Tag: Paul Rosenberg

Paul Rosenberg on Obama

As you may know I’m a big fan of OpenLeft and Paul Rosenberg is one of my particular favorites.

I asked for and received permission to quote at length a piece he wrote today which, while he may claim my excerpt mischaracterizes his position, thoroughly captures mine.

Ridgelines and River Bottoms

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 17:30

… Obama is, at bottom, a conservative, notwithstanding some cultural inclinations to the contrary.  When all is said and done, he wants to change things as little as possible, his desire for change is driven by a perceived necessity to avoid disaster, and the priorities and parameters of change are dictated by doing as much as possible for those representing existing power, and doing as little as possible for everyone else.  This is what classic Burkean conservatives believe in, along with the ideal of unifying the polity, and marginalizing all divisive forces.

Divisive forces, for those not clued in, means you and me, pardners.  Every bit as much as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.  For a classic conservative like Obama, it really makes no difference whatsoever if the divisive forces are right or rational.  All that matters is that they resist going along.  And because of Obama’s essential conservatism, it’s you and I who are the problem in Obama’s eyes.  Not Baucus, Nelson, Lieberman & the like.  You and I.  We are the problem.

And since we are the problem, we’ve got to get a whole lot better at it. Because if we can make ourselves insoluble, then that will force Obama to accept us, however much he may hate doing so.

And that is the only way that we will get what we want.

… (T)oward that end, we need to become very, very good at separating the wheat from the chaff.  And very, very good at saying, “No!” and sticking with it.

In order to do this, we must be willing to risk taking losses. Because, quite frankly, losses are always a possibility–and generally become even more likely whenever you go on defense, no matter how reasonable it may seem.  That’s why I’ve argued that we should not, and cannot support a bill with individual mandates and no public option.  This will be political poison, and the only question is “How fast will it act?”


Manning Marable Talks About the Future

I first encountered the work of the radical intellectual Manning Marable in the mid-1970s when he was sending out his self-syndicated newspaper column (for free) to alternative newspaper editors and publishers. Those columns were always deep, thought-provoking and erudite. Marable is now Professor of Public Affairs, History and African-American Studies at Columbia University, is writing a book about Malcolm X and is chair of the Movement for a Democratic Society, the non-profit arm of the revivified Students for a Democratic Society, having always combined activism with his prolific scholarship. I’ve always admired him for his calm but principled approach to progressive politics, an approach that analyzes without blinders. My favorite book of his is W.E.B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat.

He endorsed Barack Obama in January. Like many of us left-progressives, he is glad of Obama’s victory and cautiously optimistic about the chances that his administration will truly transform politics in America. But he is clear-eyed about it and knows full well the many pitfalls that lie ahead. Today he was a guest on Democracy Now. Here are some excerpts from his interview: