September 25, 2008
a political activist, you should not follow the media and their
preoccupation with the mind of the white voter. These articles
that you have re-circulated are part of the machinery of desperation. What
you should understand is the massive organization that Obama has
placed in motion. Michele and Barack Obama and the team of David
Axelrod, David Plouffe, Steve Hildebrand and others, have a clear
plan for massive victory. As long as the mainstream media focuses
on the old forms of politics, they will awake on November 5, to
a new reality - just like Hillary Clinton after Iowa.
This is the genius of the “machinery of hope.” They are working
below the radar and they have out-organized Karl Rove, Steve Schmidt,
Mark Salter, and former lobbyists, Rick Davis and Charlie Black.
went to Denver for the Democratic National Convention.
As a historian, political scientist and peace activist, I wanted
to understand the political machinery of this Obama campaign.
I watched it up close, and I watched the machinations of the opposition
who are hoping that the Latinos will not go out to vote. In the
Latino caucus I could see the difference between those forces
who are opposed to racist immigration laws and the minority that
buys into the images portrayed by the Spanish Language stations.
One section of the Democratic Party that is opposed to Obama is
seeking to neutralize this massive force of Latino voters in the
forthcoming November elections. These internal democratic opposition
forces would prefer for the majority of workers to focus on the
so-called race issue, while their financial world implode - they
are losing their jobs; they are being forced out of their homes
by foreclosures and they may not be able to get credit.
in Denver I learned a lot about the Obama organization.
Most of what I learned has been in the media but to see it up
close was important. It has, for example, 1.7 million small donors,
2 million volunteers, 5 million e-mail addresses and about 2 million
face book partners. The intent is to have between 6-8 million
volunteers by October 26th. I learned of the ground operation
in which Obama’s team has 35 persons in play to every one person
on the “helpless team.” (This is the team of McCain and Palin
that represent the other side of the opposition to Barack Obama).
While the media is stirring up old anxieties using the old discourse
of the Bradley Effect, I would recommend that you study the power
point presentation of David Plouffe that rolled out the essence
of the national campaign strategy. This strategy seems
to be on target. By the time the press catches up with
the strategy, the campaign has moved to the next stage.
training camps for new volunteers and new offices have been opened
up across large parts of the country, outside of the 18 states
that the campaign had been aggressively working - even before
the nomination had been secured on June 3rd. This was based on
scaling principles. When you read in the media hat the Obama campaign
has closed its operation in Montana or Georgia, bear in mind that
this emanates from the fact that the campaign has achieved its
limited objectives in relation to voter registration and building
a roster of new volunteers. Already in Florida,
the Obama campaign had initiated an organization and plan to register
the 630,000 eligible Hispanics, 593,000 African-Americans and
236,000 18- to 24-year-olds not yet on the rolls. The Obama campaign
has already spent close to 39 million dollars in this state, and
the more than 50 offices are staffed with 300 or more paid staff
members, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers.
you remember the Senate race of Obama in 2004 with the hapless
opposition, (remember Jack Ryan and Alan Keyes) we have another
hapless opposition and so the media is seeking to mobilize white
workers against Obama. But every action the opposition has taken
increases the support for Obama.
would like to give you a couple examples: the nomination of Sarah
Palin to the Vice Presidential slot of the Republican Party has
helped to push Florida further into the Democratic camp. And, when it was reported
that the evangelical church of the Republican Vice Presidential
candidate was a supporter of Jews for Jesus, an entirely new dynamic
was introduced into the campaign in Florida. When the views of the pastor David Brikner becomes better
known, listen carefully as this unfolds. Follow closely the religious
debates and the issues surrounding David Brikner. You will hear
the results of these debates for yourself, by October 26th.
The Convention in Denver
in Denver, I attended some of the caucuses. I could
not get into the arena as I was not a delegate. Yet, there
was enough going on inside these caucuses for the astute to see
the forces arrayed against the Obama candidacy within the Democratic
Party and the desperate measures they had embarked upon. I also
learned of the roll out incremental campaign to register new voters
before October 3rd. (This measure intends to register tens of millions
of persons, an ambition that I was dubious about until I started
to hear the figures.) After October 3rd and up to October 26th,
the campaign will then move on to setting up the machinery to
manage 6 - 8 million volunteers to work on the voting process.
