Now That We Have Their Attention...
Power Liberal Artist Unknown.
Here's a sort of speechie thing I wrote just after the election. I was heading to a conference to meet my MoveOn boss but it turned out to be a more casual atmosphere than I expected so the speech didn't get spoken. I thought I'd post it here for your pondering. To have worked so hard, for so long, to get any kind of voice in our government and then to suddenly have it overnight is a bit disorienting. Don't get me wrong, the radical right wingers no doubt have some dasterdly plan in place for us all. Their greed, thirst for permanant power, and myopic view of the world has not changed. It's merely gone underground again, where it festered for so many years before 1994 (their first big takeover.)But for the moment, we have hope again.
Tuesday November 7th went better than many of us may have expected. Now we have the oversight and subpoena power we’ve needed for the past 6 years, now we can stop the right wing destruction of our constitution and of our democracy.
We have 2 years to prove to the country that our ideas and our ideology work better than those we’ve been gagging on. 2 years is a very short time but in that time we must work on many urgent issues such as, healthcare, energy, Iraq, national security, wages, global warming, etc. Our problems are impossible to solve in 2 years, yet, we must show tangible results of something in this short time-frame. Our task is to figure out what we can actually accomplish, that is measurable for even the most distracted, apolitical, apathetic American citizen.
As grassroots activists and organizers, our own additional task is keeping people engaged and involved in our democracy now that we’ve got their attention. Here’s a warning against some of our natural tendencies:
Wonkiness will turn them off
Vagueness will annoy them
Too broad an agenda will overwhelm them
Failure will depress them
Focus on a clear, winnable task will sustain them.
Deciding what that task will be is one of our most important challenges. We come from broadly diverse backgrounds and our areas of interest, and feelings of urgency about those interests pull powerfully on each of us. We joke about forming committees to decide what our committees will use for their agenda at their committee meetings. But there’s unfortunately a lot of truth to that stereotype. We don’t have much time, we have more problems than we can solve in a lifetime much less 2 years but the fact remains we must produce results in that time which will re-elect our majority and win us the White House too.
A couple of things we need to do, in random order:
1) Start on 2008 election to hold Congress and win the White House.
2) Caring for Americans in the realms of security, health, wealth, and civil rights.
3) Caring for the earth by accepting scientific fact, funding renewable energy, and conserving.
4) Repairing our standing in the world through diplomacy, and pulling back from war.
5) Re-regulating corporate control of public institutions.
6) Vigilantly ensuring our democracy will expand and flourish.
I don’t know the answers to our problems, I don’t know which problems we should focus on first, I don’t know what the future holds. But I do know that we’re the spearhead of an immense popular movement in this country that must be kept alive and moving forward. Starting today we need to have broad conversations about issues, strategies, tools, and goals. We must guard ourselves against rushing to minutia too quickly and we must apply pragmatism for the next sprint we face.
We can never again let our country, our government, and our people slide into complacency. Our lack of citizen oversight has caused the destruction of human beings, historic monuments, infrastructure, irreplaceable natural wonders, and trust around the globe. This can never happen again. We must finish our own watch, and we must prepare the next generation to take their watch over our democracy. It’s our duty, and our pleasure.
November 9, 2006
Tom Tomorrow 11/14/06