headlines projecting an Obama victory have been more frequent
in the past two weeks as the Republican campaign panics in the
face of the massive organizing and momentum of the Barack Obama
campaign. From web-logs to Yahoo news and from cable news to network
television stations there are headlines announcing that “Obama,
Democrats on track to landslide victory.’ These headlines
are tapping into a mood of optimism that is now emanating from
the grassroots movement that forms at the base of the Obama’s
Presidential campaign. From county to county and state to state
self-similar formations develop new skills and techniques to build
a movement block by block and precinct by precinct mirroring the
natural principles of replicating similar patterns at different
scale. The Obama campaign all across the United States share similar
characteristics with the component parts of the movement in the
states designated as battlegrounds. Concentrating on states in
the West and South that hitherto had voted for the Republican
party, the Obama campaign built up a profile of the country and
built a new political platform for electioneering.
North Carolina and Virginia will become the textbook cases of
how this 2008 campaign transformed the political landscape of
the USA. Each node of the campaign in North Carolina for example,
builds a base in say Forsyth County that is linked to the 11 other
counties (down to rural counties such as Rowan County). Forsyth
County is then linked to Mecklenburg County which in turn is magnified
in the headquarters of the North Carolina state in the Raleigh
Durham triangle of Wake County. What
is new in this mode of organizing is the infusion of fractal thinking
in political organizing. Self-similarity is a typical property
of fractals and it is informing the tactical stratagem of this
campaign. The other key fractal concept that is informing this
impending landslide is that of recursion. This is the definitive
break with the old mode of politics
drawing into the political process millions of citizens who were
hitherto marginalized and excluded the Obama machinery is building
upon itself toward a conclusive end, with each recurrence contributing
something new toward the end definition, that is the definition
of victory The recurring themes of change and self-organization
have served to strengthen the definition of the campaign to the
point where not even the most rabid racist provocations could undermine
the new point of the campaign. Old media trapped by he ideas of
hierarchies continue to remind older voters of the so called Bradley
effect but the energized youth were born after this episode and
grew up in the era of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Condi Rice,
Colin Powell and others who broke the racial barriers. Powell
and Rice demonstrated that being black could be a force for imperialism
and militarism as they exposed in their subservience to the Bush.
Cheney/ Rumsfeld adventures.
old point of the campaign after the Republican Convention in Minnesota
has now been superseded by the panic in the ranks of the McCain
Campaign. Panic and desperation led directly to the stirring of
racial fears where one now hears out right calls for the killing
of Barack Obama. With Sarah Palin falling back on her cheerleading
skills one hears from the Republican rallies chants of, "He
is not one of us!" "He's an Arab," "Socialist,"
and "Bomb Obama!" Old images from the war against terrorism
reveal the racist undertone that was always at the base of this
so called war on terror.
the midst of an economic depression the choice between reconstruction
and renewal or a regime based on racism and proto -fascism becomes
clearer. Madeline Kunin ,a former governor of Vermont, captured
this choice in her comparisons to the insecurity in Germany at
the time of the depression that was exploited by the German fascists.
She offered this commentary on Huffington Post on he tone of the
Mccain /Palin rallies,
"terrorist, "kill him" and "off with his head,"
they shouted. He is "not one of us", is the message.
He has "palled around with terrorists" (in Weimar days,
it was the communists). By repeatedly asking "Who is the
real Barack Obama?" this desperate Republican team is hinting
that he has a hidden agenda -- an agenda that threatens all of
us. By making Obama the Other, McCain/Palin are fueling racial
downright dangerous. When statements that are politically incorrect
suddenly become correct and are cheered into hysteria, no one
is safe. Not Obama, and not our democracy.”
the seriousness of the moment both in terms of the economic and
political choices to be made there is not as of yet a decisive
political engagement by anti-fascist and anti-racist forces in
the USA. Some thinkers and strategists are mesmerized by the person
of Obama while the other politically correct ‘analysts’ cannot
dignify themselves to be involved in ‘bourgeois’ politics. Yet
precisely because this is not simply an electoral struggle between
Republicans and Democrats decent peace loving citizens of all
political persuasions must engage this process to defeat the semi-
fascist forces that are rising up. The deeper the economic crisis
the more the insecurity and racial hatred will be rekindled to
the point of violent confrontations.
