imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
Tell the NSA: StopWatching.US

Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

CopWatch LA

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List





IMC Network: www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech
printable version - js reader version - email this article - view hidden posts - tags and related articles
link:

Is The “Democracy Initiative” What We Need?

by Mark Vorpahl Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 at 4:29 PM
portland@workerscompass.org

Last December, at the National Education Association headquarters in Washington, D.C., leaders from a variety of progressive organizations such as Greenpeace, the NAACP and the Communication Workers of America met with the intention of beginning a national campaign to, in the words of Mother Jones reporter Andy Kroll, “remake American politics.”

Millions of dollars were pledged towards this effort and up to 35 groups have since joined, including such Labor heavyweights as the national AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union. The combined memberships of these organizations is in the tens of millions, providing enough potential social weight to start something significant if the national campaign is able to connect with and mobilize the ranks.

But fulfilling this promise depends on the political perspectives of such a campaign, that is: what are the underlying beliefs about the political challenges we face, and what are the tasks that evolve out of rising to these challenges?

Goals

According to Kroll, the three central goals of what has become known as the Democracy Initiative are: “getting big money out of politics, expanding the voting rolls while fighting voter ID laws, and rewriting Senate rules to curb the use of the filibuster to block legislation.”

These objectives are all supportable important goals by themselves. However, taken together as the central focus of a national campaign requires a closer examination. It is not enough that the goals are supportable; they must also be capable of galvanizing enough social pressure to make a difference. Highlighting these three goals requires specific organizing tasks, and reveals much about the political perspective of those behind the Democracy Initiative.

The truth is that the goals adopted by the Initiative cannot lead an effort to organize and mobilize the majority of working people. This is because the advocated reforms do not directly address the issues that are immediately impacting millions of workers. Any worker can understand the benefit of a jobs program and why s/he should actively support its creation. The relationship of campaign finance reform to job creation is less tangible.

It is not the intention of the Initiative to appeal to and activate workers in a broad-based way. Rather, its designers envision a path towards progressive solutions aimed exclusively towards politicians “fixing” the political system by playing within the narrow limits of its rules. The keys to progressive change are left in the hands of well-meaning think tanks and politicians, leaving the majority outside of the process.

This is putting the cart before the horse. Progressive reforms do not pop into existence from the vacuum of small circles of policy makers. It has always been the power of large social movements, unafraid of confronting those who exploit and oppress them, that have been the motor for change. Any hope of achieving real progress must start from this understanding.

Instead, those behind the Democracy Initiative are identifying opportunities to launch campaigns on their issues largely based on which politicians they see as allies and those they wish to single out for defeat at the polls. The inevitable result will leave organizers sticking to Democratic candidates’ lines rather than uniting people based on their own independent class interests.

It is this subordination of workers’ needs to the corporate-funded Democratic Party that has allowed for the decades-long decline in living standards, declines in union organizing, and dramatic growth in economic inequality. The Initiative’s continuation of this losing approach exposes political paralysis in the face of an escalating one-sided class war waged to benefit big business and the wealthy.

At stake, as the evolving Grand Bargain demonstrates, are the gains made by struggles in previous decades such as Social Security, Medicare, public education and many other needed public programs, not to mention continuing high unemployment, declining wages, diminishing benefits and environmental degradation. Corporate greed is the ruling political power. The Democratic Party shares responsibility with the Republicans for this.

The Initiative’s political perspectives for their national lobbying campaign vastly underestimate the gravity of the economic situation we find ourselves in. Fundamental social change is needed which cannot be accomplished with the same old ineffective methods employed in the past. Our efforts should reflect this realistic political perspective.

Rising to the challenge

Workers, the unemployed, students and the retired need to organize to put our united interests front and center of the political stage, relying on our own collective strength. Forging such unity is the sole hope of reversing the political direction of this country so that our needs are seriously addressed. The primary arenas for such a social movement are in the streets, schools and work places. Its tools are primarily mass demonstrations as well as strikes, occupations and other forms of collective activity.

The building of a national campaign capable of wielding this strength into an organized force should be grounded on the issues that affect the vast majority of working people, and are the most important to them. In addition, it must be recognized that any progressive reforms demanded by such a campaign will come at the expense of the economic interests of those who dominate the U.S. political system: the rich.

The criteria for the demands of a national campaign should be based on what the greatest number of workers are willing to fight for now and how this struggle systematically advances grassroots organizing and political understanding.

