Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bill Fletcher, Jr.: The Obama Moment and the Implications for the Progressive Movement

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is currently director of field services and education for President of American Federation of Governmental Employees (AFGE), and executive editor of Black Commentator, and was from 2002-2006 president and CEO TransAfrica Forum. In March 2008, he co-authored with Tom Hayden, Daniel Glover, and Barbara Ehrenreich an op-ed published in the Nation called "Progressives for Obama":

All American progressives should unite for Barack Obama. We descend from the proud tradition of independent social movements that have made America a more just and democratic country. We believe that the movement today supporting Barack Obama continues this great tradition of grassroots participation, drawing millions of people out of apathy and into participation in the decisions that affect all our lives. We believe that Barack Obama's very biography reflects the positive potential of the globalization process that also contains such grave threats to our democracy when shaped only by the narrow interests of private corporations in an unregulated global marketplace. We should instead be globalizing the values of equality, a living wage and environmental sustainability in the new world order, not hoping our deepest concerns will be protected by trickle-down economics or charitable billionaires. By its very existence, the Obama campaign will stimulate a vision of globalization from below.
It goes on with similar optimism throughout. Over a year later, on August 8, Fletcher delivered the keynote address at the banquet of the Veterans for Peace national convention about "the Obama moment" and what progressives must do now. "[Obama's] there now," he says, "but he's not necessarily dong what we had hoped that he would do."

As Ed Shultz of MSNBC's "Ed Show" says, "You dance with the one who brung you," and Fletcher says we can't just sit back and hope for the best. We have to compell Obama "be what he's supposed to be." Fletcher issues a warning about the danger of the emerging right-wing populist movement. Watch/listen to the video. It's a good rallying speech for all progressives and especially for veterans, whom he tells must be a the forefront of  future anlayses of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, providing the "summation of those atrocities," as others attempt to write false histories, as they did about the Vietnam War.


Bill Fletcher, Jr.
keynote address, Veterans for Peace National Convention Banquet
August 8, 2009

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