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Obama’s landslide Victory? Looking up from North Carolina and Beyond November 5. - Think Piece By Dr. Horace G. Campbell, PhD, Guest Commentator
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The headlines projecting an Obama victory have been more frequent in the past two weeks as the Republican campaign panics in the face of the massive organizing and momentum of the Barack Obama campaign. From web-logs to Yahoo news and from cable news to network television stations there are headlines announcing that “Obama, Democrats on track to landslide victory.’  These headlines are tapping into a mood of optimism that is now emanating from the grassroots movement that forms at the base of the Obama’s Presidential campaign. From county to county and state to state self-similar formations develop new skills and techniques to build a movement block by block and precinct by precinct mirroring the natural principles of replicating similar patterns at different scale. The Obama campaign all across the United States share similar characteristics with the component parts of the movement in the states designated as battlegrounds. Concentrating on states in the West and South that hitherto had voted for the Republican party, the Obama campaign built up a profile of the country and built a new political platform for electioneering.

Florida, North Carolina and Virginia will become the textbook cases of how this 2008 campaign transformed the political landscape of the USA.  Each node of the campaign in North Carolina for example, builds a base in say Forsyth County that is linked to the 11 other counties (down to rural counties such as Rowan County).  Forsyth County is then linked to Mecklenburg County which in turn is magnified in the headquarters of the North Carolina state in the Raleigh Durham triangle of Wake County.  What is new in this mode of organizing is the infusion of fractal thinking in political organizing. Self-similarity is a typical property of fractals and it is informing the tactical stratagem of this campaign. The other key fractal concept that is informing this impending landslide is that of recursion. This is the definitive break with the old mode of politics

By drawing into the political process millions of citizens who were hitherto marginalized and excluded the Obama machinery is building upon itself toward a conclusive end, with each recurrence contributing something new toward the end definition, that is the definition of victory The recurring themes of change and self-organization have served to strengthen the definition of the campaign to the point where not even the most rabid racist provocations could undermine the new point of the campaign. Old media trapped by he ideas of hierarchies continue to remind older voters of the so called Bradley effect but the energized youth were born after this episode and grew up in the era of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Condi Rice, Colin Powell and others who broke the racial barriers. Powell and Rice demonstrated that being black could be a force for imperialism and militarism as they exposed in their subservience to the Bush. Cheney/ Rumsfeld adventures.

The old point of the campaign after the Republican Convention in Minnesota has now been superseded by the panic in the ranks of the McCain Campaign. Panic and desperation led directly to the stirring of racial fears where one now hears out right calls for the killing of Barack Obama. With Sarah Palin falling back on her cheerleading skills one hears from the Republican rallies chants of, "He is not  one of us!" "He's an Arab," "Socialist," and "Bomb Obama!" Old images from the war against terrorism reveal the racist undertone that was always at the base of this so called war on terror.

In the midst of an economic depression the choice between reconstruction and renewal or a regime based on racism and proto -fascism becomes clearer.  Madeline Kunin ,a former governor of Vermont, captured this choice in her comparisons to the insecurity in Germany at the time of the depression that was exploited by the German fascists. She offered this commentary on Huffington Post on he tone of the Mccain /Palin rallies,

Traitor," "terrorist, "kill him" and "off with his head," they shouted. He is "not one of us", is the message. He has "palled around with terrorists" (in Weimar days, it was the communists). By repeatedly asking "Who is the real Barack Obama?" this desperate Republican team is hinting that he has a hidden agenda -- an agenda that threatens all of us. By making Obama the Other, McCain/Palin are fueling racial paranoia.

It's downright dangerous. When statements that are politically incorrect suddenly become correct and are cheered into hysteria, no one is safe. Not Obama, and not our democracy.”

Despite the seriousness of the moment both in terms of the economic and political choices to be made there is not as of yet a decisive political engagement by anti-fascist and anti-racist forces in the USA. Some thinkers and strategists are mesmerized by the person of Obama while the other politically correct ‘analysts’ cannot dignify themselves to be involved in ‘bourgeois’ politics. Yet precisely because this is not simply an electoral struggle between Republicans and Democrats decent peace loving citizens of all political persuasions must engage this process to defeat the semi- fascist forces that are rising up. The deeper the economic crisis the more the insecurity and racial hatred will be rekindled to the point of violent confrontations.

