Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Some Thoughts on another Big Primary Day

by Norman Markowitz

Like many others in other states, I am watching this primary day, hoping for a victory by Senator Obama that will put the nomination within his reach, worried that the Clinton attacks will make it harder to achieve the victory in November that is necessary to begin to reverse the ideological and institutional reaction that has characterized U.S. government policy since the Reagan administration.

I would say to Hillary Clinton and her supporters – lay off Barack Obama if you are serious about defeating the Republican right. Advance a program that will appeal to the progressive core constituencies of the Democratic party who are voting for Senator Obama if you wish to compete with him, rather than talking like a backroom politician, mocking his appeal to peoples highest aspirations as naively "looking to the heavens" (portraying him in essence as an African American minister preaching to the already converted, which I consider to be coded racism).

If you somehow manage to win the nomination, I and millions of others who are supporting Senator Obama both because we feel that he is better than you on the issues and (I speak for myself) also because many understand that his election will in itself represent a huge victory against the ideological and institutional racism that has more than any other factor undermined democracy and social justice throughout U.S. history, will support you against McCain. But what you are doing now will hurt both the Democratic party's chances and yours in the general election.

This isn't based, as New York Times oped columnist Paul Krugman suggested recently, on some irrational hostility to the Clintons similar to the hostility the right had to them in 1990s. I have no interest in Bill Clinton's extra marital affairs and regard the Republicans use of those affairs to try to impeach him as the greatest farce in American political history. I am not upset that he smoked marijuana (I wouldn't even care if he inhaled) or didn't serve in the Vietnam War.

I am upset that his major domestic accomplishment was NAFTA, as should be the people in Ohio and other urban industrial states. I am upset that he worked with the Republican Right to destroy Aid to Families with Dependant Children, the New Deal 1935 program that was the foundation of federal welfare. I as an historian consider him to be the most conservative and from a progessive perspective ineffective Democratic president of the 20th century. Those are the reasons why I dislike Bill Clinton, and they have nothing to do with the "culture war" issues of the right or their fantasy that Bill and Hillary Clinton were socialist oriented radicals.

I hope to participate in an Obama presidential campaign in the Fall and like millions of others, I hope that today will bring that campaign closer. If it doesn't I hope the Clinton campaign will begin seriously to address the issues of millions of progressive voters whom the Democratic party will need to win, not only as voters voting for the lesser of two evils, but as activists believing that they are advancing a positive good.

No comments: