Historians for Obama

News at Home

Manan Ahmed, Leslie M. Alexander, Shawn Leigh Alexander, Catherine Allgor, Laura Anker, Joyce Appleby, Ray Arsenault, Andrew Bacevich, Robert Baker, Lewis V. Baldwin, Christopher Bates, Rosalyn Baxandall, Robert L. Beisner, Doron Ben-Atar, Jonathan P. Berkey, William C. Berman, David Blight, Ruth Bloch, Daniel Bluestone, Edward J. Blum, Kevin Boyle, John L. Brooke, Carolyn A. Brown, Mari Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, Jodi Campbell, Randolph Campbell, Gregg Cantrell, Charles Capper, Clayborne Carson, Derek Catsam, Herrick Chapman, John Chavez, Lizabeth Cohen, William Cohen, Dennis Cordell, Mary F. Corey, George Cotkin, Edward Countryman, Daniel W. Crofts, Robert Dallek, Adam Davis, David Brion Davis, Jared N. Day, David De Leon, John d'Entremont, Dennis C. Dickerson, Jacob H. Dorn, Bruce Dorsey, David Doyle, Jr., David V. Du Fault, W. Marvin Dulaney, Gretchen Cassel Eick, Carolyn Eisenberg, J. Michael Farmer, Michael Fellman, Antonio Feros, Peter Filene, Kenneth Fones-Wolf, William E. Forbath, Shannon Frystak, Matthew Gabriele, Lloyd Gardner, Sheldon Garon, David Gellman, James Gilbert, Mark T. Gilderhus, Toni Gilpin, Rebecca A. Goetz, David Goldfrank, Warren Goldstein, Linda Gordon, Anthony T. Grafton, Will Gravely, George N. Green, James Green, Sara M. Gregg, Robert Griffith, Michael Grossberg, James Grossman, Carol S. Gruber, Joshua Guild, Roland L. Guyotte, Steven Hahn, David Hall, Kenneth Hamilton, J. William Harris, Paul Harvey, Sam W. Haynes, Nancy A. Hewitt, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Joan Hoff, Jonathan Holloway, Jeffrey Houghtby, Tera W. Hunter, Harold Hyman, Charles F. Irons, Maurice Jackson, Thomas F. Jackson, Lisa Jacobson, Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Randal Jelks, John Jentz, Benjamin H. Johnson, David A. Johnson, Robert KC Johnson, Jennifer M. Jones, Patrick D. Jones, Peniel E. Joseph, Michael Katz, Michael Kazin, Barry Keenan, Evelyn Fox Keller, Ari Kelman, Stephen Kern, Richard H. King, Tracy E. K'Meyer, Sarah Knott, Gary Kornblith, Carol Lasser, Melinda Lawson, Steven Lawson, Jackson Lears, Alan Lessoff, James M. Lindgren, Edward T. Linenthal, William A. Link, Leon Litwack, James Livingston, Paul K. Longmore, Ralph E. Luker, J. Fred MacDonald, Chandra Manning, Norman Markowitz, Jill Massino, Kevin Mattson, Jaclyn Maxwell, Martha May, Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Joseph A. McCartin, Robert S. McElvaine, Marjorie McLellan, Sally G. McMillen, James McPherson, Edward D. Melillo, John Merriman, Tony Michels, Christopher Morris, Walter Moss, Todd Moye, Joan Neuberger, Serena L. Newman, Michelle Nickerson, David O'Brien, Leslie S. Offutt, William L. O'Neill, Jeff Pasley, William A. Pencak, Claire Potter, Gyan Prakash, Michael Punke, David Quigley, Stephen G. Rabe, Albert J. Raboteau, Monica A. Rankin, Marci Reaven, Jonathan Rees, Janice Reiff, Steven G. Reinhardt, Kimberly Reiter, Leo Ribuffo, Natalie J. Ring, Jerry Rodnitzky, Ruth Rosen, Peter Rothstein, Edward B. Rugemer, Douglas C. Sackman, Leonard J. Sadosky, Nick Salvatore, Brian Sandberg, John Savage, Martha Saxton, Ellen W. Schrecker, Michael J. Schroeder, Daryl M. Scott, Rachel F. Seidman, Brett L. Shadle, Rebecca Sharpless, James Sidbury, Daniel J. Singal, Manisha Sinha, Harvard Sitkoff, Gene Allen Smith, Daniel Soyer, Paul Spickard, Brian Steele, James Brewer Stewart, Jeffrey Stewart, Mary Stroll, David Thelen, Patricia Tilburg, Jeanne Maddox Toungara, Jeffrey Trask, Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs, Elizabeth Hayes Turner, Bruce M. Tyler, Kevin Uhalde, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Kara Dixon Vuic, David J. Weber, Barbara Weinstein, Richard Weiss, Kathleen Wellman, Daniel Wickberg, Craig Steven Wilder, Margaret Williams, R. Hal Williams, David W. Wills, Amy Woodson-Boulton, Charters Wynn, Susan Yohn, Eli Zaretsky, Michael Zuckerman