This is an election campaign that is reflective of the crossroads moment faced by the US and indeed the world.   In the midst of paths before the society the hip hoppers wail and demand: “Don’t stop the movement.” These hip hop artists form one section of the population that is calling on the Obama campaign to live up to the promise of believing in the people by empowering the people.  This intervention seeks to draw from the impressive ground operation in the state of North Carolina to comment on the dramatic impact of the Obama campaign on US politics.

The state of North Carolina is a microcosm of the transformation of the politics and economics of the United States at the dawn of the twenty first century. After an elementary study of the massive voter registration operation that registered more than 600,000 new voters in North Carolina it can be safely noted that this state is now firmly within the grasp of the Democratic Party for the first time in 28 years. The Democratic Party has been losing this state in electoral politics since the Southern strategy of the Republicans moved to incite racial hatred and the disenfranchisement of black voters. Impressive voter registration figures from the North Carolina Board of Elections on their web site shows that as of October 11, 2008, there were 6,067, 376 registered voters. Of these registered voters there were 2,756,751 who registered as Democrats, 1,966,323 registered as Republicans with 1,342,322 registered as unaffiliated.

This writer was assured by representatives of the Obama campaign that the North Carolina Board of Elections was three weeks or more behind in uploading the data from the registration process. A similar picture emerges from the ground operations in the state of Virginia where the Obama campaign registered close to 400,000 new voters and opened 44 offices in this former slave state. Down ticket races for Senate seats in North Carolina and Virginia herald a new day for the South. The Obama campaign in its thrust for victory has mobilized millions and the challenge for the society will be how to harness these new forces that have been unleashed by this campaign in order to heal the society from the racism and hatred that is now coming out so clearly. Sober analysts are noting that if the racists are not restrained there could be open violence in the streets of the USA.  Young people all across the society are signaling that they will not become the canon fodder in a fanatical race war in the USA.

All over the South the energy and enthusiasm of the young people (of all races) is rewriting the politics of the United States at a moment when the era of unregulated capitalism is giving way to a restructuring of US politics and economics. Whether this restructuring is simply the end of unregulated capitalism or a more profound change in the direction of the mode of economic organization will be dependent on whether the mobilization for the elections of 2008 becomes a social movement independent of the Democratic Party and the person of Barack Obama.

We want to examine the lessons from the state of North Carolina for the politics of the society as a whole drawing from observations of the Obama campaign in the South, especially north and South Carolina. When one travels across these two states the names of places remind you of the blood and sacrifices of those who struggled against slavery and for the rights of full citizenship in the USA. While the architecturally impressive buildings of Charlotte reflect the grandeur of a banking hub that is now being nationalized, the same Republican Party that was willing and able to bail out banks promise US citizens that the nationalization of the banking system does not presage the end of the free market.

As the economic crisis deepens, George W. Bush, the President of the USA and the barons of the banking system are mortally afraid that the same government that has been called on to bail out the banks will be called on to deliver health care for all citizens. As some scientists eagerly work towards the era of singularity (merging humans with artificial intelligence) the old questions of access to health care for all is now joined with the burning question of saving the planet earth and reversing the global warming that threatens to envelop life as we now know it.  With the re-emergence of eugenic ideas in the halls of the citadels of knowledge and the think tanks, the candidacy of Barack Obama could not have come at a more sensitive moment. Racism in the streets has a base in the academy and the conservatism of economists and political analysts that are trapped by the ideas of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Milton Friedman.

There are elements in the US society who are demanding a new democracy and the demilitarization of the society. Soldiers in the big military bases of Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg are mobilizing to support the candidacy of Obama as Michelle Obama is deployed as a force to mobilize military families. Workers are working hard to rebuild a the trade union movement as leaders of the historic unions find a new voice in mobilizing workers threatened with dismissal.  Decent women who want full rights in the society are appalled by the representation of Sarah Palin as the future of the place of women in US society.