The logistical challenges involved in setting in motion the ground
staff, the volunteers and honing the messages, have already distinguished
Obama and his team among those who study politics. There has never
been an organization of this type in the history of politics
in the USA.
key fact is how the self-organization and self-mobilization inspired
by this “crowd sourcing” tapped into the information technology
tools to move the organization to levels that were unthinkable
before. This is self-organization and self-mobilization moving
a new constituency from one stage to the next in their understanding
of the realities of politics. The millennials who are being
mobilized will not be reflected in the polls. The new registrants
are not being contacted by the polling organizations, and for
the moment, this is good for the Obama campaign insofar as, as
long as the election appears close, it motivates the team of volunteers
to push to extraordinary lengths. Yet, despite the hand wringing
of traditional political scientists, (especially the doom and
gloom predictions of some of the members of Black Political Scientists
- NCOBPS) there is a wave of enthusiasm among the youth. This
enthusiasm had propelled Obama to victory over Hillary Clinton,
and the incessant newspaper articles about racial voting is intended
to erode the new momentum unleashed by these new forces. The young
intend to vote.
Quantitative Change Leading to Qualitative Transformations
I listened to the campaign plans, they were breathtaking. And
they have the organizational resources to accomplish their objectives.
These organizational resources have been translated into fund
raising resources. It is the same organizational and fund raising
resource that translates into the transformed political culture.
In this culture, every aspect of the campaign is nested into the
next. To the public, the most evidence of this transformed culture
is the coordinated effort to Get out the Vote (GOVT). Go to Plouffe’s
missives and you will grasp the broad outlines. Briefly, the Obama
campaign is contesting in all fifty states. The media has concentrated
on the 18 so called battleground states that the cable channels
like to show in their red/blue map reading sessions. What they
cannot bring out in these map reading sessions is the reality
that in all states, the Obama campaign has the resources to campaign
for judgeships, county offices, and lower down ticket offices.
These map sessions will reveal information on the 18 so called
battle ground states, but the Obama team has established offices
in states that are not considered battleground. For example, in
Montana, the Obama campaign
opened 12 field offices. Once they established their threshold
of volunteers, they moved to the next stage. It is in a state
such as Virginia where
one can witness the full blown operation, with over 40 field offices.
Readers of the Washington Post have followed the month
by month tally of the registration of voters in this state that
has not voted for a Democratic candidate for President since 1964.
The figures are staggering when one grasps the number of potential
voters that have been registered in Ohio,
and North Carolina. In a state such as North Carolina, the pendulum is slowly shifting
toward the Obama campaign.
campaign in the South has deepened, with not only field offices,
but with a faith-based organization that promises to turn every
black church in the South into a field office. Simultaneously,
the plans include mobilizing every neighborhood with a large Latino
population into new political bases for trade union rights, immigration
rights, citizenship rights and all the democratic rights of working
peoples. Rural whites and poor whites are not left out in this
strategy. The Obama campaign is competing in states such as Alabama
and Mississippi, states
largely uncontested for decades by Democrats in a Presidential
race. The down ticket operation in South
Carolina is rewriting all of the old understandings of politics
in that state. New forces energized from the primary, have unleashed
a level of self-mobilization that is shaking the old establishment
in both parties. The Obama team will not reveal the number of
paid staff members, or, numbers of volunteers in South
Carolina, but, the campaign has a new presence that has brought
national prominence to self-organizers such as Anton Gunn. The
slogan: Campaign for Change, has real meaning for the grassroots
community organizers, who are at work throughout the South, in
numbers that have not been witnessed since the work of the Student
Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the sixties.
example of the campaign strategy in Texas
is indicative of the thinking of the Obama team. According to
a speech attributed to David Axelrod, the campaign in Texas is not only aimed at this election cycle. The campaign is not
planning to win the Presidential electoral votes in Texas, but is planning to pick up congressional seats, while electing
Democratic state lawmakers who would help decide election boundaries
for U.S. House seats in Texas
and elsewhere in later years. While the medium term plans for
Texas has changed the momentum in the Democratic
Party, there is a renewed energy in states such as Colorado,
New Mexico, Nevada,
Montana and Utah.
In states such as Nebraska,
the campaign is targeting particular congressional districts.
One should also pay closer attention to the Senate race in New Hampshire. The Obama campaign is pouring resources into New Hampshire
and organizing for an early win in that state of John Sununu as
part of the psychological war on the night of the election.
I Took Note of the Ambitious Planning
is this quantitative organizational capacity that will have qualitative
results in the larger political context of rapid changes. Watch
this carefully. This is the basis for my earlier analysis of the
laws of unforeseen circumstances. This is the essence of quantum
politics. Quantum politics alerts us to political and economic
philosophies that are more appropriate to the realities of the
21st century where separation and compartmentalization have no
meaning. Quantum politics builds on principles of self-organization
that is at the heart of true democracy.
our analysis, it can be seen that the Obama campaign is building
a volunteer structure based on the principles self-organization,
but one which will have substantial support in new areas of the
country. The cascading effect of the process will break old alliances
and bring into the politics new social forces.
