Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
The Hutchinson Report
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It’s okay to be Progressive, It’s dumb to be a Dupe
The much ballyhooed letter that circulated this past week from Ralph Nader and signatories was the wrong thing to do at this very crucial time. Yes things aren’t as good as we would like them to be. All of us, working or unemployed are suffering because of the recession.
However such a letter with phrases like:
Without primary challengers, President Obama will never have to seriously articulate and defend his beliefs to his own party. Given the dangers our nation faces, that option is unacceptable.
He will never be challenged to fulfill his pledge to actively pursue a Labor-supported card check, or his promise to increase the federal minimum wage or why he took single payer off the table after he said he believes in it. The American labor movement, facing an unprecedented onslaught by the Right will not have the opportunity to voice its concerns and rally around a supportive candidate.
The President will not be pressed to answer how he spent four years in office without addressing the ongoing destabilization of our climate or advocating a coherent and ecologically sound energy policy including defending his position on nuclear power and so called clean coal. Nor will he discuss regulatory agency deficiencies in enforcing corporate law and order in an era marked by a corporate crime wave having devastating economic consequences on workers and taxpayers and their savings and pensions. There will be no opportunity for the Hispanic and other relevant communities to speak out on immigration reform even as the Republicans continue to use it as a weapon of political demagoguery.
This letter, which makes some very valid points, plays right into the GOP/Tea Party strategy of polarizing progressives, liberals, the working class, and the poor.
It’s basically divide and conquer.
In the spring of 1970, when I was attending then New York City Community College in downtown Brooklyn, Piri Thomas, Puerto Rican activist, thinker, and philosopher came to lecture. I was glad that I got there early. The place was packed. He discussed many of his life experiences that were chronicled in his book Down These Mean Streets.
However, it was how he ended his lecture that has stayed with me all these years. He said beware of the majority. They will attempt to get you to fight each other, meaning Black and Puerto Rican. Don’t allow this type of polarization to take root. If that was to happen, the majority will laugh and say “We didn’t have to do a thing. The fools did it for us.”
That’s why the Nader letter went from being a valid document to a divisive one. Suggesting that a slate of Democratic challengers take on President Obama for the 2012 Democratic nomination is exactly what the majority wants. When Cheney said he likes Hillary that was part of the plot. Create division, anger and disunity and we the far right can take back what we lost.
Discussing progressive issues in the campaign is all right with me. I’ll even call it cool. But to divide the constituency with challengers and the like is simply wrong. The best thing that Ralph can do is to join the campaign as an advisor. Those of you who have been in Los Angeles the past three Labor Day’s know that when I addressed the labor rally, I called for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. That is still my goal. I also have called for a middle class tax cut. Reinstating the interest expense on credit cards and all types of obligations that charge interest, as well as increasing the standard deduction to $10,000 for singles, and $20,000 for couples. I also advocated increasing the personal exemption to $5,000.
Before anyone signs on to this “letter” think about the consequences.
They scare the hell out of me.