The changing face of the United States

By the middle of October 2008 it was clear to most citizens of the world that a major shift in international politics was taking place. Speculative capitalism and unregulated markets had given way to massive government intervention to save banks, automobile makers, insurance companies, airlines and other imperiled corporate entities. “Too big to fail’ became the mantra of governmental spokespersons in countries that had advised the Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand not to intervene in the Asian crisis of 1997. The International Monetary Fund IMF that had been founded in the aftermath of World War II to anticipate massive dislocations in the system was paralyzed by its recent rhetoric of liberalization of economies. After counseling numerous societies not to nationalize assets, the governments of the United States and the European Union are rushing to save the system as a whole. Will Hutton, a well known writer in the UK (and specialist on China) expressed the anxiety of many in the west when he wrote in the UK Guardian Newspaper, on October 14 that,

“It is a critical time. Depression may have been avoided, but how the financial system is managed now will determine how severe the recession is and the future character of British capitalism. The government is now necessarily in the banking business, and must confront its new responsibilities.”

The fear of a depression conceals an even greater fear, that there could be a radical shift in the consciousness of working people. Thus far the panic and crisis management to save the system has taken place without a systematic discussion from among the ranks of even the left intelligentsia. Yet, despite the absence of a rigorous alternative there is a growing consensus that ’two centuries of US and European domination are now at an end, as the western economic model is humbled.’

These two centuries of domination saw the massive transfer of wealth from oppressed peoples to the central accumulating states. This accumulation process was backed up by the force of the military. The British military was the vanguard of British colonialism. Thus,while Britain was declared the center of democracy, exploitation and plunder ruled as Britain ruled the waves. After the decline of Britain the USA seized the leadership of the capitalist world with US interests dominating the international organizations such as the IMF, the World Trade Organization and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. With the dollar enshrined as the currency of world trade by the articles of agreement of the Breton Woods agreement of 1944, US leaders could run up deficits as long as other countries were forced to maintain their foreign currency reserves in the US currency, (the dollar). Thomas Hobbes had captured the link between finance and militarism when he wrote:

“Covenants being but words and breath, have no force to oblige, contain, constrain, or protect any man, but what it has from the public sword.”

The Breton Woods agreement of 1944 lasted until the period of the Vietnam War when the US could not balance its books and broke the agreement to maintain the parity of $35 to one ounce of gold. After the Nixon administration went on a floating exchange rate the entire international financial system was thrown into uncertainty. It was the power of the US military in the midst of the Cold War that sheltered the leaders of the USA from the need to live within their means. When the oil shocks of the 1970’s further exposed the fragility of the international financial system, the US used its military power to ensure that the petro dollars were recycled to US banks and arms manufacturers. The indexation of the price of oil in dollars alienated nationalists within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries and the leaders of the growing European Economic Community. Under the leadership of the governments of France and Germany there was a plan hatched to challenge the dollar as the currency of world trade. This plan led to the steps for the formation of the European Union and for the adoption of a single currency, the EURO. When the Euro was launched in 2002 the competition between the EU and the USA deepened.

However, the capitalist competition between the EU and the USA went on while the Chinese political leadership was building the Chinese economy and transforming the Chinese society. By the end of 2006 when the Chinese leadership embarked on major political and diplomatic forays in Latin America and Africa it became clear that the unipolar era of US imperialism was coming to an end. Ronald Reagan and the conservative revolution had been giddy after the fall of the Soviet Union. Pride in imperial domination replaced the multilateralism of the triad ( USA, Europe and Japan)  in the period 1945-1980. The Bush National Security doctrine of September 2002 had been launched to pre-empt precisely the new competition that was coming from the Euro. In that document launched one year after September 11, 2001, the Bush administration warned that, no 'adversary' will be allowed to 'surpass' the U.S.

In the aftermath of the economic meltdown and the fear of a depression, there is now awareness inside the USA that the more than 2 trillion dollar bail out that has been presented to the US population can only be undertaken by infusions of capital from China, Japan and other holders of Sovereign Wealth Funds.

