Don’t mourn, organize

 

Trump is going to end the world, as we know it.

Or, something.

Liberals are always more energized and pugilistic when a Republican president gains power.

My biggest peeve with liberals, is that they were aghast at the behavior of Bush, but couldn’t be bothered when Obama was committing the same crimes. The only difference was that Obama represented team Blue. That, and he was much more articulate, with a lovely, intelligent wife, and two beautiful daughters.

My liberal friends are just convinced that Obama could never be as bad as Bush.

Except, that he was.

It’s all about moral consistency. If something is evil, it’s evil, no matter who’s doing it.

And, let’s be honest, the Democratic party has abandoned working-class people and progressive economic policies. Instead the Democrats have embraced financial neoliberalism, where the policies of deregulation, privatization, austerity, and corporate trade have devastated America’s once vibrant middle-class. These Americans living standards have declined precipitously. They’ve lost their jobs, they’ve lost their pensions, and they’ve lost much of their safety net. They see a bleak future for their children.

These Americans used to be reliable Democratic voters. They even voted for Obama. Once Senator Bernie Sanders lost the nomination, the Democrats hardly made any effort to recapture these voters.  Perhaps because their candidate, Hillary Clinton, was the very embodiment of the establishment policies that has created so much misery for these groups. These voters instead went for the change candidate–Trump–though there’s a pretty good chance his policies will make their position worse.

My liberal friends, while rightfully upset, need to see this as a historic opportunity.

When activist Joe Hill was waiting on death row he wrote a letter to union organizer, Big-Bill Haywood, urging him: “Don’t mourn, organize.”

The same principle applies in the wake of Trump’s surprise victory.

Even though progressives and liberals are upset and depressed, with more than a few threatening to move to Canada, they need to realize that now is the chance to put their outrage into action and gear up for a long struggle.

Naked Capitalism is running a series this week to remind us that, “The nut of the matter is this: you lose, you lose, you lose, you lose, they give up. As someone who has protested, and studied the process, it’s plain that one spends most of one’s time begin defeated. That’s painful, humiliating, and intimidating. One can’t expect typically, as in a battle, to get a clean shot at a clear win.”

In my opinion, it’s time to go on the offensive, and develop public policies that are universal. Progressives have been on the defensive for so long that they’ve forgotten how to articulate a positive agenda for what a progressive world would look like. We need to never forget that Bernie Sanders demonstrated conclusively that progressive policies are popular with the American electorate.

“The only way out of these dead ends lies in committing to a defined agenda of institutionalized, economic justice because this affects all. Social justice cannot be secured absent economic justice. Any such agenda is going to be anti-corporate, anti-poverty, pro-education (and job re-education), and pro-regulation. It has to be citizen-based outside of existing political parties. This kind of program can be articulated as pro-community rather than pro-faction if the organizing is done. This has to be pursued from a defined agenda, unapologetically, and from a pro-citizen(ship) position regardless of other more discrete goals.”

As I’ve said before–with great change comes great opportunity. Milton Friedman and the movement right understood this concept and had a program–neoliberalism–ready when New Deal policies faltered in the 1970’s. It’s the same thing for progressives. If you want a better world, start thinking about how to make it so.

Despite all the doom and gloom, the election of Donald Trump actually represents an unprecedented opportunity for change in both political parties and a chance to reform the underlying political and economic power structures in the US.

As Margaret Mead, the great democratic campaigner, said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Let’s get busy.

 

Update: Joe Hill also sent another letter in which he implored Haywood, “Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don’t want to be found dead in Utah.”

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