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Obama's Promise > Letters

Web Letter

Since my last web letter on February 11, I have turned toward Barack Obama, amazingly without any regrets. The sodden politicking of the Clinton camp is mired in old emotional wrangling. Perhaps the most important factor in my turning, besides the man himself, are the people I know and value who disparage about Hillary Clinton and who are looking for someone who offers a progressive choice.

He says he wants to engage involvement by Americans. In creating an effective solution to a number of issues, this is paramount democracy, creative involvement.

Jim Willingham

St. Petersburg, FL

Feb 27 2008 - 10:31pm

Web Letter

The excoriation of The Nation on the World Socialist Web Site is spot-on: "The “circularity” of hope: The Nation endorses Barack Obama." However, I do not fully agree with this diagnosis, and see a glimmer of redemption for The Nation in the very public and televised warning of your editor and publisher, Katrina vanden Heuvel, when she said that America is facing the decision of being either a republic or an Empire.

The Nation that historically had spearheaded the earliest anti-imperialist movement can again become a leading political beacon if (and only if) it focuses on the seminal politics of our time--championing and consolidating the new "Anti-Empire Movement," which attacks the global corporatist Empire hiding behind this facade of "Vichy American" faux-government.

The Anti-Empire Movement is already organically arising from the multitude of the people, and outside mainstream (or even alternative) media, and politics. This growing movement is the only mechanism to unify and address all of the otherwise fragmented left, progressive, populist "single issues"of militarist foreign policy, domestic tyranny, economic oppression and social/democratic rights, which the Empire employs to divide and conquer any serious political challenge to its hegemony.

And yet, the unifying issue of "where do you stand on Empire" is not even raised in the current "Vichy" faux-political system, or "Vichy" media.

The Nation could again rise to its former leadership position in speaking truth to power in the twenty-first century if (and only if) it facilitates this revolutionary impulse of the people.

Alan MacDonald

Sanford, ME

Feb 15 2008 - 9:41am

Web Letter

Partisan politics is a sad compromise in order to try and get things done for the people of this county: end the war, provide healthcare and even a good eduction. Hillary’s legacy is connected at the hip with husband Bill, and if one digs a little, Bill shoved through some policies and participated in compressive special-interest support against the people.

As a small organic farmer, who does not like the special-interest big-business approach to farming, I can only say that Bill Clinton supported the revolving door at the FDA, by installing so called experts from the companies who would oppose good public policy, to represent and protect the people from corporate greed, cronies from Monsanto and other big companies running the FDA. Obama, new to the Washington "good ol' boy" mentality, has offered to clean out the lobbyists, an offer I cannot refuse. Undue influence of lobbies has always been a problem with me; this disenfranchisement of the people by a select few needs to be stopped.

Experience, something so touted as important in politics, is another word for special interests' support of status quo. Obama may be a loose cannon--and I hope he is, and I am really glad to see The Nation support him. The old war-horse mentality needs to be compromised.

Lee Rossavick

Potter Valley, CA

Feb 14 2008 - 10:19am

Web Letter

I was sadly dissapointed at The Nation's endorsement of Barrack Obama and more of its abandonment of Hillary Clinton. While the Clinton Administration did not represent cutting edge progressivism, it did demonstrate the pragmatic compromises needed for a progressive agenda to be implemented, and in many ways drew on the Roosevelt legacy. Moreover, Hillary became our greatest hope to break the severe gender barrier in politics by electing the first woman President and completing the promise of the women's movement. Further, she has the degree of gravitas, the high intelligence, toughness and wonkish experience to be an effective chief executive and and a strong commander-in-chief.

We seem to be falling prey almost to a Madison Avenue sales job, being sold "change," "hope" and "the future," almost empty slogans that appeal to a pop culture that worships youth at any price and that, more insidiously, appeals to those who want "politics" to go away. The desire for national unity is palpable, but politics recognizes that parties emerge to represent different interests in a society and its function is to settle conflicts of interests. For Obama to be running as the anti-politician and winning primary contests with independent and new voters on the Democratic ticket seems dishonest. I, for one, do not want a post-partisan politics, because politics and party are not dirty words in my vocabulary.

Furthermore, I suspect a so-called post-racial politics, when the candidate is in effect saying elect me because I am black, just to demonstrate that it does not matter. Let's be honest, the centerpiece of Obama's change is the challenge of electing the first black President. Can we afford to use the presidency simply for its symbolism?

Finally, we must realize the enormous stakes we all have in the presidency. Whether you elect one person or another changes our history. If the Supreme Court had not stepped in and imposed the election of George Bush on our nation, think what a different world it would be. Can we afford the risk of electing a candidate who has virtually no executive or national security experience in a time of war? I don't think we can.

Daniel Strasser

Suffolk, VA

Feb 13 2008 - 5:16pm

Web Letter

Quite understandable that The Nation has in the past blasted Obama for being "too close" to Wall Steet or for not jumping on the Socialized or Forced Medical Care programs out there. The Nation's staff will, I believe, go to their graves railing against Big Bad Business, or believing that allowing Gov't to tell you what to do with your life is "progressive."

I do wonder, though, why you would consider talk of unity "troubling." Do you like the contention that has turned us all into two camps and rendered our leadership ineffective? Must the new diversity mean disunity? Or is it perhaps that in a unified America there will be no room for advocates of racial or class strife, or leaders who use such issues to split, divide and thereby control.