The US government now has a number of schemes to save the system – called bailouts , $800 billion for banks, $200 billion for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, $120 billion for the insurer AIG, and $25 billion for the US auto industry.  After the heady week of October 5-12 when confidence in capitalism was shaken all over the world the leaders of the European Union decided to drop their hostile attitude to the bailout plans of the US Treasury. Meeting in Paris over the weekend, the leaders decided to support the US Treasury with as much capital as is needed to save US capitalism. Temporarily, the intense struggle between the dollar and the Euro has been suspended temporarily in order to save the system itself.

This news was never communicated to the US citizens as George Bush announced on Tuesday October 15 that the government would bail out the banks with US $250 billion.

USA capitalism is now dependent on the decisions made by leaders in China and Western Europe.

It is in this changed international situation (marked by the growth of new poles of economic strength in China, India and Brazil competing with the traditional imperial centers of Western Europe and the USA) that it is necessary to locate the options and paths that will be open to the electorate of the USA. Will the Obama team make a break consistent with the promise of change or will the centralized powers bequeathed in the dying days of the Bush administration lead to an anti-people administration managing the society for the same interests that Obama campaigned against?

I traveled to North and South Carolina to examine the balance of political forces and to speak to some of the field workers to get a sense of the levels of political consciousness among the young workers who dominated the ground game of the Obama campaign.

Fired up and ready to go – where?

It was the massive victory in South Carolina that had originally piqued my interest in the Carolinas. The slogan ‘fired up, ready to go’ had been one of mobilizing chants of the Civil Rights struggles in the South in the period 1955-1975. From this entire campaign it was clear that there was a direct line between the campaign of Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party (MFDP) 1964 and the emergence of the candidate Barack Obama. During the primary campaign in 2007 when Barack Obama was still unknown in the Southern States of the USA, Obama had gone to Greenwood, South Carolina. The veterans of the Civil rights struggle drew on the memory of the struggles for freedom to inspire Barack Obama.  South Carolina had been a crucial turning point because all of the chatter of whether Obama was black enough evaporated as the citizens of the former headquarters of the Confederacy calculated their chess move after the Iowa caucuses of January. Like a strong wind propelling Obama forward the young workers of Greenville, South Carolina promise to shock the nation on November 4. A young female accountant, (one of the Volunteers in the Greenville office) was one of the many who are working across the South to change the politics of the US. While I was physically in the Obama campaign office in Greenville, S.C reports came in on buildings where voters were waiting to be registered. There were stories of hundreds who have never voted before in an election who had registered to vote. One of the most moving of these stories was that of the 90 year old who had never voted in an election who had registered in the blitz registration drive that had been organized in the Greenville office.

Witnessing the passion of the volunteers, (young and old, black and white) was like a breath of fresh air in the midst of the Palin/McCain rhetoric about race. Blue dog democrats were now working side by side with former freedom risers of the Civil rights movement. For the first time since the Reconstruction period of 1865-1877 there was a new possibility of workers identifying their class interests before the interest of the capitalist classes. It was from Greenwood and Greenville where one heard of the registration of white workers who are now turning their backs on the Republicans. Even though the Obama campaign is not involved in a full blown campaign in South Carolina as they are in the top fourteen battleground states, the offices of the Obama campaign in Greenville and Rock Hill, S.C, exhibited levels of cooperation and collaboration between blacks and whites that if translated beyond elections can hold new meaning for political change.  The State Democratic party was clearly benefiting from the enthusiasm of the Presidential elections for local elections.

It was in Rock Hill where one came face to face with the heritage of fascism and racial terrorism. The streets and institutions of this part of South Carolina reminded young people of the days when African Americans represented the majority of the citizens in South Carolina. Racists such as Benjamin Tillman who was to become an influential Senator in South Carolina in the era of Jim Crow had been at the forefront of US para- military groups that killed millions and disenfranchised Blacks for over 100 years. Tillman whose name now grace the hallowed Halls of Clemson and Winthrop Universities in South Carolina had declared,

"We have done our level best [to prevent blacks from voting]...we have scratched our heads to find out how we could eliminate the last one of them. We stuffed ballot boxes. We shot them. We are not ashamed of it."

