This is what you can ask for, this is what you can expect. We get told this all the time by our liberal friends, pundits on Sunday morning talk shows, lobbyists, politicians: the entire political establishment.
These are the rules. This is how we get things done. They drum a litany of limits, barriers, and lowered expectations. We are told, in so many other words, to settle. To buckle down and accept. In the words of Nina Simone, “They keep on saying ‘Go slow!’”
Unless it’s time to go to war for plunder or bail out the biggest banks from their most recent blunder, slow is the speed and meek are the designs. Our politics are marinated in quiet submission to the dominant order. We are told to project our hopes for change onto Obama, but when it’s time to get the work done, we are instructed to fold our trust into the bureaucrats and old Washington hands who know best. And if they bring back bank bailouts and war, but fail to stop foreclosures or address global climate change, well, they did the best they could.
This issue you are holding in your hands is one screaming rejection of all of that. As one presidential term ends and another begins, we want to take this opportunity to reject the pomp of inauguration and reignite the radical imagination. Instead of settling for empty suits and ugly compromisers, we’ve tossed Obama’s cabinet out of White House and reached out to thinkers and doers, those least likely to be nominated but most deserving of being heard and best qualified to make change, and nominated them to our own Shadow Cabinet.
What would happen if the country’s fiercest advocate for the homeless could remake the Department of Housing and Urban Development? See what Cheri Honkala, national coordinator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, suggests. What would happen if Homeland Security was recreated by someone who has been through some of the country’s harshest prisons, as a prisoner himself? See how Andy Stepanian would remake the department. Bill McKibben, on the frontlines fighting global climate change, doesn’t think he’d last that long as the secretary of energy: see what he’d push before he was fired. And that’s just a few of the voices herein.
We can demand more, more than what is asked for in this issue. We need to conjure up new expectations, create better politics, to think and act on all of this. Here are some ideas for you to read, whether on the subway home after a long day of work or on the bus to a protest. The time is now. There’s a lot to get done.
Your guest editors,
Anna Gold and Sam Alcoff
We would like to thank the contributors and illustrators, as well as the regular Indypendent production staff who patiently let us take the helm for an issue.