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The Bipartisan Illusion

Jamelle Bouie wrote a terrific opinion piece in the July 30 New York Times [LINK]. He completely dismantles the argument advanced by Senators Joe Manchin (WVA) and Kristen Synema (AZ) that the best way to achieve voting rights is through bipartisan cooperation.  Bouie reminds us that the 14th and 15th Amendments were enacted by one party, and that all of the significant civil rights enforcement laws of the Reconstruction Era were too.

Bouie concedes, however, that the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights act were passed by bipartisan majorities. His explanation: the two parties were not ideologically unified. Each had a liberal and a conservative wing, which in the case of the Southern Democrats was the result of the marriage of New Deal social democrats and Southern racists whose power rested on the historic exclusion of Black people from voting.

But Bouie does not adequately explain why this ideological diversity has evaporated. First, let’s clear up one thing:  the Democratic Party remains ideologically diverse to this day, with a newly emboldened socialist wing and a contingent of so-called ‘centrists’ who cater to white suburban swing voters. It is the Republican Party alone that has ousted its centrist wing and consolidated on a racist, nationalist an authoritarian ideology now called Trumpism. This Republican Party has no illusions about or interest in bipartisanship.

As I have argued in other posts, this trend towards greater political polarization reflects the social crisis created by neo-liberal capitalism. Bipartisanship was practiced in an era of a widespread consensus on the American Dream and the middle class as the lynchpin of the American social order. Hyper-inequality and forty years of attacks on government policies to redistribute benefits from the rich to the middle class and the poor have shredded the belief in the American Dream, ripped apart the middle class and plunged the poor into a deep crisis.

This social crisis has now become undeniable to virtually everyone except for opportunists seeking to hold onto ‘centrist’ politics. Republicans have rebranded themselves as a radical political party of the right, and most Democrats (including newly ‘woke’ Biden) have rejected neo-liberal premises in favor of social democratic ones.   

The only politicians left holding onto the dreams of the good old days of bipartisanship are those Democrats who are actively defending neo-liberal policies. Those who have come to their senses and realize the true gravity of this moment are beginning to understand that we need a new Reconstruction Era, and that this one, just like the first one, will have to be championed by one political party on its own.

The real test of the Democratic Party is now upon them: will they shrug off the demagogic appeals to bipartisanship being used to defend the Senate’s filibuster rules and find the courage to pass the For the People Act by themselves? Or will they allow Republicans to enact state laws to suppress voting rights as part of their strategy to give birth (yet again) to a white nationalist America? There can be no illusion about one thing: the defense of the filibuster is now, as it was in the 1950s, the defense of white supremacy, not bipartisanship.

This moment is not only a test for the Democratic Party. It is also a test for progressives. It is everyone’s responsibility to compel the Democrats do whatever they can to enact the new voting rights protections, including suspending the filibuster rule. But right now, there seems to be little energy on the part of progressives to do so. While some groups like the New Georgia Project and the Poor Peoples Campaign are trying hard, their efforts have not produced a mass movement capable of moving national politics. Unfortunately, most civil rights organizations are showing their utter inability to engage in grassroots organizing and most labor unions are sitting on the sidelines.

Now is the time for progressives to mobilize their constituencies in every way they can. We may look back at the summer of 2021 as the moment when American democracy was saved or when American fascism began. To paraphrase MLK: Where do we go from here?

Working Inside the System: Thoughts About ‘Philly D.A.’

I’ve been watching Philly DA (the PBS documentary series) and loving it for highlighting the intense contradictions of working as a progressive inside the legal system.

The series documents the work of Larry Kramer, who has been Philadelphia’s DA since 2018. Kramer says that he spent his 30-year career as a defense attorney complaining about the criminal legal system and since being elected as Philadelphia’s District Attorney, he now had the power to make changes.

But does he? It is certainly true, as Jonathan Simon has so well explained in Governing Through Crime, the system of mass incarceration made DAs powerful.To lock up the largest proportion of civilians of any country, Congress and state legislators had to strip judges of their traditional prerogatives of discretionary sentencing and had to make it almost impossible for most poor people—disproportionately Black and brown—to have access to a defense lawyer capable of pushing against the plea-bargaining machinery created by DAs to “efficiently process” cases. DAs increasingly had the most discretion—and therefore the most power—to decide who was going to go to jail and for how long. And for decades, DAs ran for re-election by boasting about their 99% conviction rates and throwing red meat at voters by filing outrageous charges and recommending harsh sentencing in ‘hot’ cases that received public attention. Indeed, being a prosecutor became all but a pre-condition for running for all elective offices by the early 2000s.

