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Tom Hayden Strikes Back

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Posted on Apr 30, 2008
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Flickr / Joe Crimmings Photography

By Tom Hayden

Editor’s note: Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges wrote in a recent essay that leftists such as Tom Hayden had lost their nerve. Hayden sent us this reply.

John MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s, should know better than to claim that some like myself have spent our lives wanting to be “players” in the Democratic Party instead of being “outside the system.” In most countries, most activists move between social movements and political parties as the need arises. I have spent 50 years in social movements, 20 of them as an elected legislator who was opposed by the party establishment, which is far from being a “player.” I believe that change always begins with independent social movements, but movements can be expanded by political representation at certain stages. Who, for example, can forget the willingness of Sen. Mike Gravel to read the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record at great legal and political risk to himself?

I am saddened by the strange argument of Chris Hedges, who cites MacArthur in his essay “The Left Has Lost Its Way.” Chris says we should “walk away from the Democratic Party even if Barack Obama is the nominee,” and vote for Ralph Nader. If not, “we become slaves,” a truly unfortunate analogy. What Chris misses is that millions of African-Americans and young people generally are throwing themselves into the Barack Obama campaign, and will not take seriously a white writer who preaches that they are marching in the wrong direction. The analogy to slavery is absolutely inappropriate.

My view is to be humbled and appreciative of this unpredicted upsurge of idealistic and fervent activism created in the Obama movement, and to be supportive of the candidacy while remaining independent and critical of the candidate’s moderate views on Iraq and NAFTA. It’s my sense as an organizer for 50 years that we should stand with spontaneous new waves of activism, not demand that they call off their campaigns at the most critical moment. It is possible to do so without having to surrender our independence on the issues we care most about.

For that reason, some of us have created a Web site  called Progressives for Obama, including myself, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, Danny Glover, Cornel West, Jane Fonda, Jim Hightower, Jean Stein, Andy Stern, Anna Burger, and 300 more.

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The social movements have not disappeared in 2008 but follow a logic of their own, like a river cutting its path. If the Clintons steal the nomination, the social movements will return in force. If Obama wins the presidency, the social movements will rise with higher expectations to demand that President Obama end the Iraq war and focus on race, poverty and environmental issues at home and around the world. The left should not be a small elite outside this process.


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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, April 30, 2008 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

Fine post.

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By Woundedduck, April 30, 2008 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hayden has a website to put pressure on Obama to become more progressive?  Is that supposed to be a joke?  Why isn’t Hayden organizing massive protests, or trying to up-end the WTO? 

“Tom Hayden has a website” is a perfect epitaph for his tombstone.

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By Max Shields, April 30, 2008 at 4:22 pm Link to this comment

cwhipps, that’s because you’re not listening.

It’s not about unity around a Party that he’s talking about. The Dems have lost almost every election since Jimmy Carter’s with the exception of Clinton when Ross Perot played (particular in the first round) the most definitive role (19% vote went for him!) in siphoning votes away from Bush I. You all blame Nader for 2000 - what cry babies.

You don’t get it. You think this is a fight, when in fact, as Prof. Adolph states most cogently, the Dems are a lost cause. It’s like jumping on a canoe headed down a massive fall and thinking it will be fine because you really like the canoe.

But it’s not just the pragmatics. It’s the lack of imagination I see here. It’s not that Obama is good or bad (I’ve never argued that) just that he’s the same. His campaign is really Bill Clinton with color, right down to hope. And what did progressives get with Bill Clinton - a Republican lite president with a D after his name. Whoopee!

It’s like talking to children. Or worse lobatomized or alazhimer patients. What gives. There’s no movement folks. Bush has been fully in charge. The Dems couldn’t move on Iraq, not one inch. They let torture and more of Bush’s admin just go by. No fight. No passion. No RESULTS.

And you keep coming back for more with the same bull shit about holding their feet to some kind of fire.

You’re lost souls. Progressives? In whose dictionary?

Advice: Start a grass roots movement, take the time to build it brick by brick. Sweat your asses off. Get somebody whose a real progressive elected to City Council, than State, than Congress. Than another and another.

BUILD SOMETHING. Obama is just a faddish long winded rhetorical windbag, whose wind is fadding fast. Nixon and Eisenhower were more progressive than Obama (you remember them?).