is an election campaign that is reflective of the crossroads moment
faced by the US and indeed the world. In the midst of paths
before the society the hip hoppers wail and demand: “Don’t stop
the movement.” These hip hop artists form one section of the population
that is calling on the Obama campaign to live up to the promise
of believing in the people by empowering the people. This
intervention seeks to draw from the impressive ground operation
in the state of North Carolina to comment on the dramatic impact
of the Obama campaign on US politics.
state of North Carolina is a microcosm of the transformation of
the politics and economics of the United States at the dawn of
the twenty first century. After an elementary study of the massive
voter registration operation that registered more than 600,000
new voters in North Carolina it can be safely noted that this
state is now firmly within the grasp of the Democratic Party for
the first time in 28 years. The Democratic Party has been losing
this state in electoral politics since the Southern strategy of
the Republicans moved to incite racial hatred and the disenfranchisement
of black voters. Impressive voter registration figures from the
North Carolina Board of Elections on their web site shows that
as of October 11, 2008, there were 6,067, 376 registered voters.
Of these registered voters there were 2,756,751 who registered
as Democrats, 1,966,323 registered as Republicans with 1,342,322
registered as unaffiliated.
writer was assured by representatives of the Obama campaign that
the North Carolina Board of Elections was three weeks or more
behind in uploading the data from the registration process. A
similar picture emerges from the ground operations in the state
of Virginia where the Obama campaign registered close to 400,000
new voters and opened 44 offices in this former slave state. Down
ticket races for Senate seats in North Carolina and Virginia herald
a new day for the South. The Obama campaign in its thrust for
victory has mobilized millions and the challenge for the society
will be how to harness these new forces that have been unleashed
by this campaign in order to heal the society from the racism
and hatred that is now coming out so clearly. Sober analysts are
noting that if the racists are not restrained there could be open
violence in the streets of the USA. Young people all across the
society are signaling that they will not become the canon fodder
in a fanatical race war in the USA.
over the South the energy and enthusiasm of the young people (of
all races) is rewriting the politics of the United States at a
moment when the era of unregulated capitalism is giving way to
a restructuring of US politics and economics. Whether this restructuring
is simply the end of unregulated capitalism or a more profound
change in the direction of the mode of economic organization will
be dependent on whether the mobilization for the elections of
2008 becomes a social movement independent of the Democratic Party
and the person of Barack Obama.
want to examine the lessons from the state of North Carolina for
the politics of the society as a whole drawing from observations
of the Obama campaign in the South, especially north and South
Carolina. When one travels across these two states the names of places remind
you of the blood and sacrifices of those who struggled against
slavery and for the rights of full citizenship in the USA. While
the architecturally impressive buildings of Charlotte reflect
the grandeur of a banking hub that is now being nationalized,
the same Republican Party that was willing and able to bail out
banks promise US citizens that the nationalization of the banking
system does not presage the end of the free market.
the economic crisis deepens, George W. Bush, the President of
the USA and the barons of the banking system are mortally afraid
that the same government that has been called on to bail out the
banks will be called on to deliver health care for all citizens.
As some scientists eagerly work towards the era of singularity
(merging humans with artificial intelligence) the old questions
of access to health care for all is now joined with the burning
question of saving the planet earth and reversing the global warming
that threatens to envelop life as we now know it. With the re-emergence
of eugenic ideas in the halls of the citadels of knowledge and
the think tanks, the candidacy of Barack Obama could not have
come at a more sensitive moment. Racism in the streets has a base
in the academy and the conservatism of economists and political
analysts that are trapped by the ideas of Ronald Reagan, Margaret
Thatcher and Milton Friedman.
are elements in the US society who are demanding a new democracy
and the demilitarization of the society. Soldiers in the big military
bases of Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg are mobilizing to support
the candidacy of Obama as Michelle Obama is deployed as a force
to mobilize military families. Workers are working hard to rebuild
a the trade union movement as leaders of the historic unions find
a new voice in mobilizing workers threatened with dismissal.