Obama may not be as successful at it as he would like, but he will at least attempt to fix the problem, not just exchange a corruptor of the conservative ideal with a corruption of true liberal ideals. That might just leave you guys, as well as the Bushes of the world, out in the cold.

Charles Thornton

Reisterstown, MD

Feb 13 2008 - 9:37am

Web Letter

Except for Kucinich, I don't think any of the candidates would qualify as progressives. There are very few real progressives in Congress or in the Democratic Party. I will say one thing about Obama and Edwards, they did marry smart women. I watched Mrs. Obama on Larry King last night, and I think she could handle the White House Press corp, except for Helen Thomas, without any problems. Everyone was wonderful and every candidate was a patriot. She would never embarrass an Obama Administration.

However, the Democratic Congress has sold out to big business, along with various foreign lobbies, and I would describe them as Republican "lite." I like Brown, Feingold and a few others, but most members of Congress are worthless and can't be trusted. Obama may be the best we can get right now, but there are better people.

For the first time in fairly long life, I will not vote for a Democrat for President. They are all Republican "lite." We need some new political parties to replace the Republican and the Democratic parties.

Pervis J. Casey

Riverside, CA

Feb 12 2008 - 4:33pm

Web Letter

Barack Obama does seem to be the least of the remaining evils in the Presidential race--but The Nation should not have endorsed him without challenging him to make a real commitment to end the war in Iraq.

Obama's plan to withdraw combat troops from Iraq is certainly better than Clinton's open-ended plan to reduce troop levels. But any plan for phased withdrawal is a recipe for disaster, leaving a diminished military open to attack. The best strategy available is to move all of our troops and heavy equipment over the border into Kuwait in a period of thirty days and then begin shipping everyone home.

A bigger problem lies in the fact that, like Clinton, Obama is willing to keep as many as 80,000 "non-combat" troops in Iraq to carry out security, counterinsurgency and training missions--a plan eerily reminiscent of Nixon's announcement of the end of combat operations in Vietnam years before combat really ended.

But the most important question for both Obama and Clinton is, As sitting Senators what are you doing to end the war right now? Both Obama and Clinton skipped key votes on funding the war and withdrawing combat troops from Iraq in December. Both of them could be leading the charge right now to cut off funding for the war.

If the US remains in Iraq, between now and the innauguration of the next President another 400 US soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians will die. By pontificating about what they would do to end the war as President instead of taking action as senators to end it now, both Obama and Clinton are playing politics with American and Iraqi lives.

Progressives in this country should accept nothing less from a presidential candidate than a demonstrated commitment to bring all of our troops home now.

Sean Donahue

Jamaica Plain, MA

Feb 12 2008 - 11:46am

Web Letter

I am deeply disappointed in your endorsement of Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton has worked long and hard for women and children's issues, healthcare and veteran's concerns. It was she who first introduced the idea of "universal healthcare" and brought it into the arena for public discussion. Although Congress was too weak to pass it in the '90s, she knew it would return for review in the future. Obama wouldn't even be talking about it if Hillary hadn't thought of it first. Since when did "experience" become a dirty word? If you were interviewing someone for an important job, would you choose a man who just joined the company or a woman, of equal intelligence, who had been with the company for many years, and helped fight many of the company's battles? It's a no-brainer.

Marilyn Kelly

Georgetown, Texas

Feb 12 2008 - 1:26am

Web Letter

I am happy to see the editorial supporting Barack Obama for the Democratic nominee for President. I think that he will be the best support for progressive concerns, judging by his past political record, his great intellect, his genuine concern for the problems of the disenfranchised as well as his unusual background. He seems like the genuine article to me and by many comments in his speeches and interviews exhibits a true social conscience. Progressives could hope for no better electable candidate to grace the White House (after fumigation) and we will be fortunate if this comes to pass. I hope progressives will not be divided on this and support him. All one has to remember is the deplorable missteps of the Clinton years and Senator Clinton's role in it as well as she and her husband's current disgraceful campaign tactics.

I think I am old and wise enough to look past the hoopla of the campaign and see great possibilities in Senator Obama.

Pearl Volkov

Sun City Center, FL

Feb 11 2008 - 11:47pm

Web Letter

While I agree that Obama has the youth vote, I also know that a large number of young people are new conservatives. It strikes me as funny that Boomers are referred to as the old guard. After all, we Boomers were the generation lost in space, the revolutionary avant-garde in the cold war, Vietnam era.

My entire life from my 20s and 30s was lost, effectively, due to alienation and PTSD. The healing that took place is ongoing. Most of the people I know are divided between progressive and conservative, regardless of age.

I see Hillary Clinton as in individual who has the ability to grow. Obama has not proven that as yet, which is why I believe that he is too new in politics to know well. I never heard his voice speaking out against the Iraq War, yet now he accepts the endorsement of John Kerry, who was nuanced about the Iraq War vote and who voted for it, along with Clinton. I served in Vietnam, then grew enough to take myself off flying status on my return and protested the war. Do you hold me by my former role as Air Force Vietnam War pilot, or do you enable me by my evolved role as anti-war veteran and progressive?

My vote goes to Hillary Clinton, but I appreciate The Nation's endorsement of Obama and am blessed to be a reader.

Jim Willingham

St. Petersburg, FL

Feb 11 2008 - 5:44pm

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