You’ve all been suckered——-AGAIN!!

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By brian rothermund, April 30, 2008 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s nice to see that the dimmos have already caved to Hayden and the other phoney liberals (sorry, I guess the fake liberals prefer the term progressive now). While Hayden and people of his ilk keep spouting “why can’t we just get along” rhetoric, the repugs are putting together the final solution for winning in 2008. Their plan is genius, run two candidates instead of one (McCain-Clinton) full well knowing that America in 2008 would sooner elect another Bush than a black man.
This must be how the enlightened people of Germany felt in 1934. We can see the iceberg, but the ships crew doesn’t give a damn.

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By Bubba, April 30, 2008 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Well said, Tom.

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By Max Shields, April 30, 2008 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment

completely makes my case. I would invite all to listen to his words on today’s Democracy Now!

http://www.democracynow.org/

Max

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By yours truly, April 30, 2008 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So Is Obama The One?

“But he isn’t even for a single payer health care system?”

“No matter.”

“Why no matter?”

“Because if he’s the one then all we have to do is elect him and he’ll go on to end the Iraq War, negotiate with Iran plus turning things around here at home.”

“And then what sort of world?”

“It’ll be up to us.”

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By dr wu, April 30, 2008 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

What a back and forth!

Sure.. all the candidates are no good..and so far Canada is out of the question, as is tossing paving stones at the gendarmes.

I thought about writing in Pastor Wright, he of the prophet Jeremiah school of talking truth to power, but he’d wind up with 6 votes and lose so it’s gotta be Obama, young, vibrant, tall, tan and tempting, just like the Temptations. (McCain—old and dumb, Hillary—she got a Bill problem.)

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By Shenonymous, April 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

Forget Gore.  He is not interested and we should not waste time on wishful thinking.  We have to play the chips we have.  Even if we are almost shy of the pot. 

The voice against corporatists have been raised and raised loudly by John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich.  Neither of them survived to be considered in the important election.  Nader is a spoiler and a spoil sport who just doesn’t understand that the People don’t want him nor his whining. 

There is only one path for the ordinary people of this country and that is to triumph over the corporatists and their self-serving Republicans and that is to elect a Democrat. 

Obama has a clear and articulate program that points its lens directly away from the 10% who have almost all of the wealth and who made and sustain their wealth on the sweat of 90% of Americans who form the substance of this country. 

The current media craven and rapacious appetite to focus on dead meat issues such as Reverend Wright must be removed and attention redirected to those pledges that Barack Obama has repeatedly expressed as his platform to change this country from the more than eight year long siege of the Republican party, beginning with Ronald Reagan’s rightwing political policies such as the anti-regulatory policies that froze all federal regulation from January 1981, which in effect bolstered the business sector but provided among other detrimental factors extreme health risk conditions for the American labor force.  Reagan’s regulatory reform policies effectively took away the right of American workers to work in a safe workplace.  The relentless policies of the Republican party has deprived Americans of the safety nets in health care, social security, safe infrastructure, protection of the environment, and a guarantee of a decent education long enough. 

The petty criticisms waged against Mr. Obama are miniscule in importance compared to the dispossession of Americans who pay the taxes and do the work to keep this country what it is.  If anyone is proud of America, it is precisely because the ordinary American has worked their asses off to make it a thing to be proud of. 

We cannot let a self-serving egotist like Ralph Nader spoil this country again and water down an election by siphoning off valuable votes using his usual demagoguery tactics.  We, who are earnest in preserving this country for ordinary Americans, will not let this happen again.

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By cwhipps, April 30, 2008 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

I completely agree with Tom on this. Just watch today’s interview on Democracy Now with Adolph Reed Jr. and Melissa Harris-Lacewell. There is no hope for progressives without unity in the Democratic party.

http://www.democracynow.org/

Just listen to the way Adolph speaks. There isn’t even unity within his argument. I couldn’t get five people in Santa Monica to tell you what he was talking about. 

What every one in the progressive movement needs to realize is that we are getting old too. We have reputations and legacies to defend. “Anti-war” has become less a movement than a social identification. It tells you which side you were on in the “war against war.”

Nothing gets done by being against something. Things only get done be being “for” something. We lost the “war against war”.