Here is the Problem in my Mind
is no clear progressive left formation at the national level at
work to hold the Obama team accountable. Barack and Michelle Obama
have both inspired self-organization for representative
politics. There is a difference between self-organization for
representative politics (nested within the party structures) and
self-organization for self-emancipation. Those of us on the left
have not intervened effectively in the electoral debates, thus
far. Hence, when the Obama campaign emerges victorious, the progressive
forces are not organized to turn the self-organization into an
ongoing formation, to hold the Obama Presidency accountable. At
one of the fringe meetings in Denver, I had asked about a rigorous discussion
on Nationalization. I was silenced, not by moderates, but by the
Nation folks who dominated the Progressive Democrats
reality will be that the Obama administration will have more power
than the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) administration in the
thirties and forties. The recent nationalization of Federal National
Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage
Corporation (Freddie Mac), the nationalization of the American
International Group (AIG), and the impending nationalization of
the automobile industry and the airlines will make the US economy one
of the most state controlled in the world. The trade unions
need to be more engaged in these discussions, so that the glib
media statements on the privatization of profit and socialization
of risks are understood by every household.
working people all over the USA
need to understand the lies about market fundamentalism, just
as they have come to understand the realities of the lies behind
the invasion and occupation of Iraq. As the current debate
unfolds, and about the biggest bail out in the history of economic
activities takes place, it is not only the politicians and the
Treasury Department who should dominate the media platforms.
Slowly, the cynicism and hypocrisy of the ruling classes are being
revealed to the working peoples. Some churches are already calling
the bankers the devil and invoking the images of Jesus whipping
the money changers out of the temple.
left needs the appropriate language to inspire the workers to
understand what George Bush, Ben S. Bernanke and Henry Paulson
are planning in the US $700 billion bail out to save US
capitalism. The planned financial coup of the Treasury
Department is one more nail in the coffin 'the forms of democratic
oversight that still exist in the society. At the same time, while
Paulson is testifying before the media and the Congress on the
need for regulation in order to save the system, the Treasury
is actually relaxing regulations to help save the investment banks
and to help the private equity fund industry to take control over
struggling banks at the expense of thousands of smaller and regional
banks around the Country. The left must help workers to understand
that the efforts to use taxpayer money to save certain banks in
the name of protecting workers from a recession is really about
sustaining the overall system that caused the crisis, which they
lobbied to create, and which keep American financial institutions
at the top of food chain in the global financial system. The fact
that the USG has stooped so low as to put the interests of foreign
central banks ahead of local American banks, and has been reluctantly
forced to allow foreign sovereign wealth funds to purchase American
companies is just a reflection of the steps they will take to
sustain the overall system. The left must make it clear what actions
that USG could take involving the military, if the current efforts
turn out to be insufficient to sustain the current financial system
from the crisis.
classical double speak, Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, is using the crisis to implement
some of the deregulation moves that the financial capitalists
have wanted for years and now they think they can use the ‘fear
of depression’ to get access to taxpayer money. It is clear now more than ever that
the financial capitalists are seeking to perpetrate one of the
greatest transfers of wealth (from the taxpayer to banks) in recent
history in order to save them from the crisis which they created
and to sustain the financial system which they built.
present crisis in the US
economy is fundamentally an ideological crisis. It is many sided
with the essential contradiction between the ideas of private
property (private ownership of homes by workers) and the profitability
of the banking system. Within this contradiction lie other contradictions
such as the issue of the automatic expectation of mega profits
for the oil magnates, irrespective of the implications for the
other sectors such as transport, housing and the automobile industry.
This same contradiction is bringing to the fore the destruction
of the planet earth and the crimes against nature by the oil companies.
Many of the youth who have been mobilized for this election are
passionate about the struggles over environmental justice.
is an ideological shift away from neo-liberalism, which has been
forced on to this country by the reality of the financial fiction
that has now imploded. The tipping point away from trust in US
capital markets and bonds will come in the midst of the Obama
administration (if not before). This is when the US will be faced with either
whipping up jingoism, racism and militarism or a fundamental
restructuring of ideas, politics and organization. There are now
two roads for the workers, one based on racial chauvinism, militarism
and support for the bankers and Paulson or one where the trades
union, workers and oppressed communities, intervene with a new
energy for democratic accountability and transparency.
good thing about the present call for more regulation is that
the calls are being made and carried out by George Bush and the
worst of the neo-liberals such as Paulson. Not that they had any
choice. Once they have nationalized, they will seek to use some
sort of military skirmish and whip up more racism to divert the
attention of the poor away from the real consequences of
greed, militarism, war and lies.
