Nov 6, 2008

Organizing in the New Era

Yesterday, I wrote about the positivity, if even for just a day, that people exuded after the end of this long long campaign. I've been thinking about what organizing and resistance work may look like after the glow fades. I had written, in a bit that I cut out while editing, that perhaps that positivity is the most important first step that we can hope for, particularly in organizing work that starts with "yes we can" and moves to "let's get started" in the next breath. Does this victory and the jubilation afterward mean that finally, people think we can build again instead of just playing defense?

This victory came after a long campaign, but it still feels quick to me, in terms of making sure that the different elements of the "Obama Coalition" actually have some similar grasp of what his election means to people, if not systemic change. That coalition includes people from much further left than I'd expected would get involved in a major campaign like this one, all the way to young kids and old Democratic political hands who know and have tended over business as usual.

The real test will be whether the left has built up a strong enough skin to not back down from fights with the Dems because they aren't just going to change things without real pressure. And whether people will stand their ground and fight, not just bend over backwards to let the new powers that be, who are not altogether different from the old powers that be in their quest to keep and accumulate power, just do whatever it is that they want to do.

It's time to think about organizing for more than just defense, but also for breaking the weird commitment to political parties and moving to personal and community commitment to issues. I think the younger generation, who have shown little loyalty to brands, media outlets, modes of communication, and pretty much all of the old benchmarks are not really feeling the party identification. That confuses the older pollsters, old guard of leaders, and pretty much everyone else. I think that may provide an opening for people to talk more about issues and engage folks from different communities and age groups about solutions rather than just broad statements of who is "good" and who is "bad."

Of course, what this country needs are more than 2 political parties, but even with them, we need to build from the ground up. The government has to work for the people again (or finally, I suppose). And the people have to get organized beyond GOTV efforts. Everyone's saying the same thing: the proof will be in what happens next.

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