It’s time to start bringing people together. People younger, and less bitter. People with a future. People without ghosts.

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By Aegrus, April 30, 2008 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

When your emotional outrage begins to ebb, try looking at the practical platform we’re trying to work toward.

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By Max Shields, April 30, 2008 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

“Obama stands for and is attempting to accomplish in his run for the office.”

And what is that?

There are real progressive blogs where talk like this would be laughed off the board. The most unsubstantiated hodge podge. You love Obama and Ernest is with his hand held calculator determining who’s got the numbers.

Such vacuous thinking is why we’re where we are. There’s nothing like people floating around thinking that a guy who embraces Reaganomics and more is a “progressive”.

Have you ever read a book by Chris Hedges? If you have you’d realize that Mr. Hedges is about as consistent with is political and moral compass as you’ll find.

At least Ernest is honest - it’s not that Obama is particularly progressive, but he’s better than McCain.

You on the other hand are under the BIG MO delusion.

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By Max Shields, April 30, 2008 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

Here’s the issue. Not everyone thinks Obama and other institutionalized pols are progressive.

The demands of the so-called Dem progressives (I don’t know how else to accurately descibe) are a considerable distance from those who consider themselves activist progressives and non-old left. Left really doesn’t mean anything. It’s a strawman that everybody takes pot shots.

I’m fully aware, as are most progressive activist of the pragmatics involved in politics. This is not about education. This is about seeing more of the same whereby activist progressives see two parties becoming one on the core issues, with minor pandering. And than there are the progressive Dems who figure a crumb is better than nothing and they’ll just hold feet to the fire once their candidate is CIC.

For activist progressives like Chris Hedges, Howard Zinn and a host of others, this is just a wet noodle nod that keeps us with over 700 colonial outposts throughout the world, threats to invade other sovereign nations and stay, for all in tense and purposes for decades in Afganistan and Iraq. And that’s regardless of McSame, Obama or Hillary.

Lives will be lost as they continue to be before George W. Bush ever thought about running for President. The same Dem progressives will say thank for minor health care changes - nothing bold. Obama has already shown that he’s only rhetorically bold and will cave at the slightest provocation of confrontation. Dem progressives will make excuses and say well he’s just being pragmatic and the activist bolshevic just better shut their yaps..after all we could have John McCain as Pres.

There is no doubt that with a faux war on terrorism there has been a brighter light on what these Commanders do when war-time push comes to shove. We’ve seen it time and again under Dems (and Lincoln).

But all of this is ok, if we can cloak it in some kind of kinder, gentler imperialism - may be a little more air action so American soldiers don’t get caught in the fire as they land terrorist bomb after terrorist bomb.

No, Nader wouldn’t get in, but if he did you could be damn sure he wouldn’t be following this deadly, playbook.

So, pick your poison. I’ve seen this movie too many times.

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By cyrena, April 30, 2008 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

Ernest,

You write, (at the conclusion of this excellent as usual essay) this:

•  “No doubt Hedges & Shields would have blasted Lincoln for distancing himself from the abolitionists, never recognizing that it was only through that political maneuver that Lincoln was able to eventually be in a position to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.”

I don’t know if Hedges or Shields would have blasted Lincoln for distancing himself from the abolitionists or not. From his postings and writings of late, I believe that it is Chris himself who has lost his way, because he has not always espoused, (at least from my own interpretations) such a bitter-end philosophy that basically denies all pragmatism or logic. Max Shields impresses as a malcontent, bent on disagreeing and judging no matter what the case or the circumstances. In other words; another one who has resented the Obama candidacy from the beginning, for whatever his personal reasons might be. I could speculate and come close I’m sure, (on those reasons) but there is little to be gained from it.

My point however, is simply that like at least a half-dozen or more of these posters, they will grab whatever may work for the moment, in an opportunistic attempt to undermine everything that Obama stands for and is attempting to accomplish in his run for the office. For me at least, that has become overwhelmingly apparent just in reading and following their posts over a now extended (maybe too long) period of time.

That said, the other part of your thought is a point I’ve tried to make repeatedly. There is little, (actually NOTHING) of Obama’s agenda, (which DOES represent and commit to a far better chance of survival for our society-at-large) that can be accomplished UNTIL he can become the President, and acquire the decision making and ‘signing-power’ that goes with that. It really is that simple.