Larry Krasner is attempting to use the power of the DA office against the system that made it powerful. Unfortunately, Philly DA provides a lot of evidence that the other institutions of the legal machinery of mass incarceration—police, judges, legislators, social workers (Child Protective Services, for example)—have the power to resist his reform efforts. In episode after episode, we see Krasner and his team trying to institute major changes, only to find that by the end of the episode they were only able to win small reforms, and at a high price. In one episode, we see the enormous effort it took to charge a police officer with murder after he shot an unarmed Black man in the back. And then, at the end, we learn that Krasner declined to charge 19 other police officers who had also killed suspects. In another episode we see Krasner working to reduce sentencing recommendations for minors convicted of serious crimes. And he does succeed in convincing a small number of judges to shave off a few years while many other judges reacted with outrage at his efforts. All in all we are left with the sense that Krasner is only able to make marginal changes, and that the machinery of mass incarceration remains largely intact.

Here’s the problem: Krasner’s capacity to make change is not nor can it be based on the power of his office. That power arose because the DA was part of the machinery of mass incarceration. By challenging that system, we see the very limited power Krasner has to effect change. Time and again, Krasner tries to do something big and ends up accomplishing something smaller, and at an enormous cost.

Of course, Krasner’s accomplishments are significant: the Philadelphia Police Department has long been notorious for its racism (remember Frank Rizzo? If not look him up!) and cops now worry that they might be held accountable. Krasner’s push to end of cash bail for many crimes has freed thousands of incarcerated people who had not been convicted of any crime.  A few judges are sentencing people to shorter terms (although all sentencing guidelines in the United States are absurd).  These are real achievements that have helped to blunt the impact of police violence and mass incarceration on Philly’s Black and Latinx communities.

And, in recognition of his progress, Krasner has retained his electoral coalition based in the Black community and progressive whites. In May Krasner easily won the Democratic nomination for a second term, trouncing his ‘law and order’ opponent 65% to 35% and virtually guaranteeing a second term.

But I come away from watching this remarkable documentary wondering if Krasner could do far more had he spent more time working with community organizations to build a permanently mobilized movement against mass incarceration and racist police violence

The series implies that Krasner is uncomfortable with community organizing. In one episode, we see Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez lecturing Krasner about the need to go to a community-police block party in Kessington, a multi-racial working-class neighborhood. When he does go (somewhat reluctantly), he has difficulty connecting with the people in attendance. “Larry’s inability to do retail politics is going to either make him successful or not,” Quinones-Sanchez says in frustration.

Perhaps Krasner is well-connected with Black and brown communities and the problem is that the documentarians didn’t highlight it.

This is the real test for any progressive officeholder: to what extent do they utilize their time and resources working with community-based activists to permanently mobilize large numbers of people in support of radical policies like defunding the police or ending mass incarceration? Obviously, Krasner must devote considerable time and energy to doing the D.A. job. But he must also understand that the power to effect fundamental change does not come from the office he holds, but from the direct power of people demanding these changes.

We know, thanks to the 2020 election results, that there are powerful minority community organizations in Philadelphia capable of real mobilization. The test of Krasner’s strategy will be the extent to which he works with these organizations not just during his re-election campaign, but throughout his term as Philly D.A., and not just to win an election but to build the grassroots movement against police violence and mass incarceration.

Progressives and the Democratic Party Today

The Democratic Party is still in the grip of an old nostalgic fantasy, in which they find a way to entice Republicans to join them in enacting legislation ‘for the good of the country.’

Much of the Democratic Party leadership—including Bernie Sanders— believes that the passage of economic stimulus measures, such as the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill, will entice Republicans back into ‘normal’ politics when they realize that these spending measures are popular with swing voters.

In short, most Democrats argue that they must find a way to work with Republicans in order to “get things done.”

But meanwhile, as Democrats dream of bipartisanship, the Republican Party veers further and further away from democracy and towards white nationalist fascism. With military-like discipline, Republicans are methodically suppressing voting rights in every state they control. With lower voter turnout by people of color, Republicans plan to not only retake the House of Representatives but also to keep control of state legislatures in the year that states will undertake the once a decade task of drawing new voting districts using the 2020 Census data. The Republican strategy will be aided by a Supreme Court majority which just finished gutting the Voting Rights Act, and by a flawed Census whose count of the U.S. population was continuously undermined by the Trump Administration. And any Republican who stands in the way (Liz Cheney) is summarily purged from the GOP.

In order to win support for its authoritarian project, the Republican Party is whipping up a racist frenzy with absurd attacks on “critical race theory,” passing (clearly unconstitutional) laws in six states that prevent public schools and universities from teaching about structural racism today or the history of racism in the formation of the United States. Republicans are also passing anti-abortion laws that are clearly meant to invite the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade next term.

The complete breakdown of legislative bipartisanship and the willingness of the Supreme Court majority to undo the most basic legal protections for people of color and women of all races reflects the reality of our time: we live in the midst of an ever-deepening social crisis, and there is no unifying vision capable of pulling Americans together. While Covid made matters worse, this crisis has been unfolding since the 1990s. The crisis is fundamentally caused by neo-liberal policies that unleashed banks to financialize the global capitalist economy. The result has been that wealthy nations are being torn apart by hyper-inequality and the reduction in investments in all institutions serving to unify society, including those providing social safety nets to the poor.

