Cities as Commons & Advancing Progressive Local Initiatives

Today’s blog includes analysis of how Spain has achieved local progressive populist successes despite ultra conservative national leadership…our challenge today. The blog also includes an update on Sunday’s protest and on Sen. Udall’s position on Standing Rock.

rebel-citiesRebel Cities or Cities as Commons & What US Cities Can Do Despite Trump

To put these strategies in perspective, I suggest you first take a look at “A People’s Revolt,” a one-page article in The Nation (love those one pagers from The Nation) about what we can learn from Trump’s election and how the right strategies can lead to a far broader populist movement. One quote from the article: “Instead of dismissing Trump’s victory as merely a triumph of Know-Nothingism, or white privilege, or male chauvinist aggression, maybe we ought to start not just listening, but trying to hear what some people have been trying to tell us for months now.” Click here for the full article. When both parties ignore the needs of common people for forty years, anger happens. It may be misplaced, but the root cause of that anger is the failure of either party to address anyone’s needs but big business.

Amplifying on “A Peoples’ Revolt,” is an extraordinary article by Kate Shea Baird, “America needs a network of rebel cities to stand up to Trump.” You really need to read this article through, as it points to what has been achieved in Barcelona and other Spanish cities, despite an ultra-conservative national government. It outlines the kind of participatory, populist process that can galvanize common people. It points to the kinds of actions that can be taken at the local level and provides compelling evidence for why it would be possible for cities throughout the US to achieve significant progressive gains even with a Trump presidency.

The article calls for the establishment of a network of Rebel Cities throughout the US and as evidence of the feasibility of this Baird notes, “There are a number of reasons why city governments are particularly well-placed to lead resistance to Trumpism. Most obviously, much of the popular opposition to Trump is physically located in cities. With their younger, more ethnically diverse demographics, urban voters swung heavily against Trump and, in fact, played a large role in handing Hillary Clinton the majority of the national popular vote. Not only did Clinton win 31 of the nation’s 35 largest cities, but she beat Trump by 59% to 35% in all cities with populations of over 50,000. In most of urban America, then, there are progressive majorities that can be harnessed to challenge Trump’s toxic discourse and policy agenda.”

Baird also points out that: “In Spain, this network of ‘rebel cities’ has been putting up some of the most effective resistance to the conservative central government. While the state is bailing out the banks, refusing to take in refugees and implementing deep cuts in public services, cities like Barcelona and Madrid are investing in the cooperative economy, declaring themselves ‘refuge cities’ and remunicipalizing public services. US cities have a huge potential to play a similar role over the coming years….  ”

Another quote underscores an important element of the Rebel Cities strategy: “We also need a new generation of local leaders, particularly women and people of color, who are prepared to take the leap from protest to electoral politics. The recent announcement by Black Lives Matter activist Nekima Levy-Pounds that she will be standing for election as mayor of Minneapolis is an inspiring example of the kind of candidate that is needed; someone with real-world experience and an insider’s understanding of social movement politics. But the search for new local leaders needs to be scaled up so that there is a pipeline of candidates to stand for school boards, zoning boards and local councils in 2017 and beyond. This is something that the Working Families Party is already doing successfully in many states, as well as supporting these candidates in primary campaigns against Establishment Democrats.”

The article describes the process and the goals of Rebel Cities and I plan to talk with Mayor Gonzalez about how we can make Santa Fe a Rebel City when I see him at our demonstration on Sunday. I will follow that up with conversations with Tim Keller who will be running for Mayor of Albuquerque in 2017. To read the full article (and you should), click here.

In closing, I’d like to encourage you to go to the Retake Our Democracy Facebook page and like and follow it, as it has 2-3 new posts with links to information, articles and videos relevant to advancing a truly democratic (small d) nation and Retaking Our Democracy. Click here to visit the site.

Protest Dec. 4. We are working with Earth Care and New Energy Economy to stage a demonstration on Sunday, Dec 4, in solidarity with the Water Protectors in North Dakota and the Vets who are coming to their aid. Not only is the City of Santa Fe okay with this demonstration, yesterday I was called by our Mayor and he plans to attend. Kudos to Mayor GonzalezNo excuses about being cold, either. The HIGH at Standing Rock is going to be 2 degrees on Tuesday. Folks have been begging to get active NOW.  NOW has arrived. Click here for info and a link to the Facebook event page. .

See you Sunday.

In solidarity,

Paul Gibson, Coordinator
Retake Our Democracy

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