At the same time, it’s also that complicated and difficult, because there is far MORE power, (the power of the established and self-appointed monarchy represented by the current cabal) lined up to prevent that, at all costs, and by any means necessary.

Amon drool has suggested that I’m being ‘conspiratorial’ in pointing this out. There’s nothing ‘conspiratorial’ about it. It’s a fact. Those who can destroy the efforts of someone like Barack Obama, or the MOVEMENT THAT HE REPRESENTS, will do…EXCATLY THAT!! And if it wasn’t by using Jeremiah Wright, (with whom I have no particular quarrel myself, since MOST of what is says is right smack dab center on the TRUTH) then it would be something or someone else. The focus on Jeremiah Wright was CREATED to be a controversy that could be used to somehow ‘tarnish’ Obama, and the first part of that succeeded. They first tried connecting him to Louis Farrakhan, and when that failed, it became association to Farrakhan, by way of association to Wright, by way of association to the Trinity church. And they will continue to create as much confusion and chaos as can be created, because that is the point. This is no different than any other of the Rovian or Swift-Boat tactics that have been used for decades, and people like Max Shields and others, become TOOLS of the right to sow such chaos, whether they know it themselves or not.

In fact, that’s really the only question. Whether or not they are aware and willingly participating in it for their own opportunistic reasons, or if they’re just being manipulated based on their own personal prejudices. I’m not sure how important that is at this point, for the rest of us to know, because WHATEVER the reasons; it’s a distraction and a waste of time. I’m learning that the hard way, from giving all the benefit of the doubt.  So I suspect that it’s only important not to be side-tracked by the riff-raff and the flotsam.

At any rate, I also appreciated hearing from Tom Hayden, and I’m going to checkout the website that he references here in his piece. Thanks again for your own.

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By Aegrus, April 30, 2008 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

I’m glad Tom Haden spoke out like he has in this response because everyone is becoming a little jaded to this whole process. We have brilliant people sponsoring either candidate who feel like we have already lost the election. Now is the time to become steadfast for one shared goal. A new direction for this country, or at least getting back on track.

John McCain will not win, cynics. Hillary Clinton is not the devil. Barack Obama will not destroy the political system. We are charged with the task of deciding which of these three candidates is the best American figurehead and has the best ideas for the country. Not to band together in some angry mob against one, two or all three of these successful politicians.

Obama is spot-on when he says change happens from the bottom-up. This election is just part of a bigger movement we need to facilitate into action. It is our responsibility as citizens to re-engage our representatives in every way possible. Listen to political opponents! Become more informed! Move forward and get active!

Wake up America!

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By ectoendomezo, April 30, 2008 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

Whelp!
  That was FAST…! Actually..if you think about it..that was REALLY fast!
  I am failing..for some reason..to see WHERE..or WHY the democratic party..and the Progressive faction..of which I consider myself to be a member…say..CONSTITUTIONAL PROGRESSIVE..but WHERE is this..bizarre..CANNIBALISM coming from?
  WHERE? WHY?
  I truly..do not understand why the political “left” is so..SO self destructive..it just seems impossibly SELF DESTRUCTIVE…as in..ALWAY’S SELF DESTRUCTING…every time!
  Where is GORE? for example..he would win..even mnay “good ol boy’s” that I have spoken with..as I am a “rural” dweller..think he was ROBBED..and that ..effects their sense of.“FAIRPLAY”...he could win it..WHY is he not running?
  WHY is Hillary SO…REPUBLICAN? What is her PROBLEM? does she not..SOMEHOW..not realize that she is doing the McSAME “sweet talk express” and the entire repugnican conspiracies job..for them? does she actually NOT SEE THAT?
  So..I am..resinging myself to..well.frankly..MARTIAL LAW..because with McSAME in the lead..there is NO WAY WHATSOEVER that we will have our CIVIL LIBERTIES RETURNED TO US..THAT THE WAR WILL END..THAT THE ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES OF THIS REGIME WILL BE EXPOSED..with McBUSH..there is NO HOPE for the FUTURE…PERIOD!
  I am sorry to shout..I am SO pissed off at my “perty” for this..UTTERLY self destructive..self deception…this is..ASSURING a McSAME WIN! Absolutley..
  and Hayden and the ..really NAIVE “LEADERS” of the LEFT..are..almost COMPLICIT this time..as complicit in the return of more..UGHHHHH…more of the same..as NADER was in 2000…just as much..this time it seems to be..pretty much the whole GROUP of em..with this INSANE “super delegate” nonsense..that si simply feuling the really pathetic “press” coverage..making a “reality show” out of one of the most important..possibly THE most important “election” in AMERICAN HISTORY..truly a “DO OR DIE” scenario..as in..if we do not allow change..we are NOT GOING TO MAKE IT! PERIOD!
  I BLAME HILLARY, THE DEMOCRATIC “LEADERSHIP”.. LIEBERMANS ALL OF EM’ AND I BLAME THE STUBBORN STUPIDS OF THE “LEFT” FOR THEIR INABILITY TO SEE THAT IT IS SO CLOSE TO “OVER” FOR OBAMA AND HILLARY THAT IT IS AN EMERGENCY..AND THEY ARE NOT CORRECTING THE COURSE…THEY ARE ALLOWING US TO..DROWN IN OUR OWN BILE!
  They are as accountable as the KARL ROVE for this fiasco..for the damage is being done..ALMOST COMLETELY…from WITHIN…how dare they? how..dare..they?