HNN Editor: The list of signers was updated 4-21-08.

Our country is in serious trouble. The gap between the wealthy elite and the working majority grows ever larger, tens of millions of Americans lack health insurance and others risk bankruptcy when they get seriously ill, and many public schools do a poor job of educating the next generation. Due to the arrogant, inept foreign policy of the current administration, more people abroad mistrust and fear the United States than at any time since the height of the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, global warming speeds toward an unprecedented catastrophe. Many Republicans and overwhelming numbers of Independents and Democrats believe that, under George W. Bush, the nation has badly lost its way. The 2008 election thus comes at a critical time in the history of the United States and the world.

We endorse Barack Obama for president because we think he is the candidate best able to address and start to solve these profound problems. As historians, we understand that no single individual, even a president, leads alone or outside a thick web of context. As Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend during the Civil War,"I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me."

However, a president can alter the mood of the nation, making changes possible that once seemed improbable. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and kept the nation united; Franklin D. Roosevelt persuaded Americans to embrace Social Security and more democratic workplaces; John F. Kennedy advanced civil rights and an anti-poverty program.

Barack Obama has the potential to be that kind of president. He has the varied background of a global citizen: his father was African, his stepfather Indonesian, his mother worked in the civil rights movement, and he spent several years of his childhood overseas. As an adult, he has been a community organizer, a law professor, and a successful politician - both at the state and national level. These experiences have given him an acute awareness of the inequalities of race and class, while also equipping him to speak beyond them.

Obama's platform is ambitious, yet sensible. He calls for negotiating the abolition of nuclear weapons, providing universal and affordable health insurance, combatting poverty by adding resources and discouraging destructive habits, investing in renewable energy sources, and engaging with unfriendly nations to ease conflicts that could otherwise lead to war. He takes more forthright stands on these issues than do his major Democratic competitors.

But it is his qualities of mind and temperament that really separate Obama from the rest of the pack. He is a gifted writer and orator who speaks forcefully but without animus. Not since John F. Kennedy has a Democrat candidate for president showed the same combination of charisma and thoughtfulness - or provided Americans with a symbolic opportunity to break with a tradition of bigotry older than the nation itself. Like Kennedy, he also inspires young people who see him as a great exception in a political world that seems mired in cynicism and corruption.

As president, Barack Obama would only begin the process of healing what ails our society and ensuring that the U.S. plays a beneficial role in the world. But we believe he is that rare politician who can stretch the meaning of democracy, who can help revive what William James called"the civic genius of the people." We invite other historians to add your name to this statement. You can do so by contacting mk8@georgetown.edu and/or Ralph Luker, ralphluker@mindspring.com .

