In the American Prospect, Vivien Labaton and Gara Lamarche call for more attention to organizing movements and less to the electoral spectacle (a theme we’ve talked about here before). They focus on three (somewhat overlapping) areas where there has been “signs of life”: labor, immigration and economic justice.
What’s notable is that each of these movements has gained momentum without significant White House leadership. In fact, Democrats are the target of many of these initiatives, as frustrated progressives press the White House for change. What this tells us is that social-justice advocates need to take their cues from the communities they purport to represent, and need to insist that elected officials do the same.
We now know all too well that even elections touted as paradigm-shifting will not bring progressive change without a passionate and engaged constituency to fight for it. We need to build that lasting movement for change.
I found this piece a useful corrective to the Meyerson piece I wrote about here. It’s also worth noting that every one of these issues could see positive policy movement from the White House without any action from Congress. Some immigration rights groups have seized on this, pushing for an end to deportations.
We arrived about 45 minutes before the scheduled start of the rally and sought warmth in a local coffee shop down the street from the capitol building. I noticed two women I’d seen driving up to Lansing and asked if they were going to the rally. They both worked at one of the UoM medical centers in Ann Arbor. One of them said she was there because as a former member of SDS she felt like her youthful ambitions to achieve social justice were as yet unrealized and she hoped to help carry the struggle forward. She was motivated in part by political goals and in part (I felt) to renew her enthusiasm from an earlier phase in her life. Her friend was there because she feared Gov. Snyder’s plan would undermine her family’s economic security. Their motivations struck me as emblematic of the event with so many coming with differing motivations but responding to the same spark and hoping to move together in a similar direction.
We arrived on site about 15 minutes early and there were already a couple of hundred people on site. Their numbers kept growing for the next two hours while we were there. As some people started to drift away after about an hour more arrived to take their places. Chants of “fed up, fired up” and “tax the rich” and “stand up” filled the air.
About 15 minutes before the rally officially began. It was cold, maybe low 20s.
People were streaming in from all direction and the overflow spilled onto the side paths.
About an 1 hour into the rally, nearing peak numbers, at least for the 2 hours I was there.
A shot giving some sense of the scale. This is just after we left at about 2:15 for a rally that began at 12. You can see the crowd pretty much dominates the approach to the building.
This sign was the clear winner of my much-coveted award for sign creativity. Most signs were hand made.
A couple of thoughts I hope you will take as reflective and constructive where I choose to offer a critique. Events are hard to organize, especially on relatively short notice, in the middle of a harsh winter. Because leftists lack the “submit to power” gene that divides us from the GOPers and right wingers, there were the usual displays and range of personalities. We are people not machines, after all.
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