I previously noted Bill O'Reilly's inability to tell a centrist from a leftist, his attempts to link Obama to the radical left, and his personal disaffection for the city of Madison.
Writing about that made me wonder: What are actual Madison leftists thinking these days about Barack Obama and the 2008 election? I asked a few dozen locals. Some of their responses were surprising, some predictable, and many were holding their tongue. Here's what I found out...
Tenant rights advocate and Madison Alder Brenda Konkel told me:
I'm voting for the African American candidate. I'm voting for the woman candidate. I'm voting for Cynthia McKinney! In fact, I'm a delegate for her for the Green National Convention in Chicago next month. I'd like to see some dramatic change in American politics, not just a different variation on the same theme, and I strongly believe that 3rd party politics is the only way we're going to get there. Though, I have to say, it pains me not to vote for someone I consider a friend, Matt Gonzalez who is running with Ralph Nader. I might consider supporting Ralph again, but only if he were helping to build the party.
Gearing up for this year's Fighting Bob Fest, Ed Garvey took a moment to share that he thinks:
Obama gives us a 'Mandela moment.' Exciting. He can win. Exciting.
Poverty lawyer and community activist Vicky Selkowe agreed:
I'm thinking that, for the first time in the 16 years I've been of voting age, we have a Democratic presidential nominee that I not only don't have to hold my nose to vote for, but who I feel tremendously excited and enthusiastic about. For the last 12 of these voting years, I have voted third party in the primaries, and either held my nose and voted for a Dem candidate that I was summarily unimpressed with and uninspired by, or defiantly voted third party in the general election, disgusted and uninspired by the Democratic nominee. Not this year. Not since I was a high school senior, volunteering on Bill Clinton's first campaign, have I been so excited about a Democratic candidate.
And yes, I'll be the first to acknowledge that Obama is not the 'perfect' progressive candidate. But he will get us out of the war in Iraq, he will stand up for our nation's most vulnerable families, and he will bring a rare understanding of community organizing and civil rights to the White House, along with his feisty, smart, even-more-progressive wife, Michelle. Barack in '08, Michelle in 2016?
Speaking of Bill Clinton, Steve Burns of the
The Social Security issue especially has me worried. I'm convinced that if a Democrat wins, our economic and opinion elites are suddenly going to "discover" the budget deficit that they've ignored for eight years of Bush, and start calling for "entitlement reform." Obama has already bought into the right-wing frame that we're facing a "crisis" in Social Security and Medicare, making him the perfect Democrat to do to for these programs what Clinton did for AFDC. The brilliant yet understated Burns, by the way, has appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor," leaving poor Tony Snow in the dust.
Local Green Party co-chair Larry Dooley confidently laid out the Green Party line:
Greens and our sympathizers are right to be excited about the campaign of U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, our likely nominee. She has a national profile, a distinguished legislative career and a sincere commitment to communities of color that goes beyond pandering and platitudes. Her renunciation of the Democratic Party can be an example to those who have worked in vain to salvage any kind of progressive agenda from that corrupt party. McKinney for President '08!