Currently, with the looming threats of Grand Bargain cuts, starting a national campaign to oppose these austerity measures is necessary. With the continuing high rate of joblessness, there is also the urgent need to organize for a federal public works program to rebuild our infrastructure as well as measures to reverse climate change.

We need improved social services, fully funded pubic education and retirement programs, as well as jobs for all to improve our communities’ health. Big business, the banks, Wall Street and the rich must be taxed enough to pay for this since it is in their hands that wealth has been concentrated — and because they have been getting tax breaks for decades at the expense of the 99%.

It is these kinds of issues that the greatest numbers of people would be willing to get behind if they saw there was a real fight. Small rallies across the nation, which is largely all that has been done so far, cannot do the job. Instead, Labor and all progressives must dedicate their efforts to the education and organizing necessary to create the largest demonstrations possible in opposition to the direction that both the Republicans and Democrats are taking the nation.

It should also be noted that getting big money out of politics, expanding voting rolls, and rewriting Senate rules stand a better chance of succeeding as a by-product of such a campaign than the approach the Democracy Initiative is advocating.

The Initiative is, at best, a costly distraction from such enormous but necessary efforts. A massive social movement cannot be spawned by the limited political perspectives of such “leaders.” Either the union officials and progressive forces will promote and commit serious resources towards building what is needed to make a difference, or others will fill the void.

This article is co-published with Occupy.com.
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


Local News

Meet Green elected school board members, Sunday, March 29 in LA - 4pm M26 2:36AM

Californians Shame Regulators For Teaching Big Oil How To Skirt Law and Pollute Our Water M25 5:28PM

Next "Star Wars" to score in Los Angeles for First Time in Franchise History M25 10:43AM

Los Angeles Stands Up for Women's Rights M10 9:25PM

American Flag Banned from UC Irvine M06 10:38PM

Conversations with 3 HOLES AND A SMOKING GUN M06 5:27PM

Indymedia and the Cyber Left M01 4:03PM

FEDS ALLOW LAWSUIT TO SHUT DOWN DIABLO CANYON TO PROCEED F27 8:18PM

Open Letter to LA indymedia re hardly any more comments F27 12:07PM

Time Warner Now Charging Customers For Over-The-Air Television F14 12:16PM

Sketchy Crusader Against Poor Brandishes Dildo at Council F13 7:23PM

March Against Air France J31 8:46PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Nuclear Armed and Dangerous Israel Blasts Iran's Peaceful Program M29 9:01AM

Déterminismes et automatismes M29 5:44AM

Iran Nuclear Deal: Getting Close, Hold the Cheers M29 5:25AM

“Censoring Palestine” event at UC Berkeley M28 6:42PM

Washington Wants Irs Big Lying Machine Revved Up M28 11:33AM

Israel Uses Lethal Force Against Palestinian Children M28 11:16AM

Israeli Stooge Abbas Supports Obama's War on Yemen M28 9:15AM

Israel Joins Obama's War on Yemen M28 6:08AM

Phony US Support for Ending Palestime's Occupation M27 11:54AM

Kiev's Ongoing Dirty War o Donbass M27 8:41AM

Amnesty International Documents hamas War Crimes M27 8:03AM

America at War, Again M27 3:46AM

Gov Susana Martinez petitions court to reject Chiricahua Fort Sill Apache Tribe's legal re M26 10:05PM

The Shortwave Report 03/27/15 Listen Globally! M26 5:03PM

Are Jewish students safe at the University of California? M26 4:16PM

Putin and Assad Address Western Imperialism M26 11:08AM

Secret US Intelligence on Yemen Compromised M26 8:41AM

More US-Sponsored Middle East Aggression M26 2:54AM

Where is Geronimo M25 10:36PM

NJ Gov. Christie Claims Cannabis Legalization is "Blood Money" M25 7:40PM

how the fbi converts cops at every level (and citizens) into criminals. M25 2:56PM

Vaccines' Toxic Ingredients Fueled by Drug Company Liability Immunity And Greed M25 1:04PM

Seeing behind the Global iron Curtain. M25 12:10PM

US-Created Violence and Chaos in Yemen M25 10:57AM

Israel Wants Iran Nuclear Deal Blocked M25 8:46AM

Hypocritical and Hippocratic Economic Policy in Europe M25 7:15AM

Heading for WW III M25 5:07AM

Cesar Chavez on Zionism M24 11:03PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2003 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy