A Paradigm Shift in America’s Intellectual Community

Contrary to popular believe, the big change in America’s society stemming from the recent presidential elections, was not the election of the first black president. The most important event has taken place in the intellectual community, in which a paradigm shift has taken place and few have noticed.

The new era of voting for the lesser of the two evils has penetrated the core of America’s critical intellectual community, and some of the biggest voices for change have endorsed Obama. In effect, what has taken place is the union between those opposed to imperial ideology and those endorsing it. Although this serious event has gone largely unnoticed, American intellectuals will need to reflect on its consequences seriously if they are to contribute to the building of a stable future for humanity as a whole, and in particular to mending the tarnished corrupt fabric of American society.

One American intellectual, James Petras, has been able to identify the direct social consequences of such a paradigm shift and prior to the elections has publicly expressed his views in an article titled “The Elections and the Responsibility of the Intellectual to Speak Truth to Power: Twelve Reasons to Reject Obama and Support Nader/McKinney.”

As the title of the article clearly states, Petras voices the reasons why intellectuals have the responsibility of voting against Obama just like they should vote against McCain. In regards to those intellectuals who have endorsed Obama he says:

They are what C. Wright Mills called ‘crackpot realists’, abdicating their responsibility as critical intellectuals. In purporting to support the ‘lesser evil’ they are promoting the ‘greater evil’: The continuation of four more years of deepening recession, colonial wars and popular alienation.

After listening last night to Obama’s first speech after his victory, a victory he said was of the people, what Petras is saying seems disturbingly accurate when looked at through the prism of critical discourse analysis. One can look back now to the presidency of George W. Bush and listen to his rhetoric. What has been his message throughout the last 8 years? When Obama’s core messages are compared to Bush’s, it becomes apparent that the coming presidential plans are not too different to current presidential policies.

Even more disturbing, is the fact that when Bush spoke throughout his presidency there was always a slight cynical reaction by the majority of the public, as most of the surveys have shown time and time again. However, last night the cynicism seemed to have vanished and the hope of a new American century was reborn with full force, to the clapping thunder and joyous splendour of the reborn American people. With every word uttered by Obama one could see how the empire was not gone, Bush almost killed it, now Obama the symbol of hope, together with all the American people in unity, are going to reconstruct their country and the world, restabilising America’s faltering hegemony.

For those in the struggle against imperial expansion, the task ahead is going to prove daunting. Perhaps the echoed endorsement of the new presidency by some of the world’s most public intellectuals is going to set back the struggle for true justice, in the sense that although voting without ‘illusions’, a landslide victory has been handed out to Obama by millions of delusional Americans. Expect more bailouts of the economic elite, expect the war drums to continue, expect more people to lose their homes and jobs. Keep organizing at the grassroots level because millions of Americans are going to need help, like the billions of people around the world who year after year ravaged by the smiling face of capitalist imperialism, have been shouting out and had their voices ignored.

The essence of capitalism in the twenty-first century is one of popular misery, thunderous war, and smiling politicians, as the global elites struggle to save pieces of their crumbling cake. In the middle of this chaos there is room for ‘hope’, there is certainly no ‘illusion’, and respect must go to Ralph Nader for fighting on and James Petras for speaking truth to power. As for the paradigm shift faced by America’s intellectual community, strong choices must be made and a new generation of intellectuals must begin to drive critical thinking into a more serious and coherent direction, if humanity as a whole, is to overcome the obstacles it faces.

Pablo Ouziel is an activist and a freelance writer based in Spain. His work has appeared in many progressive media including ZNet, Palestine Chronicle, Thomas Paine’s Corner, and Atlantic Free Press. Read other articles by Pablo.

34 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 7th, 2008 at 8:25am #

    i’d like to hear more ab people who endorsed the ‘lesser evil’.
    socalled lesser evil will most likely turn out to be greater evil. what caused these people to choose O over N. thnx

  2. Chrissy said on November 7th, 2008 at 8:40am #

    For myself, I can tell you I voted Obama over McCain because his overall message resonated better with me. I looked at many factors before reaching my decision.

    1. “Trickle Down Economics” This policy hasn’t been working for awhile as we have already seen a shift in wealth from the middle class to the upper class (in terms of income) I do not support the Bush Tax Cuts and knowing that McCain would leave them im play heavily influence me away from him.