Decent women who want full rights in the society are appalled
by the representation of Sarah Palin as the future of the place
of women in US society.
changing face of the United States
the middle of October 2008 it was clear to most citizens of the
world that a major shift in international politics was taking
place. Speculative capitalism and unregulated markets had given
way to massive government intervention to save banks, automobile
makers, insurance companies, airlines and other imperiled corporate
entities. “Too big to fail’ became the mantra of governmental
spokespersons in countries that had advised the Indonesia, South
Korea and Thailand not to intervene in the Asian crisis of 1997.
The International Monetary Fund IMF that had been founded in the
aftermath of World War II to anticipate massive dislocations in
the system was paralyzed by its recent rhetoric of liberalization
of economies. After counseling numerous societies not to nationalize
assets, the governments of the United States and the European
Union are rushing to save the system as a whole. Will Hutton,
a well known writer in the UK (and specialist on China) expressed
the anxiety of many in the west when he wrote in the UK Guardian
Newspaper, on October 14 that,
“It is a critical time. Depression may have been avoided, but how the
financial system is managed now will determine how severe the
recession is and the future character of British capitalism. The
government is now necessarily in the banking business, and must
confront its new responsibilities.”
The fear of a depression conceals an even greater fear, that there could
be a radical shift in the consciousness of working people. Thus
far the panic and crisis management to save the system has taken
place without a systematic discussion from among the ranks of
even the left intelligentsia. Yet, despite the absence of a rigorous
alternative there is a growing consensus that ’two centuries of
US and European domination are now at an end, as the western economic
model is humbled.’
two centuries of domination saw the massive transfer of wealth
from oppressed peoples to the central accumulating states. This
accumulation process was backed up by the force of the military.
The British military was the vanguard of British colonialism.
Thus,while Britain was declared the center of democracy, exploitation
and plunder ruled as Britain ruled the waves. After the decline
of Britain the USA seized the leadership of the capitalist world
with US interests dominating the international organizations such
as the IMF, the World Trade Organization and the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization. With the dollar enshrined as the currency
of world trade by the articles of agreement of the Breton Woods
agreement of 1944, US leaders could run up deficits as long as
other countries were forced to maintain their foreign currency
reserves in the US currency, (the dollar). Thomas Hobbes had captured
the link between finance and militarism when he wrote:
being but words and breath, have no force to oblige, contain,
constrain, or protect any man, but what it has from the public
Breton Woods agreement of 1944 lasted until the period of the
Vietnam War when the US could not balance its books and broke
the agreement to maintain the parity of $35 to one ounce of gold.
After the Nixon administration went on a floating exchange rate
the entire international financial system was thrown into uncertainty.
It was the power of the US military in the midst of the Cold War
that sheltered the leaders
of the USA from the need to live within their means. When the
oil shocks of the 1970’s further exposed the fragility of the
international financial system, the US used its military power
to ensure that the petro dollars were recycled to US banks and
arms manufacturers. The indexation of the price of oil in dollars
alienated nationalists within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
countries and the leaders of the growing European Economic Community.
Under the leadership of the governments of France and Germany
there was a plan hatched to challenge the dollar as the currency
of world trade. This plan led to the steps for the formation of
the European Union and for the adoption of a single currency,
the EURO. When the Euro was launched in 2002 the competition between
the EU and the USA deepened.
the capitalist competition between the EU and the USA went on
while the Chinese political leadership was building the Chinese
economy and transforming the Chinese society. By the end of 2006
when the Chinese leadership embarked on major political and diplomatic
forays in Latin America and Africa it became clear that the unipolar
era of US imperialism was coming to an end. Ronald Reagan and
the conservative revolution had been giddy after the fall of the
Soviet Union. Pride in imperial domination replaced the multilateralism
of the triad ( USA, Europe and Japan) in the period 1945-1980.
The Bush National Security doctrine of September 2002 had been
launched to pre-empt precisely the new competition that was coming
from the Euro. In that document launched one year after September
11, 2001, the Bush administration warned that, no
'adversary' will be allowed to 'surpass' the U.S.
the aftermath of the economic meltdown and the fear of a depression,
there is now awareness inside the USA that the more than 2 trillion
dollar bail out that has been presented to the US population can
only be undertaken by infusions of capital from China, Japan and
other holders of Sovereign Wealth Funds.
