Posts Tagged ‘Protest movements’

Where political change comes from

May 19, 2016

Keenanga-Yamahhta Taylor, a Bernie Sanders supporter, wrote this for the Boston Review:

When activists recall a Democratic Party that cared about ordinary people, what they really have in mind are the social movements and revolts that forced the party to respond to the needs and demands of those on the streets. 

RTW_protestThere would have been no New Deal without the Hoovervilles, rent riots, sit-down strikes, and Communist Party activism of the 1930s. 

There would have been no Great Society without Civil Rights protests in the South and rebellions in more than two hundred cities across the country during the 1960s. 

Even Richard Nixon, who won office appealing to a racist “silent majority,” waited out his first term before he began dismantling Lyndon Johnson’s welfare state, lest he provoke protests.

As the great activist and historian Howard Zinn put it, “What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but ‘who is sitting in’—and who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change.”  He didn’t mean that elections are irrelevant, but he emphasized what citizens do to shape their world. 

The anger about inequality and injustice in the United States, which has been given some voice by the Sanders campaign and most certainly by the Black Lives Matter movement, should not be stifled by the pressure to organize through the Democratic Party.  It can’t be done.

Source: Boston Review

Sometimes the art of compromise is necessary, but nobody is going to compromise with you unless you represent something powerful enough that the other person feels they have to compromise.


The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street

October 20, 2011

The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are grass-roots American movements that arose out of concern about economic decline and anger at government bailouts of the Wall Street banks.

Since their concerns overlap, can they got together?  Probably not.

  • The Tea Partiers’ anger and resentment are directed at people below them on the socioeconomic scale.  Occupy Wall Streeters’ anger and resentment are directed at people above them on the socioeconomic scale.
  • Tea Partiers think the root of our problems are in Washington.  Occupy Wall Streeters thinks the root of our problems are on Wall Street.
  • The Tea Partiers’ theme is that the government does not follow the Constitution as they understand it.  The Occupy Wall Street theme is economic injustice.
  • Some Tea Partiers dress up in Revolutionary War costume.  Some Occupy Wall Streeters wear masks inspired by the movie V for Vendetta, which is about a future revolution.
  • The Tea Partiers are proud of American exceptionalism.  The Occupy Wall Streeters join hands with protest movements around the globe.
  • The average Tea Party member is middle-aged.  The average Occupy Wall Street member is young.
  • Tea Partiers are almost all white (which is NOT to say they are racist).  Occupy Wall Street is a rainbow coalition.
  • The Tea Party is a faction of the Republican Party.  Occupy Wall Streeters include more Democrats than Republicans, but the majority are independents, who strongly oppose both major political parties.
  • The Tea Party has an effective strategy, which is to run support candidates reflecting their views in Republican primary elections.  The Occupy Wall Street movement as yet has no strategy, except to hold rallies and bring together like-minded people.

When the Tea Party first emerged, many Americans looked on it favorably, but recent public opinion polls indicate that only 23 percent of Americans look on it favorably now.  In contrast, some 50 percent of Americans look favorably on the Occupy Wall Street movement at present.  It will be interesting to see how many look favorably on it a year from now.

But I think the majority of Americans are justifiably angry, and they will turn to leaders who understand and express their anger—if not the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street, then someone else.

 For the past few decades, economic conditions have worsened for a majority of Americans, while income and wealth have been redistributed upward to the richest 1 percent (and within that group, the richest 1/10 of 1 percent).  We Americans historically have looked upon a continually rising material standard of living as our birthright.  There is bound to be a revolt, sooner or later.  The only questions are who will lead it and what form it will take.

Click on An open letter and warning from a former Tea Party movement adherent to the Occupy Wall Street movement for thoughts of a disillusioned Tea Party supporter.

Click on Why You Shouldn’t Compare Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party for a Time magazine article.

Click on Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party: Do they agree on anything? for an article by Jacob Weisberg in Slate.

Click on Occupy Wall Street the Left’s Tea Party? Maybe, but… for an article by Robert Reich in the Christian Science Monitor.