor of a Chicago skyscraper, the campaign’s nerve center boasts a ping-pong table, a staff of 300 and a life-size cardboard cutout of the president dressed in a University of Montana jersey. They don’t use phones up here; most of the digital team weren’t even issued any. Instead, campaign workers communicate mostly by e-mail, G-chat and Twitter. Rows of young staffers, some perched on yoga balls, are quietly coding new online tools to engage supporters, tweaking a video of Sarah Palin attacking Obama, and tracking metrics of volunteers recruited and new voters registered. An energetic hum fills the room, punctuated only by mouse clicks.

Given Barack Obama’s transformation from insurgent politician to establishment president, you might expect his re-election campaign to emphasize the benefits of incumbency, leaning on big-dollar donors and party insiders. But the campaign staff assembled in Chicago has a different plan to return Obama to the White House: They’re building the mother of all field campaigns – one that is even more dependent on face-to-face organizing than it was four years ago. Obama 2.0 has been quietly re-engineered from the bottom up, powered by new high-tech organizing tools designed to mobilize volunteers and target new voters more quickly and efficiently. By the start of early voting in October, the campaign expects to transform college dorms and coffeehouses across the country into 20,000 all-volunteer, fully functioning field offices.

"To be honest, I’m amazed at what they’re doing," says Temo Figueroa, who directed Obama’s field operation against Hillary Clinton in 2008 but is not a part of the campaign this year. "It makes what we were doing look like a startup."

Obama and his team know that come fall, they will face an epic ad war backed by the nearly limitless funds being poured into Republican Super PACs. So the campaign is returning to the potent combination of cutting-edge technology and timeworn field techniques it deployed in 2008 – the president’s one advantage that the GOP can’t match. "The other side has decided this is a race about Super PAC ads," says Jim Messina, the campaign manager of Obama 2012. "We have a different theory about the whole deal. Both sides are going to have beautiful TV ads, and everyone is going to spend millions of dollars. But we’re going to win this on the ground, person-to-person, volunteers talking to voters about the issues."

There’s only one problem with running a people-powered campaign this time around: the people. Ever since he charged to victory in 2008 on a movement of his own creation, President Obama’s relationship with his activist base has been an uneasy one. Instead of deploying his loyal army of 13 million citizen-activists to pressure Congress to enact his agenda, Obama essentially mothballed his massive campaign machine as soon as he took office. He also dispatched his top deputies – including Messina, a Beltway veteran of 17 years – to tell the "professional left" to sit down and be quiet. "The progressive community was better organized than I’d ever seen before, but they were all leaned on by the White House to not raise hell," says an insider from the ’08 campaign. "That first year and a half, it was like, ‘No, we’ll take care of it.’ You got a visit from Jim Messina or someone, saying, ‘Don’t rock the boat.’"

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The Age of Obama: What Went Wrong (And How To Fix It)

April 1st, 2012 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2012 Election, Organizing, pushing obama

By Van Jones
Progressive America Rising via Yes! Magazine

This article is adapted from Rebuild the Dream, Van Jones’ new book.

The 2008 campaign was a campfire around which millions gathered. But after the election, it was nobody’s job or role to tend that campfire. The White House was focused on the minutiae of passing legislation, not on the magic of leading a movement. Obama For America did the best that it could, but the mass gatherings, the idealism, the expanded notions of American identity, the growing sense of a new national community, all of that disappeared.

It goes without saying that clear thinking and imaginative problem solving are easier in hindsight, away from the battlefield. I was in the White House for six months of 2009, and I was outside of it afterward. I had some of the above insights at the time, but many did not come to me in the middle of the drama and action. Most are the product of deeper reflection, which I was able to do only from a distance.

Nonetheless, the exercise of trying to sort out what might have been and trying to understand why nobody was able to make those things happen in real time has informed this book and shaped my arguments going forward.

I say Obama relied on the people too little, and we tried to rely on him too much.

Let me speak personally: looking back, I do not think those of us who believed in the agenda of change had to get beaten as badly as we were, after Obama was sworn in. We did not have to leave millions of once-inspired people feeling lost, deceived, and abandoned. We did not have to let our movement die down to the level that it did.

The simple truth is this: we overestimated our achievement in 2008, and we underestimated our opponents in 2009.

We did not lose because the backlashers got so loud. We lost because the rest of us got so quiet. Too many of us treated Obama’s inauguration as some kind of finish line, when we should have seen it as just the starting line. Too many of us sat down at the very moment when we should have stood up.

Among those who stayed active, too many of us (myself included) were in the suites when we should have been in the streets. Many “repositioned” our grassroots organizations to be “at the table” in order to “work with the administration.” Some of us (like me) took roles in the government. For a while at least, many were so enthralled with the idea of being a part of history that we forgot the courage, sacrifices, and risks that are sometimes required to make history.