US government now has a number of schemes to save the system –
called bailouts , $800 billion for banks, $200 billion for Fannie
Mae and Freddie Mac, $120 billion for the insurer AIG, and $25
billion for the US auto industry. After the heady week of October
5-12 when confidence in capitalism was shaken all over the world
the leaders of the European Union decided to drop their hostile
attitude to the bailout plans of the US Treasury. Meeting in Paris
over the weekend, the leaders decided to support the US Treasury
with as much capital as is needed to save US capitalism. Temporarily,
the intense struggle between the dollar and the Euro has been
suspended temporarily in order to save the system itself.
news was never communicated to the US citizens as George Bush
announced on Tuesday October 15 that the government would bail
out the banks with US $250 billion.
capitalism is now dependent on the decisions made by leaders in
China and Western Europe.
is in this changed international situation (marked by the growth
of new poles of economic strength in China, India and Brazil competing
with the traditional imperial centers of Western Europe and the
USA) that it is necessary to locate the options and paths that
will be open to the electorate of the USA. Will the Obama team
make a break consistent with the promise of change or will the
centralized powers bequeathed in the dying days of the Bush administration
lead to an anti-people administration managing the society for
the same interests that Obama campaigned against?
traveled to North and South Carolina to examine the balance of
political forces and to speak to some of the field workers to
get a sense of the levels of political consciousness among the
young workers who dominated the ground game of the Obama campaign.
up and ready to go – where?
was the massive victory in South Carolina that had originally
piqued my interest in the Carolinas. The slogan ‘fired up, ready
to go’ had been one of mobilizing chants of the Civil Rights struggles
in the South in the period 1955-1975. From this entire campaign
it was clear that there was a direct line between the campaign
of Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party
(MFDP) 1964 and the emergence of the candidate Barack Obama. During
the primary campaign in 2007 when Barack Obama was still unknown
in the Southern States of the USA, Obama had gone to Greenwood,
South Carolina. The veterans of the Civil rights struggle drew
on the memory of the struggles for freedom to inspire Barack Obama.
South Carolina had been a crucial turning point because all of
the chatter of whether Obama was black enough evaporated as the
citizens of the former headquarters of the Confederacy calculated
their chess move after the Iowa caucuses of January. Like a strong
wind propelling Obama forward the young workers of Greenville,
South Carolina promise to shock the nation on November 4. A young
female accountant, (one of the Volunteers in the Greenville office)
was one of the many who are working across the South to change
the politics of the US. While I was physically in the Obama campaign
office in Greenville, S.C reports came in on buildings where voters
were waiting to be registered. There were stories of hundreds
who have never voted before in an election who had registered
to vote. One of the most moving of these stories was that of the
90 year old who had never voted in an election who had registered
in the blitz registration drive that had been organized in the
the passion of the volunteers, (young and old, black and white)
was like a breath of fresh air in the midst of the Palin/McCain
rhetoric about race. Blue dog democrats were now working side
by side with former freedom risers of the Civil rights movement.
For the first time since the Reconstruction period of 1865-1877
there was a new possibility of workers identifying their class
interests before the interest of the capitalist classes. It was
from Greenwood and Greenville where one heard of the registration
of white workers who are now turning their backs on the Republicans.
Even though the Obama campaign is not involved in a full blown
campaign in South Carolina as they are in the top fourteen battleground
states, the offices of the Obama campaign in Greenville and Rock
Hill, S.C, exhibited levels of cooperation and collaboration between
blacks and whites that if translated beyond elections can hold
new meaning for political change. The State Democratic party
was clearly benefiting from the enthusiasm of the Presidential
elections for local elections.
was in Rock Hill where one came face to face with the heritage
of fascism and racial terrorism. The streets and institutions
of this part of South Carolina reminded young people of the days
when African Americans represented the majority of the citizens
in South Carolina. Racists such as Benjamin Tillman who was to
become an influential Senator in South Carolina in the era of
Jim Crow had been at the forefront of US para- military groups
that killed millions and disenfranchised Blacks for over 100 years.
