Category Politics

An Open Letter to the President-elect On the Eve of Inauguration

President-elect Obama: 

I'm an ordinary citizen, perhaps a bit more politically involved than average, and a supporter of yours since the moment you gave that fateful speech in 2004.  You brought the possibility of idealism back to politics after its long slumber during my adulthood.  After a long and grueling primary campaign, during which skeptics daily doubted your ability to secure the nomination, and supporters like me mostly held their breath, you showed yourself to be a serious candidate for this job. 

And on the campaign trail, you confounded the pundits who said you couldn't talk about substance, and could only talk in platitudes and airy phrases.  But your mixture of idealism and pragmatism won the day, as did your competence in fundraising and running a campaign.

And now, you have the job. 

Early indications are that you fully understand the gravity of the situation.  Your speech at George Mason on the economy resonated with seriousness of purpose, and more than a few direct echoes of Frankin Delano Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address, given during the depths of the fiscal crisis as the Depression deepened. 

As an American and long-time supporter of your fitness for this job, I ask only a few things of you.

1.  Clearly and honestly explain the situation to your country.  Demand more of us, as we demand the world of you. 

2.  Be honest about your mistakes.  Don't fear the polls, and keep your eyes on how Americans traditionally behaved:  we admire people more when they can admit their mistakes and then go fix them, than we do any amount of skill in hiding the truth.

3.  Don't lose your principles.  You've got the toughest job on the planet as of noon tomorrow, and the temptation to use your power in ways you yourself deplore and have decried on the floor of the Senate and campaign trail will be overwhelming.  Don't give in.  I can't think of anybody I'd entrust more with this responsibility than perhaps Lincoln or FDR, and they're not available anymore. 

4.  Maintain your idealism, and keep creating it in all of us.  What will get us through the next four years successfully is to not let the idealism fade, especially in the face of all that will happen to us in the next year or two, economically.  We need to believe, and the economy needs us to believe, and we need each other to believe.  And we need you to keep helping us believe.

Do these things, Mr. President-elect, and you'll keep the hearts and minds of Americans.  And as we now know to our pain and chagrin, that bond of trust is critical, and has been missing for far too long between the People and their chosen representatives. 

For too long we've had government of the people, without as much government by the people as we should have, and nowhere near enough government for the people. 

Please, Mr. President-elect, restore the balance.  Thank you.

What President-elect Obama Should Say In His First Inaugural

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about what President-Elect Obama should say in his First Inaugural Address tomorrow. As with many Americans are in these difficult days, Franklin Delano Roosevelt has been occupying my thoughts as I think ahead to what the change in leadership will bring. As the depths of the economic crisis and the true scale of the “bailouts” and economic stimulus needed have become clear (but by no means completely known), the only American presidents who faced a “modern” economy in such deep crisis were Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

And regardless of what you believe finally ended the Great Depression—whether you believe it was FDR’s New Deal and the buildup to WWII, or the natural regrowth of the economy creating demand which finally exceeded supply, or a bit of both—it is clear that Hoover’s response to economic crisis was tepid and grudging, and FDR promised firm, activist leadership in the face of crisis.

And that activism and energy played a major role in creating momentum and preventing loss of confidence among the banks and investors that require an intricate web of confidence. Confidence in each other’s ability to make good on loans or contracts. Confidence in the ability of business debtors that they will be able to maintain and grow their customer base. Confidence in the ability of those customers to keep their jobs and pay their bills and mortgages.

To the extent that confidence-building worked in the early 1930’s, it was largely FDR himself who managed to bolster the confidence and optimism of the people, while a new cabinet and executive branch filled with America’s best and brightest tried experiment after experiment, argument after argument, to give business and financial leaders the confidence that their investments in growth would be matched by each other’s consumption and slowly increasing spending by consumers.

The situation we face, as everyone seems to grasp somewhere deep within ourselves, is very similar, and requires the same careful husbandry of confidence and optimism in order to kickstart our economy. In preparing some fundraising remarks earlier this fall, I read the early speeches and fireside addresses by FDR. His First Inaugural speech is amazing, and every American who watched President-Elect Obama’s speech at George Mason last week on the economy was watching a modernization and an invocation of that fateful speech.

And my reading of FDR’s great speeches, which did so much to motivate and lead us out of panic and despair in the early days of 1933, led me to wonder what Obama should say to us in his First Inaugural next
week.

