By Joe Sims
With huge rallies across the country, and picking up more important endorsements (Maria Shriver in LA Sunday morning) Barack Obama seems to have regained the “MO.” Today, over 20,000 jammed into downtown Wilmington Deleware to attend a pre-election rally. One newspaper reported it was the “largest rally Wilmington had ever seen.”
Now a dead head, the race for the nomination has led to a rise again in mutual recriminations between Senators Obama and Clinton, with each are accusing the other of being creatures of or captures to big business and worse the Republican party itself.
Obama tellingly asked crowds if nominating a Democratic who mimicked John McCain’s stance on the war would help win the White House, while Clinton during interviews seemed to compare Obama to Bush by suggested voters might be surprised electing an unknown quantity who might institute very different policies than expected. Observers are left to ask, who is the closet Republican?
The answer: neither. It is true that Clinton’s triangulating centrist politics adopted aspects of Republican light policies. However, it is also true that the Democratic administration during those years was surrounded by legislative and judicial branches of government dominated by the extreme right. More: the labor and peoples movement were clearly on the defensive during these days, limiting their ability to offer substantive resitance. It’s also beyond doubt that Mrs. Clinton voted for the war. Still, on most issues there is clear difference between the views of the extreme conservatives dominating the Republican party and the New York senator’s platform.
The same could be said for Mr. Obama, whose stances too occupy positions in the Democratic mainstream. While he’s too the left of Mrs. Clinton on the war, she argues his health care policies are straight out the corporate boardrooms. The Guardian newspaper quoted her this morning on a TV news program:
“She used the talk shows to claim that Obama's healthcare plan represented a surrender to the health industry lobbyists who oppose universal coverage. "It looks like it was written by the health insurance companies," she said. "He is playing right into all the arguments against this core issue of the Democratic party.”
In reality, notwithstanding today’s nastiness their programs as a whole differ in degree, not in kind, not only on healthcare. So what’s the point of it all?
For this writer, the crux of the matter is as follows. It’s a truism in US politics that liberals under pressure tend to move to the right. The Clinton’s political biography is proof positive of that. The issue then, is who is able to build a movement from below, broad enough and powerful enough to engage a countervailing center-left force capable of resisting and defeating the extreme right? Who has looked across history’s terrain and grasped the motive forces of change, locating it in the exercise of the will of an organized and highly motivated people? At the end of the day,who has the “MO”?