Progressive America Rising (PAR)

Progressive America Rising (PAR)


* Supported Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign
* Called for the Iraq War to be ended as soon as possible
* Opposed U.S. military action in Afghanistan
* Urges the U.S. to “turn towards peace and conflict-resolution in the Middle East and the Muslim world”
* Views the war-on-terror as an ill-conceived venture whose alleged urgency was fabricated by Republicans for purely political reasons

Established as Progressives For Obama in March 2008, Progressive America Rising (PAR) was co-founded by Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Fletcher, Jr. (a Democratic Socialists of America member who also co-founded the Black Radical Congress), Danny Glover, and Tom Hayden. A fifth individual, the longtime pro-Castro Marxist Carl Davidson, was also involved in PAR’s creation.

PAR’s original mission was to help then-Senator Barack Obama defeat his chief rival, Hillary Clinton, in his quest for the Democratic Party’s 2008 presidential nomination.[1] After Mrs. Clinton conceded defeat to Obama in the summer of 2008, PAR turned its attention to beating Republican nominee John McCain.

Throughout the 2008 campaign season, PAR, claiming to represent “the proud tradition of independent social movements that have made America a more just and democratic country,” exhorted “all American progressives” to “unite for Barack Obama.” Moreover, condemning “the narrow interests of private corporations in an unregulated global marketplace,” the group’s four principal founders urged Americans to focus on “globalizing the values of equality, a living wage, and environmental sustainability in the new world order” while rejecting a reliance on “trickle-down economics or charitable billionaires.” “The Obama campaign,” said PAR, “will stimulate a vision of globalization from below.”

PAR supported Obama’s 2008 presidential run in a variety of ways—e.g., raising funds for his campaign, defending him against negative advertising, and using the Internet to reach “millions of swing voters” across the country. “Progressives can make a difference in close primary races like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon and Puerto Rico, and in the November general election,” said PAR’s founders, who, even as they enthusiastically endorsed the Illinois senator, deemed it “crucial to form a grassroots leftist movement to ensure Obama does not stray too far to the center.”

A key element of PAR’s platform in 2008 called for the Iraq War to “end as rapidly as possible.” “All our troops must be withdrawn,” said the organization. “Diplomacy and trade must replace further military occupation or military escalation into Iran and Pakistan.” Viewing military action in Afghanistan as likewise unwarranted, PAR counseled against “simply transfer[ring] American combat troops from the quagmire in Iraq to the quagmire in Afghanistan.”

By PAR’s reckoning, the entire War on Terror was an ill-conceived venture whose alleged urgency was fabricated by Republicans for purely political reasons: “The Bush Administration has replaced the cold war [sic] with the War on Terrorism, led by the same military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned against.” U.S. military interventions in Muslim countries, added PAR, could serve only to increase “the vast number of violent jihadists against us” while putting Americans “at permanent risk of another 9/11 attack.”

PAR’s prescribed remedy for international strife was for America to finally “turn towards peace and conflict resolution in the Middle East and the Muslim world.” The U.S. could signal its good intentions, the organization elaborated, by “getting out of Iraq” as swiftly as possible and “sponsoring a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Today PAR seeks to advance not only President Obama’s political and social policies, but all manner of left-wing perspectives, via its Internet blogspot which is administered by webmaster Carl Davidson. Excerpts from some representative posts include the following items, all of which emphasize America’s purportedly uniquitous racism, intolerance, and economic injustice:

  • “George Zimmerman [a ‘white Hispanic’ man who shot and killed a black Florida teenager named Trayvon Martin in a February 2012 altercation] was found not guilty. This was the moment Florida showed the world that it does not care about its youth, especially young black and brown people.” (July 2013)
  • “[T]he Republican/Tea Party’s war against voting rights and immigrant rights … [is part of a conservative effort] to cement a grip on power as a numerical white minority bloc.” (June 2013)
  • “A majority of people in the U.S. want more equal wealth distribution and [they] support a ‘Robin Hood tax’ on the rich to achieve that.” (April 2013)
  • Republicans have “a history of long-standing indifference, at times outright hostility, to the nation’s diverse constituencies—blacks, women, Latinos, Asians, gays.” (February 2013)
  • The December 1969 police killing of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton in Chicago was “nothing but a Northern lynching.” (December 2012)


[1] In its earliest days, PAR chided Mrs. Clinton for her “bizarre claim” that Obama lacked the experience necessary to be commander-in-chief. When Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992, said the organization, he and his wife “brought no more experience, and arguably less, to the White House than Obama would in 2009.”

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