    2. The Selection of Palin as VP – As a woman she is way too far right for me. I am a centrist, probably more pro than anti abortion but only in certain cases and circumstances. I believe that women who are raped deserve a choice along with people who have health issues – I DONT believe in live-birth abortion or abortion past a certain gestational age.

    3. I’m not sure why Obamas “spread the wealth” message was so hostilely received. He isn’t penalizing “hard working folks” as those are the ones who benefit under his plan. Whereas the uber-wealthy that have high level income from investments, etc. Most of these individuals aren’t going out to “work hard” everyday. His tax changes will affect people like the CEO’s that so many have a problem with – NOT the hard working middle class. We will be the ones to benefit.

    4. McCains self-proclaimed ignorance on economic policy and his erratic behavior during the election. He really was perceived by me to be willing to do anything to win vs. the genuine person he appeared in his last run at the presidency.

    5. Gun Control – I am for gun control to a degree. I am a hunter but the restrictions wanted will not affect my rights regarding hunting. As see guns as a big inner city problem that needs to be gotten under control. There is no reason for most people to own semi-automatic or automatic weapons that I can see – other than to do harm. If you need this kind of weapon to hunt you’re probably not the kind of hunter I’d want anywhere an my 40 acres.

    I’m just giving you my opinion since you had asked why Obama over McCain – yes I would have liked another choice, but didn’t dare risk letting McCain in by NOT voting Obama.

  3. Suthiano said on November 7th, 2008 at 10:12am #

    Thank you for this article Pablo, someone needed to say this!

    As a young progressive, who’s just beginning to understand what that might mean, it is disheartening to hear the intellectuals that helped me get to this point now contradicting themselves. This teary-eyed love-fest needs to stop, and critical thinking must return. Has anyone looked at what ZNet has been publishing? It’s sickening.

  4. Pablo said on November 7th, 2008 at 10:18am #

    Suthiano I wrote the article for exactly the same reasons you mention.

  5. Max Shields said on November 7th, 2008 at 10:32am #

    Yes, it is hard to swallow that so many who argue against the American imperialistic war-machine have once again let there guard down with this election. They’re most vocal and thoughtful during Republican administrations.

    The power structure is mighty and cannot be simply “argued against” or fought on its own terms.

    If recent history tells us anything, the power still presides over the kingdom and has been strengthened with Obama winning the election. Clinton won in 1990 with the help of Perot and an out of touch President. Clinton ushered in any number of harmful bills and continued the endless war post-cold war, and yet there was barely as squeak from these intellectuals.

    With the addion of 8 years of sheer hell with Bush, the Obama administration will be fighting off wacko right-wingers; who will succeed in doing what they do to protect the sytem:
    1) suck in progressive support for Obama
    2) move Obama to the right.

    Obama has shown his hand. He will cave in to white power. Meanwhile there will be a long period of denial from the African American community who once again put their faith in a power created proxy. Rallying to OJ because he was a brother who was being treated like those in the hood is the pathology of this diabolical racially driven dynamic. Can’t we all just be….like Oprah? To paraphrase Rodney King.

  6. Rita said on November 7th, 2008 at 11:25am #

    Thank you ,Pablo,

    I couldn’t agree more. It seems that Americans were looking for a messiah and i find this all extremely unsettling. It seems to be a cult of personality , such as american idol, rather than a presidential election.

    We have really seen a lack of wisdom and analysis here. I personally feel deeply disturbed about the international celebrations as though heralding the second coming. It seems that frankincense will soon be brought to his door.

    Nothing has been learned after eight years of bush/cheney. No one has reflected on the deeper and larger picture. This is such a superficial change and it all seems quite bizarre. It is the co-optation of progressive thought and action. United for Peace and Justice are congratulating themselves. Commondreams basically campaigned for him.

    It seems as though the people who are really thrilled about this are not quite in reality. They don’t seem to have a problem with anything he does or anyone he chooses to advise him. It is frightening, really. I feel quite alienated now.

  7. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 7th, 2008 at 1:06pm #

    i meant voting for O instead for nader. thnx

  8. Kelly said on November 7th, 2008 at 2:41pm #


    When you say the following that Americans are looking for a messiah, you tend to undercut any real analysis of the situatation. You sound like a McCain supporter. As one who voted Nader in 2000 and Obama this year, I’ve yet to find a convincing argument which addresses the historical and political realities that a third party will be elected as of this time in America.