The following is my list of things Obama should tell the American people later today.

1. President-elect Obama should explain to us the intricate web of confidence that ties together our economy, and explain in terms that non-economists can understand how it works so that the people will be able to lend their informed support to the plans now being made in Washington. We do not understand the various bailouts and stimulus packages and how they actually lead to the desired result. Please clarify it, because it sounds like we only get one shot at this and we need to get it right.

2. Obama should make it clear that we are not abandoning the principles of commerce and trade, nor are we becoming “socialists” simply because we believe that some problems are bigger than private resources can solve. We’re all believers in free enterprise now, but sometimes the free enterprise system needs collective action and a concerted effort from everyone.

3. And he should make it clear that this ”help from everyone” to kickstart our economy really means that every American plays a crucial role. President-elect Obama should make a patriotic call to stimulate local and regional economic activity, and not just wait for the big multi-national corporations to recover. This will create jobs and get money and local loans flowing again, even if global trade and large, global companies take longer to stabilize.

4. The president-elect should make it clear that investment in America is the patriotic thing to do, and that rebuilding our economy not only helps us, and our children, but the world. Our humanitarian and democratic outreach to the world, our environmental concerns, and our ability to address problems elsewhere in addition to those at home, depends crucially on a healthy economy. America’s place in the world, and our ability to be a force for change and for good, depends on getting back to sound financial and business shape.

5. And he should outline the nature of his plan and promise a series of regular discussions with the American people, in the spirit of FDR’s fireside chats but with the full force of modern media and communications, to ensure that all of us understand the situation, how each measure is designed to work and how we intend to use our scarce resources wisely and avoid waste. And that we understand how we’re progressing, and where we still need work. Treat the people like partners in this enterprise, not “interest groups,” or “demographics” to be polled. Mobilize us for action, as FDR did, and we’ll respond in kind.

6. And finally, President-elect Obama should call upon us all to temporarily put aside the issues that divide us in other ways; social issues, differences in economic approach, and issues of ideology. Not because these aren’t central to our political life and deserve democratic debate and discussion, but because right now, as in the 1930’s and 1940’s, we have serious issues that we need to come together and solve, with one voice, as one people.

And that is what I think President-elect Obama should say to the American people

Liberalism, Capitalism, and the Bailout Plan

The historical parallels between today’s financial crisis and the breakdown of banks and credit markets in 1933 are difficult to escape, from where we sit today.  Unlike the autumn of 1932, however, the "old order" is not spent and broken, but continues to urge continuation of the failed policies which led us to the current position.  House Republicans today, unlike 1932-33, are working against the extraordinary measures required in order to stabilize the financial basis of our economy.  But in both cases, the rhetoric is the same:  a bailout plan indicates that Democrats and the Administration lack faith in free markets and leap eagerly toward socialism at the first sign of crisis. 

Such rhetoric is misguided at best, and downright duplicitous at worst.  But it arises because we’re a month away from Election Day, and Congress is listening to constituents who oppose "bailing out Wall Street."  I leave it to others, far better equipped than I, to defend the bailout bill itself.  I simply note that I support the bill and additional measures needed to ensure that we do not doom ourselves to repeat history simply because we don’t remember the lessons of 1932-1933 clearly enough. 

Instead, my goal here is to examine the basics of the "free markets" argument used by Senator Bunning and others.  Far from creeping socialism, today’s bailout plan is action in the best traditions of a commercial republic and market liberalism, as brought into the 20th century by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Among the most persistent narratives in modern politics is the idea that liberalism lost its way in the early 20th century, betrayed its roots and principles, and was supplanted by the welfare state philosophy that now bears its name. "True liberals," as the narrative runs, decry the socialism of the New Deal, and keep the flame of limited government, free markets, and individual liberty alive as libertarians and small-government conservatives. Variants of this story drove the tax revolts of the late 1970’s and the "Reagan Revolution," as well as contemporary efforts such as Grover Norquist’s anti-tax crusade. Democrats and Republicans alike seem to accept this narrative, which has come to structure much of the current attack on New Deal-era social programs and progressive politics in general.  Senator Bunning, and others in the House, make use of this argument in opposing the current plan. 