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By tdbach, April 30, 2008 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

Funny how Obama’s radical wing can rationalize his “political maneuver” as necessary to win a general election, yet tar and feather the Clinton’s for their own, clever political maneuverings, calling them sell-outs and corporatists and Bush-lite. What a crock.

This is a democracy, folks. Politics ain’t pretty. It’s idealism dressed and made up like a whore. But through it all, we get things done, we evolve (albeit not in a straight line). We aspire as a nation and change at a pace we can tolerate. We have gone from a completely fraternal, slave-owning society to an equal-rights, anti-discriminatory country within a 100 years. We moderns might think t should have been faster, but could it? Steroids kill.

And then Hayden, that frustrated old SDS’er, says “If the Clintons steal the nomination, the social movements ...” Another sign that democracy doesn’t sit well with this crowd, for all the lip service he pays to it. Bush’s gang may have “stolen” the 2000 election with underhanded tactics, but if Clinton wins, it will be because the system, such as it is, selects her. If you don’t like the system, change it. Don’t use inflammatory and defamatory language like “steal” to pout in advance.

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By Max Shields, April 30, 2008 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

Please, off the high horse!!

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By cann4ing, April 30, 2008 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

Sorry that you cannot see the difference between supporting the most progressive of democratic candidates during the “primaries” when there is no risk whatsoever that a fascist like McCain can win because my vote did not go to the mainstream democrat and casting a vote for Mr. Nader in the “general election” at a time when every vote is needed to prevent the fascist from ascending to the world’s most powerful office.  If you go to Progressives for Obama, as suggested by Mr. Hayden, you will find a very large number of individuals with unassailable progressive credentials who have made the decision I have.  The fact that we have come to a different decision than you have on this issue, Max, does not make us the “enemy.”

Recall Max that I did not begin this colloquy by criticizing your intent to vote for Nader.  You started this by accusing me—and the many other honest progressives like me—of being intellectually dishonest for not reaching the same conclusion that you did.  You display a lack of respect for anyone who disagrees with you on tactics, even if they agree with you on substance.

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By Conservative Yankee, April 30, 2008 at 8:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Lincoln was a white supremacist who triangulated the idea of the civil war away from an economic grab for power by the north. 

We couldn’t have “Dixie” selling her cotton to England. The Cotton had to go to Lawrence, Lowell, and hundreds of other little textile cities.

Lincoln advocated torture in a prison outside Chicago which made Abu Ghraib look like a Miami hotel. He suspended Habeas Corpus, and set the stage for 100 years of unequal rights in the old confederacy.

...and as Max points out the Emancipation Proclamation did little or nothing toward ending slavery for slaves in New Jersey, Kentucky or Delaware.

Lincoln is a poor example for “right” ( not Wright)

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By Max Shields, April 30, 2008 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

Ernest,
I think you’ve got this a bit backwards, and the history is off. For instance, The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t freee slaves.

