'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, August 07, 2008

An Open Letter to Barack Obama (Part 1) 

Go over and read this letter posted on The Nation website, giving careful attention to the list of signatories. It makes for pretty depressing reading, a bunch of highly regarded liberals and leftists exposing their own powerlessness. Despite having watered down their political aspirations for mainstream consumption over the course of an electoral campaign, there is no chance, no chance at all, that Obama is going to embrace any of their proposals.

In such circumstances, it is an act of public humiliation to place one's name on this letter. One gets the impression that it serves the purpose of providing political cover for the signatories as much as it does the goal of attempting to persuade Obama to alter his political program. By signing the letter, they are able to continue to say, Vote Obama, while simultaneously distancing themselves from anything that he does.

Such behaviour reminds me of how congressional representatives Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters and Diane Watson did something similar when they expressed their personal opposition to the war in Iraq while rounding up votes for House passage of continued funding of it. It is bad enough when we must deal with politicians who relate to us cynically, but it is even worse when some of our most prominent and highly respected social figures emulate and empower them.

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