wilknetwork.com / WILK-FM; by Steve Corbett; May 16, 2008
“Operation Turndown” has deep roots in my own personal radical politics.
If Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee for president, I will not vote for him.
I will turn him down.
Judging from callers to “Corbett” yesterday, so will many other Democrats.
Democrats must follow their hearts and their heads.
I’m part of an impromptu movement born of outrage and frustration to which Democratic Party leaders need to pay very close attention. I’m a radical Democrat and proud of it.
Radical politics is one reason why I majored in “Community Development” at Penn State in 1970, after showing up there in September of 1969 with an open mind and a head loaded with ideas – not all of them good.
By November I was on the street in DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C., getting tear-gassed by National Guard troops during an anti-war protest. The next day I watched the attack on the Justice Department. The next year I watched my state cop father show up on my campus in riot gear.
I spent the next 30-some years developing my perspective and my honor as a daily newspaper columnist and broadcast commentator on television and radio.
I’ve learned from it all. I’m still learning.
And all these years later I still value my community development education and my degree from the counterculture school of hard knocks. The lessons of Kent State, My Lai, and the mean streets of Chicago under the first Mayor Richard Daley remain a part of my pledge of allegiance to real change I can believe in.
I’m not some bizarre social isolationist who’s stuck in the past, either. I value lasting friendships with a wide array of people who hold extremely different political beliefs.
I’m even friends with some conservative Republicans.
But in my heart I’m a radical Democrat.
Yet I’m a model citizen who advocates non-violence and negotiation.
Although I would have likely joined the Molly Maguires back when coal barons oppressed my Irish miner ancestors in Northeastern Pennsylvania and I publicly supported the IRA against British tyranny during my visits to Belfast during the war, I’ve evolved into a principled person who values the power of the ballot over the bullet.
That’s why I’ve decided not to vote for Barack Obama if he wins the Democratic nomination to run for president. I’m with Hillary Clinton until the end.
If she loses and Obama offers her a spot on the ticket as vice president, I’ll consider endorsing the ticket. Still, I offer no guarantees and encourage Hillary to decline the VP spot even if she’s offered the job.
Hillary is the strongest, best candidate. Hillary can beat John McCain. Hillary is my Democrat.
Even if party bosses tell me that we must get behind the nominee and that the nominee will be Obama, I have a choice. Even if family, friends and colleagues tell me I’m wrong, I have a choice. Even if you hate my decision, I have a choice.
And I will use it. To do otherwise would violate the principles I work hard to uphold. I’ve made a decision – a well-thought out, reasoned and rational decision.
Besides, I’ve been here before. I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 and endured the scorn of others who blamed me for the Democratic loss. Don’t blame me, I said. Blame yourselves for not being able to convince enough people to vote for the Democrat.
The same argument holds true today.
Don’t blame me if Obama runs and loses because too many rogue Democrats, independents and Republicans do not have faith in his ability to lead during some very tough and trying times.
Ralph’s running again today.
So are many other candidates you’ve likely never heard of.
America is caught up in a two-party madness that offers voters too few options. The same well-heeled donors contribute cash to both parties and conspire for access that most Americans can’t even dream of having.
What we do have is a choice.
And I’ve made mine.
I’m turning down Obama.