POLITICS
05/07/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Geoff Garin, Clinton Chief Strategist, Once Called For Violent Revolution

With 60s-era radicalism now a hot topic in the Democratic primary, it's worth noting the (amusing, ironic) history of Sen. Hillary Clinton's co-chief strategist Geoff Garin.

Philip Weiss, who attended Harvard with Garin more than 30 years ago, recalls that he was "a special guy -- softspoken, funny, brilliant. He was also a radical. In 1973, on an anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, Garin called for violent revolution in the United States" in the student paper, the Crimson:

...America and much of the world is living dangerously close to oppression. ... Whether Americans will soon become steadfast in their resistance to oppression depends on their coming to understand what resistance is all about. The way we celebrate the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party will gauge the depth of that understanding.... Freedom is on the wane in this country and repression is on the rise all over the world. We can no longer sit back and swap stories about the good old revolution. We have to start worrying about the present. On this anniversary we must recognize that the patriots of Boston acted wisely in overthrowing their oppressors and the time is come to express our confidence in what our forefathers did by doing it ourselves. [my emphasis]

Following Agnew's resignation in 1973, Garin again spoke of revolution:

The government in Washington can not survive under these circumstances, and under these circumstances the government should not survive.... America will be governed in any case, but the question is by whom. If not by the people, then by a strong executive. These are revolutionary times, and we must decide now whom we want to win the revolution.

Of course, Garin was 20 years old when he wrote the pieces above. But as Weiss notes, "It is helpful to read his writings because they demonstrate: how much people grow, how common revolutionary statements have been in the left (even in the Jewish meritocracy, of which Garin and I are members). But mostly because they show that the continuum of left-center ideas, which are now coming back into American life, includes Wright, Garin, and Obama."