Movements require shoe leather, organization and loud voices, not e-mail petitions that are quickly deleted if they ever even arrive in a Congressional or Senate Offices. Movements require sweat equity, courage, perseverance, self-sacrifice and determination. Movements can change the world; E-mails to Congress won't.
We hope that the Blanche Lincoln and Jane Harmon primary victories
against two progressive challengers don't open another round of finger
pointing and bitter recriminations among progressives. There is too
much at stake.
When I started BuzzFlash in May of 2000, before
Bush was put in the White House by the Supreme Court, progressives and
Democrats in general were looking for a voice to call out the
Republicans for what they are: Bullies, Liars, Hypocrites and full of
Gluttonous Greed. BuzzFlash to hundreds of thousands became that voice
for several years until blogs emerged and became thousands of individual
The Internet became the vehicle for exposing and challenging
the dishonest and thuggish theocratic oligarchy of the GOP, as the
corporate mainstream media gobbled down Republican talking points and
regurgitated them in stories as the "truth." The Internet was -- for
many years -- the sole counterpoint to a "frame," as George Lakoff
labels it, that the GOP successfully uses to control the debate on
public policy issues and skewer that discussion to the hard right.
with the emergence of an Obama Administration that is filled with
Centrists and has leaned heavily toward corporatist governance,
progressives and Democrats have split into two camps: those who are
critical of Obama's frequent siding with the status quo and those who
argue that he can't do anymore because of the booby traps he inherited
from Reagan, Bush I and Bush II administrations. But remember this:
there is nothing that the entrenched elite and the Republicans want more
than progressives to be engaged in a shooting war at each other.
has not been immune from this fray, that we admit. But we do believe
that progressives need to look beyond the politics to our goal of seeing
government and Americans working on behalf of the common good -- and to
our long-held objective of healing the planet. Achieving these goals
involve more than electing individuals; they involve building
movements. We are awash in a sea of easy Internet "action," when we
need to realize that most great advances in the U.S. -- Civil Rights,
the Vote for Women, Labor improvements -- have come as the result of
movements that preceded legislative remedies.
shoe leather, organization and loud voices, not e-mail petitions that
are quickly deleted if they ever even arrive in a Congressional or
Senate Offices. Movements require sweat equity, courage, perseverance,
self-sacrifice and determination. Movements can change the world;
E-mails to Congress won't.
Progressives need to rally behind what
unites us, instead of getting caught again and again in the dashed hopes
of supporting individual candidates who -- for the most part --
inevitably become a part of the Washington elite status quo of a
revolving door between government and corporations. We must become the
change by making Washington and local elected officials respond to the
force of movements that cannot be denied. Lyndon Johnson would have
never championed Civil Rights if there had not been years of movement
activity and charismatic non-politician leadership behind the cause of
Recently, Rabbi Brant Rosen, of the Jewish
Reconstructionist Synagogue in Evanston, Illinois, wrote in an E-mail:
"For me, the notion of 'joy as service' is fundamentally different from
the kind of joy that is simply rooted in the self - 'joy as narcissism,'
if you will. As Leo Tolstoy once wisely observed, 'Joy can only be real
if people look on their life as a service, and have a definite object
in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.'"
the challenge that we face as progressives, to achieve through movement
activity a "joy" that "can only be real if people look on their life as
a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves."
must become our beacon, our guiding light; we must rise above the
notion that politicians will implement what is necessary to advance our
democracy on an equitable and environmental basis without being forced
to do so.
We must become the force that powered movements and
social advances in the past. Legislation will follow only if we put our
convictions into action and force elected officials to do the right
Otherwise, big money will pull the strings, and we will be
left bickering among ourselves on the Internet and shouting curses at
FOX television in the comfort of our homes.
Mark Karlin is founder, editor and publisher of BuzzFlash.com, a website providing headlines, news and commentary to over five million people a month. He is a gun control activist with a focus on Illinois.