And to be clear about it: Republicans are the ones calling attention to the crisis, and the ones offering a radical vision for a new future. Their racist screed is fueled by attacks on the haughty coastal elites who are driving America into the ground. Indeed, young Republicans proudly refer to themselves as revolutionaries seeking to overthrow a corrupt and outdated system. Democrats are the new conservatives, still enmired in the belief that 20th Century legislative procedures and ideas about the rule of law can save the day.

Republicans are telling white people that the real social crisis they are experiencing is the result of growing numbers of people of color laying claim on society’s resources. They offer a fantasy of America’s past, in which they claim white people lived in peace and prosperity with one another, and anyone who wanted to work hard could get ahead.  This America, they argue, was destroyed by people of color gaining power, and using their influence to undermine America’s ‘traditional values.’ It is worth noting that this argument was first made not by Republicans but by 19th Century Democrats, who in the Reconstruction era made the same appeal to white Southerners nostalgic for the ‘gracious Bourbon life-style’ of the slavers.

It is time for the Democrats to realize that this moment requires them to make a radical break with the past and to embrace a radically different vision for the future. Democrats need to make explicit that they are the party defending the U.S. from fascism. Democrats need to make a clean break with neo-liberal capitalism and embrace social democracy. They need to stand firm on the need for a Green New Deal to address the existential threat of climate change. They need to stand firm against financial institutions and unregulated and untaxed corporate greed. They need to take real steps to end anti-black and anti-immigrant police violence and end mass incarceration.

The defense of voting rights, for example, will require a radical act by Democrats–the destruction of the filibuster rules in the Senate–since not a single Republican Senator will support even this bedrock principle of democracy.  The urgent large-scale effort to shift the U.S. economy away from finance-based investments to investments in production (and green production specifically) will have to be undertaken by Democrats with no Republican support. The efforts to re-orient national security towards the real threats posed by right-wing organizations will never have bipartisan support.

The immediate test is whether Senate Democrats will unite to end the filibuster rules that will be used by Republicans to prevent the passage of the For the People Act, the law that would restore the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

At this point, the pragmatic argument in favor of bipartisanship (embodied in Joe Manchin) is preventing Democrats from going all in on this essential act to defend democracy. Worst of all, it seems very likely that the Democrats only have this year and next to accomplish their agenda before Republicans re-take the House.

The problem, of course, is that progressives simply do not have enough power to force the Democratic Party out of its nostalgic dreams of a return to the past. Most Congressional Democrats still consider winning white suburban swing voters (and to defend the American Dream) to be the holy grail of their politics. Unfortunately, if Democrats fail to enact the For the People Act, we will almost certainly have to endure yet another two years or longer of Republicans returning to power and using that power for the sole purpose of advancing their white nationalist and anti-democratic agenda.

Of course, history is not on the side of white supremacy. And the Republicans know it, which is why they have turned into an authoritarian party.

But the immediate future is likely to produce more of the same dynamic we have experienced since 2008: Democrats win power enough to advance social democratic policies (Obama’s ACA and Dodd-Frank Act, Biden’s efforts to revive U.S. industrial production) and Republicans then sow a racist reaction to halt their efforts, using increasingly repressive means as Democrats gain more voters. This truly is what Gramsci meant when he said, “the old social order is dying but the new has not yet been born.”

We will have to endure more of this dynamic until a coalition anchored by communities of color and organized labor has gained enough power to define the Democratic Party’s agenda and to elect 51 progressive Senators, a progressive majority in the House of Representatives, and a progressive President.

In 2021, it is likely that progressives will continue to be frustrated in their efforts to derail Republican Party extremism. But the main task continues: organize, organize, organize.  There are now many progressive organizations (such as the New Georgia Project and Make the Road New York and Philly) who understand this and are doing excellent work. And with their efforts we are learning that democracy is not defined only by political participation (i.e., the right to vote), but by people learning their power to participate in the making of society itself.

Progressives today must have the discipline to keep building minority communities’ leadership and organization with an eye on the prize of slowly but surely bringing the new American majority into focus. The road will be bumpy, but we know where we are heading. Let us keep our eyes on the prize.

Why are unions so important and so hard to organize?

The defeat of the Bessemer Alabama Amazon organizing drive caught many progressives off guard. After all, there had been a ton of national hype by politicians including President Biden and by faith leaders such as William Barber. Polls show that 2/3 of Americans support unions. Bessemer has a storied history of Black-led labor organizing in the steel plants. Given the recent progressive upsurge by Black communities in the South, success against one of the most notoriously anti-labor companies in the country seemed assured.

But the Amazon drive failed. And failed spectacularly. Only 55% of eligible workers voted in the certification election, and of those who did, 70% opposed unionization.

