Sunday, July 13, 2008

Can Progressives Unite Behind Obama?

Like many other progressives on the left, I have been concerned about Barack Obama moving to the "center" for the general election. I don't think he has "flip-flopped" as some suggest, except in the case of his vote for the new FISA (the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act) Bill. I think progressives are making a mistake if they drop their support for Obama based on that one vote. Obama is trying to avoid the political pitfalls that seem to always entrap Democratic candidates. He opposed the Supreme Court decision that the death penalty is too severe for child rapists and he supported the decision that overturned the D.C. ban on handguns and declared the right of U.S. citizens to own handguns. In the past, liberal Democrats have fumbled badly on these questions (i.e., Dukakis' cold answer to a question about the death penalty if his wife was murered was turned into being weak on crime). There is no way a Democrat could win a general election and oppose the death penalty for child rapists. Imagine the GOP attack ads on that, or if Obama voted against revising FISA and there is a terrorist attack?

Obama's support of "faith-based" programs is not a "move to the right"! Obama was an activist and organizer in "faith-based" programs in Chicago. That is where he acquired his liberal perspective on helping the poor. His program is not like Bush's. Obama recognizes the separation of church & state and prohibits discrimination based on religion or against gays and lesbians. And it is not limited to churches. His program will include secular organizations as well as gay-supportive organizations and churches.

Progressives and anti-Obama feminist Hillary Clinton supporters have to look at the bigger picture--Barack Obama is far more progressive than John McCain! Our choice is between those two candidates, only one of the THEM will win the general election. Progressives should have learned from 2000 that wasting their vote on a left-wing third party candidate does MORE harm to the progressive movement.

Theda Skocpol has a message to all of you anti-Obama progressives and Obama-hating Clintonites:
See Also Norman Solomon: Obama and the Progressive Base

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