Tillman whose name now grace the hallowed Halls of Clemson and
Winthrop Universities in South Carolina had declared,
have done our level best [to prevent blacks from voting]...we
have scratched our heads to find out how we could eliminate the
last one of them. We stuffed ballot boxes. We shot them. We are
not ashamed of it."
is the reversal of this tradition that is being engaged in the
elections of 2008. Florida, North Carolina and Virginia are of
particular interest in so far as these are states that have been
dominated by the Republican Party and reflect the old challenges
of political organization across the divided working peoples since
1877. I had read Ronald Walters book, Freedom is Not enough,
to examine the collaboration between the two main political parties
in guaranteeing that the 1965 Voting rights Act did not really
empower those who had been disenfranchised by the work of segregationists
and racists from Tillman to George Wallace and Jesse
Helms. Books on the Breakdown of Democratic Party Organization
1940-1980 had excluded the possibility of a campaign of the
type being waged by Barack Obama. Noting the entrenched business
interests in the party it was hard for conventional political
scientists to envisage a campaign that would go to the ground
to old fashioned door to door canvassing and community organizing
to build a new party and a new politics. What one saw in this
South was the old cooperation where the Obama campaign received
all kinds of support from communities. Food, water and other in
kind support came in to the offices from those who wanted to do
anything to assist. This was a real grassroots effort. Will the
barber shop and hair salon discussions be taken to the next level
to empower voters to make decisions about banks, real estate transactions
and zoning plans at the county level?
Obama has retold the story of his background as a community organizer
so often that it is now accepted that this training contributed
to his ability to listen and simultaneously inspire new social
victory in the primary campaign and the defeat of the Clinton
party machinery was not simply the work of Obama. This victory
had emanated for the impact of the work of peace activists who
had delegitimized the militarism and unilateralism of the Bush/Cheney
administration. The implosion of the financial sector in the period
of reversals abroad exposed the reality that domestic and foreign
relations were intertwined.
Carolina and demographic Change
the US Presidential system is based on the undemocratic system
of the Electoral College, it is necessary for any serious contender
to win the big states with the largest number of electoral votes.
The Electoral College consists of 538 elected representatives
who formally select the President and Vice President of the United
States, the Electoral College is an example of an indirect election.
After the debacle of the elections of 2000 the true nature of
the undemocratic system was revealed to the world.
the present moment for a candidate to win the election it is necessary
to win 270 electoral votes In the Electoral College.
college was created because the framers of the Constitution did
not entirely trust the people to elect the president. Instead,
electors were chosen to affirm or reject the people's vote. When
you vote for president, you are actually voting for electors chosen
by the two candidates, not the candidates themselves. Each state
is allocated a number of electoral votes based upon the number
of its U.S. senators plus the number of its U.S. representatives.
Because the electors for each state are awarded on a winner-take-all
basis, it is possible that a candidate could garner a majority
or plurality of the popular vote but lose the election because
they did not get enough electoral votes.”
map below gives an indication of the weight of the electoral votes
of each state.
can be seen from this map that if the Obama campaign wins the
majority of the 14 battleground states, with the more than 170
electoral votes, victory would be assured when added to the guaranteed
Democratic strongholds of California, Massachusetts, New Jersey
and Washington State.
designated battleground states and the number of electoral votes
for the 2008 elections are Colorado 9, Indiana 11, Michigan 17, Iowa 7, Missouri 11, Florida 27, Nevada
5, New Hampshire 4, New Mexico 5, North Carolina 15, Ohio 20,
Pennsylvania 21, Wisconsin 10, and Virginia 13.
Obama campaign had decided on both a western and Southern strategy
to permanently change the politics of the United States. Detailed
studies of the voting patterns and demographic make up of the
South and the West had been undertaken by the Obama team. Even
the New York Times has caught up with the Block by Block
strategy that had mined the information base of the society to
identify new voters.
information is culled from a variety of sources, including magazine
subscriptions, the types of cars people drive, where voters shop
and how much they earn. Commuting patterns are analyzed. Voting
history in local races is factored in.
data, after it is studied and sorted at campaign headquarters
in Chicago, is sent to every battleground state. The names are
bar-coded and ultimately show up on the lists given to volunteers.
And the theory is verified, or disproved, through conversations
at doorsteps or in telephone calls where voters are identified
on a scale from a No. 1 (strongly for Mr. Obama) to a No. 5 (strongly
for Mr. McCain).”
was clearly evident in the approach to the .state of North Carolina
that had changed significantly in both the demographic make up
and in the nature of the economy.
Carolina had been one of the original thirteen colonies of the
states that were federated to become the United States of America.