Militarism as a Last Ditch Effort
US ruling class always needs
an enemy to mobilize the peoples of the society to support militarism
abroad and repression at home. During the cold war it was communism.
In the past eight years the enemy has been terrorism, which gave
us the “global war on terror.” The fictitious nature of this “war
on terror” has unraveled while the administration has been stoking
the fires of war against Iran. This is the last desperate
action on the part of the Republicans. But, according to my analysis
of the balance of political forces globally and nationally, this
last ditch military action will be foiled by the US military itself.
the past five years, there have been numerous commentaries by
retired generals that the Iraq war was the wrong war,
at the wrong time, with the wrong strategy. It is as if there
is a debate in the USA
on just wars. These commentaries reflected deep divisions in the
military, to the point where serving and retired military officers
were not shy in calling for the removal of Donald Rumsfeld. It
was this same division within the military and the Intelligence
services that wrecked the plans for the covert and overt war against
the people of Iran. The resignation of Admiral William Fallon,
in March, 2008, made public a deep struggle within the ranks of
the present moment, it seems to me that Obama has the support
of that section of the military that has been humiliated by Dick
Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. From the book of Bob Woodward (appropriately
War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008)
one can discern the anger felt by officers such as General Peter
Pace. The untimely death of General William Odom, in June, 2008,
robbed this section of the military of its most articulate spokesperson
against the Bush administration. General Odom had not been shy
in rallying the serving Generals against George W. Bush. I cannot
but think of how convenient this death has been for the beleaguered
Bush. General Peter Pace, and the generals who were humiliated
by the Iraq
debacle are angry, and one has to read the signals coming
from the armed forces - the land troops. These forces are opposed
by the air force and the more elite sections.
is also a division in the intelligence services. This is the most
significant division since John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin
Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, were killed. It is this division
that has ensured that Obama will not be easily assassinated. The
arrest of the amateur assassins in Denver, during the Democratic convention, concealed even more dangerous
threats against the candidate. According to an analysis of campaign
contributions by the Center
for Responsive Politics, Democrat, Barack Obama, has received
nearly-six times as much money contributed to his political campaign
from troops deployed overseas at the time of their contributions,
than has the hapless Republican candidate. This is the reality
that the incessant articles on racial voting will not reveal.
my view, in his acceptance speech at Denver,
Obama was speaking directly to the military when he promised to
rebuild the military. It is the task of the left and progressive
forces, to bring to the population the fact that one cannot rebuild
the military when the economy of the United States is surviving
on foreign funds.
is the task of the left to grasp the divisions in the military
and to deepen educational work, so that the military and their
families understand that all forms of unilateralism will have
to go. So far, the analysts and pundits have not linked the Wall
Street implosion to the military defeat in Iraq. If the US military had not been defeated in Iraq, then they would have
been emboldened to resolve this financial crisis by seizing the
assets of countries who have the temerity to establish Sovereign
Wealth Funds. The IMF and World Bank are now comatose. We have
come to the end of the Breton Woods system. Military intervention
of the type that was planned in Georgia, or any other kind, such as an escalation
will only bring more humiliation. Military intervention is
a nonstarter, but there are some desperate elements among those
in power around Cheney who are afraid of prosecution. Already,
in Europe, there have been jurists who are
developing the brief on the war crimes committed by the Bush administration.
Most US citizens did not know that arrest warrants
had been issued for Donald Rumsfeld. On the domestic front, the
full details of the dismissal of US attorneys by former Attorney
General, Alberto Gonzalez of the Justice Department, is still
to be brought before the courts. There are numerous reports and
press information on how aides to former Attorney General Alberto
Gonzalez committed misconduct, violated Justice Department policy
and broke the law by making hiring decisions based on political
ideology rather than professional qualifications
must now raise the question of justice and peace. There can be
no peace and justice without demilitarization and conversion of
the military industrial complex. Work by peace activists must
be revived; instead of the wringing our hands over the predictions
of those who want to bring back the old racist ideas. In those
days, racism had a material base. The material base is being eroded
before their very eyes. The question of the voting habits of white
voters, especially white women must be placed in the context of
the struggles for rights, especially women’s rights. The working
people must be reminded of the experiences of the British people
under the leadership of such notable right wing women as Margaret
am confident that the working classes in this country, in this
instance, will not work against their own interests. The capitalist
crisis is too deep, for those who are using old frameworks, to
place race as the central question before the electorate. Workers
and their families want universal health care in the midst of
the cancer epidemic. The writers of the articles that you have
sent are using data that does not take into account Obama’s ground
operations and ground troops. This also includes the legal and
propaganda teams that are at work.
