The Iraq anti-war movement has been very successful, but invisible, said political activist Tom Hayden.
Hayden gave a presentation Tuesday night at Drake University. The event was part of a fundraiser for the Progressive Coalition of Central Iowa, an advocacy and lobbying group that opposed the Iraq War and supports a crackdown on free trade and corporate welfare, among other causes.
Former husband of actress Jane Fonda, Hayden is a political activist who became famous for his opposition to the Vietnam War. He was one of the Chicago Seven arrested during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Now an animal rights activist, Hayden endorsed Obama earlier this year.
He said he was shocked to learn that $180 million of money from anti-war lobbying groups has been contributed to campaigns since the Iraq War.
With that kind of clout, the peace movement entered the mainstream in a way that would never have been possible before, Hayden said. In the last five years there have been 11 demonstrations of more than 100,000 people. Thats a significant amount of times to come out in those numbers.
The peacefulness of these protests has contributed to the invisibleness of the movement, Hayden said.
Now there is an assumption that you really arent part of an anti-war movement if you dont have blood rolling down your face or arent being gassed, Hayden said. Theres this mythic image of the anti-war movement of the past that casts a shadow over the anti-war movement of the present.
But the anti-war movement has been successful, he said, as evidenced by a democratic overturning of Congress in 2006, and the growing support of a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq.
Supporters of Barack Obama will become the standard-bearers for the progressive movement for the next 20-30 years, he said.
Obamas early opposition to the Iraq war was an issue he used to stand out from other candidates.
Take away that issue, and he wouldnt have a way to differentiate himself, Hayden said.
Although he predicted a huge voter turnout, he said the hysteria and anger toward Obama will intensify as the election draws closer.
He said when he was politically active in the 60s, he would never have dreamed that an interracial candidate could become president.
In Mississippi in 1960, the very idea of Barack Obama was criminal, Hayden said.