Oct, 27, 2016 By Jack Jodell.
“I’m not ready to give you a clear answer on whether electoral politics holds any particular hope for progressives. It would mean that nothing I did ever mattered.”
– Tom Hayden –
Tom Hayden, the great longtime lefty radical activist and member of the anti-war Chicago 8 from the 1960s, regrettably passed away last Sunday at the age of 76. He had been in ill health for some time after having suffered a stroke last year. Hayden had a long and colorful history as one of the prominent leaders of the New Left, and actually helped found the Students for a Democratic Society by drafting the Port Huron Statement in 1962 during his college years. His opposition to the Vietnam War was intense, and the fact that he crossed state lines to protest at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago led to his arrest and conviction on the charge of crossing state lines to incite a riot, but that was eventually overturned on appeal. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1976, and then formed the Campaign for Economic Democracy. He became chairman of the California SolarCalCouncil. He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1982, and remained in state office for the next 18 years, He had previously married actress Jane Fonda and was very supportive of her antiwar protests. I won’t concern myself with his earlier life in this post, as I’ll leave that to others, but will instead pay tribute to his lifetime of activism for just causes, especially for the poor and marginalized.
Like Bernie Sanders, Tom Hayden was committed to social and economic justice from his earliest days. Also like Sanders, Hayden believed in non-violence and decided to pursue his agenda through constitutional means, having been elected to several offices at the state level in California. I will leave you with a series of his quotes…
“I didn’t want to report on the world; I wanted to change it.”
“I put in work for my neighborhood. Hundreds of bills, measures, budget items, and hearings. I always tried to make it a point to stay late, to always run the longest hearings, to carry nearly the most bills. The tragedy was that of the 18 years I was in Sacramento, 16 years were under Republican governors.”
“All my life I’ve been involved in retail politics.I was a Freedom Rider in the South. I was the author of books on gang violence. I was a community organizer in Newark, NJ, and when I spoke to the Black Caucus, congressional and state, I realized they were going all the way for Hillary, and so was the Latino caucus in Sacramento, and I asked myself…’do I really want to cast my vote against the people who have been a part of my life and the soul of the country?”
“… it could be the tightest, most hazardous race in political history and we can’t afford to allow Trump to slither through. That’s where I’m at.”
We lost a very conscientious and dedicated activist for peace, social justice, and economic fairness this past weekend. Thank you, Tom Hayden, for having graced us swith your spirit and inherent goodness. You will be long remembered and cherished, and your example will always set a fine standard for us all to follow!
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