the first time since the radical reconstruction in 1865, there
will be an opportunity to rally black, white, brown and first
nation workers (indeed all workers) in this country to participate
meaningfully in politics (not just in voting). This begins with
thinking beyond elections, so that the collapse of the hedge fund
managers and short selling traders are explained. We have to explain
to the working peoples that the consumer led economy, and the
credit card binge is over. The struggle for democracy involves
telling the simple truth to the workers. And the media houses
will be a very big part of our work because their material
base is also collapsing. The Obama administration will have to
cut the subsidies of billions of dollars expended on advertising
by the motorcar industry. The reorganization of the economy will
force changes at the level of information. We have to prepare
ourselves on the left for this moment.
Tasks for the Left
Obama’s own words, “The way to change the political process …
is to change the face of the electorate. Because it’s not about
getting Barack Obama elected, it’s about whether we’re gonna’
have a progressive majority.”
statement of Obama presupposes that there is a left and progressive
constituency in the United States. Those on the
left who are not simply concerned with intellectual correctness
must engage the political process and create new sites of politics.
This task of deepening educational work on the true nature of
the contemporary crisis awaits a new energized left that will
start to fight for people to retain their homes, in the same way
that Bush and the Treasury is seeking to save the billionaires.
While every financial crisis is unique, one must explain to the
workers that the day of market fundamentalism is at an end. Chinese
and Japanese capitalists are desperate to preserve the US
capitalists as the leaders of the global capitalist system. Hence,
Paulson is turning to these forces to prop up the financial coup.
The ideology that is now appropriate is one where each human is
seen as a human, and has the right to all the necessities of a
decent standard of living. The begging to foreign banks and foreign
states by Henry Paulson should be brought out in the open, so
that the US
workers understand the real meaning of the 9 trillion dollars
has intervened. China
holds the handle of the knife. It is a real historic irony to
see the hard earned savings of Chinese workers being solicited
to prop up Wall Street bankers in the USA.
In the short run, the Chinese communist party will not allow the
dollar to sink, right away, because it is not in their interest
(and the European Union) to be the beneficiary of this US capitalist crisis.
revolutionaries, we must engage and go out to raise our issues
so that the 60 million new youths and former disenfranchised who
have been inspired by Obama can be taken to a new level of anti-racist,
anti-sexist and anti-homophobic politics.
are now receptive because Obama has opened the door.
so, the students say to me … yes, we have heard about the organization,
but what if they still steal the elections?
response was that this election is the culmination of a long process
of struggle. If
the election is stolen, then every city in the US could have a total transit strike, because
black, Latino, working class folks, control the levers of
transport in all the major urban areas. The same text messaging
can cripple the cities in a general strike that is peaceful, and
one that engages the military that are against the mercenary forces
of Blackwater and Private Contractors.
must be contingency planning by the youth and the organized forces
in the peace and justice movement to initiate a general strike
that can spread to the armed forces. Images of the 12 million
activists on the streets in Spain in 2004 must be shown along with the images
of the 15 million that came out on February 15, 2003 against the
invasion of Iraq.
have not ended our call for the dismantling of the prison industrial
complex. We are now being tactical, because the right wants more
money for prisons to continue to incarcerate the youth, instead
of holding trials for those who brought the economy to the brink
of collapse. The big capitalists and developers at the Convention
want Obama to win, and they were there to study his ground operation,
but they want him to demobilize these new forces as soon as he
is sworn in. Notice, that those such as T. Boone Pickens saw the
ground operation and went to beg forgiveness in Denver.
are we going to do about this?
BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, Dr. Horace Campbell,
PhD, is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science
University in Syracuse New York. His book, Rasta
and Resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney
is going through its fifth edition. He is also
the author of Reclaiming
Zimbabwe: The Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation
and is currently working on a book on Obama and 21st
Century Politics. He has contributed to many other edited books, most
recently, “From Regional Military de-stabilization to Military
Cooperation and Peace in South Africa” in Peace and Security in Southern Africa (State and Democracy Series)
, edited by Ibbo Mandaza. He has published numerous
articles in scholarly journals and is currently writing a book
on the Wars against the Angolan peoples. Click here
to contact Dr. Campbell.