The "lost liberalism" narrative derives, in part, from twentieth century commentators like Joseph Schumpeter and Milton Friedman. In particular, Friedman set up the "dilemma" of modern liberalism by placing liberty and equality at odds:

The [classical] liberal will therefore distinguish sharply between equality of rights and equality of opportunity, on the one hand, and material equality or equality of outcome on the other…At this point, equality comes sharply into conflict with freedom; one must choose. One cannot be both an egalitarian, in this sense, and a [classical] liberal.

But is this true? Progressive liberals should consider the possibility that the "lost liberalism" narrative is an oversimplified history, verging on myth. If the dominant narrative is a myth, or fails at the very least to capture the whole truth about "classical" and "modern" liberalism, then the attack on New Deal liberalism by small-government conservatives loses much of its moral force and intellectual basis.  As does opposition to the current bailout plan, if the plan is properly structured.

We might start disassembling the "lost liberalism" narrative by noting a significant difference between the richness of classical liberal writers versus the narrowness and relative aridity of "modern classicals" such as Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. Hayek, in his Constitution of Liberty, defines liberalism as an anti-statist philosophy incorporating limited government and exclusively protecting so-called "negative" rights — protections afforded citizens against government action. Yet we find classical theorists far more balanced in their view towards state power. Montesquieu, in The Spirit of the Laws, imagined that sovereign state power was crucial to guaranteeing freedom from traditional forms of oppression, including private injustice among citizens. No less a capitalist icon than Adam Smith agreed, as did James Madison when he wrote in Federalist No. 51:

It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of society against the injustice of the other part.

Classical liberals were concerned about more than individual liberty from government power; at the core of liberalism is a concern about concentrated power — any power — and its effects on human freedom. This concern naturally causes liberals to favor limited government and the rule of law, but it should also keep liberals from treating private economic power as "natural" and beyond concern. The latter concern, however, is explicitly off limits in the narrow version of liberalism on offer by modern libertarians and would-be inheritors of the liberal tradition.

In defending the narrowing of liberalism to protection of private property and free markets, "modern classical" liberals draw upon the deep defense of property and the market offered by Madison and others. Yet the defense of private property offered by Hume, Locke, and others is far from absolute, despite the modern libertarian rhetoric to the contrary. Locke, for example, wrote that "In Governments the Laws regulate the right of property, and the possession of land is determined by positive constitutions." (Two Treatises on Government, vol. II, 50). Madison’s defense of private property also displayed large doses of pragmatism; if property owners are not protected from fellow citizens as well as the government, they will not willingly cooperate in self-rule (Federalist No. 10). Nor does the "market" fare any better in comparisons between classical and modern writers. Neither Locke nor even Adam Smith fetishized the market to the degree seen in Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom. If anything, the emergence of commercial markets and free trade were seen as a means of redistributing wealth away from landed aristocracies and systems of primogeniture which virtually guaranteed noble monopolies on land and wealth.

And in the latter example we see liberalism in its original historical context. The Founders were using the power of republican government and commercial trade to assault ancient tyrannies. Markets were good because they opened the economy to all citizens, regardless of station or inheritance. Limited government was good because it prevented the abuses of public power seen in aristocratic societies and absolute monarchies. Redistribution, in those days, was considered a fine goal if it meant redistributing wealth from those who had wielded it as power for centuries.

As the influence of the ancient tyrannies on political thinkers waned, new threats became uppermost in the mind of many liberals. The development of social democracy and outright socialism in Europe caused a hardening of laissez-faire commitments among late nineteenth century liberal theorists. It is possible to trace much of the "modern classical" view of liberalism, and the liberalism characteristic of European political parties, to this era. Yet liberals in America continued to respond in innovative ways to new threats. In particular, the American experience of capitalist monopolies in the Gilded Age caused a resurgence of the ancient concern over the tyranny of unchecked private power. Rapid industrialization and rapid immigration-led population growth resulted in massive shifts in income disparities, of a type never before seen in America. The former reality of small business, family ownership, and individual effort were replaced within several generations by massive corporations, concentrations of private wealth and power, and the typical abuses seen in their pursuit. And liberalism did not stand still. One sees reactions to abuses of private power beginning with the Populist movements after the Civil War, continuing in the Progressive Era and achieving real power during the New Deal. The result, as we see today, is twofold.