Progressives need to come to terms with what happened at Bessemer for a simple reason: there can be no progressive future—for a society that values and supports everyone’s well-being–that does not eventually rest on the power of workers organized in labor unions.  As Marx explained over 170 years ago, the most widespread experience of oppression in capitalist societies is the exploitation of workers. The all-too common experience of struggling to make ends meet while working two or three dangerous jobs in a country where the top 1 percent gets 90 percent of the wealth cuts across race, gender, national and sexual differences, and provides a potentially powerful path for people to come together for social justice in the broadest way. The power of workers over capital is the surest way for people to compel the redistribution of wealth that is prerequisite for building a just society.

So, what happened at Bessemer? My colleague Jane McAlevey wrote an unflinching post-mortem in the April Nation. (LINK). She acknowledges that anti-union labor laws have tilted the field in favor of companies, and that Amazon abused even these favorable legal prerogatives during the union drive. But McAlevey argues that unions cannot wait for better legal conditions, or for companies to behave differently. Instead, she underscores the importance of long-term, intensive and face-to-face discussions to convince workers to get organized in hostile conditions, work that can only be done by workers known and respected in their workplace. And in Bessemer, she argues, the union did not do these things.

McAlevey’s perspective is not just a critique of what went wrong. She provides a positive vision of labor organizing, one that is based on empowering the workers themselves to organize their own workplaces with a clear-eyed understanding of the difficult challenges they face. Most importantly, McAlevey’s vision for organizing is rooted in the understanding that such a transformation of workers’ self-understanding and relationships to one another is a slow and arduous process, one that requires lots of personal conversations and repeated tests of workers’ capacity to fight.

McAlevey has provided a road map for community-building that goes beyond the labor movement. In her books and articles in the Nation magazine, she has shown us the same approach to organizing that was used by SNCC organizers in the 1960s and is used today by community-based organizations like Make the Road New York and Pennsylvania. These methods are rooted in a deep confidence in the people who are suffering oppression—be it in the workplace, or at the hands of police or la migra or white supremacist thugs or landlords or schools– a recognition that they and only they can be the agents of their own liberation. The job of the union organizer or political activist is mainly to identify community leaders and to support them to undertake the hard and long work of organizing.

McAlevey’s work provides a concrete and practical guide to this approach to community building. Aside from her on-gong organizing work and reporting on labor for the Nation, she has also written three books. You can view them here.

This understanding of organizing is essential for everyone who seeks to build the beloved community. Many progressives today are college-educated people who are either from privileged backgrounds or have left their communities to go to college and get a decent job. McAlevey’s work is a reminder that the actual agents of social justice are the people who live in oppressed communities.  As much as her work points to their roles as leaders of any meaningful labor or community organizing efforts, she also reminds privileged progressives to be humble, and to recognize the limits on what they can offer (as well as their real contributions) in the historic moment we now are living. Most importantly, McAlevey’s work is brutally honest about the difficult conditions we face but is also powerfully optimistic about oppessed peoples’ potential to create change.

The Third Reconstruction Has Begun

Biden and Harris’ victories—and just as importantly those of Warnock and Ossoff in Georgia—were historic both because they prevented a fascist movement from seizing state power and because they opened the door to progressive politics in a way that we have not seen since the early days of the New Deal.

And it is widely understood that these victories were the direct result of ongoing organizing work that empowered Black, Latinx (Arizona, Nevada) and Native American communities in the swing states and beyond.

What is less well understood is that we have now entered a new era: the third time in American history to repair the damage racism has done to American society, i.e. the Third Reconstruction.

Looking at the Biden Administration’s first fifty days in office, it appears that Biden understands that he owes his election to progressives, and primarily to Black and brown organizers.  The decision to ‘go big’ with Covid relief put Republicans on notice that the Administration was not going to be held hostage by Biden’s nostalgia for his Senate days of bi-partisanship. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan targets spending towards those most impacted by the pandemic crisis. The poorest fifth of Americans will see their incomes rise by 20%; childhood poverty will be cut in half by a provision that amounts to a guaranteed minimum income for poor families, and Black, Latinx and Native communities are specifically targeted.

And much more is to come: the fight for a $15 minimum wage, the re-establishment of workers’ rights, a major infrastructure renewal effort, environmental regulations, a public market for health insurance, and more.

Democrats clearly have decided to use their control of government to rescue America from the ravages of 50 years of neo-liberal austerity and corporate giveaways, and to at least slow down the obscene rise of inequality between the top 1 percent and everyone else.

But Progressives understand that this moment is actually a watershed moment in America’s history: the beginning of the third effort to reconstruct the country. The first Reconstruction (1866-1877) was necessitated by the abolition of slavery, but failed to end white supremacy. The second Reconstruction (1954-1965) was necessitated by the need to abolish Jim Crow segregation, but also failed to end white supremacy. And now, in the midst of the deep social crises created by neo-liberal policies, we once again have the historic opportunity to overcome America’s long imprisonment by white supremacy. Progressives envision a new America freed from structural racism, a society that empowers minorities and working people to build the beloved community and end its ravaging of the planet.