Manan Ahmed, Cliopatria*
Leslie M. Alexander, Ohio State University
Shawn Leigh Alexander, University of Kansas
Catherine Allgor, University of California, Riverside
Laura Anker, SUNY, Old Westbury
Joyce Appleby, University of California, Los Angeles
Ray Arsenault, University of South Florida

Andrew Bacevich, Boston University
Robert Baker, Georgia State University
Lewis V. Baldwin, Vanderbilt University
Christopher Bates, California State Polytechnic, Pomona
Rosalyn Baxandall, SUNY/Old Westbury
Robert L. Beisner, American University
Doron Ben-Atar, Fordham University
Jonathan P. Berkey, Davidson College
William C. Berman, University of Toronto
David Blight, Yale University
Ruth Bloch, University of California, Los Angeles
Daniel Bluestone, University of Virginia
Edward J. Blum, San Diego State University
Kevin Boyle, Ohio State University
John L. Brooke, Ohio State University
Carolyn A. Brown, Rutgers University
Mari Jo Buhle, Brown University
Paul Buhle, Brown University

Jodi Campbell, Texas Christian University
Randolph Campbell, University of North Texas
Gregg Cantrell, Texas Christian University
Charles Capper, Boston University
Clayborne Carson, Stanford University
Derek Catsam, University of Texas, Permian Basin
Herrick Chapman, New York University
John Chavez, Southern Methodist University
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
William Cohen, Hope College
Dennis Cordell, Southern Methodist University
Mary F. Corey, University of California, Los Angeles
George Cotkin, California Polytechnic Institute
Edward Countryman, Southern Methodist University
Daniel W. Crofts, The College of New Jersey

Robert Dallek, Boston University
Adam Davis, Denison University
David Brion Davis, Yale University
Jared N. Day, Carnegie Mellon University
David De Leon, Howard University
John d'Entremont, Randolph College
Dennis C. Dickerson, Vanderbilt University
Jacob H. Dorn, Wright State University
Bruce Dorsey, Swarthmore College
David Doyle, Jr., Southern Methodist University
David V. Du Fault, San Diego State University
W. Marvin Dulaney, College of Charleston

Gretchen Cassel Eick, Friends University
Carolyn Eisenberg, Hofstra University

J. Michael Farmer, University of Texas, Dallas
Michael Fellman, Simon Fraser University
Antonio Feros, University of Pennsylvania
Peter Filene, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Kenneth Fones-Wolf, University of West Virginia
William E. Forbath, University of Texas, Austin
Shannon Frystak, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania

Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Tech
Lloyd Gardner, Rutgers University
Sheldon Garon, Princeton University
David Gellman, DePauw University
James Gilbert, University of Maryland
Mark T. Gilderhus, Texas Christian University
Toni Gilpin, Chicago, Illinois
Rebecca A. Goetz, Rice University
David Goldfrank, Georgetown University
Warren Goldstein, University of Hartford
Linda Gordon, New York University
Anthony T. Grafton, Princeton University
Will Gravely, University of Denver
George N. Green, University of Texas, Arlington
James Green, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Sara M. Gregg, Iowa State University
Robert Griffith, American University
Michael Grossberg, Indiana University
James Grossman, Newberry Library
Carol S. Gruber, William Paterson University
Joshua Guild, Princeton University
Roland L. Guyotte, University of Minnesota, Morris

Steven Hahn, University of Pennsylvania
David Hall, Harvard University
Kenneth Hamilton, Southern Methodist University
J. William Harris, University of New Hampshire
Paul Harvey, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Sam W. Haynes, University of Texas, Arlington
Nancy A. Hewitt, Rutgers University
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Harvard University
Joan Hoff, University of Montana
Jonathan Holloway, Yale University
Jeffrey Houghtby, Iowa State University
Tera W. Hunter, Princeton University
Harold Hyman, Rice University

Charles F. Irons, Elon University

Maurice Jackson, Georgetown University
Thomas F. Jackson, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Lisa Jacobson, University of California, Santa Barbara
Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Ohio State University
Randal Jelks, Calvin College
John Jentz, Marquette University
Benjamin H. Johnson, Southern Methodist University
David A. Johnson, Portland State University
Robert KC Johnson, Brooklyn College
Jennifer M. Jones, Rutgers University
Patrick D. Jones, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Peniel E. Joseph, Brandeis University