    Saying people voted for Obama as a result of some cultish reason is insulting to me–and I would imagine a lot of other people who weighed their realistic choices.

    Instead of making facile accusations, perhaps concentrating on strategies for working within the system is time better spent. True progressives fully know the shortcoming of Obama. However, there are also a lot of intellectuals who understand odds–Chomsky, Zinn and others are among them. Unless you’re advocating some pie in the sky overthrow of the US government, maybe you’d be better off not insulting those of us who understand the fight ahead and who’re willing to work in increments at creating a humane government.

  9. Brian said on November 7th, 2008 at 4:21pm #

    Superb analysis!

    Looking the horrible group of Obama advisors on the economy that has been assembled, one has to wonder, what is the breaking point of the liberals who fawn over Obama? How bad does he have to be before they “get it?”

  10. Giorgio said on November 7th, 2008 at 5:28pm #

    ” Keep organizing at the grassroots level because millions of Americans are going to need help, like the billions of people around the world….”
    – This is precisely what Ron Paul has been doing all along !!!!!!

    “In the middle of this chaos there is room for ‘hope’, there is certainly no ‘illusion’, and respect must go to Ralph Nader for fighting on….”
    …and respect must go to Ron Paul, too….

    For Christ’s sake, Pablo, don’t be so mean spirited and ignore this guy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Suthiano said on November 7th, 2008 at 5:55pm #

    “you’d be better off not insulting those of us who understand the fight ahead and who’re willing to work in increments at creating a humane government.”

    Sorry to be a thorn in your side, but while some people (those who are better off… say Zinn or Chomsky) can afford to wait for the “incremental change strategy” (which, depending on what an “increment” is, could mean an infinite process), some of us are dieing… like right now. Some of us are starving. Some of us are noticing the effects of the rapid (ie. occurring over a short increment of time) destruction of our ecosystems, traditional cultures and ways of life. Some of us are worried that the bombs falling on our wedding party don’t respond to pleas of “just wait, I need one more increment!”. Would you suggest to a homeless man that Obama was the right vote for him? Would that homeless man be justified in voting for Nader or McKinney? Or, should we just suck it up, and thank those who “understand the fight”?

    “I’ve yet to find a convincing argument which addresses the historical and political realities that a third party will be elected as of this time in America.”

    I think the problem here is in your reasoning, and not in anyone’s ability to convince you. The primary requirement for there to be a “third party” would be that enough people vote for a third party. The necessary historical and political circumstances for a third party to be elected would be for people to vote (and be willing to vote) for the third party. Agreed? By your reasoning we will never have a viable third party, and thus, (also by your reasoning) the only way to vote is for one of the two parties (despite the fact you disagree with their platforms) and not for a third party, and thus we will never have a viable third party because no one will vote for one right now. To put it more simply, you argue that because people won’t vote in a third party, people on the left shouldn’t vote for a third party, and thus no one votes for a third party, and this is what you point to as evidence that people won’t vote for a third party. It’s called circular reasoning, and I don’t blame you for falling into the trap, even people like Descartes have done so in the past.

  12. Kelly said on November 7th, 2008 at 7:45pm #


    No thorn in my side. Instead of giving me some sort of irrelevant Cartesian analysis cooked up in the classroom, how about showing me a reasonable and pragmatic solution to the two-party system. I’ve yet to see it. As a former Nader voter (Obama is an Uncle Tom>?????) I’d like you to show me why I should realistically vote Nader and expect enough people to do so with me?

    And no, using a 201 level Cartesian riposte will hardly do so.

  13. Kelly said on November 7th, 2008 at 7:56pm #

    I tell you what. Let me backtrack off of that for a moment. Are you advocating the violent overthrow of American government? If not, what then is your solution, because it’s plainly evident at this point in history Nader or McKinney will not be elected.

  14. Hue Longer said on November 8th, 2008 at 12:52am #


    I do remember the squeaking from the intellectuals (Zinn and Chomski come to mind as does Gore Vidal–All though Vidal had a field day with Bush)…as you know, the problem (and this is where the intellectuals now fail in their assumptions), is that the millions of Television weened Democrats didn’t squeak.

