Using Obama

War and Famine and suffering stalk the planet. Climate disaster looms. What brought us to this sorry turn? A mode of thinking about our own survival, how to utilize the resources of the planet, and how to treat our fellow humans. A mode of thinking that due to extraordinary circumstances has been given free reign for the last eight years to “prove itself.” And prove itself it has…it has proven itself to be an utter, across the board, complete and abject failure, by any metric you wish to measure it by save one. The rich have gotten obscenely richer and more powerful. The greed of their corporate entities has been fed…which only increases their appetite.

Republicanism has failed.

Even the Republicans are at least (partially) admitting it

Conservatism, in a world that is so rapidly shifting and changing and increasingly revealing it’s mind bending complexity and inter-connectedness, has proven to be not just a bankrupt and ineffectual philosophy, but one that is actively damaging to the planet and her people.

The only solution to the huge array of challenges we face is, to reduce it to the simplest component, to embrace change. As a species, we MUST change, not just our actions, but our entire way of thinking. And we must do it as quickly as possible, using every avenue that presents itself as the possibility of greatest change. In the critical world of politics, that avenue is the prospect of the presidency of Barack Obama.


It has been our general policy at Docudharma to stay out of the carnage of the candidate wars. Though I do not wish to offend any Clinton supporters…to my mind the candidate wars are effectively over. For the record, if Clinton had won, I would be writing the same thing with her name at the top. This is not an essay touting Obama or advocating his candidacy over hers. It is an essay stating that I think Obama will be the nominee, and asking how that nearly certain outcome can be used to advance the goals of progressives and the interests of humanity in general. One of the great casualties of these wars has been the loss of opportunity during the fierce internecine battles to use the political leverage of the progressive blogosphere to affect the candidates policies. We must now try to make up for lost time.

Obama at his best certainly talks the talk….while at the same time adopting some policies that are less than perfectly progressive. It is OUR job to get him to walk the walk and to try to shift his policies as much as possible to the Left.

Obama is not a messiah or a savior…. he is a politician. Politicians do what they are pressured to do. Whether by events or special interests or…by public opinion. Public opinion…that’s us!  Our job is to hold EVERY politician’s feet to the fire. To do our best as citizens to get them to represent our interests.  Obama, rhetorically at least, grasps the concept:

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington.

Barack Obama

Which is in itself a huge improvement.  

Currently Obama’s positions and policies are versions of what he believes. Carefully crafted versions designed, as all politicians design them, to appeal to the greatest amount of people, in order to get elected.

Our job in the progressive blogosphere now that he is the presumptive nominee is to try to influence and shift these positions closer to what we would like to see….while still getting him elected, so that he can put those policies into action! That means shifting from the unquestioning mode of supporting a candidate who is “besieged” by his primary opponent into a more critical, questioning tone. To asking tough questions about his specific stance on Iraq or healthcare…or prosecuting Bushco. Politicians and Party’s are ideally our representatives, our vehicles to navigate the halls of power. We need them to be responsive to our concerns, to commit to our fights, and to be accountable to US, not the other interests vying for their favors. How do we accomplish that?

Obama is a vehicle for change, but as he himself would say…it is up to US to drive that vehicle to our destination.  Our mission now is threefold…the first two are apparent, defeat McCain and elect Obama….the third is to figure out how to use Obama to advance the issues of peace, justice, and saving the planet from Climate Crisis. It is time to put the candidate wars in the past and to get to work!


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  1. the return of the Maddow Movement!


    • Edger on May 27, 2008 at 20:20

    Uneqivocal and clear. No one could have identified the challenges or solutions better.

    You sure you won’t run? We can line up a Candi-Date for you pretty quickly, I think.

  2. I really like your phrasing in the title and here:

    the third is to figure out how to use Obama to advance the issues of peace, justice, and saving the planet from Climate Crisis.

    People Power!!!

  3. … Obama’s campaign machine too closely, so if anything I say is inaccurate, please feel free to correct me.

    But it seems he has built a political machine that is completely bypassing the blogosphere.

    Makes it kind of ironic that so many folks at Daily Kos are spending so much of their own “political capital,” on these internecine fights, when it is extremely unlikely Obama, if elected, would be responsive to blogs like Daily Kos.

    To me, this means understanding and communicating with the kinds of grassroots groups that Obama has decided he WILL be responsive towards, or at least tracking whether or not this will be the case, iow, if once he gets in office he does keep in touch even with his own grassroots organizations.

    If we are deciding to “use” Obama, we need to know how to reach him, imo.

    I think I may be speaking of some kind of coalition here.

  4. …I have numerous problems here.

    First of all, the notion that we must change seems facile.  Of course, we are always changing.  How people live, particularly in the US, has changed greatly in the last eight years.  

    Second, if that example doesn’t make clear that change is not always for the better, I don’t know what will.  Blind desire for change is no substitute for desire for positive, substantive change.

    Lastly, I feel like I make this point with you all the time, but the more you emphasize “progressives” alone, the more certain you will be to accomplish nothing.  Progressives are not a majority, or even a plurality.  They are not becoming one.  You must either develop a desire and a plan to work with non-progressives for common goals, or enjoy your brief moment in the sun.


  5. …and frankly I think this is the biggest problem with McCain, and the biggest asset for Obama.