Michael Katz, University of Pennsylvania
Michael Kazin, Georgetown University
Barry Keenan, Denison University
Evelyn Fox Keller, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ari Kelman, University of California, Davis
Stephen Kern, Ohio State University
Richard H. King, University of Nottingham
Tracy E. K'Meyer, University of Louisville
Sarah Knott, Indiana University
Gary Kornblith, Oberlin College

Carol Lasser, Oberlin College
Melinda Lawson, Union College
Steven Lawson, Rutgers University
Jackson Lears, Rutgers University
Alan Lessoff, Illinois State University
James M. Lindgren, SUNY, Plattsburgh
Edward T. Linenthal, Indiana University
William A. Link, University of Florida
Leon Litwack, University of California, Berkeley
James Livingston, Rutgers University
Paul K. Longmore, San Francisco State University
Ralph E. Luker, Cliopatria

J. Fred MacDonald, Northeastern Illinois University
Chandra Manning, Georgetown University
Norman Markowitz, Rutgers University
Jill Massino, Oberlin College
Kevin Mattson, Ohio University
Jaclyn Maxwell, Ohio University
Martha May, Western Connecticut State University
Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Harvard University
Joseph A. McCartin, Georgetown University
Robert S. McElvaine, Millsaps College
Marjorie McLellan, Wright State University
Sally G. McMillen, Davidson College
James McPherson, Princeton University
Edward D. Melillo, Oberlin College
John Merriman, Yale University
Tony Michels, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Christopher Morris, University of Texas, Arlington
Walter Moss, Eastern Michigan University
Todd Moye, University of North Texas

Joan Neuberger, University of Texas, Austin
Serena L. Newman, Bay Path College
Michelle Nickerson, University of Texas, Dallas

David O'Brien, College of the Holy Cross
Leslie S. Offutt, Vassar College
William L. O'Neill, Rutgers University

Jeff Pasley, University of Missouri, Columbia
William A. Pencak, Pennsylvania State University
Claire Potter, Wesleyan University
Gyan Prakash, Princeton University
Michael Punke, University of Montana

David Quigley, Boston College

Stephen G. Rabe, University of Texas, Dallas
Albert J. Raboteau, Princeton University
Monica A. Rankin, University of Texas, Dallas
Marci Reaven, New York City
Jonathan Rees, Colorado State University, Pueblo
Janice Reiff, University of California, Los Angeles
Steven G. Reinhardt, University of Texas, Arlington
Kimberly Reiter, Stetson University
Leo Ribuffo, George Washington University
Natalie J. Ring, University of Texas, Dallas
Jerry Rodnitzky, Texas Christian University
Ruth Rosen, University of California, Berkeley
Peter Rothstein, Juniata College
Edward B. Rugemer, Yale University

Douglas C. Sackman, University of Puget Sound
Leonard J. Sadosky, Iowa State University
Nick Salvatore, Cornell University
Brian Sandberg, Northern Illinois University
John Savage, Lehigh University
Martha Saxton, Amherst College
Ellen W. Schrecker, Yeshiva University
Michael J. Schroeder, Eastern Michigan University
Daryl M. Scott, Howard University
Rachel F. Seidman, Duke University
Brett L. Shadle, Virginia Tech
Rebecca Sharpless, Texas Christian University
James Sidbury, University of Texas at Austin
Daniel J. Singal, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Manisha Sinha, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Harvard Sitkoff, University of New Hampshire
Gene Allen Smith, Texas Christian University
Daniel Soyer, Fordham University
Paul Spickard, University of California, Santa Barbara
Brian Steele, University of Alabama, Birmingham
James Brewer Stewart, Macalester College
Jeffrey Stewart, George Mason University
Mary Stroll, University of California, San Diego