The backbone of this agricultural state was tobacco production
and enslaved Africans toiled for centuries to enrich the plantocracy
that ruled over black people who had no rights to vote. Women,
First Nation peoples were also disenfranchised. North Carolina
is one state with the largest numbers of First Nation peoples.
Carolina was one of the confederate states and the economy of
this state was dominated by agricultural production, textiles
and furniture making until the period of the changes in the US
economy in the 1970’s and 1980’s. North Carolina has grown to
become a major center for agriculture, agro-industry, financial
services, and manufacturing. The state's industrial output—mainly
textiles, chemicals, electrical equipment, paper and pulp/paper
products meant that there was a high demand for labor and this
increased the population. Centers such as Raleigh Durham developed
a thriving research and high tech center while Charlotte became
the second largest banking hub in the USA. The growth of Charlotte
in Mecklenburg County meant that the sub prime crisis and the
financial melt down would be felt in North Carolina. According
to the US census the 2007 population of North Carolina was just
over 9 million.
Obama campaign had deployed approximately 40,000 volunteers working
out of 35 field offices across the state. In each field office
there are officers managing on average 100-150 volunteers. On
October 14, 2008 the BBC New brought out the fact that the Obama
campaign had over 35 field offices in North Carolina to McCain
five offices. It was only in the last weeks of September that
the Republicans awoke to the advantage of the Obama campaign in
North Carolina where since the decisive primary win of Obama in
May the campaign had gone on to register another 600,000 new voters.
state is divided into 100 counties with the three biggest counties
being Forsyth County (the Winston Salem Area) MECKLENBURG County
(Charlotte area ) and Wake County (The Raleigh Durham Area.)
Of these 100 counties the Obama campaign has registered more democrats
in more than 80 of the 100 counties with over 237, 000 in Wake
County, 263,000 in Mecklenburg County and nearly 100,000 in Forsyth
County. And in the some rural counties where the Republicans maintain
a majority there are only really three counties where the number
of registered voters are over 20,000. These figures of the number
of registered democrats in the state and the follow up of the
Obama campaign means that the Obama office in Chicago is not awaiting
the polling from national polling organizations to determine the
strength on the ground.
writer visited the Obama campaign HQ in the three above mentioned
counties to get a fuller grasp of the operations of the campaign.
The visit took place prior to the period when the registration
period was in its final stage (before close of registration on
October 10). The four stages of the campaign had been divided
between the period of Voter registration, get out the Vote, Mapping
the vote and defending the vote.
one enters the field office it becomes clear that the field officer
had to be a good manager and be able to get along with citizens
of all classes, all races and all backgrounds. In every campaign
office there is a “Wall of Hope.” On the Wall of Hope will be
written the slogans of the particular county or region. Usually
the field officers are drawn from former volunteers who had shown
outstanding commitment to the Obama campaign during the primary
period. These field officers are disciplined and are focused on
the work ahead.
County is a regional office that is the HQ for 11 other counties
in North Carolina. These counties are Davidson, Davie, Rowan,
Surry, Yadkin, Ashe, Allegheny, Wilkes, Watauga, Stokes and Forsyth.
In the first field office of Forsyth County, the most impressive
innovation of the wall of Hope was the competition among the High
School students to see which school would register the largest
number of voters. In this office a number of unpaid volunteers
worked shoulder to shoulder with the paid field staff. It then
becomes clear that transparency and sharing of information is
essential for the operation of the campaign. The one Department
that was not visible was the mapping Department that was the center
for uploading the voter registration information into the data
bases of the Obama cyber world. This cyber world is a world unto
itself and the information form Forsyth County is funneled to
Raleigh and then to Chicago.
Obama campaign has targeted particular constituencies and groups
such as Students for Obama, Women for Obama, Professionals for
Obama, Workers for Obama, veterans for Obama, seniors for Obama
and Young Lawyers for Obama. The Young lawyers are serving as
the backbone for the present gear up stage to defend the vote
all over the country. Of these groups the faith based campaign,
the Youth for Obama and the Workers form the bedrock of the campaign.
Obama undercut the evangelical based movement that had been dominated
by the Republican Party.
each of these groups are similar networks that depend on people
who know each other. This network is reinforced by face book and
my space networks for the sharing of information and tactics.
