All We Are Saying, Is Give Hope a Chance

Roosevelt had called for a “New Deal for the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic heap” in a direct appeal to the working class and the poor that few if any major party candidates had ever made. He already had a record as Governor of New York supporting pro labor and pro social welfare policies, even though those policies had only been enacted in a very limited way. New forces, progressive and largely independent political forces ,were already rallying around him.

I would say the same thing today about Senator Barack Obama. He has a solid record as a progressive in both the Illinois State Legislature and the US Senate. His campaign has mobilized independent non party progressive forces in a way unprecedented excepting the mobilization of non party forces of the religious right behind the Republicans, since the McGovern campaign of 1972 (and his chances of victory today and infinitely stronger than McGovern’s then). Those who are attacking him from the left because of his inconsistencies and lack of specific policies are ignoring both what American politics is and what he is and can become.

Hopefully, McCain and his party will go down to the crushing defeat that the Bush administration and the congressional GOP has richly earned in this coming watershed election. If we are successful in making that happen, an Obama administration will be in a position to address both the present crisis and begin to reverse the disastrous policies of a generation. If we don’t succeed, 1932 on an even grander scale will very likely be the shape of things to come.

Political Affairs Magazine – Bush, Herbert Hoover, and Memories of the Great Depression.Norman Markowitz

Markowitz reminds me that my worries about Obama, particularly his “liberal-as-conservative” centrist rhetoric, has one major ambiguity: events on the ground. It’s not certain, in other words, that the policies of an Obama presidency will be as timid as those of the candidate.

Maybe we are all hoping for some sort of magic, one moment evoking one or more Kennedys, the next F.D.R. Only time will tell, of course. But I think FDR might be the better precedent, particularly if the economy continues to tank. McCain is certainly Hoover like in his love of the powers-that-be.

Even if the economy is just all dull and listless, as it has been recently, but not Depressed, the idea is still sound. If both House and Senate are Democratic, for example, we can fight for a single-payer plan; they could substance to any green building program.

I don’t why Obama would stop laws to make organizing easier; we can keep his feet to the fire about the war on the one hand, and the bases in Iraq, on the other. I certainly would rather have a Democratic administration in the case of another Rita or Katrina. So maybe hope really is an option.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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