It seems you want to keep connecting dots between people like MLK, and Lincoln and FDR, and than you deny that there’s any comparison. But you are in fact trying to make that extremely weak (implausible) case.

I won’t speak for Hedges. Kucinich raised important and fundamental issues. You said you voted for him. Why? He had little to no chance to be the nominee. So, whatever possessed you to “waste” your vote on a “loser”.

I had no illusions of Kucinich “winning” nor Nader. Nader’s stand is that we need alternatives. We need to speak to what these corporate candidates will never speak to.

It’s called democracy, Ernest. At least a tiny attempt at it.

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By Purple Girl, April 30, 2008 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

We are still waging the same social wars we have been for 40 yrs- compromising with the ‘Right’ has gotten US stuck in the mud even deeper. Equal rights is non existent (woen still only amke about 3/4 of what men do, roe v wade damn near gone, From Pollution to globla Warming, from ‘Give Peace a chance’ to “Obliterating Iran with Nukes”.
Enough of the BS ‘Bi partisanship’- there are too many ‘Blue ’ Covert operative who hav edisguised their real intentions and goals as those who lured in the Faithfull with the guise of “Family Values”. I have not changed by the Dem party has- theri True allegiences are showing, mostly through their continued INACTIONS.
I will not vote for Nadar- another covert Operative , hasn’t done anything but intnetionally screw up election in 40 yrs.
i’ll vote for Obama- bu tjust like Wright said, it does not mean he will get a free Pass. i’m looking (and demanding) more changes then even he has the guts to Pronounce- Criminal Trials for All in gov’t & Inc’s who have screwed this country for decades. Dismantling the private Bankers Club called the ‘Federal Reserve’,the SEC, Wallstreet auction blocks and Hoarding firms, the FCC….I am ready for a smaller gov’t who Does the Jobs WE TELL them to Do and Stays the Hell out of Our personal Business!Let’s US Once again be the land of the FREE!Not land for Free to profiteers and criminals- domestic & foreign!

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By cann4ing, April 30, 2008 at 7:36 am Link to this comment

Bitter enders like Max Shield and Chris Hedges simply are incapable of understanding why so many progressives are flocking to the Obama campaign.  They see in Obama’s speeches a straying from the ideological purity of the admirable democratic-Socialist leanings of a Ralph Nader.  Theirs is a Manichaen world-view that is not all that different from our current president’s, albeit from the opposite end of the political spectrum.  “You’re either with us, or against us.”

Theirs is an outlook incapable of appreciating subtle differences and gradations or the practical realities of a progressive having to pass the muster of a corporate media ready to slay the messenger who is too critical of the corporate security state.

Consider, however, the following excerpt from an article by Keith Joseph, a former SDS member, posted at Progressives for Obama.

“I know Jeremiah Wright….Well, I never met him, but I know his ideas.  He is a part of the American political left.  Nothing he said outraged me, or even upset me.  I agreed with a lot of it, and disagreed with some of it….

“Obama had to distance himself from his pastor in order to remain a viable candidate—a smart move.  Gary Wills, writing in the May 2008 NY Review of Books, pointed out that Abe Lincoln, who Obama invoked when announcing his own candidacy, was associated with John Brown and the ‘radical’ abolitionists.  Like Obama, Abe had to distance himself in public from the ‘extremists.’  But the abolitionists remained the left wing of Lincoln’s coalition, and although he publicly disavowed them (gently) he was secretly and indirectly connected to them.”

No doubt Hedges & Shields would have blasted Lincoln for distancing himself from the abolitionists, never recognizing that it was only through that political maneuver that Lincoln was able to eventually be in a position to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

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By samosamo, April 30, 2008 at 7:32 am Link to this comment

This political system is so broke. It was distressing to see at the start of the wannabe races that the msm had already decided who they would allow on the airwaves to express whatever was going to be expressed. So what we had was on 2 sides, dem & repubs, and the individuals were also paired down to who the msm wanted in the fore front. Think back as to how Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich and how they were treated or left out to be more accurate. There basically was and still is no real choice.
And what about the issues? I gave up on the debates as just ego headbutting to establish an ‘american idol’ view of the whole shebang. Nothing about the pitiful state of our noninformative msm and what courses or actions to restore it as a viable part of our democracy have ever been explored between candidates in debates or from their camps. This is just one of the most important and vital issues about just what in the hell is really going on. And the msm’s made sure this topic was not discussed as they are the main hinderence to real information with the 5 or 6 owners controlling what gets on the airwaves. And I am not impressed with the candidates idea of being led around by the nose talking about questions the msm wants them to talk.
I would have been very impressed if just one of these wannabes had either stopped a debate because of the lack of subject matter on real issues. Or set up debates with a strict line of questions and subjects on the real issues. The lack there of demonstrates a pandering to the status quo with maybe obama being in a position to actually do something IF he becomes elected.