Forsyth County I spent time in the office of Rowan County in the
small town of Salisbury. The self-similarity and difference in
scale between the operation in Winston Salem and that of Salisbury
was evident, even from the size of the equipment. What ever the
size of the office however, the same battle stories were heard
and one could see persons coming in from the streets to volunteer
and work for the campaign. It was in Salisbury where the workers
zeroed in on the future of Elizabeth Dole who was fighting to
retain her Senate seat.
Dole hails from the rural town of Salisbury and had inherited
this republican Senate seat from the venerable racist, Jesse Helms.
It was in Salisbury where one heard the complaint that in the
year 2005, Dole had spent a total of 13 days out of 365 in the
state. The one young field officer in the Salisbury office was
multi -tasking and after ensuring that this writer was not from
the press opened up to describe his role.
outlined that the field officers formed the backbone of the campaign
in so far as these are he frontline forces that set in motion
the volunteers. He noted,
come in the door for the candidate, but they come back to work
for the Field officer.”
was imparting the fact that the field officers had to treat all
2 get out the Vote
the introduction we have already noted the figures of the numbers
that were registered (officially by the North Carolina Board of
Electors) by October 11. It is this registration drive all over
the country that led those watching the ground operation to predict
a landslide victory. This prediction that Obama has passed the
threshold of 270 votes and is heading toward more than 350 electoral
votes is reproduced on many sites. One such site is Pennsylvania
the above map that projects Obama’s landslide in the making one
can see that the massive gains that are being made from the registration
period cannot be reversed.
the success of the registration period the campaign is now in
the midst of the get out the Vote mode. This is the mode where
the coordination between the field officers, the officers, the
legal protection team and the mappers work closely together. From
the beginning of October the legal protection team has been fanning
out across the country to protect the vote and to inform voters
of their rights. One of the important areas of work for this team
is to explain the laws in each state with respect to felons. Because
millions of citizens are disenfranchised through the prison industrial
complex, the legal protection team has a central role to play
in securing the victory.
has already been given in the media to the potential challenges
to the authenticity of hundreds of thousands of new registrants
Conservative news platforms and blogs have been seeking to exaggerate
the problems for the Obama campaign from the relationship between
Barack Obama and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn), But
this hoopla over the ACORN issue cannot really affect the massive
registration drive and the integrated plan to get out the vote
and protect the vote. There is an elaborate system that is bar-coded
to ensure that the volunteers will be able to get voters to the
polls and to get a clear understanding of the elections. Because
of the challenges to the registration process the North Carolina
campaign was not recommending absentee voting but early voting.
Obama a secret Weapon
plain sight Michelle Obama has been one of the core pillars of
the Obama campaign. After the picture of a militant Michelle Obama
was portrayed on the cover of the New Yorker magazine and after
the barons of capital expressed their fear of Michelle Obama,
it was decided to judiciously deploy her in the campaign. One
area of perpetual deployment has been to work with military families.
deployment has borne dividends in states such as North Carolina,
South Carolina and Virginia, states with large military facilities.
There are currently 8 active military installations in North Carolina,
with a very large military presence at two major military bases,
the Marine Corps base at camp Lejeune and the infamous base of
the 82nd airborne division at Ft. Bragg. The base of Ft. Bragg
covers the areas of three counties. Currituck, Harriet and Hoke
is evident from the numbers registered so far and from the work
of Veterans for Obama that in the counties of the big military
bases the Obama campaign is ahead. This is in no small measure
due to the dogged work of Michelle Obama working with the military
families and promoting a message of peace. Michelle Obama has
been a silent weapon in the campaign galvanizing support in the
Deep South while biting her tongue. At the Democratic National
Convention she made it known to one of he caucuses that she was
surprised at some of the positions taken by Barack Obama, especially
when these issues are related to war and peace. Michelle Obama
was not any more explicit on whether she had disagreed with the
bellicose stand on Afghanistan.
should be noted that North Carolina is also the headquarters of
Blackwater international, the largest private military contracting
firm in the world. In the past this firm had a solid base among
the conservative and retrograde elements of the state.
