The Black Panther Party and Obama

They like his progressive politics but some question his swing to the middle.


They like Sen. Barack Obama's progressive style of politics, but some 1960s-era radicals are questioning the candidate's recent swing to the middle on some big issues. "I like Barack Obama," says Bobby Seale, cofounder of the Black Panther Party. "I'm a progressive," he says. "The progression has to be manifested in a new direction in policies and legislation," says Seale. "I'm hoping that he is able to make a dent in that direction with the office of the presidency." Seale adds an "oh, yeah" when asked if his activism—highlighted in the new DVD release Chicago 10 —paved the way for Obama's candidacy. The movie, being released during the Democratic National Convention this month, combines animation and real video of 1968 protests at the Democratic convention and the subsequent trial of Seale and others for their participation. Seale's conviction was eventually reversed. Pal and former Yippie frontman Paul Krassner says that unlike then, today it's best to protest from inside, and Obama is best suited to do that. "This time, the protest might be more effective within the system, with voting for somebody who will at least appoint Supreme Court judges who have compassion instead of nutsiness," he says. But on Obama, Krassner frets, "I have disappointments in a lot of the compromises he's made, but that's the game he's playing. I just have to remember that his middle name is 'I'm Not Bush.' "