A VITAL Message for my Fellow Progressives. HOW we finally launch our Movement and link it to our PERSONAL needs.
The following is intended as a new Progressive way forward recommending two specific priorities to facilitate both our POLITICAL success and our PERSONAL happiness. This will launch after the November election.
On the political side, a mass Movement is central to virtually everything we seek, with UNITY as it’s indispensable element. To be blunt, without it there can be no Progressive future as we imagine it today. Outrage, protest, and disruption alone, whether over racism, corporate control of our country etc., have rarely produced more than watered down outcomes. What is needed is a “systematic, organized and disciplined” multi-racial national Movement that translates outrage into political power. Without the means to remove big donor politicians and to create Progressive majorities or near majorities at every level of government, (particularly at the federal level) we simply won’t be taken seriously. Instead we’ll be seen as more of the SAME, progressive in name but centrist in reality.
Think of it. Why despite decades of anti corporate rhetoric and action is corporate power now more entrenched than at any time since the Progressive era at the turn of the 20th Century?
Why despite our countless meetings and tireless efforts is injustice, inequality, deep divisions and fear still defining our country's day to day reality, as it did BEFORE Trump? Why is distrust, depression, and loneliness now at the highest level then at any time in modern history beginning way before Trump? Why despite our hard work does the change we do achieve come in centrist inches instead of Progressive miles? Can we really claim to care about something if we’re unwilling to collectively organize for it? Our values and our time are too precious for any more of this.
The truth is we don”t have an effective strategy for the future we “claim” to want. Despite impressive local achievements across the country, today’s Progressives remain scattered, divided and isolated, unable to unify behind a mutual agenda, shared strategy, or coordinating vehicle that actually gets us to the future we seek. Needless to say, the people running the country are loving it. Although valuable and often urgent, we must get beyond endless issue and grievance talk, instead positioning ourselves with the electoral power that decides their outcomes. We need to limit the countless hours spent on beating up on the bad guys, and focus instead on the precise steps needed to get them out of our way!
That means a Movement beyond talking about a Movement or calling ourselves a Movement just because we’re part of a single Progressive group and aware that other Progressive groups are out there. They are - but with few exceptions, they’re all doing their own thing leaving each group essentially on their own and no threat whatsoever to national corporate rule.
To get to a future that affirms our highest and best personally and collectively two things are essential. First, a united national electoral strategy that addresses our health, environmental and material security by once and for all subordinating Wall St. to Main St. (hence a Movement). Second but equally important is the necessity of building an authentic and sustainable experience of personal COMMUNITY that elevates our regard for self and others, allowing each of us to truly feel known and cared for.
We have two primary identities in this life. We are humans and we are Americans. As citizens we're reminded by Lincoln that we are a government of, by, and for us, that we were literally born into the ownership of this democracy with a birthright to govern. This country belongs to We The People! Yet despite our rhetoric, we don't organize like we believe it or want it. Personally I view myself as a Progressive who deeply believes in the 4 chambers of the American heart – justice, equality, democracy, and freedom. As such I see myself part of a national family striving with my sisters and brothers to take these shared values off paper and put them into the real world. But absent a Movement these ideals remain little more than talking points.
Deeper still, we are precious human beings as Ralph Waldo Emerson once affirmed saying, “there is an imprisoned splendor in each of us”, a light, a beauty, a fundamental goodness that truly reflects the humanity in all of us without exception. But that intrinsic goodness has been buried under the weight of commercial priorities and relentless out of proportion self blame and fear. What's urgently needed is a second opinion that challenges the lie that who we've been is who we are. Reclaiming our true selves is the precondition for transforming both country and self.
So HOW do we do it? How best to create an electoral and community model that meets both our collective and personal needs? I believe our highest priority, following the defeat of Trump, must be a PROGESSIVE UNITY SUMMIT organized in each state that finally puts us on a joint Progressive path. Here is how we might do it.
FIRST. We identify and research the priorities of all active Progressive groups in the state, ( Our Revolution, progressive Labor, Indivisible, Black Lives Matter, etc.) then invite us together under one roof to unite behind a common agenda. Together we’ll create local, state, and national action teams to identify, vet, and recommend current and future Progressive candidates and ballot measures. Our teams will present their recommendations to a statewide coordinating committee that will consider, select, fund, and provide volunteers and other logistical supports. Later our local organizing strategies can be submitted to the statewide executive committee for further coordination.
SECOND. At a later date, representatives from each state would meet in a National Summit to prioritize national issues/candidates providing a common approach and coordinating vehicle to link us together as a functioning Progressive whole. This to be facilitated by an effective communications structure linking state groups to the national level with regional coordinators assigned throughout the country. At this summit a national electoral strategy will be developed that advances us toward the majority numbers (218 House + 60 Senate) needed to govern.
THIRD. Given that 1 in 5 Americans (a pre-Trump stat) suffer from persistent loneliness and that close personal ties are absolutely essential for our emotional well being, a community plan will be offered to include personal story groups, ongoing social activities and the creation of extended families that can restore trust and mutual regard, diminish loneliness, lessen day to day pressures, and simply allow us to enjoy each others company. (More on this 3-part community design coming later.)