It is the reversal of this tradition that is being engaged in the elections of 2008. Florida, North Carolina and Virginia are of particular interest in so far as these are states that have been dominated by the Republican Party and reflect the old challenges of political organization across the divided working peoples since 1877.  I had read Ronald Walters book, Freedom is Not enough, to examine the collaboration between the two main political parties in guaranteeing that the 1965 Voting rights Act did not really empower those who had been disenfranchised by the work of segregationists and racists from Tillman to George Wallace and Jesse Helms. Books on the Breakdown of Democratic Party Organization 1940-1980 had excluded the possibility of a campaign of the type being waged by Barack Obama. Noting the entrenched business interests in the party it was hard for conventional political scientists to envisage a campaign that would go to the ground to old fashioned door to door canvassing and community organizing to build a new party and a new politics. What one saw in this South was the old cooperation where the Obama campaign received all kinds of support from communities. Food, water and other in kind support came in to the offices from those who wanted to do anything to assist. This was a real grassroots effort. Will the barber shop and hair salon discussions be taken to the next level to empower voters to make decisions about banks, real estate transactions and zoning plans at the county level?

Barack Obama has retold the story of his background as a community organizer so often that it is now accepted that this training contributed to his ability to listen and simultaneously inspire new social forces.

The victory in the primary campaign and the defeat of the Clinton party machinery was not simply the work of Obama. This victory had emanated for the impact of the work of peace activists who had delegitimized the militarism and unilateralism of the Bush/Cheney administration. The implosion of the financial sector in the period of reversals abroad exposed the reality that domestic and foreign relations were intertwined.

North Carolina and demographic Change

Because the US Presidential system is based on the undemocratic system of the Electoral College, it is necessary for any serious contender to win the big states with the largest number of electoral votes.  The Electoral College consists of 538 elected representatives who formally select the President and Vice President of the United States, the Electoral College is an example of an indirect election. After the debacle of the elections of 2000 the true nature of the undemocratic system was revealed to the world.

At the present moment for a candidate to win the election it is necessary to win 270 electoral votes In the Electoral College.

“The college was created because the framers of the Constitution did not entirely trust the people to elect the president. Instead, electors were chosen to affirm or reject the people's vote. When you vote for president, you are actually voting for electors chosen by the two candidates, not the candidates themselves. Each state is allocated a number of electoral votes based upon the number of its U.S. senators plus the number of its U.S. representatives. Because the electors for each state are awarded on a winner-take-all basis, it is possible that a candidate could garner a majority or plurality of the popular vote but lose the election because they did not get enough electoral votes.”

The map below gives an indication of the weight of the electoral votes of each state.

It can be seen from this map that if the Obama campaign wins the majority of the 14 battleground states, with the more than 170 electoral votes, victory would be assured when added to the guaranteed Democratic strongholds of California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington State.

The designated battleground states and the number of electoral votes for the 2008 elections are Colorado 9, Indiana 11, Michigan 17, Iowa 7, Missouri 11, Florida 27, Nevada 5, New Hampshire 4, New Mexico 5, North Carolina 15, Ohio 20, Pennsylvania 21, Wisconsin 10, and Virginia 13.

The Obama campaign had decided on both a western and Southern strategy to permanently change the politics of the United States. Detailed studies of the voting patterns and demographic make up of the South and the West had been undertaken by the Obama team. Even the New York Times has caught up with the Block by Block strategy that had mined the information base of the society to identify new voters.

The information is culled from a variety of sources, including magazine subscriptions, the types of cars people drive, where voters shop and how much they earn. Commuting patterns are analyzed. Voting history in local races is factored in.

The data, after it is studied and sorted at campaign headquarters in Chicago, is sent to every battleground state. The names are bar-coded and ultimately show up on the lists given to volunteers. And the theory is verified, or disproved, through conversations at doorsteps or in telephone calls where voters are identified on a scale from a No. 1 (strongly for Mr. Obama) to a No. 5 (strongly for Mr. McCain).”

