Friday, February 15, 2013

The Postman's advice for activists,

"It's getting better all the time..."

The stars seem to be lining up in favor of progressive change.

Barack Obama's reelection, never a real goal to the disorganized Left, is nevertheless a good deal better than the alternative. Into the bargain, Obama seems willing to continue the populist push that was a key element of his victory. The Tea Party insurgency appears spent, posing a much bigger threat to Republicans than to the rest of us. Democrats of all kinds have apparent electoral advantages, like a superior national campaign apparatus and an increasingly diverse electorate, that should make it easier to move them toward peace and justice and sustainability; or, easier to imagine them moving that way, anyhow.

Further, the Republicans seem bent on turning the 2014 elections into another referendum on which party isn't the lunatic party--a bad choice of political terrain. Marco Rubio sounds like Mitt when he says opportunity "is not bestowed on us by the federal government," as though someone else out there is saying so.

A Republican filibuster, faux or no, aimed at blocking Obama's appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense merely threw the President another fat pitch he could muscle over the fence.
"It's just unfortunate that this kind of politics intrudes at a time when I'm still presiding over a war in Afghanistan and I need a secretary of defense who is coordinating with our allies," Obama said. Ka-boom.

And the sequester? Everybody really ought to find some kind of cover soon. Republicans are clearly organizing a circular firing squad on that one. Which brings us to another GOP gift to Democrats, the increasing likelihood that they will oppose every single proposal for more gun control.

The overall impression here is that the Republicans aim to engineer one of the few instances when a party lost a mid-term election to a sitting president. And the first party to lose a Congressional election to an incumbent in his second term.

Activists for peace and justice and sustainability are mobilized.

How many examples are necessary to prove that point? Here's three:

The time to change national policy on addressing climate change is now. Senators Barbara Boxer and Bernie Sanders have introduced comprehensive legislation on climate change. The largest ever public demonstration on the issue will happen in DC on Sunday.

At the invitation of Chicago anti-violence activists, President Obama will address the problem of gun violence in Chicago today.

 Immigration reform, fueled primarily by the efforts of Latinos and their allies is on the Congressional agenda.

There are plenty of other examples, but the point is that the national political space opening on the left is larger than it has been since Civil Rights and Medicare. This is an opportunity for a progressive movement that does not confine itself to electoral politics, but does not separate itself, either. There is a an electoral path to peace and justice opening up here.

In that spirit, a few ideas to keep in mind:

1. The diversity of our movement, demographically, stylistically and strategically, is our strength.

2. Climate change may be the uber issue, but people deserve to live in communities that affirm their lives, nurture them, teach them and protect them. All other human rights and social issues still matter.

3. Playing nicely with Democrats is a good thing, not an immoral compromise. We believe in change, we organize for change, we vote for change. Sometimes, yes, we vote for the lesser evil. If not, we relinquish the field to the one-percent.

4. Some people are going to say that the right says one thing, the left says another--it's just politics. Dismiss such oversimplification. Say, with Hannah Arendt, that the truth about the reality that surrounds us can be investigated and discerned. Tell them the battle ahead is for their future, also. Sitting it out is not a moral choice.

5. In the post-apocalyptic world of The Postman, getting the mail service reorganized, connecting isolated communities, seems like a good first step. But for the young mail carriers, a 21st century Pony Express, really, the going gets hard some of the time. The Postman (Kevin Costner) has to inspire them, which he does, with the news that the United States government, under President Richard Starkey, has been reestablished in Minneapolis.

"Things are getting better. They're getting better all the time," the Postman reports.

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