Thursday, May 01, 2008

Hedges vs. Hayden: Has the Left Lost Its Way?

Recently over at Truth Dig, Chris Hedges took a blast at Tom Hayden, former New Lefty turned legislator and community activist, who is publicly supporting Barack Obama for the presidency. In "The Left Has Lost Its Way," Hedges writes,
The failure of the American left is a failure of nerve. It has been neutralized and rendered ineffectual as a political force because of its refusal to hold fast on core issues, from universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans, to the steadfast protection of workers’ rights, to an immediate withdrawal from the failed occupation of Iraq to a fight against a militarized economy that is hollowing the country out from the inside.

Let the politicians compromise. This is their job. It is not ours. If the left wants to regain influence in the nation’s political life, it must be willing to walk away from the Democratic Party, even if Barack Obama is the nominee, and back progressive, third-party candidates until the Democrats feel enough heat to adopt our agenda. We must be willing to say no. If not, we become slaves.

Yesterday, Tom Hayden replied. Here is what he had to say in a piece titled, Tom Hayden Strikes Back:
What Chris misses is that millions of African-Americans and young people generally are throwing themselves into the Barack Obama campaign, and will not take seriously a white writer who preaches that they are marching in the wrong direction... My view is to be humbled and appreciative of this unpredicted upsurge of idealistic and fervent activism created in the Obama movement, and to be supportive of the candidacy while remaining independent and critical of the candidate’s moderate views on Iraq and NAFTA. It’s my sense as an organizer for 50 years that we should stand with spontaneous new waves of activism, not demand that they call off their campaigns at the most critical moment. It is possible to do so without having to surrender our independence on the issues we care most about.

What do you think? Can you be a true progressive/lefty and support Obama? Is it treasonous to your core principles, or a shrewd tactical move given the options?

Has the "American Left" lost its way?

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