Howard Zinn on US Presidential Candidates

Question: Who do you endorse for President [in the 2008 US election]?

Howard Zinn: We have three candidates. We have a definite Republican candidate, [John] McCain. We have two Democratic candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

I certainly wouldn’t choose McCain, because McCain is a war hawk. This war in Iraq is one of the most disastrous things the United States has ever done for our people and certainly for the people of Iraq. McCain wanting to continue the war that [George W.] Bush started five years ago, McCain is absolutely repulsive to me.

Between Clinton and Obama, well both of them have promised to end the [Iraq] war, but I must say their proposals for bringing the troops out of Iraq are rather halfhearted and they talk about keeping troops there, or Barack Obama says, “Let’s take troops out of Iraq, send troops to Afghanistan.” Neither of them has shaken what Barack Obama rightly called the mindset that led to the Iraq war. The mindset is a mindset which sees war and military intervention as a solution. Neither of them has shaken that.

I’m not happy, as you can see, with any of the candidates. When I get to the voting booth, I will be forced against my will, because I want somebody else other than those three. I will be forced against my will to make a choice and I will probably choose Obama, because in many ways he represents something really different, a multi-racial person who is supported by a large number of young and enthusiastic people and who may, that is these young and enthusiastic people may, if he is elected, become a force that he has to reckon with and will push him in a better direction than he has shown so far.

Question: How can Americans live up to their potential?

Howard Zinn:  I think Americans need to recognize that they cannot depend on our political system to do the right thing.  Americans need to recognize that they have to create local institutions, organizations, town halls.  They have to create grassroots organizations which all over the country will speak to the national politicians in order to bring about change, both in foreign and domestic policy. 

In other words, I think Americans need to realize that they cannot limit their participation as citizens to go into the polls every several years to vote.  They must participate every day. 

Henry David Thoreau said, “We must vote with our arms, with our legs, with our feet, with our whole bodies.”  By that he meant people should be active and involved every day of the year if we are really going to have a democratic society.

 

Date Recorded: July 5, 2008

 

 

 

For Zinn, the 2008 US election comes down to the war.

Related Articles

Why Japan's hikikomori isolate themselves from others for years

These modern-day hermits can sometimes spend decades without ever leaving their apartments.

700,000 Japanese people are thought to be hikikomori, modern-day hermits who never leave their apartments (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images).
Mind & Brain
  • A hikikomori is a type of person in Japan who locks themselves away in their bedrooms, sometimes for years.
  • This is a relatively new phenomenon in Japan, likely due to rigid social customs and high expectations for academic and business success.
  • Many believe hikikomori to be a result of how Japan interprets and handles mental health issues.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less