David Thelen, Indiana University
Patricia Tilburg, Davidson College
Jeanne Maddox Toungara, Howard University
Jeffrey Trask, New York University
Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs, Helena, Montana
Elizabeth Hayes Turner, University of North Texas
Bruce M. Tyler, University of Louisville

Kevin Uhalde, Ohio University

Siva Vaidhyanathan, University of Virginia
Kara Dixon Vuic, Bridgewater College

David J. Weber, Southern Methodist University
Barbara Weinstein, New York University
Richard Weiss, University of California, Los Angeles
Kathleen Wellman, Southern Methodist University
Daniel Wickberg, University of Texas, Dallas
Craig Steven Wilder, Dartmouth College
Margaret Williams, William Patterson University
R. Hal Williams, Southern Methodist University
David W. Wills, Amherst College
Amy Woodson-Boulton, Loyola-Marymount University
Charters Wynn, University of Texas, Austin

Susan Yohn, Hofstra University

Eli Zaretsky, New School for Social Research
Michael Zuckerman, University of Pennsylvania

*Institutional affiliations are listed for identification purposes only and, of course, do not indicate an institutional endorsement.

Related Links

  • Ralph Luker: Historians and the Obama Campaign
  • Michael Kazin: Surging for Obama
  • HNN Index: Historians as activists

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    More Comments:

    Richard Williams - 12/14/2010

    What do they know now, 2 years later? Have they learned anything about their endorsement?

    Robert W Smith - 1/2/2009

    After all I've read over the last few years about the facist Bush Administration, and how it has trampled our liberties, it is wonderful that so many people, by putting their names on a public document, are willing to prove otherwise. But I do wonder how many of the signatories have made just such an accusation over the last 8 years?

    Robert W Smith - 1/2/2009

    What historians should know is that Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme, that the attempts by Roosevelt to undo the Law of Supply and Demand led to net reductions in plant and equipment investments between 1933 and 1941, and finally, that the road to hell is paved by people, like President Roosevelt, with good intentions.
    When historians lay aside their sheepskin, closing their eyes to historical realities, for political purposes, no good will come of it.

    Eric Foner - 2/18/2008

    It's nice to see our ivory tower compatriots espouse the socialist line (sarcasm.) Where's the list of historians supporting McCain? Obama will have to run the race of his life to beat the Republican machine, and after being bloodied by Clinton, many Dems will be disgusted.

    Stephen Kislock - 1/26/2008

    An error in the first URL, correction follows,

    Stephen F. Kislock III

    Starving hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, is an Idea Obama, Supports.

    Stephen Kislock - 1/26/2008

    Arnold Shcherban - 12/14/2007

    One the main woes of American political psychology is the orientation on the winner not on
    the right candidate from moral and
    social point of view.
    It is true that from pragmatic stance
    it doesn't make much sense to vote for a looser.
    However, two important considerations are missing from such standpoint: first - who looses today
    can win tommorow; second - many good candidates with popular platform get discouraged by the lack of voter support, and lose the will to continue political struggle in the future, thus narrowing the choice among more decent politicians.

    Arnold Shcherban - 12/13/2007

    I'm not going support any candidate
    from either Democrat or Republican Party. The closest candidate I may have supported him being Left Democrat is Ron Paul...
    However, what I find really painful
    is the continuous propagation of the
    "We are at war" Lie by the mainstream Democrats (and that's why they continue to fund the "war").
    The Iraqi war, i.e. US-UK agression against Iraq, has ended in 2003 by the total defeat and capitulation of the Iraqi side and the US-UK occupation of that country.
    What we have seen since then was nothing more nothing less than the following: first - Civil war; second Iraqi military resistance (guerrila war) to the US-UK occupation.
    The US has or should have (by any civilised international measures) nothing to do with the former, and create the latter by the occupation. Which arises the question: what "war" this country is at?
    The answer is obvious - the war of imperialist propaganda to justify
    the continuing occupation and the construction of huge permanent military bases on the territory of Iraq.
    It is just disgusting to observe how Democrats who in words are against the occupation are cowardly supporting it by promalgating that
    outrageous Lie of their alleged
    ideological opponents.

