If I had to pick one word for Americans who want real change, it would be independence.
Not only because the United States was founded on the idea of independence but because those of us who work to try and change the country for the better and have studied American history have learned this has always been the critical ingredient for real change.
First, we need independent media. Web based outlets like this one are a critical ingredient to the success of advocacy efforts. Like so many businesses in the United States, the media is controlled by concentrated group of corporations. A handful of companies own all the hundreds of television stations on your cable TV. The same is true of radio stations. More and more newspapers are part of syndicates. These conglomerates has resulted in homogenized that only reports a concentrated corporate perspective.
The media does not report on the incredible activism taking place all around the country. They don't want America to have another Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Ralph Nader and so many others who in the past helped to move the United States in part because the media reported on their activities. Now we only hear about corporate CEO's and elected officials elected due to corporate donations otherwise it is sports stars and entertainment. The truth is there is more activism and organizing going on than even those of us working for change realize. If you attended the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit this month you could see it at least 12,000 people attended, almost all were parts of organizations representing many more people, each working on a range of issues from housing and banking, to peace and criminal justice people working to transform the American economy and political system. Did the media report on this conference? Does the media report on the movements these people are part of?
This leads me to the second area of independence we need independent political movements. Throughout history it has been independent movements that made paradigm shifting change happen. Woodrow Wilson worked to prevent women from getting the right to vote. Leading suffragists were jailed and tortured during his presidency for protesting outside the White House. But in the end, woman got the right to vote while he was president. LBJ was a member of a political party dominated by southern segregationists. They opposed African American voting, ending Jim Crow, blacks and whites living together, going to school together, eating in the same restaurants but LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act because an organized, independent civil rights movement demanded it. Richard Nixon, a war hawk did not want to end the Vietnam War admitting defeat of the U.S. military. He was forced to by a persistent and independent anti-war movement that criticized both political parties for their support of the war. The peace movement and the people in Vietnam resisting U.S. aggression forced Nixon to end the war.