Einstein warned that we can't solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it. So let's get away from limited thinking, aiming higher with limitless, imaginative, wise, and fearless determination. Let us never be satisfied with lesser outcomes than our capacities so greatly promise. We are worthy and deserving of a much better future than is likely to come if we stay on our current Progressive path. Great things are ahead collectively and personally if we “seize the moment” TOGETHER. So stay well and remain confident that our future is literally in our hands. ... See MoreSee Less
HAVE YOU BEEN MOVED BY THE BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTS?
For 51 years I’ve tried and hopefully at least in part succeeded in not being a racist person. In 1968 I worked with the Black Student Union and Third World Liberation Front toward implementing Black Studies and Ethnic Studies Departments at San Francisco State College. Since then and consistently I’ve been active for Progressive candidates from the Oklahoma populist Fred Harris to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. It was always clear to me that their agendas, if implemented, would make a SIGNIFICANT transforming difference in the lives of ALL of us. But today’s Black Lives Matter protests have helped me to understand that our Progressive agendas have been missing a certain personal tone, a feeling beyond the intellect related to the day to day urgencies of people of color. Issues such as Police and Criminal Justice Reform have generally been 4th or 5th behind the environment, health care, living wages, corruption etc. all extremely vital for sure, but it seems to me that more can and should be said on behalf of people who have been disrespected and violated for centuries. I simply believe that their needs deserve a more elevated priority and commitment on our Progressive agendas. Frankly I can’t imagine living as a person of color and not feeling left out, virtually invisible and damned angry - can you?
Following Charlottesville nearly 3 years ago I posted the following (see below). My purpose then as now is not simply to condemn racist behavior but to end it. Like anything else you have to think differently if you want a different outcome. A growing body of research indicates that it is much easier to change a prejudiced person's mind by giving them your empathy then trying to activate their shame, of course easier for some than others. Yes we must call out their behavior and jail them when necessary but we shouldn’t disparage the human being. To that end I’ve proposed specifics that transcend political solutions that to date I haven’t heard discussed. I hope you will give it your consideration and would very much appreciate your thoughts.
MORE CHARLOTTESVILLES TO COME - UNLESS
Condemning white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia or anywhere else, is how we begin to honor ourselves as human beings. We condemn it by naming it, speaking, mobilizing, demonstrating, legislating, educating against it, and by prosecuting hate crimes wherever they occur. owever, unless we want to wake up at age 90 witnessing more of the same we must take a new and deeper look at this endless tension, anger, and hatred by too many whites toward too many non-white people.
I believe that material depravation and low self esteem occurs before racism is triggered. To reverse racism we must understand that original distress. To ignore it is asking for more pain.
“Racism follows a feeling of unworthiness, of being socially, economically, and politically 'victimized'… and of being a failure. Someone has to pay for such low feelings and self-perception. This means a need for scapegoats in order to feel superior and to exercise personal power over others. Racist people tend to feel insignificant, isolated, wronged and unloved and they remedy that feeling of exclusion by blaming (and hurting) someone else for it” This is meant to be more than empathetic! It is to understand the roots of racism in order to end it.
Here are many of the white working people that Bernie Sanders speaks of and in part why he is now calling on us to create community, a community that includes all of us. We can ignore their reality and focus on condemnation, or as progressives we can be smarter and do it different. Educating, legislating, law enforcement, and condemnation while necessary will never alone solve the problem of racism. The roots are too personal. We need to be as face to face as possible reaching out with our values, material and emotional supports. The more we actively demonstrate our concern for their lives the safer will be the lives of their potential victims and the more harmonious our country.
So how would that work? What needs to be done is to create and proliferate personal dialogs throughout the nation where supremacists verbalize their anger, fears and aspirations, knowing that likely for the first time, they're being seen, heard, and known. Would it be hard to sit in a room with them. Oh yes! and equally hard for them as well. But while condemning their hateful behavior we urgently need to talk with them more personally. Whether or not these dialogs take place, I believe a bold progressive agenda that includes a community component, can best speak to the personal and material depravation felt by these people. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center eight southern states house eight of the top 10 hate groups in the country. Although that is where these conversations might begin all progressive agendas should consider them as well.
So do we react with the same thinking, rhetoric and NON solutions, or do we take Bernie up on his call to build an authentic experience of community in which all of us feel respected, trusted and cared for. I recognize that so many of these people were born into a racist environment conditioned to hate from the start. I have no illusions about the near impossibility of changing them. But I do believe that even hardened racists can be neutralized to the point they are no longer a direct threat beyond their personal prejudice.
How do we do that? By offering the real possibility that they can personally matter and belong beyond their supremacist group, that they can secure their material needs and have the opportunity to reach for their highest and best. On the other hand if we constantly lead with an accusation and lecture SOLELY on racism and not acknowledge their most personal distress, they won't hear a word we say about racism or anything else. And guess what – nothing changes!! Lets not allow blind anger (however justified) to sabotage a long overdue yet reachable solution.
Self loathing and material fears are at the roots of racism.The problem of white supremacists is first a human problem made worse by racism. So lets think anew, with an approach, (this or another) that honors the victims of HATE not just by condemning it, but by STOPPING IT!
Write a comment... ... See MoreSee Less