This was clearly evident in the approach to the .state of North Carolina that had changed significantly in both the demographic make up and in the nature of the economy.

North Carolina had been one of the original thirteen colonies of the states that were federated to become the United States of America. The backbone of this agricultural state was tobacco production and enslaved Africans toiled for centuries to enrich the plantocracy that ruled over black people who had no rights to vote. Women, First Nation peoples were also disenfranchised. North Carolina is one state with the largest numbers of First Nation peoples.

North Carolina was one of the confederate states and the economy of this state was dominated by agricultural production, textiles and furniture making until the period of the changes in the US economy in the 1970’s and 1980’s. North Carolina has grown to become a major center for agriculture, agro-industry, financial services, and manufacturing. The state's industrial output—mainly textiles, chemicals, electrical equipment, paper and pulp/paper products meant that there was a high demand for labor and this increased the population. Centers such as Raleigh Durham developed a thriving research and high tech center while Charlotte became the second largest banking hub in the USA. The growth of Charlotte in Mecklenburg County meant that the sub prime crisis and the financial melt down would be felt in North Carolina. According to the US census the 2007 population of North Carolina was just over 9 million.

The Obama campaign had deployed approximately 40,000 volunteers working out of 35 field offices across the state. In each field office there are officers managing on average 100-150 volunteers. On October 14, 2008 the BBC New brought out the fact that the Obama campaign had over 35 field offices in North Carolina to McCain five offices.  It was only in the last weeks of September that the Republicans awoke to the advantage of the Obama campaign in North Carolina where since the decisive primary win of Obama in May the campaign had gone on to register another 600,000 new voters.

The state is divided into 100 counties with the three biggest counties being Forsyth County (the Winston Salem Area)  MECKLENBURG County (Charlotte area ) and Wake County (The Raleigh Durham Area.)  Of these 100 counties the Obama campaign has registered more democrats in more than 80 of the 100 counties with over 237, 000 in Wake County, 263,000 in Mecklenburg County and nearly 100,000 in Forsyth County. And in the some rural counties where the Republicans maintain a majority there are only really three counties where the number of registered voters are over 20,000. These figures of the number of registered democrats in the state and the follow up of the Obama campaign means that the Obama office in Chicago is not awaiting the polling from national polling organizations to determine the strength on the ground.

This writer visited the Obama campaign HQ in the three above mentioned counties to get a fuller grasp of the operations of the campaign. The visit took place prior to the period when the registration period was in its final stage (before close of registration on October 10). The four stages of the campaign had been divided between the period of Voter registration, get out the Vote, Mapping the vote and defending the vote.

Walls of Hope

Once one enters the field office it becomes clear that the field officer had to be a good manager and be able to get along with citizens of all classes, all races and all backgrounds.  In every campaign office there is a “Wall of Hope.” On the Wall of Hope will be written the slogans of the particular county or region. Usually the field officers are drawn from former volunteers who had shown outstanding commitment to the Obama campaign during the primary period. These field officers are disciplined and are focused on the work ahead.

Forsyth County is a regional office that is the HQ for 11 other counties in North Carolina. These counties are Davidson, Davie, Rowan, Surry, Yadkin, Ashe, Allegheny, Wilkes, Watauga, Stokes and Forsyth.  In the first field office of Forsyth County, the most impressive innovation of the wall of Hope was the competition among the High School students to see which school would register the largest number of voters.  In this office a number of unpaid volunteers worked shoulder to shoulder with the paid field staff. It then becomes clear that transparency and sharing of information is essential for the operation of the campaign. The one Department that was not visible was the mapping Department that was the center for uploading the voter registration information into the data bases of the Obama cyber world. This cyber world is a world unto itself and the information form Forsyth County is funneled to Raleigh and then to Chicago.