Regulatory capitalism is designed to provide protection against the enormous distortions that concentrated economic power can create in the market. And welfare liberalism aims to provide a decent minimum to those who are the losers in what has become the only economic game in town. Both were designed to preserve a liberal, market-based society, from a new kind of aristocracy on the one hand, and from popular revolt on the other.  Both are also designed, as we see today, to prevent collapse of basic institutions and infrastructure — such as banks — from abuses or mistakes of the private individuals who run them.  Such protection isn’t designed to protect the individuals who run our financial institutions, but to protect the customers, investors, and other businesses who rely upon "Wall Street" in order to maintain the rest of our commerce, markets, and economy.  We are in the current mess, as most folks now agree, precisely because regulatory capitalism has been systematically gutted by Senator Bunning and "free market fundamentalists" over the last 40 years. 

I began this essay by pointing out that the New Deal is often portrayed as the moment where classical, or "true" liberalism was lost in America. My aim has been to show that if the New Deal is a departure from anything, it is a departure only from modern free-market fundamentalism, or of the extreme laissez-faire version of liberalism popular among elites in the Gilded Age. Progressives own a proud, and yes, liberal narrative stretching from John Locke through James Madison to Franklin Roosevelt. And I suggest that if we hope to seize control of the modern political narrative, we start by reclaiming our past, and stamping out the notion that liberalism took a detour in 1932.

For the essence of liberalism, and especially progressive liberalism, is not private property, representative government, markets, or any specific scheme of rights. Each is merely a method for reaching a goal, and each method has been crucial at various points in our history. None should be considered uppermost, but neither should any be considered obsolete. The essence of liberalism is the search for a politics in which liberty and equality are sufficently balanced so as to avoid the danger of the many absolutisms which threaten us, whether public or private. For only by avoiding absolutism in all its forms can we achieve, preserve, and defend the liberty and security to which we aspire.

We can start this conceptual revolution by helping support the current efforts of Democrats and the Administration to stabilize and support our financial institutions.  And by doing so using the rhetoric and arguments provided by one of our greatest presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  I recommend sharing the texts of FDR’s First Inaugural Address and his nomination acceptance speech, given as the Depression and banking crisis deepened and the nation slid towards chaos and revolt.  Roosevelt’s words, promising action and a "New Deal for the American  people," are more relevant today than at any other time since the dark days of 1932-1933.  Share them with friends.  Read more about the plan to stabilize the financial sector, and consider the parallels to 1932-1933 carefully.  And then contact your Senators and Representatives and let them know you stand ready to defend our country in the best traditions of both capitalism and liberalism.

(several portions of this essay are derived from a previous post on the now-unavailable Progressive Commons website; given the current crisis I felt it was time to revise that argument and highlight its relevance to the current crisis)

Open Letter to Democrats Who Threaten a Boycott Vote in November

Fellow Democrats:

I’m increasingly disturbed by reports (or perhaps merely polls) that some Democrats will “boycott” the general election, or even vote for John McCain, if their preferred candidate doesn’t win the Democratic nomination.

After nearly 8 long years of the Bush White House, scandals and wars and torture, after the twisting of the meaning of “executive power” and constitutional rights, after the trashing of America’s image to its allies and the world….after all of that, are you seriously ready to vote for “a third Bush term with a different face” simply because your favored candidate ends up not getting the nomination?

If you can really look at the last 8 years, and still decide to throw your vote away or vote for McCain in order to protest not getting your favorite nominee, then shame on you.

As I’ve said previously, both here and to many friends, I’m supporting Barack Obama. Perhaps not surprising, given my demographics. But as I’ve also said, I will happily vote for either Hillary or Barack in the general election. We’re in the middle of a particularly protracted and hard-fought primary battle. And the reason why it’s hard-fought and protracted is that — surprisingly — the Democrats actually fielded two viable candidates this time!

We need to recall that the number of viable candidates for President we typically field is somewhere between ZERO and one. If we’re damned lucky it’s been one per election. In my whole lifetime, it’s often it’s been closer to zero.

So two strong candidates is an embarrassment of riches, and we ought to stop the incendiary language and threats of boycotts. First of all, there’s another six long months for all of us Democrats, regardless of who we support now, to really get to know John McCain and our chosen nominee, whomever it turns out to be. And are you really going to say, right now, that you’re willing to irretrievably throw your vote to McCain, before you know what we’re all going to find out once the general election campaign begins in earnest?