    How these guys think the millions of polarized folks like Chrissy are going to notice anything outside the silly attacks from the right and corporate media are beyond me.

  15. Hue Longer said on November 8th, 2008 at 12:56am #

    Kelly said on November 7th, 2008 at 7:45pm #

    “…I’d like you to show me why I should realistically vote Nader and expect enough people to do so with me”?

    If this were anything other than this election, could you see the cowardice in this type of statement?

  16. Kelly said on November 8th, 2008 at 3:11am #

    Cowardice is a strong word, particularly since I’ve voted for the man in the past. Let me be clear: I understand the dilemma about voting your conscience versus a vote for compromise.

    Here’s the deal, we might as well cut to the chase here. I knew going into this election that Nader wasn’t going to be elected. That said, I don’t feel bad about voting for Obama. I think he’s a strong candidate with obvious drawbacks. I had and have no illusions about the man, but I don’t feel like my vote was cast into a vacuum, either. Progressives are rather finely fucked; we all know this. However, until I see true momentum verifiable through numbers, I realize that there will have to be increments (yes, increments) of progress made. For all of the moral grandstanding I see, I see nothing which supports how a vote for Nader changed anything this time around. Believe me, it’s not with pride or arrogance that I write such a thing. I’m not happy about it. But who here can honestly say that their vote for Nader or McKinney changed anything.?

    I want to remind everyone, though, that has seen fit to ciritcize my vote for Obama (and I welcome it; I’m glad about it) are overlooking that which I was critical of in the first place: the crude accusation that those who voted for Obama were somehow seduced by his debatable cult of personality. I did and still do maintain that this charge is arrogant, thoughtless and insulting, not only to me, but to millions of Americans who arrived at their decision, I hope, through careful consideration of many facts, of political analysis of Obama’s words and of the entire context of unfortunate political realities.

    I really would like to see Nader as head of the EPA, but after his calling out of Obama as potentially being an Uncle Tom, well, I highly doubt that will happen. That’s too bad.

    So, call me a coward. Say I’m a victim of Cartesian dualism (risible, that), or whatever else you may want to. That’s fine. But for some to suggest that Obama was elected because of his, erm, electrifying, mesmeric personality IS an insult.

  17. Suthiano said on November 8th, 2008 at 8:00am #

    Hahaha… Cartesian dualism has nothing to do with it, nor am I a student of Descartes, nor was my “analysis” “Cartesian”. In case you are interested though, his circular reasoning is in his proof of God’s existence. Maybe if you read it you will understand that you are committing the same errors.

    “who here can honestly say that their vote for Nader or McKinney changed anything.?”

    You’re even stuck using the language of Obama. Tell me, how did a vote for Obama “change” anything? If you really want to think about it, what State do you live in, and was your vote for Obama neccessary? Did he win by one vote where you live? No, you miss the point of voting. Voting is when you use your voice to support what you believe in…. if you believe in Obama that’s your prerogative, but I think you’re deluding yourself if you do.

    The reason your circular reasoning is relevent is because too many “progressives” think like you, or were told to think like you by our “intellectuals” prior to the election. Had everyone who supported Nader’s policies voted for him he would have brought in a significant number of votes… no not enough to win, but enough to send a message that a third party candidate is viable, because a third party candidate is speaking to the people. So once again, don’t you see the fallacy, the logical error in your reasoning? Do you will that the U.S. political system remains a duopoly?

    A good lesson: Canada. The NDP has always been “the third party” that “can’t win”, so, by your logic, people might as well not vote for them. Well, if no one had voted for them in the early days, they wouldn’t even exist currently…. talk about an incremental set back, that would have been terrible for Canadian history (you see the NDP has managed to do a lot because they have the support of people…)! It takes people with conviction to support the best candidate and not the “less evil” candidate because they’re going to win. That’s how you make “incremental changes”… and in the meanwhile I guess I’ll sit in my classroom and cook up some schemes for overthrowing the government… I guess I’ll be doing it single handily, since I wouldn’t look to “allies” the likes of you for any sort of courage or assistance in the real fights needed in this country.

  18. Kelly said on November 8th, 2008 at 8:18am #

    Look man, don’t try to compartmentalize me. You can’t. It’s that simple. Granted, I shouldn’t have written my reply to you when I was stoned, but there you go.

