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Where We Go From Here: Build a Movement


Where We Go From Here: Build a Movement

Jules Lobel

Millions of people marched throughout the United States and abroad last Saturday to protest Donald Trump’s first day in office and to affirm women’s rights and human rights. The demonstrations were inspiring—full of energy, witty signs, slogans and chants—and brought into the streets a diverse multitude, many of whom were not normally politically active. But a demonstration is not a movement.


Good writeup, especially the part about community versus individualism. Hard nut to crack though since it's so deeply ingrained in our culture.


This article is spot on. Many people on these pages have been calling for a movment long before Trump's election, without understanding that most Americans have no idea what a movement really is and how to go about building one--an area that both public and private schools fast-forward through or skip all together.

At the center of successful people's movements is the notion of centralizing oppressions: race, gender, age, etc. White people will be easily divided from communities of color because whites lack understanding of our own privilege and how that impacts our behaviors and language when addressing members of these different communities. We however cannot change our institutions, address our racist history, and build real participatory direct democracy without understanding how US institutions are inherently racist by design; that to build relationships across the diverse cultures that exist in the US, white folks must examine our own inculcated attitudes about race and privilege, and learn to speak a new kind of language that encompasses the realities of the oppressed. Only then can we build the movement that overcomes alt-fascism, and delivers genuine democracy, where all people are people with equal rights, and where corporations are not people and have no human rights.

Check out SURJ, Showing Up for Racial Justice, an organization specifically geared to helping white folks through this process, which is unnerving, but incredibly fulfilling.

It's not easy to build a movement without tools and resources. In my book, SURJ is where the novice and initiates should begin--before addressing oppressed communities, who are vital to the democracy movement's success. For the more experienced, if you don't have this training, please take it now! There are hundreds of SURJ groups in the US, in most states, which makes them easy to hook up to.


Grass Roots: Citizens Un-tied/United Against the Juggernaut (Trump) with Naturally Together Sisters. Go to: * citizenuntiedblog.wordpress.com — Citizens Un-tied


Look into Justice Democrats (as opposed to Corporate Democrats). We are looking to revamp the Democratic Party into a party that people, not Big Bucks, will be running.


The following quote from the article is more evidence that too many on the Left do not understand Trumpism:

"In response to the You Are on Your Own philosophy of the Trump Administration and its right wing allies, we must substitute the idea that We Are All in This Together. While competitive individualism is a foundational cultural norm in American history and contemporary society, community spirit and cooperation is also an important part of the American culture."

That quote applies perfectly well to mainstream Republicanism, but not to Trumpism. There are many pro-Trump sites on the Internet and it really is easy to investigate Trumpism so I find it puzzling that so few on the Left actually take the time to do that. There are mainstream Republicans on the pro-Trump sites of course, but there are a great many who oppose mainstream Republicans and who speak of the "Uniparty" (Dems and Repubs in Washington) with absolute disdain, just as someone on the Left might.

To be clear, from what I have seen most Trump supporters have no problem with "We are all in this together." What they have a problem with is the Identity politics approach to it that the Left has adopted. They think that Identity politics is divisive and offensive, given that the great majority of them are non-elites and they get angry when elites who have some tenuous claim to victimhood treat them as "privileged." They recognize that people are multi-dimensional, and that just because someone is in an advantaged grouped based on one dimension that does not make them advantaged overall. A common complaint is that the Identity politics approach leads to absurd conclusions such as that a poor, uneducated, ugly white male is more privileged than a rich, beautiful, well-educated, black or Hispanic female.

We on the Left need to understand where Trump supporters are coming from and address their concerns if we are to ever convince them to switch sides.


"Our narrative must be that corporate, wealthy greed and the obscene inequality between rich and poor are our main problem."

That is so important because this is about way more than Trump. We can't fix this anymore at the ballot box. The whole system is corrupt - and Trump is just a symptom of how bad the corruption has become. The whole system no longer serves the people. That's what we have to confront and build our movement.


Best idea I've heard in a long time; go to justicedemocrats.com, read their platform, sign up and contribute if you can. It is just about impossible to run as a third party because the primary system is rigged and because of institutional bias. What " justice democrats" have done is find a way to take over the Democratic party (the Corporate Democratic party) with a new faction; the Progressive wing of the Democratic party. Essentially they are creating a third party by raising funds for Progressives to challenge the Corporatists within the party. The only solution to this mess is to get progressives into office at all levels, that starts by taking the bribery out of the process and by appealing to the average American with free education, universal healthcare, stop the wars of aggression. We can afford all of it, what we can't afford is to waste trillions of dollars on "wars" that only benefit the oligarchy.


This is great. I think people are all over the map in their turning the corner on what's wrong with the country. Bear in mind that our focus on "greed" overlooks an ugly reality it will take the majority a long time to absorb: this is what capitalism leads to - the assholes rise to the top. It is out of running room, and if we don't rearrange our priorities to worker-based, non-profit community-benefit enterprise, we will encounter this ogre again and again. That's OK - it will take a while to absorb this lesson, and we'll do better as we get going. It is absolutely essential that we take this opportunity to wrest control and reinstate public protections against the worst of the corporate criminality - if we don't steer this falling tree, it will crush us.


