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View of the Obama Election: A Green from Brooklyn, NY

Mitchel Cohen writes:

Went to a pool hall/bar in Brooklyn with Alex Steinberg, Linda Z., Cathryn, and others. None of us voted for Obama (I voted for McKinney) — in fact, quite a commotion broke out at the polling place when Alex tried to do a write-in vote for one of the socialist candidates — but despite our votes (or maybe because of them) we all could feel and partake in the power and importance of what was happening last night!

It was amazing, all the hope bursting loose, like a huge weight being lifted from everyone’s shoulders.

Somewhere after midnight 120 (yea I counted’m, being anal that way) youngish folks gathered from all directions in Brooklyn on Flatbush Avenue and 7th Ave. cheering, kissing, hugging, cars honking, waving signs. It was exuberant, and this is the base that will push Obama despite his horrid advisors.

The same was happening in neighborhoods throughout New York City …

Even got a call at midnight from my 19-year-old daughter in Boston, crying with joyful tears — “it’s just like the 60s here, near the Commons, thousands of people playing guitars, everyone whooping it up hugging and kissing, so THAT’S what it was like …”

It’s true. For a moment we are all sisters and brothers, even knowing that Obama’s POSITIONS on the issues are very different than what most people believe them to be. But tonight, that was almost beside-the-point.

Or, maybe my brain has turned to mush, but the tears flowed freely. The symbolism hopefully takes on a life of its own and washes over the history of racism that this country was built on, and the desperate and ugly reality we’re facing ….

And then, getting into Alex’s car, we turned on WBAI and heard 3 or 4 callers to Bill Weinberg’s show analyzing the reality of the system. They were right, of course, but analysis is not everything. Sometimes the soul of the moment can carry beyond where the analysis will take you, can force the hand of history and change it.

Marx called it “ideology as a material force”. I call it, the power of the people.

I don’t have illusions about why Obama won. The capitalist class, for the most part, rallied behind him. Goldman-Sachs and other finace capitalists were his biggest contributors. So, we’ll see how the young mass movement responds when Obama makes his first pro-war, pro-banker decisions. But we shouldn’t see this as monolateral. There are huge forces that have been gathered, and they are competing to pressure Obama. We need to understand that Obama’s decisions will reflect the power marshalled by those forces. And the system will carry on on its own regardless of his decisions, too, for changing a “system” requires revolutionary and not simply electoral change.

And those powerful mass movements ARE galvanizing. When a tv camera focused on Obama supporters gathering outside the White House, people shouted “Get Out, Now!”

Great movements grow from beauty, hopes, exuberance; those hopes are dashed when people are demoralized. Today, they are soaring as high as a kite. How much string will the capitalist class allow, before reining it in?

We need to intersect those movements, now, mobilize them, for it will be those movements that will bend the world in the direction of tomorrow’s critique — if it is to bend at all.

For now, what a beautiful, hope filled, exuberant night.

Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens

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