An Open Letter to the Left Establishment

Flickr photography by Snapies.


An Open Letter to the Left Establishment

This letter is a call for active support of protest to Michael Moore, Norman Solomon, Katrina van den Heuvel, Michael Eric Dyson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Thomas Frank, Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher Jr., Jesse Jackson Jr., and other high profile progressive supporters of the Obama electoral campaign.

With the Obama administration beginning its third year, it is by now painfully obvious that the predictions of even the most sober Obama supporters were overly optimistic. Rather than an ally, the administration has shown itself to be an implacable enemy of reform.

It has advanced repeated assaults on the New Deal safety net (including the previously sacrosanct Social Security trust fund), jettisoned any hope for substantive health care reform, attacked civil rights and environmental protections, and expanded a massive bailout further enriching an already bloated financial services and insurance industry. It has continued the occupation of Iraq and expanded the war in Afghanistan as well as our government’s covert and overt wars in South Asia and around the globe.

Along the way, the Obama administration, which referred to its left detractors as “f***ing retarded” individuals that required “drug testing,” stepped up the prosecution of federal war crime whistleblowers, and unleashed the FBI on those protesting the escalation of an insane war.

Obama’s recent announcement of a federal worker pay freeze is cynical, mean-spirited “deficit-reduction theater”. Slashing Bush’s plutocratic tax cuts would have made a much more significant contribution to deficit reduction but all signs are that the “progressive” president will cave to Republican demands for the preservation of George W. Bush’s tax breaks for the wealthy Few. Instead Obama’s tax cut plan would raise taxes for the poorest people in our country.

The election of Obama has not galvanized protest movements. To the contrary, it has depressed and undermined them, with the White House playing an active role in the discouragement and suppression of dissent – with disastrous consequences. The almost complete absence of protest from the left has emboldened the most right-wing elements inside and outside of the Obama administration to pursue and act on an ever more extreme agenda.

We are writing to you because you are well-known writers, bloggers and filmmakers with access to a range of old and new media, and you have in your power the capacity to help reignite the movement which brought millions onto the streets in February of 2003 but which has withered ever since. There are many thousands of progressives who follow your work closely and are waiting for a cue from you and others to act. We are asking you to commit yourself to actively supporting the protests of Obama administration policies which are now beginning to materialize.

In this connection we would like to mention a specific protest: the civil disobedience action being planned by Veterans for Peace involving Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Joel Kovel, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern, several armed service veterans and others to take place in front of the White House on Dec. 16th.

Should you commit yourselves to backing this action and others sure to materialize in weeks and months ahead, what would otherwise be regarded as an emotional outburst of the “fringe left” will have a better chance of being seen as expressing the will of a substantial majority not only of the left, but of the American public at large. We believe that your support will help create the climate for larger and increasingly disruptive expressions of dissent – a development that is sorely needed and long overdue.

We hope that we can count on you to exercise the leadership that is required of all of us in these desperate times.

Best Regards,

Sen. James Abourezk
Tariq Ali

Rocky Anderson

Jared Ball

Russel Banks

Thomas Bias
Noam Chomsky

Bruce Dixon

Frank Dorrel

Gidon Eshel

Jamilla El-Shafei

Okla Elliott

Norman Finkelstein

Glen Ford

Joshua Frank

Margaret Flowers M.D.

John Gerassi

Henry Giroux

Matt Gonzalez

Kevin Alexander Gray

Judd Greenstein

DeeDee Halleck

John Halle

Chris Hedges

Doug Henwood

Edward S. Herman

Dahr Jamail

Derrick Jensen

Louis Kampf

Allison Kilkenny

Jamie Kilstein

Joel Kovel

Mark Kurlansky

Peter Linebaugh

Scott McLarty

Cynthia McKinney

Dede Miller

Russell Mokhiber

Bobby Muller

Christian Parenti

Michael Perelman

Peter Phillips

Louis Proyect

Ted Rall

Cindy Sheehan

Chris Spannos

Paul Street

Sunil Sharma

Stephen Pearcy

Jeffrey St. Clair

Len Weinglass

Cornel West

Sherry Wolf

Michael Yates

Mickey Z

Kevin Zeese


5 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Left Establishment

  1. This letter addresses a lot of truth and I’m sure from this highly educated group of erudite literary et al I will be quickly dismissed, nonetheless I do feel a house divided cannot stand. This analysis does not dignify the many actions of Obama that have staved off full collapse of the economy, offered more free health care than formerly offered, kept the banks from crashing, reformed the savings and loan debacle, reduced the troops in Iraq, prevented a full collapse of the automotive industry and more. I also hated some concessions made by Obama’s administration, nonetheless the Open Letter as a salient argument is imbalanced nonobjective and counterproductive towards true progressive liberal democratic reforms taking place substantively as opposed to an ideological hanging in effigy of our current Head of State President Barack H. Obama. Changes are needed but vitriol is not always a strong part of efficacy. Much of President Obama’s pragmatism has effectuated action and progress which should be duly noted by the collective authors of this letter for a change. Pray tell how can we attack the Republicans if the worst attacks are occuring in House? Prostelitizing and bemoaning every thing that has not been removed is not entirely fair either given this letter does not address the Republicans refusal to work with Him and or the Democrats in a substantive manner. Supporters of Obama wish for those who need to eat via keeping their employment benefits; these in-fights against President Obama are inhibiting the furtherance of matters such as this. Idealistic goals should not supersede pressing immediate concerns of the nation’s poor. Let us effectuate change by working together, not by imploding.
    Stephen Robert Leigh


  2. When Tom Hayden’s definitive biography is written, what would be the most appropriate title? How about “From the Man of ‘Point Huron’ to Pointsman Whorin'”?

    As for Mr. Stephen Leigh’s attempt to defend our ecocidal war-criminal President, I suggest that his “house divided” has long ago fallen. There is absolutely no credibility in our two-party political system whatsoever. How anyone can possibly defend a man who has had himself given the power of a mafia hitman to murder Americans at will, who presides over two devastating wars bankrupting our country, who has lied openly about the repercussions of the BP oil spill, and who is now (today) trying to spin Richard Holbrook’s dying words that the Afghan war must be stopped into something supporting the war is, well, I guess a matter for his psychiatrist to explain.


  3. A Correction:

    Alas, Ladies & Gentlemen, I humbly apologize. In a moment of distemper my faulty poetic memory outsmarted me. The ill-fated attempt at dialectical letter permutation must fall flat on its face. Friends have reminded me, thank you, that Mr. Hayden penned the “PORT Huron” Statement, which I just reread, and not “POINT Huron.” Point Huron is a coast guard base. Image the horror of young Tom Hayden being accused of writing a political statement in favor of something military. Rather, he set aside such patriotic cheerleading for the second part of his life.


  4. What’s left of the Left?

    Personally (maybe I have my head in a fish bowl) I don’t think marching in the streets is going to change shit (besides, perhaps the toilet paper). And I think it foolish and mistaken to think Obama is the cause of all our grief. As if another man (or woman) in the White House would have done all the good and right things we long for so much. Did we forget that from day one the Republicans set up a blockade? (not to say Democrats don’t deserve plenty of thier own blame) Did we forget how embedded money is in all levels? The media dominated by so few with such anti-democratic interests? Shall be blame Obama for that too? I think the system itself is the problem. America is like a place with old old software that repeatedly keeps failing. Aren’t we smart enough to write a whole new operating system? Sure we are. So, for me, Mr. Fishbowl, I resist the call for those elected to Washington to merely type, better, faster, with fewer errors. Obama is the symptom not the disease. AS you well know. -Scott (bloop bluub bloob)


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