But the Republicans also understand that this is a watershed moment. And because the Republican Party has been taken over by fascists and opportunists willing to conciliate fascism, they have no interest in entering into policy debates with Democrats. All they have is a vision of destroying democracy and installing a plutocratic dictator as President to save white supremacy. The only Republican initiative now is minority voter suppression through state level legislation. The Brennan Center has counted over 250 bills in 43 states aimed at this end [LINK]. In Georgia, the Republican-controlled state legislature has already passed a law ending weekend voting (aimed at preventing Black churches from mobilizing their congregations).

In other words, we are currently seeing a naked effort to once again impose white minority rule on the United States, very much akin to the effort to construct the Jim Crow system in the early 20th Century.

The battle for voting rights is the decisive battle of this moment in history. Its outcome will determine whether the Third Reconstruction will proceed or not. And the fight is on: The House has now passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act [LINK], which reverses the Supreme Court’s gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision.  The House bill is far from a revival of the 1965 law: the new legislation updates the defense of voting rights to the modern era. While the 1965 Act focused almost entirely on Southern Jim Crow states, the new law addresses contemporary efforts at minority voter suppression throughout the United States such as voter ID laws.

There is no doubt that Senate Republicans will do everything in their power to prevent passage of the House bill. And, unlike the American Relief Act that only required a simple majority, the Voting Rights Act of 2021 will, under current Senate filibuster rules, require 60 votes to pass. It is for this reason that Democrats must now end the filibuster. This can be done by technical means or by sweeping it away. But one way or another, the Senate majority must have the ability to enact the Voting Rights Act.

The filibuster as a tactic to prevent the passage of legislation is a tool used by those trying to stop change. The filibuster was deployed over and over by segregationists to prevent civil rights laws from being enacted in the 1950s and 1960s. It was also used by Republicans to prevent Democratic nominees for the Supreme Court and Cabinet posts from being considered. The rule of cloture—the procedure for ending a filibuster—has been modified many times in American history. Now is certainly a moment in which its modification or the termination of the filibuster altogether is required as it is the only way Republicans—who have absolutely no interest in bi-partisan governance– can stop legislation from being made into law.

So: end the filibuster, enact the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and lets keep on reconstructing America!

The fight for voting rights is not new. But now, with the momentum of community organizing over the past decade, the United States is poised to accomplish what previous generations did not. Let us keep up the empowerment work that got us to this point, and do it with optimism and determination for a different future.

Towards the Beloved Community

Welcome to my blog. Here I offer posts commenting on events and issues in the United States in the hope that they might stimulate thoughts about and work for social justice.

I believe that one of the most important developments of the last decade has been a resurgent interest in the concept of social justice advanced by the early civil rights movement: the beloved community. This concept is alive in the Poor Peoples’ Campaign [LINK], the Movement for Black Lives [LINK], and in many multi-racial community empowerment efforts around the country today such as those affiliated with the Center for Popular Democracy [LINK].

King explained the beloved community many times, most famously in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in 1963.  Social justice, he said, refers to relationships between people that uplift everyone to realize their full potential as human beings. Mutuality lies at the core of this concept: every person must recognize and actively support the humanity of everyone else, especially of those who are dehumanized by oppression and exploitation if everyone is to be uplifted. No one can escape their responsibilities to one another, King explained. “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, a single garment of destiny.”

The concept of the beloved community is not a dream for a utopian future: this duty to care for one another must be lived every day by those demanding social justice now, because only this practice can give birth to a just society. It was this understanding in particular that motivated Ella Baker to form the Student Non-Violent Organizing Committee (SNCC).[LINK]

Building the beloved community requires clear-eyed and principled opposition to every act that oppresses rather than uplifts human beings. Anger at oppression and exploitation of human beings is not a betrayal of love: it is in fact an important component of love itself. The purpose of such anger is not the denial of anyone’s humanity; indeed, the anger motivated by the defense of peoples’ humanity allows the possibility for redemption even by those who have oppressed others.

The beloved community can only exist in a society that fully embraces the economic, political and cultural practices that support all people’s capacity to uplift their humanity. But social equality does not define social justice; it is a condition for it.  As Dr. King put it in 1966, “I do not think of political power as an end. Neither do I think of economic power as an end. They are ingredients in the objective that we seek in life….the creation of the beloved community.”

I write these posts in an effort to operationalize this concept of social justice in the face of the cascade of crises that we face today. Just months before the end of his too short life in 1968, Dr. King posed a question: “Where do we go from here? Chaos or community?”  In 2021, this question still carries its power. The United States today is a nation sharply divided between those living in the future and those desperately trying to hold on to the fading past of white supremacy. The 2020 election proved without a doubt that America is at the cusp of the third effort in its brief history to reconstruct itself.

The United States has been brought to this moment by generations of social justice activists who refused to give in white supremacy. From the long struggle against Jim Crow from 1877 until 1965, from the anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s and 1980s to the fights for immigrant rights and the efforts to defend affirmative action and voting rights in the 1990s, activists achieved a growing understanding of the intersections of race, class an gender in all social justice movements, an understanding that radicalized each movement (including the women’s movement, the LGBTQI movement,  the environmental movement and the labor movement) and gave them greater possibilities for coordinated action. Activists also learned from long and often bitter experience the possibilities and limits of electoral and legal victories, and the fundamental importance of building movements based on grassroots power.  In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, a resurgent movement for immigrant and refugee rights and the election of the nation’s first African American President began to have a real impact on national politics.