    The only objection I have to above is lumping in those who would vote for Obama as being seduced by his so-called cult of personality. It’s insulting. As for the rest of your post, I didn’t read it. I would say, though, that those who resort to that sort of shallow criticism are forever in debt to the GOP. Congratulations.

    If you’d like to get into a cock wagging contest, I’m sure there are those who might indulge, however.

  19. David W. Deitch said on November 8th, 2008 at 2:10pm #

    I voted for Nader not because I thought he could win but because I thought it was important that he make a respectable showing and what might lead from that. It’s time we got off the Catch- 22 merry-go-round that Nader “can’t win.” I figured that the only way to make demands on Obama was to deny him my vote. How else? I was hoping that–this time–there might be enough people, especially on the left, that thought as I did and would maybe bring him to 5 percent of the vote. That would indicate that the left had a presence, a level of unity, that would push the Dems in a progressive direction and prove that there was hope for a future third party. What’s utopian about that? Why is that less rational than voting for the lesser evil and incremental change? I think that people who argue for the lesser evil are ignoring that they may be taking as much of a gamble as those who vote third party. The price that was paid for the “anybody but Bush” campaign in 2004 was the utter paralysis of the anti-war movement. I’ll never be sorry that I supported Ralph Nader.

  20. Ramsefall said on November 8th, 2008 at 3:40pm #


    It’s best to refrain from replying when stoned, lmao!

    That’s poetic.

    Best to you.

    PS still laughing my ass off…

  21. Ramsefall said on November 8th, 2008 at 4:45pm #


    you raise an important observation in behavioral changes amongst the intellectual community, I’m glad that you brought it up. Most disappointing for me initially, was hearing Chomsky and Zinn’s pre-election analyses on the candidates’ minor differences which they concur can pose observable differences in policy. They do make a valid point, though.

    When I heard them recommend to choose between the lesser of two ‘evils’ (without illusions), I immediately thought that it’s still playing the ‘evil’ card, for better or worse. I also wondered if the Albert Hoffman effect was coming on out of nowhere.

    In short, it seemed to me that they were repudiating their own message of so many years.

    Chomsky was more or less selling the Obama vote, although his absence in the mainstream makes it grossly irrelevant, and then he voted an alternative candidate if I’m not mistaken. That seemed a bit misleading for Chomsky scholars, but he also knows that nobody outside of the duopoly stood a chance as usual, and likely that not many who are Stateside listen to him, let alone know who the man is. As a result, he voted his conscience for a good poke in the eye at the Establishment, and suggested for what he likely estimates to be “in the system voters”, to vote the lesser. Keep McBush out was the main point I believe.

    Zinn has been advocating for at least 20 years that there really isn’t much value in voting since both candidates essentially represent the same interests. One of the most convincing statements he has made in regard to this position is that “this (election frenzy) seizes the country every four years because we have all been brought up to believe that voting is crucial in determining our destiny, that the most important act a citizen can engage in is to go to the polls and choose one of the two mediocrities who have already been chosen for us. It is a multiple choice test so narrow, so specious, that no self-respecting teacher would give it to students.” His message has never been more transparent. I still don’t know who he voted for, spent some time and didn’t find anything. From his interviews he was clear to vote against McCain, so did he follow the lesser theory, his conscience in an alternative candidate, or did he boycott the corrupt system all together? Anyone know that answer? Max?

    I’ve spent the last decade+ reading everything I could get my hands on from these two dissidents of the establishment, and thanks to them I’ve developed a greater understanding of our nation’s history, and have changed over time as a result, mainly through correlation with what I read and what I observe around the world. Abandonment of their future opinion is not in my cards any time soon.

    Thanks for the stimulation, Pablo.

    Best to you.

  22. Max Shields said on November 8th, 2008 at 5:15pm #

    To your question about Zinn’s vote, I received info that he voted for Nader while Chomsky voted for McKinney. Both men live in the strongly Democratic state of Massachusetts.

    Both seemed to encourage progressives in non-swing States to vote for non-duopoly for the reasons you mentioned.

    The idea, and one I share, is make as strong a case as possible for progressive change. It could be viewed as a vote to influence or simply a vote to reject the status quo.

