There’s Change the Sheets and There’s Change the Way We’re Livin’

Ken Brociner, writing in In These Times, claims an Obama presidency would look a little too much like Bill Clinton’s to please progressives.

The Democratic presidential candidate who can most help progressives bring our vision of transformative change into sharper focus is a man who ran for president 36 years ago. By looking back to the unfulfilled promise of George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign, we can learn some valuable lessons for the long journey ahead.

For starters, we can see what a genuinely transformative political program looks like. McGovern’s platform was nothing less than visionary. In fact, McGovern was the most progressive major party candidate for president in American history.

In 1972 McGovern ran on a platform that not only called for an immediate end to U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam (on Inauguration Day!), the senator from South Dakota also proposed an “alternative military budget” that included deep cuts in military spending – with the bulk of the savings going toward efforts to end poverty and fund programs that would guarantee a decent paying job to every American who wanted to work.

Nixon also handed McGovern his backside. Maybe Obama is a more practical candidate. Clinton, as we know now, was too practical. His desire to win at all costs pushed the Dems too far to the right, a move the party is still struggling to come to grips with.

Hillary’s offering keeps the Dems in the middle. Obama moves them to the left and the nation with it. But not far enough left too motivate transformative change. When you look at the world today, could it be any clearer that transformative change is exactly what’s needed, and quick? Perhaps, Obama intends to pull a “W”. Maybe once elected, he will let his more radical self out to play.