Legendary progressive activist Tom Hayden: ‘I used to support Bernie — but then I changed my mind’
In a new column posted at The Nation, anti-war and civil rights activist Tom Hayden surprised many with an about-face, throwing his support in the California primary to Democratic Party presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
“I have a variety of concerns about both candidates’ campaigns. But I intend to vote for Hillary Clinton in the California primary for one fundamental reason.”
Tom Hayden — a lifelong progressive activist and politician — was a “freedom rider,” former president of Students for a Democratic Society, drafter of the seminal Port Huron statement and an indicted member of the “Chicago Eight.” From 1982-2000, Hayden served in the California State Assembly and State Senate. In more recent years, he’s been an environmental and animal rights activist.
As he reports in his column at The Nation, Hayden “suffered a serious stroke while investigating fracking sumps in San Joaquin County last year.”
At The Nation, Tom Hayden explains that he initially supported Sanders as the Democratic Party nominee for president:
I was an early supporter of Bernie, one of those who thought he could push Hillary to the left, legitimize democratic socialist measures, and leave an indelible mark on our frozen political culture. More deeply, I believed he was the best possible messenger in the wake of Democratic Party shortcomings. As I have argued for years, the liberal failure to create jobs in my Rust Belt heartland, Michigan, for three decades, destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives.
Hayden also writes how he’s known Hillary Clinton over the years and how he’s concerned about her ‘pro-Hawkish’ views, among many other issues.
After heaping praise on Bernie Sanders, as well as concerns, Hayden then offers the reason why he’s changed his mind:
I intend to vote for Hillary Clinton in the California primary for one fundamental reason. It has to do with race. My life since 1960 has been committed to the causes of African Americans, the Chicano movement, the labor movement, and freedom struggles in Vietnam, Cuba and Latin America. In the environmental movement I start from the premise of environmental justice for the poor and communities of color. My wife is a descendant of the Oglala Sioux, and my whole family is inter-racial.
What would cause me to turn my back on all those people who have shaped who I am? That would be a transgression on my personal code. I have been on too many freedom rides, too many marches, too many jail cells, and far too many gravesites to breach that trust.
You can also watch an extended interview Al Jazeera conducted with Hayden in 2013, here: