Young Radicals For Obama

Posted on November 15, 2011 by

I was 17 when Richard Nixon was elected in 1968. 

Though many on the “new left” were insisting at the time that it didn’t matter who became president, I pinned a Hubert Humphrey button on my coat.

Even as a young radical I rejected the idea that there was no difference between the two.

Nixon, of course, pioneered the strategy of peeling off working class voters and then instituting policies to destroy their unions. 

To this day I believe that Vice-President Humphrey, despite being tethered to LBJ’s War in Vietnam, would have steered the nation in a very differently direction on issues of economic equality and power. 

Why all this ruminating about the political past? 

Because I’m reacting to all the discussion over how Occupy Wall Street protesters will approach next year’s presidential election . 

Will they sit it out, refusing to be “co-opted” by the system? 

Or will they recognize what’s at stake…? 

…That a republican white house and congress will only accelerate and exacerbate inequality. 

And that Barack Obama and democrats, whatever their failings and limitations, are at least answerable to pressure from progressives. 

Here’s my message to this generation of protesters: 

Continue your struggle but understand that social and economic change does not come about by letting reactionaries take over the government.

Comments (4)


  1. Mark Gibney says:

    OWS to be ground troops for Obama 2012? Some of them will. Hopefully more will keep on trying to reframe the debate, as disjointed as that seems to be.

  2. Young voters must be engaged in the campaign. It is their world and how they will live in it that has been shaped by the clownish-like behavior in Congress for decades. The “…times they are a changin’” but not for the good. Rally up!

  3. Brad Cagle says:

    Insightful, as always.

    So then it was replaced by a Clinton button?

  4. Rod Bradley says:

    I hope the young will mature that quickly and see the “lesser” of two evils, a moderate Republican president named Obama, despite his lack of leadership, his lack of vision, his obsession with compromise to no avail and his predeliction toward war and Wall Street, is, if little more, a political animal who wants to be liked. Mostly by the elite. But since he is not a leader, he can be pushed. So, with the choice between total insanity from the radical Republican crackpots, and a kind of moderate decent status quo Republican who calls himself a democrat, we have little choice.

    But the young are far less forgiving of hypocrisy and betrayal and broken promises. Obama will have few of them donating youthful energy to elect a transformative it won’t be business as usual Obama because they know that man does not exist. The disconnected policy wonk community leader that kowtows to the powerful while paying lip service to the common man is who the educated and energetic youth see. It’s pretty hard to get enthusiastic about such a figure. And takes great maturity to “forgive” and blame his lack of clarity and willingness to fight on the Republicans. But I hope they do. For the country’s sake and their sake. And I hope for an even greater miracle. That Barak Obama develops an inner core and a soul and is himself transformed.

    Alas, they and we, have no Robert Kennedy to champion. Humphry was a decent man, but he too wanted the political cake and was trapped by a lack of vision. In some ways similar to Obama.

    If nobody challenges Obama, I’m afraid he will be satisfied with the status quo. The fact that the Republicans have nobody even remotely sane or sensible running, is his good luck. But with the weird outmoded 19th century electoral college at play, anything could happen.

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