McKinney – not Obama

Well, I’ve had a marvellous honeymoon/break; and in a few days’ time I’ll be back in action. Meanwhile, on a very wet day here in Devon, I am dipping my toe back into the blogosphere…

And the first thing I am finding on my ‘return’ is more and more reason(s) to feel let down by Obama (already!), and to turn instead to the scintillating Green Party nominee for U.S. Pres, black former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Check her our speaking on video, and you’ll see what I mean:
McKinney is the real deal. Meanwhile, Obama seems to have opted over the last several weeks more and more for a Clinton (!) -style ‘triangulation’ approach. On gun control, on Israel and ‘national security’… on a a raft of key issues, he is running to the Right in classic ‘New Democrat’ fashion, and seems afraid to stand up for his values, his record – for what a majority of the U.S. people want.
This could be fatal to him. People – including many activists, young people, enthusiasts abroad such as myself and many other radical and Green bloggers and thinkers in Britain — flocked to Obama because he actually seemed to believe in something, to have a rhetorical style that echoed the best of predecessors such as Martin Luther King … and because he seemed to be taking seriously taking the fight to the Republicans. See for example my earlier enthusiastic post:
All that ‘fight’ seems to have left him. But Obama will lose — and one of the reasons why is that his supporters will start leaving in droves — if he takes the lily-livered centrist approach that saw Kerry fail in 2004.
Has Obama’s team stopped learning from George Lakoff? Has Obama failed to take in the key messages of Drew Westen’s essential book: [or ]?
What Westen teaches us in ‘The Political Brain’ — a book which all readers of ‘Rupert’s Read’ should read! — is that there is no way to achieve lasting political and electoral success without appealing to and activating the values and emotions of one’s target audience. One cannot win through policy-wonkery and purely ‘rational’ debate. One cannot win by simply ‘staying positive’ no matter what the provocation. …One has to lead. And one has to take the fight to the other side.
If Obama persists in his centrist strategy, he will lose and he will deserve to lose. And meanwhile he will have burnt all the new political capital that the Democrats had from seeming to have someone and something at last to believe in again.
We want back the Obama who opposed the Republican estate tax cuts (scroll down a bit in to see this). We want back the Obama who gave that great ‘More perfect union’ speech, pointing a way beyond racism in America: . We want back the Obama who seemed the true heir to Howard Dean, to Martin Luther King, to Franklin Roosevelt.
But there has been little sign of him of late. And if this goes on, absurdly, McCain will win.

Unless Obama recovers himself as a leader, unless we see clear real evidence of his commitment to radical and sensible policies to lead a way forward for his country and for the world on environmental issues, on taxation, on peace with Iran, and so forth, then we should abandon him now.

I am proud to be a supporter of Cynthia McKinney ( ). The Green Party’s Presidential nominee this time is very strong indeed. If the U.S.A. were really a democracy, then she would be allowed into the televised Presidential debates — and by God she would give McCain and Obama a run for their money…

6 thoughts on “McKinney – not Obama”

  1. The single key issue at this election will be whether the US can be saved from the neo-cons. Unfortunately the Green candidate, although I find her personally impressive, is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    It’s perfectly true that Obama has disappointed many recently although often this has been because he has simply stated his previous position more clearly.

    Obama was never someone for the challenging the Israeli state yet many of his supporters read that into his candidature. They were wrong, and therefore shocked, when he made quite a rightist speech in Israel.

    For me Obama is something new, something better, something inspiring – but it doesn’t mean I think the Democrats more generally need a free run. I actually think McKinney should try to do what Sian Berry did on a smaller scale in London: be a supportive but critical voice – putting forward an independent political vision that absolutely understands that the US is at a crucial juncture.

    McKinney shouldn’t stand to win votes, but to win arguments. To influence Obama’s supporters and work with them to fend off the threat of son of son of Bush.

    This critical juncture is not whether the Greens get 2% or 3% but whether the US has a President that recognises climate change is a problem, that foreign policy needs to shift away from constant aggression, that health care needs to be available to all.

    If McKinney can’t relate to that hope for a better form of politics in a real and concrete way then she doesn’t deserve support.

  2. I quite like your general approach here, Jim.
    But nevertheless a line in the sand has to be drawn. I would have voted for Nader in 2000. I would vote for McKinney now.
    If Obama is to persuade the many radicals who have flocked to his cause that it is actually worth voting for him, then he has to get serious on the issues that we care about: Palestine, Iran, tax, gun-control, and (above all) dangerous climate change.
    He needs to LEAD. He needs to have the courage of our (his) convictions…
    See Westen’s book, for what I mean.
    If Obama follows the Clinton method of triangulation, then he might win (actually, I don’t think he will — I think that Americans will prefer a substance to a shadow, and will vote McCain, if they think that Obama is merely compromising for short-term positioning advantage — again, see THE POLITICAL BRAIN), but he will do so at the cost of furthering the running to the Right of Democrats, of giving up any hope of actually stopping the rot (rather than merely slowing it down). And, like Clinton in 96, he will have no coat-tails.

  3. But nevertheless a line in the sand has to be drawn. I would have voted for Nader in 2000.

    Hi Rupert – its thanks to people voting for Nader that George Bush got in. And this time Nader is claiming that Obama is betraying black people, just because the left isn’t supporting him.

    Secondly, I’m afraid most people in the US are not radical left like yourself. So a centrist approach would get more independent votes than he would lose if you went and voted for Cynthia.

    Furthermore, Jim is right in the sense that you have a choice only between Obama and McCain. That’s a fact of life, not some idealist vision. Radicals must approach the world as how it is, not how they want it to be (when starting).

    Obama is far more environmentally friendly than McCain. Given a choice between the two, there’s no point in sulking over this views over Israel. the alternative is far worse. I realise this sounds very much like how New Labour pitches its ideology, but Obama is much more to the left than New Labour here (relatively speaking)

  4. Actually, there is no good evidence that Nader swung the election against Gore in 2000, if you study the polls that were done on Nader-voters at the time.
    But that’s irrelevant; we’re talking about McKinney, not Nader. And what I am saying is that, with the Obama we are now getting, it is pointless voting for him. If he changes his tune back to his more radical earlier messages over the coming weeks and months, that might change. But right now, he is merely the lesser of two evils. And if you keep voting for the lesser of two evils, don’t be surprised if evil is what you get.
    Come on folks: haven’t we learnt this lesson yet? Haven’t the catastrophes that followed from voting for Clinton and Blair come home to you, yet? Are you going to make the same mistake yet again?
    We have to build an alternative.

  5. Hi Rupert,

    Precisely how is Obama’s policies now any different to how they were in the past?

    He hasn’t become less radical – he has expanded on the ideas he expounded on earlier. He is not merely the lesser of two evils – if you dispassionately compare the differences in policy between the two candidates on:

    – the environment
    – on abortion
    – on economic policy
    – affirmative action
    – foreign policy (Iran, Hamas etc)

    you’ll find a world of difference. Once you can convince a large amount of people that an alternative is possible, you may be able to convince people that Americans are as radical as you.

    They’re not. Let’s be quite clear about that.

    Hence, he cannot be as radical as you want him to be. And if its pointless voting for him, then every time you’ll get a Republican like Bush.

  6. So much for “Obama will lose because he doesn’t stick to the Left”… but with LIEberman rewarded for his treachery, and Clinton as Sec of State, maybe there’s reason to doubt Obama’s political instincts after all.

    With the Clintons back in power, this could all end in tears. Let’s hope not.

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