Frankly I don’t buy it. I think you’ll reconsider once the difficulty of this primary season fades into the “swift-boating” and right-wing media blitz to come. I think you’ll come home to the party and support our chosen candidate, whomever it turns out to be. And yes, I know it’s difficult to read my references to “whomever” it turns out to be and not think that I’m simply gloating over Obama’s perceived chances of victory. But I really mean it — whomever our nominee is, has my support, and my vote.

And if some of you choose to make good on your threat and abandon our nominee — then I ask of you one simple thing. Look back at the last 8 years, in detail. Look at the run-up to Iraq, at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo Bay, at the torture memos, the attitude to constitutional rights, the Supreme Court nominees, at Valerie Plame and the politicization of intelligence, at the secret energy committee we still don’t know much about….look at the last 8 years as a whole, and know for certain that if you make good on your threat then you’re voting for more of the same, and that when it gets even worse because of all the precedents set by the Bush Administration, that you have only yourself to blame.

But I don’t think you’ll throw your vote away. I think that no matter what happens in the primaries, Democrats on both sides of the nomination fight cannot, and will not, look at the last 8 years and decide to — in effect — vote for more of the same.

That’s why I think it’s going to work out, why the party will remain unified, and why we’ll all rally around whichever candidate soon emerges as the nominee. I hope I’m right.

Deval Patrick, Political Speech, and Barack Obama

When juxtaposed to her slowly deflating campaign chances, the Clinton campaign’s attacks on Barack Obama for incorporating language used by his friend Deval Patrick makes perfect sense.  Democrats have a long history of responding to dicey primary prospects by firing torpedoes at one another.  Michael Dukakis successfully derailed Joe Biden’s 1988 campaign with accusations of plagiarism in a speech.  Clinton appears to be attempting a duplication of that feat. 

And it truly would, and should, be a "feat" to derail a popular political campaign with this particular attack.  Because "plagiarism" requires a higher bar than has been demonstrated here.  Sure, Obama did a riff, nearly word for word, from a speech of Deval Patrick’s.  As Deval Patrick has done, with speech language, from Obama even earlier.  As Biden did to Neil Kinnock.  As politicians have done from time immemorial.  As Patrick himself did, to the Founding Fathers and Martin Luther King.  For in none of these cases, did the politician in question start by claiming that any of these words were actually their own.  "Plagiarism" implies that such a claim has been made, and that the claimant is lying.  It implies that the speaking or writing is occurring in a context within one will be judged, and possibly rewarded, for being the actual author of a speech or some writing.

No such claim is occurring in most (if not all) political speech.  And the criteria we use for electing leaders doesn’t specify that their words must be their own.  This isn’t a final exam, and our country isn’t high school.  We don’t have a "plagiarism policy" in the Constitution, and candidates aren’t disqualified from office if they can’t "show their work" and demonstrate that they — and only they — wrote the words they deliver to us in stump speeches and debates. 

Clearly, on the other side of this coin, we voters often do want to assure ourselves that our chosen candidate can "pull their own weight" and isn’t an intellectually empty shell.  As, for example, some recent political leaders we could mention, but won’t.  Barack Obama has cleared this hurdle quite well enough in my mind, and apparently in the minds of an increasing fraction of primary voters. 

So I sincerely hope that Democratic voters in Ohio and Texas view the current flap over Deval Patrick’s speech for what it is:  a last-ditch effort by Senator Clinton to revive a campaign on the decline.  No further confirmation of her unsuitability as our nominee is needed than the sight of her striving to emulate Michael Dukakis in campaign victories — his "plagiarism" fueled defeat of Joe Biden.   Do we really want a Democratic nominee who takes Dukakis as their  example? 

Why I’m Caucusing for Obama

I’ve been mostly silent here on the subject of politics for awhile. There are any number of reasons for this, mostly practical — time, and other priorities. But at least part of my reticence comes from a feeling, in retrospect, like I’ve been holding my breath in anticipation. Not necessarily over the Democrats’ chances this year; I think they’re good (but definitely not a lock, now that McCain is the defacto nominee).

