Digging In, Reaching Out

Maybe it’s just the circles I run in, but I sure haven’t seen too many signs of a demoralized Left since the Bushites got themselves back in power on November 2nd. From the local to the national level I see many signs that large numbers of us are very prepared to do battle against the next wave of attacks and destructive decisions coming from these jerks once they get their new Cabinet in place.

The first inkling of this (nonviolent) combative attitude came for me on November 5th at a full-house, local event organized by the Newark-based People’s Organization for Progress. Without exception, everyone there seemed “fired up, won’t take no more.”

Then there was the decision made by the Green Party’s Cobb-LaMarche campaign on November 8th to challenge the voting results in Ohio and the four-day success in raising the $150,000 needed to do so. Around the same time, I attended a packed Riverside Church sanctuary in NYC that reverberated with energy in response to the fighting words of Cornell West, Osagyefu Sekou, Manning Marable and others.  Soon after that came word that almost twice as many people as last year, 15,000 altogether, attended the latest annual demonstration at the government’s School of the Assassins in Georgia.

And just recently there was the highly successful meeting in Washington, D.C., Progressive Dialogue III, attended by representatives of over 45 organizations, a multi-cultural, multi-issue mix. Out of this meeting, following an inspiring weekend of discussion and decision-making, emerged the new unity group, United Progressives for Democracy.

These examples could be multiplied. It almost feels as if many of us are glad this difficult 2004 election season is over so we can get into the “serve the people, fight the power” organizing mode that we feel most comfortable with.

To keep our movement rolling, however, there are a couple of basics we must be about if we want to see the growth and expansion of our independent progressive movement.

First, we need to build a democratic, respectful culture within our various organizations, one in which we each feel supported and stronger as a result of our participation, a culture which is welcoming to new people who join. Those of us in predominantly white, or predominantly male, groups must deal with those realities in a serious way. When someone interacts negatively in person or over email lists, mimicking the competitive, disrespectful, self-centered style of the dominant culture, we must intervene and address that style. And we must integrate fun time, social get-togethers, parties into our on-going organizing work.

If we build this kind of internal culture, we are in a much stronger position to deal with legal and other attacks from our enemies, attacks we can expect more of.

Second, we must give top priority to outreaching, educational work among new people. If the election showed anything it’s that there are still an awful lot of people, especially too many white, working-class people, who are taken in by the corporate and right-wing propaganda. Indeed, there is a strategic need for white progressives to organize themselves to build upon, expand and strengthen work already happening within this huge sector of the population, both in workplaces and in communities. It’s not just among people of European descent that we need to reach out and educate, but there’s no question but that those of us in that category have important work to do to confront the racism, homophobia and general backwardness that led to Bush getting close to 60% of the white vote, according to exit polls. This represents a four-point gain over 2000; a 12-point gain over 1996 and a grim 18-point gain over 1992, according to author Bob Wing.

This work will be more effective to the extent that we can undercut the myth the Bushites and their apologists in the corporate media are propagating that the Republicans won fair, square and overwhelmingly. Toward this end, there are three, immediate efforts that deserve broad support and

-The Green Party’s recount efforts in Ohio and other organizing to expose the truth of what really went on with this election. (www.votecobb.org)

-No Stolen Elections and the Winter Democracy Campaign’s call for massive grassroots pressure on Congresspeople and Senators from now until January 6 to demand that at least one person from each house of Congress object to the seating of the Ohio electors so that the full Congress will then be forced to hold an unprecedented, public discussion about voter disenfranchisement, intimidation and electronic voting machine fraud. (www.nov3.us)

-The call from many groups for massive demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and around the country January 20th-22nd in connection with Bush’s inauguration. There should be tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people coming out for these actions. We need to show the country and the world that we will not let these deceivers speak and act in our name.

Wherever we are, whatever our daily interactions with others, we can all stand strong for what is right and just.
Combined, our many individual lights can make flaming torches that to help lead toward the new world that we must create. Si, se puede!