    I was disturbed that they even mentioned any difference between these candidates and didn’t simply either: 1) make no comment on the issue (which is in line with Chomsky’s general take on offering advice on such matters), or 2) simply state who he was planning to support (in this case the Green Party’s candidate and the independent progressive, Nader).

    The lesser-evil makes no sense. In part, because, as you noted, both candidates are simply outcomes of the same system AND because we REALLY don’t know which of the two are the most “evil”. The guess that Obama is, is just that a shot in the dark given all we know at this stage.

    No, progressive supporter of Obama has yet to make the case FOR Obama without bringing up the boogeyman – McCain. Weighing their differences could lead one (minus party affiliation) to either one over the other.

    In any case, we have what we have. As it unfolds we need to gauge what is happening. The ball is in Obama’s court.

  23. Ramsefall said on November 8th, 2008 at 6:50pm #


    I appreciate the info on Zinn. It surprises me that he even votes, but it doesn’t surprise me that he’d go progressive.

    Yeah, I remember swing states being their focus for an Obama vote, which makes sense unless you’re behind a progressive candidate winning. I, too, was surprised that Chomsky gave any advice at all on the matter.

    While it’s all a head scratcher, we’ll have to wait and see if Obama is able to make consecutive jump shots, or if he tosses up bricks. It’ll be interesting to see how the intellects criticize his course of action depending on what he does/doesn’t do.

    Thanks for the input.
    Best to you.

  24. Slack said on November 8th, 2008 at 7:53pm #

    Even though Kelly is probably long gone, I wanted to add something to the question of voting for Nader or other 3rd party progressives even when you know they wont win.

    I voted for Nader even though I knew he wouldn’t win or get as many votes as in 2000 in order to hold the Democrats accountable and to show that there is a portion of the population that is willing to break with them.

    After 8 years of Clinton and the last 2 of Dem control of Congress, I feel that progressives who still support the Democratic Party suffer from the same syndrome as kidnapping victims and people who are beaten by their spouses. Maybe this time it’ll be different… they said they won’t do NAFTA and destroy welfare and kill Iraqis. You don’t know this candidate – he’s not like the rest – this time it’ll be different.

    When you vote for the Democrats “without illusions” you are basically still endorsing them and telling them that you know you don’t have any other options. This means that you are telling Obama that you won’t oppose him if he bombs Pakistan as he said he would in the debate. It tells Nanci Pelosi that you don’t care that she said that the Democrats would not put Bush on trial and that you can’t do anything when the Democrats go along and vote for Bush’s war funding. It means you feel impotent to stop the government from giving 700 Billion bucks to the rich.

    Even if we could get 5% of the population regularly voting for a progressive 3rd party, then it means the Democrats would know that they don’t have a blank check from liberals and progressives. At least the religious nut-job make the republican candidates give them concessions – like selecting Sarah Palin to appeal to crazy right-wing voters: “the base”. Conversely, progressives who support Dems make concessions to the party rather than the other way around! Imagine what would happen if Republicans told their base they need to be pro-choice in order to win over voters and they should empasise with people who see things differently? Well this is what the Democrats tell us! Don’t support gay-rights or the Repubs will win; don’t push for more abortion access because the Republicans’ll win; don’t tax the rich or the Repubs’ll win; don’t scare swing voters by adressing racial or economic inequality in this country.

    Barack Obama is an attractive candidate despite himself and his actual positions and I find it inspiring that so many people got excited and wanted to vote for him because they are tired of racism and war. But what’s going to happen when they eventually get disappointed – will they fight back or become cynical? Progressives should make sure that we are sharply critical of the new Prez and don’t let him get away with more wall street bail-outs or bombings around the world and hopefully we can bring some of the people who misplaced hopes in the Democratic party over to building a really independant and militant left.

  25. David W. Deitch said on November 9th, 2008 at 4:15am #

    I think that Zinn and Chomsky’s voting positions are best laid out in the Real News interviews they gave on October 23. These are available on the Real News website. Zinn says explicitly that he is voting for Obama and advises others to do the same. Chomsky argues in favor of the lesser evil, says that the bulk of the population does better economically under democrats “over time” and appears to suggest that people should vote Obama in swing states. Now that the election is over, Nader should debate either of these two head on.