Stop the movement
my last submission I had called for the continued mobilization
of the youth after the elections. It is now clearer that the Obama
legal protection team and the ground team of millions can and
will get out the vote. It is becoming more evident that the problem
to be addressed is not only the tasks before the election, but
also the tasks after the election. Conscious citizens who see
the choices before the society chant, don’t stop the movement.
This hip hop song is calling for the same kind of mobilization
that Al Gore is calling for in his call for Civil disobedience.
However, there needs to be a new motion in the society of working
people and youths organized against the system.
is becoming clearer by the day that the racist opposition to the
Obama presidency is not only coming from the Republican fanatics.
Inside the Democratic Party there are sections that are mortified
by the millions of new voters in play. Tremors from the ground
game in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia are being felt all
across the South as the old politics is slowly giving way to the
new. The adage, the old is dying but the new is yet to be born
is manifest all over the United States. Already in the state of
New York, the prospect of an Obama presidency and a David Patterson
governorship has sent shivers down the spine of the old political
establishment. With the defeat of the Bill and Hillary Clinton
machinery there is another effort to create a base of support
around Mayor Bloomberg. The declaration of Bloomberg that he will
be standing for a Third term is one manifestation of the panic.
Progressive forces in New York State are already joining the fight
against the efforts to change the law.
York is one example of a state where the combined power of the
capitalists and the politicians merge to disenfranchise the youth
and to demobilize others. This is one city where the educational
system has failed. Our foray into the South was to see the ways
in which a new coalition could be built. Thus far, the old left
has placed themselves on the sidelines in North Carolina. Amiri
Baraka has been contesting the positions of these ‘left’ forces
who do not see the cross roads of the society.
the Obama campaign itself the foreign policy and domestic policy
teams do not inspire confidence. Those who follow the news are
reminded of the more than 300 foreign policy advisors around Obama.
But most of these advisors were the same thinkers who worked with
the Clinton administration. In particular there is an open contest
between Richard Holbrooke and Anthony Lake as to who should be
Secretary of State. These forces who were in the Clinton administration
at the time of the Rwanda genocide have disqualified themselves
from any future role in an administration that campaign on the
basis of change.
similar tale of woe can be gleaned from the economic team that
Obama had mobilized with the remnants of the Robert Rubin Treasury
Department. Robert Rubin, like Henry Paulson were preachers of
deregulation and unbridled profits for Wall St. Now that reality
has intervened and the financial crisis is on top of the citizens
there is no justification for Jason Furman to head the economic
policy team of Barack Obama. On the campaign trail we have heard
from Obama when he declared that, the economic crisis did not
come from nowhere. It is "the logical conclusion of a tired
and misguided philosophy that has dominated Washington for far
Obama to match his words with his transition team will mean that
the movement must be deepened and a new direction be taken in
the society. Throughout history there are too many lessons of
defeat through victory. After the Haitian revolution Toussaint
was defeated after victory because he had wanted to maintain the
same mode of economic organization. He died a tragic figure in
in the case of South Africa we have witnessed another case of
defeat through victory in the aftermath of the debacle within
the African National Congress. Nelson Mandela had emerged victorious
after a long struggle but because the new level of struggle was
not reached the Thabo Mbeki team turned the liberation struggles
into a movement for self enrichment. One can see the results of
deepening inequalities in South Africa after the ANC adopted the
liberalization policies of Western capitalism.
McCain Palin rallies have become incitement to racial hatred.
This incitement is polluting the minds of young children all across
the society at a time when the peoples need to reflect on the
alternatives in the face of the impending depression. This author
will join the call, Don’t stop the movement. Being fired up must
be maintained to develop a path for peace, justice and health
for all. A new morality awaits the youth who want to retreat from
the imperial past.
BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, Dr. Horace Campbell,
PhD, is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science
University in Syracuse New York. His book, Rasta
and Resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney
is going through its fifth edition. He is also
the author of Reclaiming
Zimbabwe: The Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation
and is currently working on a book on Obama and 21st
Century Politics. He has contributed to many other edited books, most
recently, “From Regional Military de-stabilization to Military
Cooperation and Peace in South Africa” in Peace and Security in Southern Africa (State and Democracy Series)
, edited by Ibbo Mandaza. He has published numerous
articles in scholarly journals and is currently writing a book
on the Wars against the Angolan peoples. Click here
to contact Dr. Campbell.