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Demonstrate Globally, Organize Locally

by Open-Publishing - Monday 22 March 2004

Demos-Actions Wars and conflicts USA Ted Glick

Future Hope column

It was a definite "up" to be on the streets of Manhattan
yesterday with 100,000 or so sisters and brothers marching
for peace, justice and a new world, knowing that, as it
turned out, upwards of 2 million of us were demonstrating
together around the U.S. and the world. Our movement needs
days like March 20th, 2004.

And we will need an even bigger and more powerful "World
Says No to Bush" international day of action on August 29th,
the day before the opening of the Republican Convention in
New York City. Manhattan must experience another day like
February 15th, 2003, many hundreds of thousands of us
descending upon midtown to say loudly and clearly that the
Bushites must go.

But mobilizing for August 29th is not the most important
work that we need to be doing for the next five months. Much
more important is what we do over the next seven and a half
months on the ground—in neighborhoods, door-to-door, on
street corners, in parks, playgrounds, supermarkets and
anywhere else where we can reach our fellow citizens.

It is urgent that the peace movement, and the progressive
movement generally, focus its energies and resources on the
building, or building up, of independent, neighborhood-based
organizations that utilize various tactics to reach out to,
talk to and interact with the U.S. American people. Our
objective: the mobilization on November 2, 2004 of the
largest possible vote in support of peace, justice and
defense of our threatened global ecosystem.

It is urgent that we recognize the critical nature of this
work, both short-term and long-term.

Short-term, think about the potential impact if just 100,000
of the hundreds of thousands of people who demonstrated
yesterday spent an average of two hours every two weeks
interacting in an organized way with grassroots people,
distributing popularly written literature about the need for
political housecleaning this November. Over the course of a
couple of months 10 million or more people would be reached.
Some of these will be unregistered voters that we would
register as we interact with them with our progressive
message. Some will be people "on the fence" about what to do
who we would help to motivate to vote for progressive
candidates come November. Others will be people leaning
towards voting for Bush whom we might influence, sowing
doubt in their minds and increasing the chances that they
would either vote for someone else or not vote at all.

Long-term, the building and strengthening of a national
network of broadly-based and activist neighborhood groups,
many of them local groups which already exist, would put us
in position for the work which will be necessary no matter
what happens on November 2. If we and the Democrats are
successful in removing the Bushites from power, we need to
move expeditiously to demonstrate massively to Kerry that
progressives, whether in or outside of the Democratic Party,
will not accept another Bill Clinton-like, Republican-light
agenda. We must transition from opposition to the Bush
agenda to demanding that the Democrats enact a truly
progressive agenda.

And if Bush is reelected, we will clearly need an
independent political force to oppose the right-wing agenda
and put some backbone into those Democrats we can influence.

It is to be expected that there will be nuances in the way
in which local groups put forward our "Bush must go"
message. Some will not be able to be explicit with that
message because of their non-profit status. Others who don’t
have that constraint will have to determine what they have
to say about Kerry, the Green Party candidate, if a decision
is made to run one at its convention in late June, and
independent Ralph Nader. Whatever decisions are made by
local groups along these lines, what must unite all of us is
our commitment to articulating an issue-oriented critique of
the government currently in power and a positive,
issue-oriented alternative.

As we do this work, those of us who are of European descent
must consciously do outreach and build connections across
lines of culture and nationality. This is necessary,
short-term, because many of those who are turned off by our
political/economic system whom we need to motivate to come
out to vote are people of color. It is necessary,
longer-term, because we will never, ever bring about the
kinds of changes needed in this country without a broadly
multi-cultural, pro-equality alliance.

August 29th and November 2: two key milestones for our
movement, days to demonstrate globally and, on the 2nd, reap
the rewards of serious grassroots work all over the U.S.A.
As the weather turns warmer, let’s get outside and organize!

(Ted Glick is the National Coordinator of the Independent
Progressive Politics Network (www.ippn.org), although these
ideas are solely his own. Helpful resources for local
organizing can be found by going to www.democracy2004.org.
Ted can be reached at futurehopeTG@a... or P.O. Box 1132,
Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.)