The First Reconstruction after the Civil War was stopped by the formation of the white dictatorship of Jim Crow racism. The Second Reconstruction was largely stalled by the Republican Party’s harnessing white rage in the 1970s against the emerging assertion of humanity by people of color, women and LGBTQI people in the freedom movements of the 1960s.  A similar motion is going on today: the emerging reality of a multi-racial, multi-cultural American majority has been met by a desperate effort supported by the majority of white voters to prevent the reconstruction of this country yet again. This white nationalist movement, which has taken over the Republican Party that nurtured it for the last fifty years, has demonstrated its willingness to abandon all pretense of democracy with its widespread support for the January 6, 2020 insurrection against the government fomented by the President of the United States.  

But as fierce as the white nationalist resistance has been, movements for social justice have doggedly persisted in their long game. And we are winning. Even in the midst of the nightmare of the Trump era, a major step towards the reconstruction of the South made headway, symbolized by the removal of Confederate statues throughout the region. And even the electoral defeats of progressives in 2016 and 2018 did not deter the continual efforts to organize and mobilize minorities and progressive whites in places like Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

And so here we are: A nation still at war with itself, with a powerful white nationalist Republican Party with a fascist tendency within its ranks, and powerful multi-racial social justice movements rooted in Black and Latinx communities and led by women that succeeded in driving the Republican Party from national power in 2020.  Today, we are a nation brought to its knees by the cascading crises of fascism, structural racism, hyper-inequality, environmental destruction and Covid-19, a nation poised to remake itself but also a nation where fantasies of white supremacy and American world domination still endure.

So where do we go from here? We keep playing the long game that has brought us to this point. We continue to insist as so many generations before us have that America can be a nation that recognizes and supports the humanity of all its citizens and recognizes its global responsibilities to promote social justice for all. We continue to fiercely fight every effort to degrade and dehumanize people in prisons, on the streets, in schools, in workplaces, in their homes, on the border and overseas. We understand that the poisoning of our planet degrades and endangers us all. We continue to believe in the redemptive possibilities of the present, and we continue to demand the reparative actions that alone can heal the deep wounds borne out of the long history of oppression and exploitation. We keep going for the simple reason that our own humanity—our own capacity for love—demands that we do so. We keep going because we long for freedom. And we keep going because we have the confidence that the arc of history bends towards justice.

The posts you will find here endeavor to embody this understanding of social justice and the history of the United States.  The task before us today continues to be the reconstruction of America, what Dr. King called “a revolution of values.” Our America is a long time coming.  Many generations of Americans have given their all to give birth to it. Let us continue the hard labor, not as a sacrifice for the future, but out of the knowledge that doing so is the realization of the beloved community and our places within it today.

Healing America After Trump

Biden and Harris have been inaugurated. Trump has slunk off to Florida without his Twitter account. Most of the world has breathed a deep sigh of relief.

In his Inaugural Address, Biden issued a call for bipartisan unity to address the many crises revealed in the last hellish year.

But is unity possible? What does unity mean when the Inauguration took place at a Capitol ringed by 15,000 troops for fear that the fascists who stormed the Capitol on January 6 might try again? What kind of unity is possible when 147 Republicans voted against impeaching Trump, and 138 voted to stop the certification of the 2020 election? And, of course, there is the question of what to do with the 74 million people who voted for Trump, 77% of whom believe Biden stole the election.

So, what will it take to get to the bi-partisan unity that Biden so dearly wants?

The problem with Biden’s call for unity is that there is always the danger that under the pressure to enact legislation, Democrats will continually compromise with unrepentant Trump Republicans. This pressure will be especially intense because Democrats have razor-thin majorities in both the House and the Senate, and Republicans will definitely try to peel off centrist Democrats.

But if Democrats give into Republicans, there will be no healing this country.

Fortunately, in his Inaugural Address, Biden not only spoke of the need for bi-partisan unity. He also spoke of the need to address what he called “the cascading crises of this era:” the Covid pandemic, the attack on democracy and truth, systemic racism, white supremacy, growing inequality, and climate crisis.

Here’s the crux of the problem: only by addressing the cascading crises of our era can there be real national reconciliation, and real unity.

A useful starting place is to remember that Biden and Harris were elected by 81 million people, and that Democrats won control of the Senate through the hard and long labors of multi-racial coalitions centered by women of color in all of the swing states. Indeed, Georgia’s new Senators Warnick and Ossoff were sworn into office on Inauguration Day by the first woman of color ever to be elected Vice President of the United States. Most significantly, the Georgia  wins marked a significant erosion of the Republican’s so-called Southern Strategy, which has been the basis of the right’s strategy for national power since 1968.