I’ve been holding my breath, I think, hoping that the “practicalities of winning” don’t overwhelm this election far too early. Ever since a mostly-unknown Barack Obama stood up in Boston at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and delivered the most stunning political speech of my lifetime (I’m too young for JFK), there’s been the possibility of idealism this time around.

Politics, at least in my adulthood, has been a grim, pragmatic affair, split by dry-as-dust tinkering in the boiler room of the Great Society welfare state for Democrats, and rigid adherence to a set of litmus tests among Republicans aimed at enforcing ideological purity on tax cuts, guns, and abortion. Politics has been thoroughly computerized, mapped, analyzed like baseball box scores and run by experts on polling, advertising, demographics, and mass fundraising. In other words, it’s a gigantic commercial ecosystem, and both sides increasingly treat it that way.

Obama has seemed, since his declaration became all but inevitable last year, like our generation’s best hope for short-circuiting the wiring of the increasingly robotic Body Politic, and perhaps — even if in small ways — re-envisioning the rules of the game. Perhaps even re-imagining them in ways which cross-cut, and thus defuse, the power of our current definitions of “red” and “blue.”

Naturally, Obama’s relative youth has laid him open, on both sides of the aisle, to those who wonder about his toughness, his experience, his ability to win. Once the primary campaigning got seriously underway, moreover, it has seemed like Obama hasn’t lived up to his 2004 performance. Early debates showed him quiet, almost deferential, and he left us underwhelmed. Polls showed Clinton with an early and massive lead, and one had to wonder, as recently as the holidays, whether it truly was the case that Obama needed more time and experience before running. A series of fairly lackluster press events and appearances have done little to change that impression.

I have to admit that despite never wanting anyone else as nominee, I have fallen prey to all of these species of doubt and skepticism, and probably a few others.

No longer. I don’t know whether Obama will make it and become our nominee, but I think it’s very possible. Nothing magical has happened, except for one thing: he’s made it thus far, all the way through Super Tuesday, and his momentum does seem to be building.

But the uphill climb is seeming more and more like a social movement, and less like a political campaign. Obama’s message of change is largely in the eye of the beholder, but it resonates precisely because much of the voter base today has only experienced the type of politics I described above. We want something more. We’re all slightly cynical about the ability of politics and government to change anything for the better; some of us are much more than slightly cynical. In part, our generation’s growing flirtation with libertarian economics and even politics stems from this disillusionment with government.

Some of that disillusionment is quite proper; we are the inheritors of a New Deal and Great Society that turned out to have noble goals but often methods that were flawed, either in the short or long terms. We are also the inheritors of the social world created when the Supreme Court short-circuited a slowly developing social consensus, as they did with Roe v. Wade, and handed a minority of the nation a rallying cry that would drive judicial nomination and set much of the political landscape for a generation.

That landscape now seems frozen and unalterable. Acquiescence in, and intimate knowledge of, this landscape, is now the mark of a “serious” politician or staffer. An entire industry of political staffers, pollsters, lobbyists, advisors, and of course politicians have a vested interest in that landscape, since knowledge of it is crucial to their employability or electability.

Obama may or may not be serious about changing that landscape, and even if he is successful in beating the odds and securing the nomination, as well as winning the general election, he may only succeed in making small alterations. But the chance — just the chance — that we may see something other than the politics of “culture war,” or the politics of “triangulation” — both manifestations of a politics of cynicism — during our lifetime, makes it well worth supporting his campaign.

We deserve something more from our collective efforts at self-government, and although we might not get it during the next President’s term, a social movement starts somewhere, somehow. Social changes always start out as small, seemingly fragile things, laughed at by the “grownups” who know “how the world works” and label anything but the status quo as “impractical” or simply sheer nonsense. In retrospect, of course, social changes always seem inevitable, when observed through the lens of history, growing seemingly logically out of preceding conditions given our knowledge of the outcome.

In the hazy middle, when those who laughed or ignored it in its early stages are caught short, and forced by the size of the crowds or vote counts to wonder whether a movement or change should be taken seriously, is the crucial moment. The moment when growth could feed on itself, or fizzle out. A moment when a little extra support and encouragement could make all the difference to whether a social movement succeeds in changing the way we think, and act.

That’s why I’m supporting Barack Obama, with a vote on my primary ballot, at the caucuses tomorrow, with donations, and hopefully on November’s ballot. And it’s why I hope you will as well.