    Nancy REYES - 12/9/2007

    "Obama's platform is ambitious, yet sensible. He calls for negotiating the abolition of nuclear weapons, providing universal and affordable health insurance, combatting poverty by adding resources and discouraging destructive habits, investing in renewable energy sources, and engaging with unfriendly nations to ease conflicts that could otherwise lead to war. He takes more forthright stands on these issues than do his major Democratic competitors."

    And presumably Hillary is for increasing poverty, encouraging "destructive habits", getting rid of "renewable energy sources" and increasing conflicts with "unfriendly nations"?

    Nice rhetoric, but the devil is in the details...

    E. Simon - 12/6/2007

    Can't disagree with that.

    Looking forward to that book.

    Thomas R. Clark - 12/4/2007

    I agree entirely with the historians' assessment of the problems we face: namely, an immoral and misguided war; a threat to civil liberties; poverty amidst plenty; and an inadequate system of health insurance. Given these ills, however, why not support the candidate who has most consistently opposed the war and supported universal health insurance: Dennis Kucinich? When push comes to shove, I may well end up casting my vote for Obama. But it is simply not true to say, at the statement declares, that Obama has taken a "more forthright" position on the critical issues than any of his competitors. Kucinich may lack Obama's style -- which, like it or not, matters greatly in our political culture -- but he is every bit as "forthright".

    Having said that, I applaud the signatories for issuing the statement and taking a collective and public stance. However, I cannot yet join them because I'm not yet convinced that Obama is the best candidate.

    HNN - 12/2/2007

    My opinion of the American people? That's a complicated question. It takes a book to provide the answer. (My book comes out in April.)

    In the meantime, I will simply say that I agree with George Will that Obama can't bring a single state with him that Kerry or Gore didn't win. So I don't see how he could possibly be a help to Hillary in Nov, should she win the nomination.

    Passing him over would, of course, alienate his most enthusiastic supporters. But would they really sit out the election? I doubt it. After Bush Dems are motivated to get ANY Democrat in the WH.

    E. Simon - 12/1/2007

    You know, I suppose there is an outside possibility that Edwards could be Hillary's running mate, but in general I do think Obama makes the ticket stronger rather than weaker. If the Democrats (well, Clinton, really) are so cynical as to knock Obama off the ticket due to his "race" then I think this would decrease their appeal rather than broaden it. And my, how the days of all the talk of things like a Rainbow Coalition would have passed.

    Sometimes I like going against conventional wisdom. But I honestly didn't know that this was where conventional wisdom would have stood on such an issue. I'm also trying to figure out the meaning/implications of the lack of interest Obama's able to generate among Black Americans. Again, let me know if you have any thoughts on these things too - I didn't bring up the race and gender thing but would be more than willing to explore it if you think that it would play such a strong factor in a campaign.

    E. Simon - 11/30/2007

    One historian who I respect very much is fond of saying that history is not destiny. Another, who was educated at Oxford and Harvard, writes about letters he receives from Southern whites, with ingrained family histories of racist attitudes, feeling very well disposed to Obama. In any event, the veiled argument from authority (sorry, from /education/) is not convincing. It doesn't convince me that a generation obsessed w/identity politics can accept that, absent strictly enforced and often artificial attitudes and government programs in the other direction, people might not care as much as they assume they should - in a negative way - about race and gender. I feel bad that you have such a low opinion of the American people. But I don't. And I don't have the studies at the tips of my fingers to back it up, but unless you show me the studies that deny that younger Americans are not as beholden to the problematic attitudes that you assume to cast upon the American electorate generally based on less and less current assumptions, then I see no reason to assume that your argument is much more than a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I really don't care if "the Dems" "retake the White House". As a presidential historian you're probably aware of their chances just based on the party identity of the last/current administration. But I think that someone honest and someone who seems responsible should - too bad the identity pundits don't focus as much on those attributes - since I think they're at least as important to most Americans as gender and race.