  26. Max Shields said on November 9th, 2008 at 7:51am #

    For the record: from Nader on 10/29

    October 29, 2008

    Howard Zinn now says he’s voting for Nader.

    The famous historian lives in Massachusetts, where Obama is ahead by 20 points.

    Zinn created a stir earlier when he said he was voting for Obama.

    He legitimately took some heat for supporting the corporate Obama.

    But late last night, Zinn admitted in an e-mail to our campaign that he made a mistake and now says he will vote for Nader.

    And Zinn urges all people of conscience to vote for the true progressive in slam dunk states.

    Of which there are now many.

    (Zinn says that in non slam dunk states, he urges people to vote for Obama. We obviously disagree with that bit of advice.)

    Or as Ralph Nader put it today:

    “A vote for Nader/Gonzalez on November, rather than being wasted by piling onto an Obama landslide or McCain implosion, will produce a stronger hammer and watchdog for what millions of Americans want — including public Medicare for all with private delivery and a living wage for the one in three workers who don’t make one.”

  27. KR said on November 9th, 2008 at 10:16am #

    I certainly hope we don’t spend any more precious time attacking the mass of people who voted for Obama. Where would we be without them? They are the people we supposedly care about and identify with, and it’s time to stop wasting energy and time on this electoral strategy argument and start meeting people (many of them very young, many of them working poor, many of them people of color) where they’re at.

    The election’s over – get to it.

  28. Max Shields said on November 9th, 2008 at 10:25am #


    Appreciate how you articulated your thought process about Nader and the Dems/Obama.

    I don’t expect to see a lot of movement from those who voted for Obama – included so-called progressives. I want to be clear and re-emphasize the words “a lot of movement” because I do think there will be some who have had significant doubts and they will move back from the euphoria of Nov. 4 to once again see where there doubts came from.

    Will conditions demand progressive solutions from Obama?Progressives who voted for Obama (and against McCain) did so on the slight hope that Obama would be more receptive to progressive solutions based on dire problems than would a Republican. That rationale has been in play for many decades and only made its way into electing Obama – imo – because of the collapsing economy. I suspect, had the collapse come after the election, the race would have been very tight and it’s quite possible McCain would have won. But that’s sheer speculation.

    We know what Obama has said, we really don’t know what he will do. I don’t think an Obama administration should be the focus of progressives; at least not the primary focus. The system knows how to quell an uprising. While I think Nader’s desire to put pressure on the Congress is something worthy of consideration, I think the system is really broken. The mix in the Congress is not progressive – it is center/right whether Dem or Repub. (Only Repub talking points say otherwise.)

    Where can energies be best served:
    Let’s take Community Health Care. There is an opportunity to create community health care systems which are affordable for all and in some cases free. Examples abound. Neither the States nor Feds have the capacity to deal with healthcare. The same can be said of economic solutions. Local, sustainable economies are where progressive ideas can be implemented; not at the Fed/State. Home rule allows much. It will be up to local progressive grass-roots to re-connect with regional localities and then outward to the rest of the world.

    I hold promise for the Earth Charter. Read it. Local grass-roots organizing can lead to Cities/Towns/Villages signing on to this charter and making it a living document within the community.

    I see very little hope in Fed/State politics because they are by necessity, representative, and are not scaled for direct participatory democracy. I’m not saying we should ignore Washington – that’s impossible – but we need to understand what we can truly effect and what we cannot. If you can’t change city hall you’ll never change State capitals or DC. I suggest starting where you’re at; build out from there.

  29. Suthiano said on November 9th, 2008 at 3:52pm #

    As a peace offering to Kelly I’m going to smoke a joint right now.

  30. Tree said on November 9th, 2008 at 5:40pm #

    This article really resonates with me and I have to say, I feel less alone after reading it.
    I voted for Nader and am proud of that fact.
    Yes, it’s great the president is a black man, or at least half black, but he will not provide the changes this country really needs.

  31. Michael Hureaux said on November 9th, 2008 at 5:47pm #

    I think many of the responses here underline exactly what the author is saying. The real issue of this election, whether “progressives” would have it so or not, was the continued reality of the imperial momentum, which both McCain and Obama heartily endorsed.
    Of course, what those who rejected both parties are being treated to right now is the self-righteous dismissal of those who call us “purists” because we cannot bring ourselves to embrace a political system which, under the leadership of either party, declares openly its right to conduct wars of aggression “pre-emptively”, and pardons those war criminals who have conducted such wars.

