The Radical Origins of Obama's "Yes We Can" Slogan

I have contended for some time that the grass roots organizing that brought President Obama to power was based on the tactics of long dead Chicago radical and father of “community organizing”-.

The Chicago strand of Alinkyism morphed into ACORN and Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), both of which played huge roles in the Obama movement.

In California, Alinskyism influenced the militant tactics of United Farmworkers labor leader .

I’ve always believed that Chavez’s famous slogan “Si Se Puede” (Yes We Can) was the real origin of Obama’s slogan.

Here’s the proof-from DSA’s Talking Union blog;

After electing the most pro-union President in decades, organized labor is being torn by internal fights. And on different sides of these conflicts are veterans of the United Farmworkers of America (UFW), whose strategic innovations have shaped today’s labor movement and whose “Si Se Puede” (”Yes We Can”) rallying cry became the hallmark of Barack Obama’s campaign.

Chavez was flanked by DSA members such as and Dolores Huerta.

Obama has been surrounded by DSA members for more than 20 years.

I wonder whose bright idea it was to anglicise Chavez’s old slogan for their new front man?

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5 thoughts on “The Radical Origins of Obama's "Yes We Can" Slogan

  1. The earliest reference to the saying is by Lee Dorsey who in 1970 put out an album called Yes We Can, a song that was later remade by the Pointer Sisters called Yes We Can Can.

    Looking at Lee Dorsey, The Pointer Sisters and……Chavez….well I would have to agree with you, Chavez is the most likely origin since the others have NOTHING in common with the black president.

  2. Considering he used it in two campaigns , Obama and for the Governor of Massachusetts I would think Axelrod was the moving force behind this choice.

  3. In the early 1990s there was a student government "political" party that went by the name of the "Yes We Can" Party. Who was a professor at the UofC's law school at the time? The funny thing about it is that the party was a joke party. The answer to every question asked – "Yes We Can". Hmmmm….

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