That is hard, scary, and thankless work. It requires a willingness to walk with a White House when possible—and to walk boldly ahead of that same White House, when necessary. A few leaders were willing to play that role from the very beginning, but many more were not. Too many activists reverted to acting like either die-hard or disappointed fans of the president, not fighters for the people.

The conventional wisdom is that Obama went too far to the left to accommodate his liberal base. In my view, the liberal base went too far to the center to accommodate Obama. The conventional wisdom says that Obama relied on Congress too much. I say Obama relied on the people too little, and we tried to rely on him too much. Once it became obvious that he was committed to bipartisanship at all costs, even if it meant chasing an opposition party that was moving further to the right every day, progressives needed to reassess our strategies, defend our own interests, and go our own way. It took us way too long to internalize this lesson— and act upon it.

The independent movement for hope and change, which had been growing since 2003, was a goose that was laying golden eggs. But the bird could not be bossed. Caging it killed it. It died around conference tables in Washington, DC, long before the Tea Party got big enough to kick its carcass down the street.

The administration was naïve and hubristic enough to try to absorb and even direct the popular movement that had helped to elect the president. That was part of the problem. But the main problem was that the movement itself was naïve and enamored enough that it wanted to be absorbed and directed. Instead of marching on Washington, many of us longed to get marching orders from Washington. We so much wanted to be a part of something beautiful that we forgot how ugly and difficult political change can be.

Somewhere along the line, a bottom-up, largely decentralized phenomenon found itself trying to function as a subcomponent of a national party apparatus. Despite the best intentions of practically everyone involved, the whole process wound up sucking the soul out of the movement.

As a result, when the backlash came, the hope-and-changers had no independent ground on which to stand and fight back. Grassroots activists had little independent ability to challenge the White House when it was wrong and, therefore, a dwindling capacity to defend it when it was right.

We need a president who is willing to be pushed into doing the right thing, and we need independent leaders and movements that are willing to do the pushing.

The Obama administration had the wrong theory of the movement, and the movement had the wrong theory of the presidency. In America, change comes when we have two kinds of leaders, not just one. We need a president who is willing to be pushed into doing the right thing, and we need independent leaders and movements that are willing to do the pushing. For a few years, Obama’s supporters expected the president to act like a movement leader, rather than a head of state.

The confusion was understandable: As a candidate, Obama performed many of the functions of a movement leader. He gave inspiring speeches, held massive rallies, and stirred our hearts. But when he became president, he could no longer play that role.

The expectation that he would or could arose from a fundamental misreading of U.S. history. After all, as head of state, President Lyndon Johnson did not lead the civil rights movement. That was the job of independent movement leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Fannie Lou Hamer. There were moments of conflict and cooperation between Johnson and leaders in the freedom struggle, but the alchemy of political power and people power is what resulted in the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As head of state, Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not lead the labor movement. That was the job of independent union leaders. Again, the alchemy of political power and people power resulted in the New Deal. As head of state, Woodrow Wilson did not lead the fight to enfranchise women. That was the role of independent movement leaders, such as suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Ida B. Wells. The alchemy of political power and people power resulted in women’s right to vote. As head of state, Abraham Lincoln did not lead the abolitionists. That was the job of independent movement leaders Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and Harriet Tubman. The alchemy of political power and people power resulted in the emancipation of enslaved Africans. As head of state, Richard Nixon did not lead the environmental movement. That was the job of various environmental organizations, such as the Sierra Club, and other leaders, like those whom writer Rachel Carson inspired. Once again it was the alchemy of political power and people power that resulted in the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency

The biggest reason for our frustrations and failures is that we have not yet understood that both of these are necessary—and they are distinct. We already have our head of state who arguably is willing to be pushed. We do not yet have a strong enough independent movement to do the pushing. The bulk of this book makes the case for how and why we should build one.

Note to Obama: Don’t Go Here

March 14th, 2012 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2012 Election, antiwar, Iran, pushing obama

Circle Of Clowns Playing With Fire:

The GOP’s Warmongering on Iran

By Bill Fletcher, Jr
Progressive America Rising via Seattle Medium

March 14, 2012 – It is difficult to watch the spectacle of the Republican primaries and not agree with whoever it was that originated the description of those candidacies as nothing more or less than a ‘circle of clowns.’ At each moment one or the other candidate seems to go deeper into the swamp, whether through denigrating science, attacking women or attempting to ridicule President Obama for supporting college education.

With this evolution of the campaign it feels as if we are going deeper and deeper into a new dark age with mysticism, fear, militarism, racism and misogynism as the defining characteristics.

What never ceases to amaze me is the manner in which these politicians have, with the exception of the right-wing libertarian Ron Paul, jumped up and down on the band-wagon in favor of war with Iran. In concert with an element of the Israeli political establishment and their supporters in the USA, they have been beating the drum for military strikes against Iran as a means of stopping the alleged efforts of Iran to achieve a nuclear weapon.

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