“Major Redistributive Change”

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

The conservative blogs are all a-twitter with the idea that they have finally proven that Barack Obama is a marxist/socialist. It comes from an interview in which he participated on public radio in 2001 titled The Courts and Civil Rights.

Of course, they’re taking things out of context and reading their worst fear-mongering between the lines. But still…when I look at what he said, I find myself once again hoping that the man he’s been in the past is the one that gets elected next week.

Here is a transcript of part of the interview being highlighted.  

If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I’d be okay.

But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you, it says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn’t shifted. One of the I think tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributed change and in some ways we still suffer from that.

Maybe I’m showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but I’m not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn’t structured that way.

The context in which these comments came from Obama was the idea that the Supreme Court did not move into affirming the right to a social safety net – namely in the area of education and welfare.

So, you combine these comments from seven years ago with all the focus the Obama campaign has placed on community organizing, and I get encouraged about some of the things we might see in an Obama Presidency. As Howard Fineman noted in an article titled What Have We Created?! Obama’s supporters have high expectations, and they may expect to have a voice in governing.

Even discounting for likely duplicates, Plouffe says he could end up “knowing” almost 7 million voters by Election Day-roughly one in 10 of Obama’s likely total. “These are people who are responsive,” he says. “They want to be respected and to continue to be involved in what we do.”

And so they will be if Obama is elected. “If he wins, he’s going to have a personal following he can use to press his agenda,” says Marshall. “He can use these millions to reach over the heads of the Washington insiders, the Democrats on the Hill. It could be powerful.”



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  1. at as much change in governing as we’ve seen in how campaigns are organized. If so…hold on for a VERY interesting ride!

  2. Thank you, NLinWhiteBearLake, for proving that I WAS RIGHT!

    And to spite all those liberals who made fun of me, I’m not going to give back one gosh-darn outfit the RNC gave me.  I DARE them to redistribute my wardrobe!

  3. “Major redistributive change” (if that’s supposed to mean money) is exactly what we’re going to need a whole lot of before the world starts to work again, economically.  Nature redistributes everything, from the rain to the soils, all the time, and there’s a good reason for that.  Stasis is death.

    Obama himself probably isn’t going to redistribute much of anything (unless I’m about to be very pleasantly surprised!), but somebody will have to, eventually.

    • kj on October 28, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    that means i’ll be casting my vote for a…

    socialist, terrorist, Marxist, Muslim, anti-C LIBERAL (gasp) black man.

    what did i miss?

    ps.  my mother in heaven will be so PROUD!!!!!   😀

  4. the more the wingers try to spread their fear-mongering, the more I hope they’re right?

    Here’s Pat Buchanan’s list for Obama’s First 100 Days.

    — Swift amnesty for 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens and a drive to make them citizens and register them, as in the Bill Clinton years. This will mean that Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona will soon move out of reach for GOP presidential candidates, as has California.

    — Border security will go on the backburner, and America will have a virtual open border with a Mexico of 110 million.

    — Taxes will be raised on the top 5 percent of wage-earners, who now carry 60 percent of the U.S. income tax burden, and tens of millions of checks will be sent out to the 40 percent of wage-earners who pay no federal income tax. Like the man said, redistribute the wealth, spread it around.

    — Social Security taxes will be raised on the most successful among us, and capital gains taxes will be raised from 15 percent to 20 percent. The Bush tax cuts will be repealed, and death taxes reimposed.

    — Two or three more liberal activists of the Ruth Bader Ginsberg-John Paul Stevens stripe will be named to the Supreme Court. U.S. district and appellate courts will be stacked with “progressives.”

    — Special protections for homosexuals will be written into all civil rights laws, and gays and lesbians in the military will be invited to come out of the closet. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” will be dead.

    — The homosexual marriages that state judges have forced California, Massachusetts and Connecticut to recognize, an Obama Congress or Obama court will require all 50 states to recognize.

    — A “Freedom of Choice Act” nullifying all state restrictions on abortions will be enacted. America will become the most pro-abortion nation on earth.

    — Affirmative action — hiring and promotions based on race, sex and sexual orientation until specified quotas are reached — will be rigorously enforced throughout the U.S. government and private sector.

    — Universal health insurance will be enacted, covering legal and illegal immigrants, providing another powerful magnet for the world to come to America, if necessary by breaching her borders.

    — A federal bailout of states and municipalities to keep state and local governments spending up could come in December or early next year.

    I might word these a little differently, but overall I’d say “From his lips to the goddesses ears!”

  5. on c-span that turned me from a skeptic to a supporter. It wasn’t a stump speech but was delivered to a group of Democratic party leaders. It was riveting because he seemed to be reading my dubious cynical mind. He talked of the Constitution, the Common Good, social responsibility, civil rights and all the things I wanted to hear. A liberal I thought the man is a liberal. He is a pragmatic liberal, who will I think govern from the middle, a unifier.  

    He is smart enough to have run the gamut of the deadly media politically and seems a brilliant strategist. The hysteria on the media and from the elite right is understandable, they are looking at their end days. What I don’t understand is why those who take the brunt of our messed up system would be afraid of redistribution or socialism. Are they like turkeys standing in the rain with beaks open waiting for the trickle down? Meanwhile I took heart from this WSJ headline in early Oct.

    A Liberal Supermajority

    Get ready for ‘change’ we haven’t seen since 1965, or 1933.

    It’s another wish list:  


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