The Obama campaign has targeted particular constituencies and groups such as Students for Obama, Women for Obama, Professionals for Obama, Workers for Obama, veterans for Obama, seniors for Obama and Young Lawyers for Obama.  The Young lawyers are serving as the backbone for the present gear up stage to defend the vote all over the country. Of these groups the faith based campaign, the Youth for Obama and the Workers form the bedrock of the campaign. Obama undercut the evangelical based movement that had been dominated by the Republican Party.

Within each of these groups are similar networks that depend on people who know each other. This network is reinforced by face book and my space networks for the sharing of information and tactics.

After Forsyth County I spent time in the office of Rowan County in the small town of Salisbury. The self-similarity and difference in scale between the operation in Winston Salem and that of Salisbury was evident, even from the size of the equipment. What ever the size of the office however, the same battle stories were heard and one could see persons coming in from the streets to volunteer and work for the campaign. It was in Salisbury where the workers zeroed in on the future of Elizabeth Dole who was fighting to retain her Senate seat.

Elizabeth Dole hails from the rural town of Salisbury and had inherited this republican Senate seat from the venerable racist, Jesse Helms. It was in Salisbury where one heard the complaint that in the year 2005, Dole had spent a total of 13 days out of 365 in the state. The one young field officer in the Salisbury office was multi -tasking and after ensuring that this writer was not from the press opened up to describe his role.

He outlined that the field officers formed the backbone of the campaign in so far as these are he frontline forces that set in motion the volunteers. He noted,

“Volunteers come in the door for the candidate, but they come back to work for the Field officer.”

He was imparting the fact that the field officers had to treat all with respect.

Phase 2 get out the Vote

In the introduction we have already noted the figures of the numbers that were registered (officially by the North Carolina Board of Electors) by October 11. It is this registration drive all over the country that led those watching the ground operation to predict a landslide victory. This prediction that Obama has passed the threshold of 270 votes and is heading toward more than 350 electoral votes is reproduced on many sites. One such site is Pennsylvania For Change.

From the above map that projects Obama’s landslide in the making one can see that the massive gains that are being made from the registration period cannot be reversed.

After the success of the registration period the campaign is now in the midst of the get out the Vote mode. This is the mode where the coordination between the field officers, the officers, the legal protection team and the mappers work closely together. From the beginning of October the legal protection team has been fanning out across the country to protect the vote and to inform voters of their rights. One of the important areas of work for this team is to explain the laws in each state with respect to felons. Because millions of citizens are disenfranchised through the prison industrial complex, the legal protection team has a central role to play in securing the victory.

Notice has already been given in the media to the potential challenges to the authenticity of hundreds of thousands of new registrants  Conservative news platforms and blogs have been seeking to exaggerate the problems for the Obama campaign from the relationship between Barack Obama and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn), But this hoopla over the ACORN issue cannot really affect the massive registration drive and the integrated plan to get out the vote and protect the vote. There is an elaborate system that is bar-coded to ensure that the volunteers will be able to get voters to the polls and to get a clear understanding of the elections. Because of the challenges to the registration process the North Carolina campaign was not recommending absentee voting but early voting.

Michelle Obama a secret Weapon

In plain sight Michelle Obama has been one of the core pillars of the Obama campaign. After the picture of a militant Michelle Obama was portrayed on the cover of the New Yorker magazine and after the barons of capital expressed their fear of Michelle Obama, it was decided to judiciously deploy her in the campaign. One area of perpetual deployment has been to work with military families.

This deployment has borne dividends in states such as North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, states with large military facilities. There are currently 8 active military installations in North Carolina, with a very large military presence at two major military bases, the Marine Corps base at camp Lejeune and the infamous base of the 82nd airborne division at Ft. Bragg. The base of Ft. Bragg covers the areas of three counties. Currituck, Harriet and Hoke  

It is evident from the numbers registered so far and from the work of Veterans for Obama that in the counties of the big military bases the Obama campaign is ahead. This is in no small measure due to the dogged work of Michelle Obama working with the military families and promoting a message of peace. Michelle Obama has been a silent weapon in the campaign galvanizing support in the Deep South while biting her tongue. At the Democratic National Convention she made it known to one of he caucuses that she was surprised at some of the positions taken by Barack Obama, especially when these issues are related to war and peace. Michelle Obama was not any more explicit on whether she had disagreed with the bellicose stand on Afghanistan.

