We need to work hard for Biden’s election, but we also must identify transformational initiatives for which we will advocate in 2021. Today, along with links to last week’s posts, we begin that exploration. We are at a crossroads & we need to prepare now.
Today, as we always do on Mondays, we offer summaries and links to the important posts from last week, posts that focused on our response to the Democratic National Convention.
A Vision for the Other Side of Trump & COVID
But first we are going to lay the ground work for a series of posts that we will publish over the coming weeks, posts reflecting the pioneering research of a variety of progressive think tanks and publications. We need a vision to believe in and one for which to advocate once we have an administration that will at least consider bold ideas. This series of posts will offer a vision of what life could be like on the other side of Trump and COVID.
While there are a few visionary initiatives being advanced by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party (e.g. Medicare for All, Green New Deal), there are no truly transformative initiatives designed to address racism, our concentration of wealth and the way we organize our economy. When you don’t get that kind of vision or inspiration from either political party, you look elsewhere. I find it day-in and day-out in publications like Next City, Resilience, Common Dreams, and Truthout and in think tanks like The Democracy Collaborative and The Next System Project. For several years, these publications and think tanks have been building a road map to a transformed America and Retake will rely upon their work .
As we have stated many times, our systems failed us long before COVID and our national leadership has failed us long before Trump. Racism, wealth inequality, concentration of power, health inequity and educational biases have created a caste system and for almost a century, no leader has successfully conveyed a vision and plan around which enough political power could be organized to overpower Wall St. and their allied industries. We need a vision and a plan for what the “We the People” Party could offer beyond slogans.
The first thing we need to acknowledge as we ponder the Democratic National Convention and our own Democratic Party of New Mexico is that we are not getting many inspiring new inspiring ideas, programs, legislation or even messaging from either because we simply have not had the power to force it.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”Frederick Douglas
But for the less powerful to seize power, they must believe they can and they must have a powerful vision to sustain the work that is required to take power and to force change. On a national level, progressives still have a ways to go to achieve the level of power and influence needed to drive policy. But here in NM that is changing. As one of our most supportive readers noted in a comment last week:
“Probably the most powerful message that the progressive movement in New Mexico has ever sent to the establishment wasn’t from protests, emails, radio shows, blogs or petitions. It was all the work done to get rid of the Senate DINO’s (Pappen, Smith, et al) in the last primary. If anyone in the NM state senate didn’t take the progressive movement seriously before, believe me, they do now, and any of the people and organizations that worked on those campaigns (such as Retake Our Democracy) is going to be listened to.”
To expand our base of power to ensure that transformative legislation is passed in 2021 and beyond, we need to inspire, to offer a taste of what could be, ideas, initiatives and bills that would address the needs of “we the people” not “them the lobbyists.”
So while there is no question but that for the next 70 days, we must do all we can to elect Joe Biden, we must not lose track of the real goal: economic, social, racial and climate justice. And so we must also devote time and thought to what that kind of justice would look like and how we could get there.
The Democracy Collaborative’s most recent newsletter put this work in context:
“Each passing day we are faced with further evidence of the scale of the crisis we are now facing. A potentially unprecedented wave of evictions as moratoriums come to an end; the threat of far-reaching utilities shutoffs as residents struggle to make ends meet; small businesses shuttering with little relief in sight. And all this on top of the heartbreaking and uneven landscape of preventable death, with Black, Indigenous and other people of color bearing the brunt of the pandemic and its fallout. The scale of the crisis necessitates immediate and decisive action. But these actions will be ineffective if we do not acknowledge a fundamental truth: we were already in crisis long before the COVID-19 pandemic. What we are observing now are the logical outcomes of a political-economic system that by design puts profit and “shareholder value” over peoples’ lives and the health of our planet.”From Democracy Collaborative. “August 2020 Newsletter”
And now the vision: a democratic and reparative economy instead of an extractive, predatory, and profit-driven economy, again from the Democracy Collaborative.