    If Obama gets elected, who are his crew that he’ll bring in with him? John and Elizabeth Edwards, Tom Daschle, Al Gore, the extended Kennedy family, John Kerry, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson…

    …and yes, more likely than not, Hillary Clinton.

    If McCain gets elected, who can we expect? Karl Rove, Condi Rice, One Politician To Pander To The Christian Fundamentalist Extremists, Another To Pander To The Greed-Is-Good Extremists, A Few Token Moderates And More Defense Contractors And Corporate Lobbyists Than You Can Shake A Stick At.

    In other words…more of the same with a slightly different veneer.

    My argument for candidate warriors wondering whether to vote for Obama is this: why did you support Hillary (or whomever else) in the first place? Was it to get our country to the place that Bush is leading us to, a path that McCain will not materially alter?

    Or was it to actually change how we do things, end the war in Iraq, get universal health care and a sane energy policy and start reclaiming our society?

    With the folks Obama will bring in, we’ll get that change. With the folks McCain will bring in, we won’t.

  6. …in the forefront of what it is we need to be doing!  The

    stupid candidate wars can’t end too soon for me.  It is well

    past time to start working together so we can win the coming

    election.  But as you rightly point out, winning the election

    is only the beginning of what is needed.  My dream is that

    Obama has the inner fortitude to fight the REAL fight that is

    ahead for all of us.  We need to take this country back ASAP.

    We need a moral center, something that has been lacking for

    a great long while.  The moral center I’m talking about, just

    to be perfectly clear, is one in which human life is more valuable than money.

    btw, welcome back to the disUnited States  😉

    238 days of thug rule remaining…

  7. as his recent pandering on israel and support for continuing the cuba embargo have demonstrated (not to mention his weak out of iraq plan), obama is not the agent of change some make him out to be. and he will require much pushing. and some blogs will be too busy swooning over him to do that.

  8. … the Midnight Oil again?

    What I put up on the Daily Obama yesterday as Addressing ‘the Appalachian Problem’ with Policy, which was really the Midnight Thought for the first edition of the Midnight Oil at its new home, and just recently posted here as a Midnight Thought on the Next American Revolution … was using the challenges that the Obama campaign faces as a point of departure for addressing progressive politics which would be useful in the Battle for Appalachia.

    • Robyn on May 27, 2008 at 22:51

    …when this was so obvious in the 60s and 70s and 80s and 90s.

    Conservatism, in a world that is so rapidly shifting and changing and increasingly revealing it’s mind bending complexity and inter-connectedness, has proven to be not just a bankrupt and ineffectual philosophy, but one that is actively damaging to the planet and her people.

  9. were a super delegate! We have to yell louder. Howard Dean was not my dream candidate he was way more centrist then I wanted. He did however say something I heard at a speech that made me realize that in order to get change I would have to work through the system as flawed as it is. I could sit around and wait for the perfect candidate a progressive, a pacifist a socialist, (unelectable as Kucinich, LOL) and meanwhile the fascists who are running the show disguised as Democrats or Republicans would still be in control.

    I am taking back my country and the vehicle I’m using is the Democratic Party….. Howard Dean


  10. solo blogs like I used to read newspapers, for information and opinion. Before the primary wars and it’s aftermath, I used the FP for this also, the community part got me out of my so called ‘purity’ rigid mindset and was a reality lesson in what it took to form coalitions. It is a political partisan community but runs the gamut in ideology.  I learned more from those who were different politically then I such as libertarians and  centrists.        

  11. Obama will run to the right and then attempt to govern less to the right in the unlikely even that he is elected president…

    Buddydharma said

    “It is OUR job to get him to walk the walk and to try to shift his policies as much as possible to the Left.”

    That’s a joke…You have no influence over him….Money, the Chrisitian right  and Israel have influence in the country alone. It’s because they are well organized.

    The “left” won’t even organize protests against the war…won’t get into the street in massive numbers on a persistent, irritating basis.

    You have been subsumed…your chasing an illusion.

    Obama is Pro War…

    If a candidate is not for the immediate end of this senseless war, for immediate withdrawal….and they are for some kind of “careful” withdrawal…then they are for a continuation of the war until certain conditions are met…and tha’ts PRO WAR.  The conditions Obama is seeking will not be met….he won’t withdraw the troops…then a Republlican will take over 4 years later and continue along the same path…more violently…that will fail too. You can’t have it both ways. You are either for or against the war…there is no inbetween….Inbetween is a typically naive American position.

    It means killing and destroying people and property, then sending in ambulances to take the wounded and dead to the hospital and sending bulldozers in to Reconstuct  the damage that is semi repaired so that it can be destroyed again….that’s what in between gets you…that’s what being clever and “framing” gets you.

    Vote for …and understand the TRUTH!

    Obama will not withdraw the troops.

    1). He won’t be allowed to for political reasons

    2). You cannot stabilize Iraq…PERIOD. The presence of U.S troops creates instablity…and Iraq is now CITY STATES…it is not a nation…the central government is merely ONE of the militias in Iraq. The United States is ONE of the militias in Iraq. Perhaps the Most powerful Militia is Sadr’s.

    3). The American people aren’t interested in Iraq…..THEY ARE INTERESTED IN WHAT HAPPENS TO RACHEL MADDOW

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