There is no doubt the election of Barack Obama is a watershed. An 8-year-long national nightmare is coming to an end. But there is a tremendous amount of damage to repair.
Foremost is addressing the economic crisis that is upon us and which touches on every concern from the environment and healthcare to wars and energy.
So now that the election is over, the next fight begins.
The wealthy and corporate interests who dished out billions of dollars this election season will be swarming over Washington to get their agendas passed. The energy giants will demand “clean coal,” nuclear power and offshore drilling. More big corporations facing bankruptcy because of their corruption and greed will demand taxpayer bailouts.
Military contractors and weapon peddlers will push the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The super-rich will cry poverty and demand more tax cuts. HMOs and insurance companies will promote bogus healthcare “reforms” so they can forestall universal healthcare. And they won’t take no for an answer.
But things are different this time. We have the ideas on our side. The public is politically engaged. And we can hold accountable the politicians we put into office. Because the “free market” has proven a farce and the right is in disarray, there is a huge opening to pass policies that can benefit all Americans. As the economy sinks, only concerted public action can revive it.
We need to band together and organize powerful new movements across this country.
We need to organize in the workplace. We need to organize in the schools. We need to organize in the streets, in our neighborhoods, in our communities. And we need to be clear about what we’re for: A Just Economy for All Americans. One that creates 21st Century productive jobs, instead of relying on debt-driven consumption to sustain the economy.
We can end our addiction to oil. We can end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We can solve the healthcare crisis. We can revive our communities, rebuild our infrastructure, invest in education, slow global warming and transition to a clean, green economy.
We need to bring pressure to bear on all levels of government — local, state and national — to enact programs of reconstruction and relief, and to restructure the finance sector.
Here’s how we can start:
*Sign the call to action and send it around to everyone you know, urging them to add their name to the call and join this new movement.
*Set up an organizing committee in your town or city. We need to bring together labor, housing groups, healthcare activists, environmentalists, business owners and all concerned citizens to help draft a plan to dig our way out of this mess.
*Organize a teach-in on the economic crisis and community-based solutions. (Go to bailoutmainstreet.com for suggestions on how to organize a teach-in.)
*Use the teach-in to begin organizing for a day of local action in your community. We are calling for a day of nationally coordinated local actions to push for economic policies that benefit everyone.
*And we need to start organizing for a big mobilization in Washington, D.C., following the inauguration, to push our demands for a fair, just economy of the future, instead of the failed trickle-down economy of the past.
Just like the 1930s, this unprecedented crisis has given us the opportunity to fix America and create a productive, sustainable economy for all. Let’s get to work!
Professor of Linguistics, MIT
Author A People’s History of the United States
National Coordinator Healthcare-NOW
Author The Shock Doctrine and No Logo
Co-founder CODEPINK and Global Exchange
Frances Fox Piven
Distinguished Professor CUNY Grad Center, author Regulating the Poor
Distinguished Professor of Sociology, CUNY and author
Against Schooling and for an Education that Matters
Organizations listed for identification purposes only.