In other words, the rise of white supremacist fascism under Trump is the rage of people who understand full well that history is not on their side. As Amanda Gorman put it in her powerful Inaugural poem,

“Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.”

Amada Gorman Inaugural Poem

But white supremacists, with their narcissistic belief that the world exists to serve them, do not understand history. And because of that they overplayed their hand on January 6.

The insurrection, coming hours after the Republicans lost the Senate, was too much for all except the most radical Trump supporters. The insurrection was almost universally labeled seditious and treasonous, and Trump was blamed for instigating it by a wide spectrum of Americans, including his former staunch ally Mitch McConnell. In his final days in office, Trump’s approval rating sank to 29 percent.

The official defense of democracy began within hours of the attack, as the Joint Session of Congress completed its certification of the 2020 election. Within a week, the House had voted to impeach Trump a second time, with the intent of barring him from ever running for office again. In the Senate, enough Republican Senators may join McConnell to convict the former bigot-in-Chief. But even if not, a split in the Republican ranks will weaken the hold of white supremacy on that party. The national security apparatus has now officially designated white supremacist organizations as domestic terrorists and have begun arresting some of the insurrection’s most visible participants. Top brass has begun investigating white supremacist units in the military and some police departments. The House of Representatives may well take action against Republican Members who aided and abetted the insurrection such as Colorado Representative Lauren Broebert, who tweeted Nancy Pelosi’s movements to the paramilitary units hunting for her.

These steps are crucial to the defense of democracy, but they are not sufficient to unite America. Much more is needed even for the most basic defense of democracy, such as ending the Republicans’ half a century of efforts at minority voter suppression.

The restoration of democratic norms will mean little, however, if it does not produce action on President Biden’s ‘cascading crises.’  Biden is off to a remarkable start, signing 17 Executive Orders on Inauguration Day, most of which restored immigrant and refugee rights that had been taken away by Trump.

But the hard work to enact legislation—starting with a huge Covid relief bill, but also a ‘green jobs’ bill, immigration reform, adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act, strengthening the regulation of banking, etc.  —has not yet begun.

In the dramatic weeks and months ahead, Democrats need to remember that there is no point talking about unity for its own sake, or even to pass tepid legislation. Unity is be measured by steps that actually address the ‘cascading crises,’ that heal America through redemptive action.

Most importantly, Democrats must remember that they have the means to undertake big things. The 2020 election was won and defended after it was won by multiracial coalitions that were not built to just win elections, but to pursue social justice policies that will heal America.

Democrats have a historic opportunity to tap into and grow these powerful grassroots movements to advance legislation and regulations that will advance a real social justice agenda. Through hard work to mobilize many millions of people we have the opportunity—after 244 years—to reconstruct and unite this country.

If the Democrats forge such deep ties to the coalitions that elected them, they will create the conditions to heal this country of the deep scars of Covid, racism, hyper-inequality, and the dismissal of science and facts, all conditions that supported the Republicans’ attacks on democracy.  

Democrats must have the confidence to really believe that the 2020 election demonstrated the emergence of a multi-racial, democratic America that thirsts for long-delayed justice.  They must understand that the nightmare of Donald Trump was just the birth pains of a society on the cusp of its third Reconstruction, a historic opportunity to finally realize what Martin Luther King called “America’s higher destiny.”

January 6 and America’s Future

On January 6, 2021 the best and worst of race in America were on full display.  Many of us awoke to the news that Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff had both won their Senate races in Georgia through the historic efforts of a powerful multi-racial coalition. And then hours later, we witnessed the President of the United States incite a white riot against the Congress while the joint session to declare Biden and Harris the rightful winners of the 2020 Presidential and Vice-Presidential election was under way.

The Warnock and Ossoff victories were historic for three reasons: first, their wins gave the Democrats complete control over the government of the United States and drove the Party of Trump entirely out of national power; second, their victories demonstrated the crumbling of the Southern Strategy by which the Republican Party had held national power for most of the last sixty years; and third, their victories verified the organizing work undertaken by Fair Fight Georgia and others based on the strategy of continuous multi-racial organizing, community building and leadership development, with a focus on building power in the Black and other minority communities.

In the face of his utter defeat, Trump did the expected: he raged against reality by organizing a campaign to overturn the results of the Presidential election. His ‘inside’ campaign was to use legal means to overturn the election. After he failed to win any of the 60 plus lawsuits he had filed to nullify state elections, and after his efforts to bully state officials in Michigan and Georgia were rebuffed, he turned his attention to nullifying the Electoral College vote in Congress. The Congressional ‘inside’ game was led by Senators Josh Hawley (MO) and Ted Cruz (TX) and was joined by 139 of the 211 Republicans in the House of Representatives.  The nullifiers concocted a bizarre set of arguments that had no chance of success to challenge the Electoral College votes. But Trump also had an ‘outside’ strategy: he called on his carefully cultivated army of right-wing activists—white supremacists, militia members, QAnon conspirators— to descend on D.C. to storm Congress during its Joint Session, an operation that had been planned for more than a month. I am not really sure what Trump thought he was doing other than raging, because this campaign had no chance of success. My guess is that he hoped that the Congressional Republicans could somehow stop the validation of the election while a riot outside Congress gave him the pretext to declare martial law.  

