Progressives for Obama

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Progressives for Obama has been known as Progressive America Rising since 2009.


Formation of Progressives for Obama

Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher Jr, Danny Glover and Barbara Ehrenreich announced the formation of Progressives for Obama in a March 24 2008 article[1] in The Nation.

All American progressives should unite for Barack Obama.
During past progressive peaks in our political history -- the late Thirties, the early Sixties -- social movements have provided the relentless pressure and innovative ideas that allowed centrist leaders to embrace visionary solutions. We find ourselves in just such a situation today.
We intend to join and engage with our brothers and sisters in the vast rainbow of social movements to come together in support of Obama's unprecedented campaign and candidacy. Even though it is candidate-centered, there is no doubt that the campaign is a social movement, one greater than the candidate himself ever imagined.
Progressives can make a difference in close primary races like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon and Puerto Rico and in the November general election. We can contribute our dollars. We have the proven online capacity to reach millions of swing voters in the primary and general election. We can and will defend Obama against negative attacks from any quarter. We will seek Green support against the claim of some that there are no real differences between Obama and McCain. We will criticize any efforts by Democratic superdelegates to suppress the winner of the popular and delegate votes, or to legitimize the flawed elections in Michigan and Florida. We will make our agenda known at the Democratic National Convention and fight for a platform emphasizing progressive priorities as the path to victory.

From the Progressives for Obama[2]website;

We agree that Barack Obama is our best option for President in 2008, and that an independent grassroots effort can help strengthen his campaign.
It can also strengthen the mandate for his programs for stopping war, promoting global justice and securing our rights, liberties, and economic well-being. More important, independent organization at the base is needed for compelling social change no matter who is in the White House.
We have understood, from the beginning, that Senator Obama is not a consistent progressive, and often speaks to and from the center of our country’s political spectrum–sometimes well, sometimes not. All the more reason, we think, to organize a strong progressive pole, independent of his campaign, to counter rightward drift and push him to do better on issues that will win him more solid and wider support.
We don’t attempt to define ‘progressive’ here. We’re open to all trends, from the socialist left to moderate liberals, who want not only to defeat McCain, but also build the grassroots organizations and networks for wider and deeper change over the longer term.

Moving Obama left

In an April 1 2008 article in the The New Black magazine PFO founders Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Barbara Ehrenreich and Danny Glover explained how a new protest movement would be needed to drive a future Obama administration to the left[3];

It was the industrial strikes and radical organizers in the 1930s who pushed Roosevelt to support the New Deal. It was the civil rights and student movements that brought about voting rights legislation under Lyndon Johnson and propelled Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy's antiwar campaigns. It was the original Earth Day that led Richard Nixon to sign environmental laws.
And it will be the Obama movement that will make it necessary and possible to end the war in Iraq, renew our economy with a populist emphasis, and confront the challenge of global warming. We should not only keep the pressure on [Obama] but also connect the issues that Obama has made central to his campaign into an overarching progressive vision.

Endorsers

Progressives for Obama soon corralled an impressive number of left activists to endorse the new project. Signers as of July 2009 were:[4]

Socialist connections

Progressives for Obama was originated by socialists, for socialists.

Of the four main founders, two Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Barbara Ehrenreich are senior members of Democratic Socialists of America. The fifth founder, Chicago activist Carl Davidson, the organization's webmaster was for many years a radical Maoist before becoming a leader of the Communist Party USA breakaway group Committees of Correspondence-an organization with strong ties to the communist governments of Vietnam and Cuba.

Of the endorsers Paul Buhle, Paul Burke, Duane Campbell, Peter Dreier, Dick Flacks, Todd Gitlin, Adam Hochschild, Jay Mazur, Frances Fox Piven, Christine Riddiough, Betty Sheinbaum, Stanley Sheinbaum, Cornel West and Betty Willhoite have been Democratic Socialists of America members.

James Campbell, Barry Cohen, Van Gosse, Marilyn Katz Fred Klonsky, Eric Mar, William Mandel, Jay Schaffner, Dan Swinney, Harry Targ, John Trinkl, Zenobia Johnson-Black, Mildred Williamson and Tim Wise have all Committees of Correspondence connections.

SDS connection

Many of the organization's founders and endorsers were former members of the 1960's far left student organization Students for a Democratic Society-which had ties to several communist bloc countries including Cuba, North Vietnam, Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

Tom Hayden was a founder and leader of SDS and Carl Davidson was part of the SDS leadership in the late 1960s.

Several endorsers were involved in SDS in the 1960s including Paul Buhle, Thorne Dreyer, Dick Flacks, Mickey Flacks, Todd Gitlin, David Hamilton, Mike James, Marilyn Katz, Fred Klonsky, Robert Pardun and Mark Rudd.

References