    In any event, the same negative forecasts were made about Kennedy, and pessimists focused on Lieberman's religious identity on the Gore ticket. So although you're right that this time it's different in that both candidates have identity "issues" for some, Hillary is about as feminine as Thatcher wasn't and Obama is mixed race with a father who was African rather than African American. And the issues are not the same in either event. My understanding is that - despite the extent to which race might still be a problem - Obama would do better in the South than Hillary would. But I'm not sure what that means because I know less about historical Southern attitudes towards women than I do about historical Southern attitudes toward Blacks. Perhaps you could explain that to me, if that doesn't make this new course in which you've taken the conversation too complicated, of course...

    And also, finally, you confuse my prediction with a recommendation.

    HNN - 11/30/2007

    So you are recommending that the Democrats put a woman and a black on one precedent-shattering ticket?

    And you think this will help the Dems retake the White House?

    What course did you take in American history that convinces you that we have overcome both misogyny and racism?

    E. Simon - 11/29/2007

    Come on, man... I mean, there's no such thing as a certainty, yes, but Democrats' concerns about Clinton's "electability" won't derail her monstrous hydra of a machine (CNN debates, anyone?), nor will it detract from the importance of her skill for determining precisely (like a laser beam) what she's going to say to next week's potential constituency on the campaign trail, regardless of the how much of a monkey wrench one has to use to make it congruent with the position from last week. The shelf-life on her stances is shorter than stale bread. But voters concerned about her "electability" don't give a damn about her lack of authenticity - as much as she gives a pathetic new low to that shortcoming.

    However she is smart enough to know that Obama's personality represents the opposite, and that the steam behind his campaign rests on Americans admiring the fact that in this way he is the mirror opposite of all the major defects in hers. A shrewd, calculating machine and an honest heart and voice is the only way to balance this team of front-runners. Not that Obama's not smart. But he isn't a woman and the holdovers of 1960's identity politics broaden that ticket's appeal to (really) her (only real, committed) crucial constituency.

    Oscar Chamberlain - 11/29/2007

    A Clinton-Obama ticket would be a sane betters' choice, but that hardly makes it a certainty. Sure thing candidacies have failed before. In this case, a lot of Democrats are nervous about Clinton's electability, and while Obama's stock is climbing, the experience question also presents problems.

    The limited time within which the major primaries occur is also a factor. A frontrunner who stumbles in the opening round may have less chance to recover than in previous election years.

    Ralph E. Luker - 11/29/2007

    You point would seem to be that, unlike other American citizens, historians should not band together to support a political candidate because ... they live in the past ... or something like that.

    Larry Cebula - 11/29/2007

    This endorsement is great because if there is one thing we historians know about, it is the future.

    E. Simon - 11/28/2007

    this is what happens when people think too much.

    how difficult is it or how unintuitive does one have to be to not understand that the nomination will be a Clinton/Obama ticket?

    E. Simon - 11/28/2007

    Yeah. See, like, Obama is honest. He actually says what he means and feels and can make it sound inspiring. Are political observers that disconnected from anything but the blatant bullshit that has qualified as the political process for so long that they cannot see the incredibly positive significance of a change from this? History may be complex but historically important personalities need not be. Sometimes it helps to not have a bunch of unplayed-with toys cluttered about in the attic.

    Obama is more like RFK than JFK, thankfully. Another man who could skillfully point out the poignant, honest truths about Americans that they've avoided acknowledging ever since his assassination.

    lauren helene coodley - 11/28/2007

    Anyone want to join me in a letter supporting John Edwards? Why? His global warming plan that's drawn the endorsement of Friends of the Earth, his steadfast determination to support workers, both union and nonunion; his fiery and passionate populism which represents the best traditions of the Democratic Party--and the best hope for the Democrats actually winning the White House next year.

    Oscar Chamberlain - 11/28/2007

    I have mixed feelings about this statement of support.