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By GrammaConcept, April 30, 2008 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

Ditto.

(and I, as usual, appreciate what You have to say)...Strive On.

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By Max Shields, April 30, 2008 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

Tom Hayden said: ” In most countries, most activists move between social movements and political parties as the need arises.”

Yes, and those countries have a half dozen parties or more. We have one corporate party.

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By Leefeller, April 30, 2008 at 6:45 am Link to this comment

Mike Gravel is still in the race, for what it is worth, he like Paul is like a fly buzzing in the ear of the Neocons and their two parties of selected candidates.

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By Walter L. Battaglia, April 30, 2008 at 6:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Upon checking Truthdig, I noticed the Hedges-Hayden controversy; the same one that used to provoke the New Left in Berkeley in the 1960s.

A few years ago, I decided it wasn’t worth the candle. The major parties won’t fix what’s wrong because they cannot: they are beholden. The outs cannot fix what’s wrong because they are out of power. Therefore, things will go wherever they will go.

The most significant issues of our time are excessive human population and global climate change. Lacking solution, those problems will dominate national policies everywhere. I don’t see any realistic solutions to these problems being proposed by any of the major candidates or the Green Party or Ralph Nader.

On the other hand, Al Gore and some others are doing a great job of building public awareness, outside of politics.

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By Paul_GA, April 30, 2008 at 6:24 am Link to this comment

“DEM PARTY DOES NOT WANT PEOPLE LIKE DENNIS KUCINICH!!! GOT IT!”

And the Repubs don’t want Ron Paul, either. But thank heaven, he’s hanging around like a bad dream (or a good dream, to his supporters) that won’t go away.

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By Max Shields, April 30, 2008 at 5:48 am Link to this comment

I intentionally kept the details of what the transformative revolution out of the post to deal directly with Tom Hayden’s piece.

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By Max Shields, April 30, 2008 at 5:44 am Link to this comment

I have not read either of the articles Mr. Hayden references.

Anyone who read the 2006 article by Howard Zinn on citizen activism can understand the spirit from which people like Chris Hedges speak.

Activist citizens - and in a living democracy that should be everyone - should be pushing and shoving the system not following it. That’s the crux of the issue. If someone wants to run as a Dem or Repub then they are of the system - until they separate that affilication.

Representative govenment should not be the kind of professional types we see who are in thick with the corporatocracy. We have no democracy. Our voices have been silenced by the corporate media and by the billions poured into these campaigns.

Hayden’s point is central to the issue at large. To live within the status quo knowing that you will be either marginalized and ineffective, or to become incorporated in it is the option of the duopoly. The alternative is citizens activism.

A break down of the duopoly can begin to inject the opportunity for repesentative government. Marginal progressives in the Dem party mostly go along or are blackballed. Look what happened to Dennis Kucinich in Ohio; or Cynthia Mckinney. That’s called a party purge (in the case of Kucinich it failed for the time being but the message is clear - DEM PARTY DOES NOT WANT PEOPLE LIKE DENNIS KUCINICH!!! GOT IT!

The only hope I hold out is that we can reshape our government through a change which will be reflected ulimately in the government or a transformative revolution. It seems plausible, and I think there is something in the air that would sustain it.

Those elected, with rare exception, from either party are soon coopted. It is the nature of the beast they have chosen to operate within. “When in Rome…”.

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By Shenonymous, April 30, 2008 at 5:14 am Link to this comment

How about compromising with the Right?  An absurd position given that this country is in the predicament it is in today.  Do I need to spell it out or have scores of others on TD already done so?  Amnesia is one way of avoiding the truth.  Hayden is correct as usual.  I hope he is a voice at the Democratic convention.

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