As the vice-presidential speculation intensifies, we cannot lose sight of just how intense the populist uprising is in our country today -- and how it is, fundamentally, a backlash to conservative economic policies and liberal capitulation in the face of those policies.
This is what the cover of my new book, THE UPRISING, metaphorically depicts - and what the cover of this recent edition of The Economist portrays, as well (they look alike, don't they?). And this is why my new newspaper column this week says that Barack Obama should not pick Hillary Clinton for vice president - but an anti-Clinton.
It is undeniable that Hillary Clinton -- whether you like her or not -- represents Clintonism, a brand of politics that is about trying to appease Big Money while pretending to serve ordinary people. It is politics that tries never to answer organized labor's age-old question: which side are you on? Of course, even with such "third way" nonsense, practitioners of Clintonism always end up taking a side -- money's side -- whether it's championing NAFTA, deregulating the telecommunications industry, voting for the bankruptcy bill, supporting the war in Iraq, or shredding important Wall Street laws like the Glass-Steagall Act.
As I've been traveling the country for the national tour for THE UPRISING, I can see just how intense the anger is at this kind of politics. Right now, for instance, I'm here in Seattle where the sharp edge of lobbyist-written globalization policies fuels fears of job outsourcing in the high-tech industry (read The Nation magazine's excerpt of THE UPRISING here to see what I'm talking about). It's the same thing all over the globe. As Bloomberg News today reports, the planet is in the midst of rejecting Clintonism's neoliberal economic agenda. "Fueling the backlash is a convergence of trade-related anxieties," the news service writes. "National-security concerns, worries about food safety and sufficiency, the desire to protect local jobs and the environment."
These policies -- and the very politics of Clintonism -- are what was soundly rejected in the Democratic presidential primary, as Barack Obama rode the progressive side of the uprising to victory. Now, as John McCain channels his own version of Clintonism -- ie. pushing more NAFTA and endless war in Iraq - Obama can use his vice presidential selection to state that indeed the era of Clintonism is over, and the era of the uprising is on.
As my column this week shows, there are a number of progressive populists available as runningmates - whether senators like Sherrod Brown, governors like Brian Schweitzer or labor leaders like Anna Burger.
These alternatives to Clinton would help woo swing states or swing constituencies vital to winning the general election and reshaping the electoral map for a generation.
The question, of course, is whether Obama has the guts to make such a populist move. After all, Big Money is starting to get very scared about what's going on. As just one example, take a look at this Forbes magazine article in which business groups say they now fear a major resurgence of organized labor. That fear has already translated into major pressure on Obama -- pressure that resulted in him appointing a Wal-Mart apologist and Wall Street-connected economist as his top economic adviser. You can bet the pressure will only intensify on him to pick an icon of corporate-worshiping Clintonism as his runningmate.
Pick up a copy of THE UPRISING to get the full picture of the populist revolt now impacting the presidential contest. You can read the whole newspaper column at the San Francisco Chronicle, the Denver Post, the Ft. Collins Coloradoan, In These Times, Credo Action, TruthDig or Creators Syndicate.The column relies on grassroots support, so if you'd like to see my column regularly in your local paper, use this directory to find the contact info for your local editorial page editors. Get get in touch with them and point them to my Creators Syndicate site. Thanks, as always, for your ongoing readership and help contacting local editors. This column couldn't be what it is without your help.