Revolution#141, August 24, 2008

On Barack Obama . . .
and Overcoming Differences

Barack Obama has made “overcoming differences” a cornerstone of his campaign. But this raises some questions.

How can, and how would, you “overcome differences” between, on the one hand, people who recognize the need to uphold reproductive freedom (the right to abortion and birth control, etc.) for women, as a crucial part of the fight against the oppression of women, and on the other hand, people—and moreover organized forces, with connections to the top levels of power in the U.S.—who are, and very clearly indicate that they will remain, relentless in their opposition to, and in their determination to completely eliminate, not only abortion but also birth control? How can you overcome differences between these opposing groups of people, other than through the capitulation of the one to the other, and in reality the capitulation of those who want to uphold and fight for the right to abortion and for birth control to those who are determined to abolish them, and criminalize them? And in fact this capitulation—of those whose stand is politically and morally correct and progressive to those who are politically and morally wrong and reactionary—is exactly what the position that Obama is advocating objectively represents and will lead to.

How can, and how would, you overcome the differences between those who are opposed to, and want to see a basic departure from, not only the war in Iraq but the whole juggernaut of war, repression, and torture being driven forward by the Bush regime on the one hand, and on the other hand, those who are determined to support and carry forward this juggernaut? How will the Obama position lead to anything other than the capitulation of the former to the latter? Obama says that he will “listen to the generals,” and the very first speech he gave after he became the presumptive nominee was a sabre-rattling, blood-thirsty speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Well, whose voice will have more sway: the generals, or those forces in the anti-war movement who desperately tell themselves and, still worse, others, that Obama “will have to” listen to them? Those who back Israel to the hilt—and who, like Obama himself, threaten nuclear war against Iran; or those who want to see justice for the Palestinians and who oppose an attack on Iran? We don’t even have to guess—and we can see already the effect of this, as these same “anti-war” leaders tell people NOT to go out in the streets against the war, lest it “hurt Obama’s chances.”

Or how are you going to “overcome differences” between those who, on the one hand, uphold the separation of church and state, who believe in basic principles flowing from the Enlightenment and want to see education, including in science, based on rational thought and scientific methods, and on the other hand, those who are determined to obliterate the separation of church and state, and to suppress scientific facts and methods, and rational thinking, which contradict religious scripture, who repeatedly and unrelentingly attempt to undermine, and to eventually eliminate, such fundamental scientific facts and understanding as are embodied, for example, in the theory of evolution? How will those “differences” be overcome—when Obama has made a big point of “reaching out” to creationists and Biblical literalists like Rick “Purpose-Driven Life” Warren, and calling for refining but actually expanding Bush’s government aid to religious institutions?

How can, and how would, you overcome the differences between those who understand in their minds and their guts the racism of this system and are determined to root it out, and those who say that the grinding exploitation, the brutal conditions of life, and the discrimination in every sphere of society are the fault of Black people themselves? Obama has already given a speech putting the onus for these problems on Black parents, and he instructed people to “respect the verdict” and not protest when the murderers of Sean Bell were let off scot-free—given that, and given everything that’s involved in “auditioning” to become president, how do you really think these differences will be overcome?

This is where “change you are allowed to believe in” takes you.

In this issue, we are carrying articles by Carl Dix and T. RedTree that begin to get into all this, in depth. And we have on our website ( the very powerful piece by Sunsara Taylor, “The Dangerous Logic of Blocking Protests in the Name of Electing Obama.” We will be covering this question in depth from many different angles. And we say to you:

If you see what Obama is basically about—if you see that he is, for all the posturing as “something different,” just another puppet…then you have to get this paper out, week in week out, and take this on, opening people’s minds up to the real change that needs to be made, and the real way to make it.

If you just can’t resist voting for Obama, then you still cannot buy this line that “we shouldn’t spoil it for Obama by demonstrating and resisting”—because if you do that you are selling people out. No, you must put even more effort, at this crucial time, into building resistance to the whole agenda that’s been put into motion by Bush—and which Obama is NOT fundamentally going against but instead intends to implement, with some modifications—and not pouring your efforts into this Obama campaign.

Obama, and his message of “overcoming differences” will, whatever the intentions of those caught up in it, lead only to capitulation. This system and the crimes it carries out in service of its interests are not going away. The urgent need for revolution—and the crucially important task of revolutionaries to carry forward active political preparation to hasten the opening for such a revolution—are not going to go away. And you know what? Neither are we.  

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

What Humanity Needs
From Ike to Mao and Beyond