“There is no reason why the ruptures generated by COVID-19 need to result in a return to the status quo of continued extraction, inequality, and ecological destruction. Rather, we can, and must, choose policy responses that build the groundwork for this democratic and reparative economy.”From Democracy Collaborative. “August 2020 Newsletter”
If you think this is a bridge too far, that such a transformed world is impossible all you have to do is reflect on just how effectively and abruptly the right transformed America at a time when they were at their nadir in power. Roxanne directed me to a review in the NY Times Review of Books from Sunday, a review of a new book I ordered from Collective Works immediately, Evil Geniuses by Kurt Anderson. Near the end of the review we find this quote from the book:
“If you need proof that ideas have power and that radical change is possible, it’s there in the rearview mirror. Evil genius is genius nonetheless. In the early 1970s, at the zenith of liberal-left influence, an improbable, quixotic, out-of-power economic right — intellectuals, capitalists, politicians — launched their crusade and then kept at it tenaciously. The unthinkable became the inevitable in a single decade. They envisioned a new American trajectory, then popularized and arranged it with remarkable success.”NY Times Review of Books, Sunday August 23
There is much to learn from how conservatives used think tanks, mainstream and social media and the election process to allow it to retake our nation and I’ll report soon on what I learn from Evil Geniuses, but even just the excellent review gives you hints of what should be in play. Hopefully, some other readers will get the book and weigh in. But in the mean time, we will devote some energy to exploring visionary initiatives that could inspire.
On Wednesday we will explore Owning Our Future After COVID-19 in which Democracy Collaborative lays out its five part plan for rebuilding small and medium businesses across America and democratizing those businesses by ensuring worker control with profits being used to rebuild the wealth of American communities. The strategies proposed in this piece offer elements that could easily be forged into legislation for the 2021 NM legislative session. This will be the first step in a sustained Retake effort to lay out the various elements of the America we deserve and the America we can forge if we have the vision, courage and tenacity to do what the right did in the 70s, Retake America. Stay Tuned.
A Look Back at the
Democratic National Convention
Lots transpired last week and below you will find a series of posts that capture our shifting views of the Democratic National Convention, the Party and the Candidate. I recommend checking out the comments at the end of the posts, as they reflect a diversity of perspective, especially at the end of the Thursday and Friday posts.
Last week, we also broke a longstanding pattern of offering at least one weekend post, by not publishing a blog on Saturday or Sunday. For the foreseeable future, we are going to begin publishing just three posts a week, one fewer than has been our habit, aiming for posts published on M-W-F. We want to focus our time and resources on going a bit deeper in outlining transformative strategies while ensuring sufficient time and energy to devote to the campaign.
Commentary on Democratic National Convention Day One, Plus We Unveil a New Retake Election Strategy &
Offer Video of Michelle Obama’s Full Speech’
Tuesday, August 19. We were frankly very impressed with Day One, two hours filled with what America looks like and sounds like. Instead of the hate-spewing convention we are likely to get from the GOP this week, there were well produced clips that offered insight into the character of Joe Biden and the cumulative impact of what was conveyed was that there is reason for hope and reason to work for Joe Biden. It was a very good start capped off by a speech that reminded all of us how much we admire Michelle Obama. We also included a very short piece on how Marathon Oil took $2 billion in COVID relief only to promptly lay off 220 NM workers. This is but one example of the perverse priorities manifest in both the 2008 recovery and now in 2020, bailing out the billionaires, while leaving the people wondering what they are to do. Finally, we introduced a new nuance to our 2020 Election Strategy with all the tools you need to help you and your friends navigate an increasingly complicated election process
DNC Day 2-3: Youth & the Left Shoved Aside
to Embrace Moderation and Dissatisfied GOP Voters.
Where Have We Seen This Before?
Thursday, August 22. In a post that generated many supportive and even more critical comments, we described DNC finagling with elements of the party platform and the slate of moderate and Republican speakers at the convention as indicators that the Party is using the same moderate strategy that worked so well in 2016. We asked: Are they risking the loss of young, enthusiastic voices? Many readers felt this was not the time to raise these questions. If you missed it, see if you agree.
The Contrast Could Not Be More Extreme &
the Task at Hand Is Clear
Friday, August 23. Biden will almost certainly bring us together, he won’t blame, point fingers or ridicule. He will reassure, comfort, heal and most importantly he will listen to experts & science. For now, that may be more than enough. This short post, acknowledges the significant reforms needed to the Democratic Party and the need to build progressive power, but it also makes abundantly clear that those tasks can wait til November 4th and beyond. For now the critical task at hand is to elect Joe Biden President of the United States.
Rest assured, Retake is very aware that Biden-Harris will not take us to the promised land, but they are highly likely to deliver us from the hell in which we have existed for three and a half years. And they will listen.
As noted throughout the last week, we will continue to encourage your involvement in the election, supporting Biden-Harris in swing states and supporting Democratic challengers in the US Senate. We will also provide information and encouragement for your devoting time to high priority races in the NM State legislature. If we want to have any chance of pressing for the kind of visionary and transformative change like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All or the initiatives we will begin outlining in posts over the coming weeks, we need to change the political environment in which we operate. Thanks to the tireless efforts of so many allies and grassroots volunteers over the last four years, we have made much progress in NM. Let’s keep our momentum going and do our share on the national level.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne
Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics