By: Rich Feldman
In 1968, I volunteered for Eugene McCarthy, traveled across the country to campaign against the war in Vietnam, danced in the streets of Wisconsin when LBJ announced that he would not run for a second term and demonstrated in Chicago against the pro-war policies of the Democratic Party Leadership. This was my initiation into the politics of the 1960s. I arrived at UM and got involved in the year between the 1967 Detroit Rebellion and the Assassination of MLK. The assassination of Martin Luther King dominated the hearts and minds of millions of Americans and reminded us that we could not separate the war and foreign policy from the Civil Rights Movement and the need to transform our values and rebuild our cities.
In 1964, I was 15 years old and my family watched the Democratic Convention in Atlanta and I would later study and learn that Fanny Lou Hammer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party would not get their seats at the Democratic Convention. The party leadership, the southern democrats, the upholders of Jim Crow, denied people in their party their democratic rights to have their voices heard. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, the SNCC sit-ins and the decade of door to door organizing, voter registration in the south had given hope and created a true grass roots movement to change the face of America.
In 2008, Barrack Obama, has made it clear that he does not think as a minority, as a protest candidate nor think as a self-interest identity (race or gender) leader. He has captured the imagination of America because he is willing to engage all of America and provide leadership to all of America. The most recent polling of young evangelical activists shows that 27% support Obama’s candidacy. There is more passionate discussion taking place at work, at schools and at every restaurant than has existed since the 1960s.
Clearly there is more involvement at the polls and at the rallies. There is a hunger for hope and there is a hunger for change. The party leaders are being challenged and the super delegates should not decide.
The Obama campaign is about values, it’s about leadership, it’s about Martin Luther King’s Challenge of 1967-1968 to create a radical revolution in values, a challenge to rebuild our cities and a challenge to become global citizens.
Yes large number of Americans is fed up with the Bush War policies and his secret government but this is much greater than timetables, issues, policies or positions. Some will argue that we must push Obama to take better positions, why don’t we push ourselves to make democracy and citizenship work.
It is about becoming citizens. It is about becoming local community activists to transform our country and ourselves. If this is not to become a repeat of 1964 or 1968, we the people have the responsibility to call for a new democratic primary in our state and in Florida so that the people can democratically decide and not the party leaders or super delegates.
It is time to create a Michigan Freedom Democratic Party that builds upon the hope emerging in our city and our state as people create new forms of work, green cities self-sustaining economies, peace zones and a commitment to local forms of economics.
It is time to create local citizens and communities of hope that engage in ending the violence, creating peace zones, ending the lack of jobs by creating work, end the lack of health food by building upon the emerging food security movement. There is enough open land to grow enough food in our city to feed every one. It is time to create a local economy that works.
This is more than Obama and much more than the Democratic Party, it is our opportunity and responsibility to become local and global citizens again. It is about creating forms for self-government and ……