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The Battle For Change Has Begun

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The election of Barack Obama was historic in many ways. It was a crucial and powerful blow  against right-wing Republicans and their corporate bosses that signaled a major realignment of the nation's politics. It was an  historic affirmation of centuries of struggle against  racism and discrimination -- a struggle that continues with new  inspiration.

Obama's election has opened a new path to progressive change, a path that can lead to deeper, more transforming change.

The Obama victory confirms an emerging progressive majority -- a majority that must  become more organized and able to connect the various issues confronting the country into a coherent political force for change that is decisive for moving our nation in a more progressive direction.

This is the profound challenge before all working Americans. President Obama can’t change America by himself. We have to be involved.

The massive crowds that gave the inaugural historic resonance reflected a deeply hopeful unburdening of eight years of the most regressive and reactionary government in memory. It was a continuation of the impulse that drove the Obama candidacy in the first place -- a pervasive longing for  a change in the content and direction of the nation's politics.

That hope for change was exemplified by the building of the most sophisticated and effective grass roots organization in history -- a campaign marked by a brilliant use of new technology, but more importantly, by the empowering of hundreds of thousands of new volunteers in a powerful organization guided by the Obama campaign’s slogan for recruiting volunteers: Respect, Empower, Include.

The grass roots movement that drove the Obama campaign is more vital than ever to fight Republican determination to wage war against working people by resisting Obama's efforts to combat the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Obama's willingness to reach across the aisle to Republicans has been greeted with blatant resistance.

The Republicans are determined to continue their assault on working people by protecting corporate interests.

These are serious times. Hard working families are worried about their jobs, health care, their children’s education and their homes – they want action, not Republicans blocking needed legislation. We cannot allow big corporations and their Republican operatives in Congress to stop the change the American people voted for in the last election.

Critical to a positive outcome in the battle for change is the forging of a national grass roots movement. Of great significance is the unprecedented founding of 'Organizing for America'  that builds on a list of over 13 million names and the experiences of tens of thousands of local organizers who worked for Obama’s election. President Obama clearly intends to mobilize this huge constituency to press for adoption of his program.

This grass roots action is critically important if real change is going to occur.

The election of Barack Obama is indeed an historic watershed. It holds out the promise of a major realignment of the nation's politics. For the first time in memory, an American president actually is calling upon a gathering citizen’s movement to actively 'make change from the bottom up.'

But change is not going to come easily.

Corporate power cannot be overcome by wishful thinking. It’s going to take all of us working Americans standing together and pushing hard to make it happen.

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Joe Parko is a retired college professor who taught for 28 years in the School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. He is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and serves on the steering committee of Cumberland (more...)
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