Monday, April 30, 2007

Running With The Big Dogs

Presidential fundraising stats issued last week revealed some interesting and surprising trends with Senator Obama leading the pack in contributions coming from Wall Street. Giuliani was a close second, with Clinton a hair behind. Democrats also led in overall monies in their campaign coffers, at this point besting Republican totals.

Much is sure to be made of Obama's strength among investment capital. Already,  Hip Hop mogul Russell Simmons has commented that he is in the pocket of and beholden to his contributors, calling him a "mouse."  Simmons bemoaned the Illinois Senator's lack of an independent grass roots financial base, and seemingly belittled the 30 percent of his overall total coming from small contributors, mainly over the Internet.

Simmons in a New York Times Magazine interview, also dismissed Obama's call for reforming rap lyrics, saying that if he really wanted reform, he should focus on reforming the material conditions that create the lyrics. Simmons has joined Rev. Al Sharpton and others in calling on the corporate recording industry to ban the use of the "n" word, an important and serious campaign. The former CEO of Def Jam records seemed to find in John Edwards a more serious approach to addressing the crisis conditions in African American and poor communities.

Notwithstanding these concerns it is worth pondering Obama's strength on conservative Wall Street and the strength of the Democrats generally. Is this section of the ruling class more evenly placing their bets, feeling that the Republican revolution' s spent, and that the pendulum has begun to swing back? Or is it a more cynical Machiavellian move, aimed at supporting a candidate they feel cannot win a general election? One wonders what kind of support was given in these quarters to Ralph Nader in 2004, insuring a Republican victory.

Well here again, it's too soon to tell. Still Obama's ability to raise the big bucks should not be belittled, nor should he be written off because of it, as some are wont to do. No one should forget that this presidential election occurs on the plane of bourgeois politics and New York is a bourgeois town. That should be the measure.  And no one should begrudge him the right run with the best of them. And cynical though some of the support may be, the pulse of the nation has yet to be taken. One thing is clear, a different public consciousness has arisen since the November election. Who knows what might emerge come 2008? Only the struggles of the next months will decide. The backlash over the war, the crude racism and sexism of the Don Imuses, Bruce Richards, Paris Hiltons and Larry Summers of the world are going to play a huge role in 2008. But for now it's early and growing more interesting.


Joe Sims

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