It appears that the Reagan Revolution has now come to fruition. Since the 1980s, much work went into pitting the middle class against the poor, and the poor against each other by race. If people "rose up" today, who would fight whom, and for what?

In real life, not everyone can work (health, etc.) and there aren't jobs for all. This article mentions "welfare," but actual welfare aid ended some 20 years ago. All we have today is TANF, a short term, marginally subsidized work program, only for those with children. The overall life expectancy of the US poor has fallen below that of every developed nation. The Clinton wing also took the first steps to "reform" Social Security, targeting the disabled.

The very concept of "the common good" was rooted out of our culture. You can organize protests on behalf of this or that group, but you can't build a movement without understanding and embracing "the common good."


In your worker-based world, what would you do with the jobless, and those who can't work? We already have a solid hierarchy in the employment world -- high-wage workers, middle class workers, minimum wage workers, and those who can be paid even less than minimum wage (workfare labor, prison labor, etc.).


Progressives dont have to be a third party. There are tens of thousands of local offices where candidates are repeatedly unopposed. Many Democrats. Many more Republicans. You don't need to primary anyone. You don't need millions of dollars. You just need people and someone willing to run. That's what it's about isnt it? Or is it?


Progressives haven't really tried the ballot box.


I swear I heard Obama say,"We all share this responsibility," with the WS meltdown of 2008." Then the Republicans on TV saying, "We need austerity--do you want to become like Greece?" Yep, it's been happening for a long, long time and everyone trusted Obama. From "You Are on Your Own" to "We Are All in This Together." It should read the direct opposite with Trump.


There is a lot of that going on in Northern Vermont. Whites also must face their history with regards to Native America and I would encourage everyone to read Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's book, An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States.


Yes, people must unite to build a movement, but absent the principled and strong leadership of a political party that only goes so far. This piece doesn't say a word about our two-party system and how both are essentially different sides of the same corrupt coin. Without a political mechanism and organization to focus the anger and demands of the millions in the streets, to lead with moral compass and the Common Good, an opposition is more or less rudderless.

The Democratic Party establishment failed over decades to provide such responsive principled leadership, failed to build a strong progressive base, respond to ordinary peoples needs and demands - "the first Obama campaign, created an activist network, then disbanded that network once Obama became President" - they served party-politics, big-money, and their own wealth and power! Now the same Dems refuse to alter course.

" There are millions of people in this country who currently feel lost and alone and would like to contribute to movements that envision a more just society. It is the responsibility of those who have been involved in activist work to ensure that they find a place within those movements. Indeed, we need to support and nurture new, local and national political leadership as it emerges from grass roots activism." The failure to even mention failed/corrupt/complicit Dem leadership and primary responsibility for the rise of trump & co. fails to tie our struggle together - a party either responds to the people & their base, or is the problem and dilutes, betrays, and is complicit to the extremism we now must fight against!


Emphyrio.....Have you checked the new site "justicedemocrats.com" ?? The answer is to take the dirty money out and replace it with $27 donations from the people. Anyone can take the pledge; incumbents or those who want to run as a Progressive. There is one essential question to ask all politicians or aspiring politicians: Who owns you? Justicedemocrats strategy allows them to answer that question.


I really agree with your sentiment, but the cart is before the horse. No political Party has ever been the catalyst for expanding democracy under our Constitution. The Republican Party rose up out of the abolitionist movement, to become the only alternative Party that succeeded in becoming a major Party, proving it can be done. The populist revolution built political power and a Party that ran candidates, but eventually became co-opted by the Democrats. Many of their policies were enacted, though. Same thing with the suffragettes, and Civil Rights movement.

For a long time our culture has been immersed in a top-down mentality. We need to think bottom-up. Leaders and political parties rise up from the movement; they don't create it and they don't direct it--movements are fluid. Good leaders respond to their followers, not the other way around, and political parties have eventually followed the people's demand for equal rights, but they have never given them to us without huge struggle.

If lefties do the grassroots organizing, connect with others in our communities, join together for the common good, the next generation of leaders will appear. You can count on it, and just maybe an alternative party will knock out the Democratic Party and replace it as one of the two majors.

Movements rise when those in power collectively fail. We have to build, take or steal our own power. Those that have it have never just handed it over.


Absolutely agreed Lobo the demand for change will come from the bottom - from the masses - we have seen them by the millions - the one leader that did create great hope "from the top", Sanders, was betrayed, along with our future - people didn't have something to vote for, only against, with predictable consequences.

I meant to convey that in our current political/ electoral system, the many millions who demand principled representation need a focal point - leadership - to rally around. The two parties have betrayed citizens and Common Good representing only their own and their cronies interests, putting "business" and profits and power above all else. I only hope we have the time to build such a political force and attract leaders/candidates of wisdom, courage and integrity to effect political revolution. Peace!


Just what is "Trumpism" and defending whatever that is as being opposed to identity politics seems to be just another form of identity politics and to be divisive in itself.