Paul Buhle : FDR, Obama and a new Popular Front

FDR: Time for a new Popular Front to support Obama?

‘The young and not-so-young folks in Times Square, Harlem, Capital Square in Madison, Grant Park in Chicago are our people, and have every potential of mobilization for the long haul.’
By Paul Buhle
/ The Rag Blog / November 5, 2008

Hello everybody. I was asked to write an election piece for a French leftwing mag, and will be doing so in the next couple days.

I say, the small blip that produced new SDS (and the effort to create a real MDS) a couple years ago was a precursor of the large blip that brought young people into a decisive role in the election.

We all know the limitations of Obama’s campaign and advisors and all that, no need to dwell on those for the moment.

What counts more, in my view, is the prospect or possibility that, as FDR, an embattled Obama being pushed in every-which direction will need the kind of voting and support bloc that the Popular Front created, mainly through the new CIO but also through a range of cultural organizations, for FDR’s re-election campaigns (leaving aside 1940 and even then, FDR depended heavily upon the movement that the Pop Front had created). The Left built itself up around and beyond the titular political leader.

I showed my “Jewish Americans: Films and Comics,” an animated 1944 film piece, a couple days ago, made by folks who quit Disney after the strike, and other lefties; I could identify several of my interviewees in the credits. It looked, more than anything else, like an Obama video ad.

Let’s savor this moment and use every possibility to our advantage.

The young and not-so-young folks in Times Square, Harlem, Capital Square in Madison, Grant Park in Chicago and all those places are our people, and have every potential of mobilization for the long haul.

Let’s help them win their place in history.

[Historian Paul Buhle is a writer, editor and senior lecturer at Brown University, and a leader of Movement for a Democratic Society.]

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1 Response to Paul Buhle : FDR, Obama and a new Popular Front

  1. Zwarich says:

    Many thanks to Professor Buhle for these hopeful comments. I especially appreciate his admonitions that we must organize a political block that can either support President-elect Obama in his widely hoped for intentions to initiate a new New Deal, or else to ‘hold his feet to the fire’, in case the Obama who helped stampede the nation into the disgraceful bailout of the rich by the common people is the Obama that emerges once he assumes power.

    Many millions of people, in their jubilation of raw hope, are conveniently forgetting that candidate Obama joined in the gross insult to the ‘will of the people’ represented by the railroad job that forced this staggeringly massive bailout of the very people who in their obscene greed have brought us to the brink of ruin. The clearly expressed outrage of a VAST majority of the American citizenry was willfully ignored by candidate Obama, as he helped jam this historic disgrace down our throats, without hearings of any kind, or adequate social discussion, with no alternatives that might have truly served the interests of the people allowed to be considered.

    It is clear that progressives are feeling a jubilant sense of victory. I hope that relatively soon this ecstacy will run its course, so that we can begin to respond to the difficulties we face.

    Barak Obama was heavily financed and supported by ‘the powers that be’, who are going to expects favors in return. When our jubilation has run its course, we must listen to people like Paul Buhle, and realize that we must organize ourselves if we hope to avoid those favors being generously granted.

    Those who are irrationally pretending that Barak Obama is some kind of ‘progressive messiah’, or some kind of ‘second coming’ of FDR, (as is suggested by the photo that accompanies Professor Buhle’s comments), are willfully ignoring the actual positions, MANY of them decidedly REGRESSIVE, (NOT progressive), declared by candidate Obama. This willful disconnect from reality is only going to interfere with our efforts to organize ourselves in the crucially important days and months ahead.


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