It’s been a while since I’ve used this blog to highlight opportunities for civic action because I’ve seen the role of this blog changing and haven’t been sure where it fit in. But I found three awesome ones almost all at once this week and thought it would be good to bring them up, both because they are three of the most important fights progressives are taking on these days and because they showcase a few different organizing strategies that I think are really interesting/inspiring.
I also included a matching success for each action opportunity to emphasize that this action does have ramifications. Especially with health care, the tenacity of the public option can only be explained by its dogged defense by progressives- especially the netroots and labor (which is also pushing great action on financial reform). So remember yall, while this shit can be really depressing (and I think you might not be paying enough attention if you’re not pissed off and discouraged at least some of the time), it’s also important to remember there’s a reason to keep fighting- because it fucking works:
- Health Care. The action: Firedoglake is organizing phonebanking to get progressives in Nevada to pressure Harry Reid to make sure there’s a strong public option in the Senate bill (Harry Reid has been more waffle-y than my Mom’s kitchen on my birthday when it comes to exerting actual leadership, which is unfortunate given that he is one of the three or four Senators responsible for merging the PO-less Finance Bill and the PO-rocking HELP Bill, and is, y’know, the fucking Senate Majority Leader of a party that cannot be filibustered without it being an inside job). This rules. I did this for No on 1 in defense of marriage equality in Maine (I really ought to do it again this weekend), and think it is a great way of making a real contribution when your elected officials are already awesome. I love Marcy ‘righteous badass’ Kaptur, but sometimes I wish I could pressure wack Dems in other districts. Now I can, albeit indirectly! The victory: OpenLeft is reporting that Nancy Pelosi has managed to put together the votes necessary to pass a public option tied to Medicare rates +5% (the strongest version out there that’s not single-payer) through the House. This rules. This means that when the House and Senate bills (which may end up containing an opt-out provision, which would suck for poor red-staters and black people) are merged, there is a greater opportunity to make the final version have a public option that is better than the opt-out compromise, a trigger, or some other faux-public option. Pelosi having the votes for this strong position at the table is in large part due to the tremendous efforts put in by organizers at blogs like OpenLeft and Firedoglake, as well as organizations like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The lesson being: keep fighting.
- Financial Reform. The action: The ABA (American Bankers Association) is having its October 27th-29th meeting in Chicago, and it’s a big party! The theme? Roaring 20′s, you know, the period defined by false prosperity and impending financial-excess-driven catastrophe. An unfortunate symbol given bankers’ record profits amidst almost double-digit unemployment, but it’s providing an excellent motivation for an event being called the Showdown in Chicago, organized by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger, and others. Firedoglake has more information here. Not exactly a new strategy per se, but it’s sure as shit warranted, and I can only hope that it serves to initiate a stronger push by progressives for the financial reform we so desperately need. The victory: The CFPA (Consumer Financial Protection Agency) passes out of House committee, and while there is some lame stuff in it, it is a step forward. If I was more knowledgable I’d probably be more pissed, but sometimes I gotta take a break, you know? In a related note, Chris Bowers notes some relatively positive developments with bailout administration: pay cuts for executives at bailed out banks, and new requirements that billions going to smaller banks be loaned out to actual small businesses. The latter is especially key, as one of the gaping issues with the bailout is that money has not been flowing adequately to real people in need- it’s been hoarded. This is better.
- Climate Change. The action: Bill McKibben‘s 350.org’s worldwide climate actions launch this weekend, October 24th. Demonstrations advocating for a 350 ppm CO2 target at Copenhagen will be happening literally all over the world- they’re counting 4548 actions in 172 countries. Holy shit. This is what I’m talking about. I don’t know of anything, maybe the Iraq War, that has ever spurred this kind of global demonstration around a single cause. But then, there’s never been anything quite so horrifying as global warming. Okay, maybe nuclear war. Anyway, point is, this is an opportunity to participate in a truly global popular response to this issue. Now I will be the first to admit that global warming action is complicated and difficult. But the need to get to 350 is pretty fucking straightforward. I’m glad someone’s saying so. The victory: Less a single event than recent indications that opposition to climate action is weakening. Not enough, but some. First, prospects for a minimally decent Senate climate bill are looking good, with the occasionally politically optimistic (but climatically deadly serious) Joe Romm highlighting Senators who are yeses, likely yeses, and within our ability to persuade. Second, the Chamber of Commerce just can’t seem to hold on to members, due to the fact that it has basically declared war on a livable climate. Both of these successes do suffer from a rhetoric-action gap. Namely, Senators and businesses have very different definitions of climate action than I do. But at least the rhetoric indicates that they are in a position to be persuaded. That’s kinda the point of the recent liberal shift. They won’t automatically do what we want, but if we work hard enough, maybe they will.
Whew, that turned out longer than I meant it to. But I love taking the time to celebrate the struggle, it’s a welcome break from the necessary but exhausting practice of calling out bullshit. I hope, dear readers, that you’ll participate in one of these. I’m doing the two that aren’t Showdown in Chicago (I was gonna bitch about my job, but that would be completely stupid), I hope you can find a 350 to join in or make some calls out to Nevada.