    In fact, the opening moves of this “herald of change” have been to place in positions of high authority the same minds that led us into the mess in the Middle East to begin with. The only thing that is different, in actuality, are the levels of denial, and shades of rhetoric that are chosen to defend the imperium.

    Those who attempt to bring this up are dismissed as “purists”. Well, no, actually we’re not. We just don’t find war crime acceptable just because the side we tend to favor now endorses it. If you Obama supporters want to support imperial war crime, that’s on you. But never again write long, moving editorials about how “we” have to get control of our government. No, ladies and gentlemen. YOU need to get control of that matter between your ears, and oppose war atrocity consistently. And if you can’t do it, get the hell out of the way, will you, please?

  32. armean said on November 10th, 2008 at 2:42am #

    Thanks Pablo, excellent article.
    I think people who believe in the Toothfairy, Santa Claus and Obama also have a tendency to confuse cynicism with pessimism. If you’re not cynical about politics, your either sheep, fodder or a combination of both.

    I also think “progressive” covers far too big of a landscape. And in it, too many people get away with too much. The progressives often seem to be too regressive and the Left seems to be too “Right”. It’s all a bit too airy-fairy and wishy-washy. Those of us who are foreign born are accustomed to a completely different kind of Left. I’m very sorry, but people voting for Obama and calling themselves Left/Progressive, is just a bad joke.

    And one more thing before I go. About nine or ten weeks ago I was so disgusted and offended that I decided to go help the Nader camp. Just an unofficial activist. And I did it after my second job. You would not believe the amount of abuse leveled on us by Obama supporters. It got to a point that I started calling them Obazis (Obama Nazis). There weren’t that many of us around so most of the time we were working alone. We’ve had sign wars, sticker wars and loads of profanity thrown at us. Apparently every crime that the Bush administration and the Democratic Congress has committed in the past eight years was Ralph Nader’s fault. The day before the election some Obazi tried to ram his car into mine. There was actually a car chase for about ten seconds. It made me so angry I planted about twelve signs that night. And this is not the boondocks, this is in Silicon Valley, with that perpetual yet false myth of tolerance, acceptance and liberalism. To make a long story even longer, I can not believe, not for one second that Obama supporters are people who want to end war, end torture etc. etc. Nope! They just want to be in charge of it all. They want a kinder, gentler war, a kinder, gentler method of torture. They want to be the benevolent dictators. That is why the voted for change that is not really change.
    Ok I said my piece
    Done and gone

    Ps: Many many thanks to most of you for your lucidity, sobriety and rationality. It is good to know that intelligent life actually exists out there. So thank you for existing.

  33. Garrett said on November 15th, 2008 at 10:44am #

    Hue wrote: “How these guys think the millions of polarized folks like Chrissy are going to notice anything outside the silly attacks from the right and corporate media are beyond me.”

    I’m arriving late to this party, but I wanted to say that I believe Hue’s comment is key. I’d say tens of millions – instead of just “millions” – still think the “wedge” issues are the problem. Until most of those folks have an awakening, there won’t be a progressive movement. There won’t be a mass movement to destroy the corporatist, patriarchal, white supremacist machine.

  34. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 15th, 2008 at 11:23am #

    one of the fears of the US ruling class (let’s say, 10mn people) ab. using violence to frighten dissidents into submission is a strong possibility of violent retaliation by dissidents.
    and as the voting shows, there may be less than 0 .5% of dissidents in US.
    so why bother w. terror?
    however, if a strong second party emerges and becomes a serious threat to the established rulers of US, these may take ‘appropriate’ steps to reduce or eliminate the threat by many means.
    in other plutoruled countries/empires, dissidents may be eliminated even before they’d establish a party.
    in any case, US ruling class hadn’t to date shown any concern ab any antiwar movement.
    with more people on a planet w. less and less goodies, it is easy to conclude that the goodies left will go mostly to plutos.
    now, it’s an ancient story that the plutos of the world have always plucked more for selves.
    so, nothing new is happening today. and plutos control cia, fbi, police, army.
    do they need anything else? thnx