It should be noted that North Carolina is also the headquarters of Blackwater international, the largest private military contracting firm in the world. In the past this firm had a solid base among the conservative and retrograde elements of the state.

Don’t Stop the movement

In my last submission I had called for the continued mobilization of the youth after the elections. It is now clearer that the Obama legal protection team and the ground team of millions can and will get out the vote. It is becoming more evident that the problem to be addressed is not only the tasks before the election, but also the tasks after the election. Conscious citizens who see the choices before the society chant, don’t stop the movement. This hip hop song is calling for the same kind of mobilization that Al Gore is calling for in his call for Civil disobedience. However, there needs to be a new motion in the society of working people and youths organized against the system.

It is becoming clearer by the day that the racist opposition to the Obama presidency is not only coming from the Republican fanatics. Inside the Democratic Party there are sections that are mortified by the millions of new voters in play. Tremors from the ground game in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia are being felt all across the South as the old politics is slowly giving way to the new. The adage, the old is dying but the new is yet to be born is manifest all over the United States. Already in the state of New York, the prospect of an Obama presidency and a David Patterson governorship has sent shivers down the spine of the old political establishment. With the defeat of the Bill and Hillary Clinton machinery there is another effort to create a base of support around Mayor Bloomberg. The declaration of Bloomberg that he will be standing for a Third term is one manifestation of the panic. Progressive forces in New York State are already joining the fight against the efforts to change the law.

New York is one example of a state where the combined power of the capitalists and the politicians merge to disenfranchise the youth and to demobilize others. This is one city where the educational system has failed. Our foray into the South was to see the ways in which a new coalition could be built. Thus far, the old left has placed themselves on the sidelines in North Carolina. Amiri Baraka has been contesting the positions of these ‘left’ forces who do not see the cross roads of the society.

In the Obama campaign itself the foreign policy and domestic policy teams do not inspire confidence. Those who follow the news are reminded of the more than 300 foreign policy advisors around Obama. But most of these advisors were the same thinkers who worked with the Clinton administration. In particular there is an open contest between Richard Holbrooke and Anthony Lake as to who should be Secretary of State.  These forces who were in the Clinton administration at the time of the Rwanda genocide have disqualified themselves from any future role in an administration that campaign on the basis of change.

A similar tale of woe can be gleaned from the economic team that Obama had mobilized with the remnants of the Robert Rubin Treasury Department. Robert Rubin, like Henry Paulson were preachers of deregulation and unbridled profits for Wall St. Now that reality has intervened and the financial crisis is on top of the citizens there is no justification for Jason Furman to head the economic policy team of Barack Obama. On the campaign trail we have heard from Obama when he declared that, the economic crisis did not come from nowhere. It is "the logical conclusion of a tired and misguided philosophy that has dominated Washington for far too long."

For Obama to match his words with his transition team will mean that the movement must be deepened and a new direction be taken in the society. Throughout history there are too many lessons of defeat through victory. After the Haitian revolution Toussaint was defeated after victory because he had wanted to maintain the same mode of economic organization. He died a tragic figure in exile.

Similarly, in the case of South Africa we have witnessed another case of defeat through victory in the aftermath of the debacle within the African National Congress. Nelson Mandela had emerged victorious after a long struggle but because the new level of struggle was not reached the Thabo Mbeki team turned the liberation struggles into a movement for self enrichment. One can see the results of deepening inequalities in South Africa after the ANC adopted the liberalization policies of Western capitalism.

The McCain Palin rallies have become incitement to racial hatred. This incitement is polluting the minds of young children all across the society at a time when the peoples need to reflect on the alternatives in the face of the impending depression. This author will join the call, Don’t stop the movement. Being fired up must be maintained to develop a path for peace, justice and health for all. A new morality awaits the youth who want to retreat from the imperial past. Guest Commentator, Dr. Horace Campbell, PhD, is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse 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.

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October 16, 2008
Issue 295

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