    On one hand, I agree with many of the complimentary remarks concerning Barack Obama. On the other hand, I would prefer to see a statement of support--particularly one from such fine scholars--that indicates not simply why he is good but why he is better than his opponents.

    I think this is particularly important here because the principal argument made is not based on his experience but on his "first-rate personality" (a rough, but I think reasonable translation of the phrase "qualities of mind and temperament.")

    Perhaps such a personality--and the skill to project it--is what the nation needs to reinvigorate its democracy, but how do the other personalities fall short? For example, is the rugged, survivor's personality that Hillary Clinton exudes any less promising to a nation entangled in a war from which it cannot easily extricate itself?

    Furthermore, the degree and manner to which we extricate ourselves from Iraq is going to depend not simply on personality but on both administrative and diplomatic skills. Is his personality so much better than, say, Bill Richardson's that we should ignore the latter's considerably greater experience in those areas?

    In closing, I ask these questions not because I oppose Obama. I really have not made up his mind. Still, the statement above is--as I am sure all the signers know--only the beginning of an argument in his favor. I would love to hear some of them expanding on it.

    J Draper - 11/27/2007

    Obama may be from Illinois, but what makes you think he's anything like Lincoln?

    Herschel Abraham Cohen - 11/27/2007

    The biggest problem facing this country is the abandonment of the Constitution; in particular habeas corpus and the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments. I find it remarkable that such an esteemed group of scholars fail to recognize the peril our nation is in and furthermore support such a milquetoast as Sen. Obama. Does the Senator have anything to say about Civil Liberties or the Constitution How does he feel about this travesty:


    How might he respond to this? What kind of appointments can we expect from him for the federal bench? Who are the candidates who care about the Constitution and rule of law? What about them?

    J Draper - 11/27/2007

    ...and he smoked crack, too.

    Danielle Clarke - 11/27/2007

    ""Obama on Ethics and Lobbying Reform""


    Throughout his political career, Barack Obama has fought for open and honest government. As an Illinois State Senator, he helped pass the state’s first major ethics reform bill in 25 years. And as a U.S. Senator, he has spearheaded the effort to clean up Washington in the wake of numerous scandals. In the first two weeks of the 110th Congress, Senator Obama helped lead the Senate to pass the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act, a comprehensive ethics and lobbying reform bill, by a 96-2 vote. This landmark bill was signed into law by the President in September 2007.


    ""Alone among the U.S. Presidential candidates"", Barack Obama is confronting the question of how to produce more accountable and effective politics in our democracy.

    His just-released Tech Plan (Download Obama Tech Plan) uniquely understands that the time, expertise and enthusiasm that ordinary people invest in making Wikipedia better, for example, can be transformed into practices to make government work better and more accountably. So he doesn't just call for making information more transparent to citizens; he wants to hear what we have to say and enable us to participate. The Plan calls for citizen engagement in the work of federal agencies and demonstrates respect for the intelligence and expertise of the American people. He calls for opening up the closed practices of government and using new technology to enable genuine citizen participation and engagement in our democracy. This is a major and unprecedented step. No other candidate “gets it.” They pay lip service to transparency. He proposes making government data available online as well as ensuring that agencies do their work in public. They talk about citizen congresses that would deliberate in quaint town hall meetings having nothing to do with real world politics or power. He proposes engaging citizens in the actual and ongoing work and decision-making of government -- not Americans talking to elected officials but Americans genuinely participating. They talk about technology and innovation. He offers a comprehensive broadband strategy, commitment to media diversity, and a proposal to improve patent quality, including the practice of rigorous, public peer review like Peer-to-Patent. They talk about strong IP. He balances his support of strong IP with recognition of the need to promote collaboration and innovation. I am excited about Obama’s Tech Plan. In fact, it should be called the “Democracy Plan.”

    He alone does what a President should do, namely articulate a vision for democracy in the digital age.

    CLICK LINK TO SEE WHAT He wants to DO: http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/danielleclarke/Cx84