It’s a new year, at last. I say “at last” because 2011 was a rough ride, politically.
Here’s a summary of the bigger bumps: non-stop Congressional gridlock, Donnie Trump’s short-lived presidential candidacy, the working-class depression, Obama’s serial surrenders to raw Republican partisanship, Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid, the re-emergence of Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko arrogance, right-wing governors gone wild, Rick “Oops” Perry’s campaign for the White House, more tax breaks for corporations — and, at year’s end, there were signs that both Sarah Palin and The Donald might still run for president after all. (That could set up a titanic clash of big hairdos.)
Yet we shouldn’t despair about last year’s many political downers, for they have prompted a series of promising uprisings at America’s grassroots. Progressives in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Montana, Colorado, and Mississippi (yes, Mississippi!) have fought hard to roll back the tea party’s excesses. The Occupy eruption all across the country has lifted spirits, revitalized grassroots organizing, and put some real “move” into social movements as we head into 2012.
In January, for example, a strong and savvy coalition will mobilize a nationwide campaign for repealing “corporate personhood” and the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United ruling. Also, the rise of the non-corporate economy is booming, with millions of Americans turning to co-ops, credit unions, farmers markets, fair trade shops, and other local enterprises that ordinary people control, not absentee profiteers.
Plus, strong, genuinely populist candidates are running for Congress this year, including Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Norman Solomon in California, Ilya Sheyman in Illinois, and Eric Griego in New Mexico.
We have important work to do, so don’t moan about 2011. Organize in 2012.