Future Hope column, November 6, 2010
By Ted Glick
“We need to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people, combined with thousands participating in strategic nonviolent civil disobedience, behind a message and a program that is popular, not narrow, and which targets the oil and coal companies, the for-profit health care industry, the too-big-to-fail greedy and criminal bankers, the military-industrial complex – in short, the powerful monied interests. . .”
* * * * * * * *
The results of the November 2 elections, overall, were very sobering. It wasn’t just the Tea Party and Republican victories in House and Senate seats but their striking successes in gubernatorial and state house and senate races. One analysis that I saw said that, after the redrawing of electoral district boundaries over the next two years by much more heavily Republican state governments, the Democrats will need to win the equivalent of 15-20 more seats to retake the House than is true right now.
Of course, the Democrats had overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress and control of the White House for two years, and there were serious flaws in much of what they produced and some things that weren’t accomplished at all, like decent climate legislation, action to match the need as far as unemployment and mortgage foreclosures, immigrant rights legislation, serious action against criminal bankers, a reduction of the military budget and labor law reform.
Is it too much to hope that the election results will lead many, many more progressives to realize that it’s time – it’s past time – to stop expecting that the Democratic Party is going to provide the solutions we need? Or, at least, that they’ll never stand up to the corporate powers-that-be without strong and visible, massive grassroots pressure? Will a critical mass of us see and act upon the fact that the economic/climate/social/political catastrophes that we are in and facing will never be solved absent a powerful, unified, independent, visible, grassroots-based, progressive political movement?
In a Future Hope column many years ago I wrote about what I saw as the three absolute prerequisites if we were to have any hope of transformative change in the USA.
One is the existence of thousands and thousands of community-based and workplace-based organizations all over the country. These organizations would be led by and accountable to and take action on the key issues of low-income, working-class, disenfranchised and/or decent people in all kinds of communities and workplaces.
Second, we need something similar to, with some key differences, the Rainbow Coalition movement of the 1980’s, a “third force” alternative to the Democrats and Republicans which supports candidates for office who are part of and connected to the various social and popular movements of the people. One difference is that it has to be more independent, more consciously involve third party supporters as well as progressive Democrats. Another is that it can’t be built around the personal charisma of one person. It needs a leadership, not just a leader.
Third, we need something like what we saw in this country, and the world, from 1999 to 2001 with the global justice movement that challenged the World Trade Organization, the IMF, the World Bank and similar institutions. Beginning in the USA in Seattle, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in the streets as part of legal marches and as part of mass civil disobedience actions, mainly nonviolent, over and over again during this time. It was still a rising force when the 9/11/2001 Al Qaeda attacks stopped it and diverted much of its energy into the Iraq anti-war movement.
My sense of what is the priority task, not the only one but the priority, following the elections is to consciously forge a broad progressive alliance to plan for and organize a massive “street heat” set of actions in D.C. and elsewhere in 2011, possibly in the spring but no later than the early fall.
We need to shift the political dynamic in the country. This is what the Tea Party – they were then the “tea baggers” – did with their September 12th, 2009 demonstration at the U.S. Capitol.
We need to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people, combined with thousands participating in strategic nonviolent civil disobedience, united behind a message and a program that is popular, not narrow, and which targets the oil and coal companies, the for-profit health care industry, the too-big-to-fail greedy and criminal bankers, the war profiteers – in short, the powerful monied interests who have hijacked our democracy and are pulling the strings behind the Tea Party, the Republican Party and powerful sections of the Democratic Party.
That’s what I see as the most important thing to be done right now.
I welcome constructive criticisms and response.
Ted Glick’s past writings and other information can be found at http://www.tedglick.com.