But we will never know Trump’s political calculation because things went badly for him and his co-conspirators.  First, even before the Joint Session of Congress met, loyal Trump minions like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and (very late and reluctantly) Mike Pence made it clear that they would have nothing to do with the effort to nullify the election.  But then the rioters desecrated the Capitol and made it clear that the Congressional Republicans’ arguments against the validity of the 2020 election were not just the symbolic protest of sore losers but were part of something quite dark and serious.  After the white rampage left five people dead, the always meager Senate opposition to the election quickly eroded, with 6 of the 14 Senators who had indicated their opposition changing their position. House Republicans (in a House controlled by Democrats) with nothing to lose stuck to their guns—139 out of 211 voted to oppose certifying the election—but they were just going through the motions in a plot that had clearly failed.

Images of rioters waving Trump banners, QAnon signs and Confederate flags rampaging through the Capitol and desecrating the people’s house alarmed people not just in the U.S. but around the world. Even after the riot and the deaths, Trump referred to the people who ransacked the Capitol as “special” and “beautiful”.  The reality of a President who was trying to overturn democracy and prevent the peaceful transition of power was now undeniable to everyone except for his rabid base.

All in all, Trump’s instigation of the assault on the Capitol coupled with the loss of the Senate on the same day was too much for even many of Trump’s minions. One by one, Republican members of Congress who had steadfastly supported Trump for four years appeared on Fox News denouncing not just the riot, but also the President who had clearly instigated it.

So, where are we as the dust settles on this exhausting day?

We are where we have always been—a country struggling to right its racist past and realize its dream of democracy for all. For many, the shock of watching the desecration of Congress was a familiar echo of the shock of many racial crimes: white people burning down Greenwood Tulsa, thousands of lynchings, the massacre of Native peoples, and so many other traumatic episodes of white rage. For many, the failure of the police to defend the Capitol and even the sight of Capitol police helping rioters, was a bitter reminder that police in America will side with white people even while they are committing acts of open sedition against the United States!

But something new did happen on January 6. The party of white supremacy and their fascist-minded leader have finally been driven out of national power. The elections that did this—the Georgia Senate races—were won by a multi-racial coalition led by Black women. Even better, this coalition—and others like it across the United States—sees this historic victory as merely an inflection point, a step towards the reconstruction of the nation. And Trump’s bizarre plan to overturn the elections so badly backfired that a day later he was finally forced to agree to the peaceful transition of power.

For the Republicans, the next year will be challenging. There is a slim chance that the party will finally disavow Trump and try to re-define itself. Perhaps Trump will experience what Joe McCarthy had happen to him after he went after the U.S. military with his Red Scare campaign in 1954. (Don’t forget that Roy Cohen was McCarthy’s lawyer and Trump’s mentor).  But I doubt it. There is a reason 139 House Republicans voted to nullify the election even after the white riot. They understand that in their gerrymandered districts, all they have to offer their constituents is to keep whipping up white rage against the Biden-Harris government. Many state elected officials will continue to make the same calculation. And it is important to remember that even the Republicans who have disavowed Trump have not apologized for the serious crimes they committed against people of color the past four years.

The problem, I think, is that Republicans are caught in a trap of their own making. Ever since the Democrats became the party of civil rights in 1964, the Republicans have defined themselves as the party of white resistance (hence, the Southern Strategy that is now collapsing). As demographics have made whites into a smaller and smaller plurality of the country and successful multiracial coalition building has given voice to a new vision for America, Republicans are finding themselves defined by a cause that is increasingly beleaguered and is becoming increasingly deranged.  Republican politicians would do well to reflect on the words of Winston Churchill (of all people!), who said this about the rising tide of fascism in 1937:

Grim war-gods from remote ages have stalked upon the scene. International good faith; the public law of Europe; the greatest good of the greatest number; the ideal of a fertile, tolerant, progressive, demilitarized, infinitely varied society, is shattered. Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers from which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.

Winston Churchill 1937

And yes, the liberal ideal of good faith and the greatest good for the greatest number is today unraveling in America. The middle class is being hollowed out while the rich get richer and the poor are being plunged into deadly crises. Neo-liberal cuts in taxes and government services have harmed most Americans. In this setting, the Republican strategy of trying to harness white rage will almost certainly continue even as their base shrinks and becomes less and less powerful.

So, what can be done, then, about the Republican Party’s grip on the majority of white people? Of course, the Biden Administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress now have the opportunity to show alienated and aggrieved whites (along with everyone else) the benefits of enlightened government. To the extent that the government can deliver on its promises to end the pandemic, to reign in inequality, to produce millions of new green jobs, and to repair the destruction of public health and public education in this country, the ability of demagogues to feed white rage will diminish.

But far more is needed at this moment than the Biden Administration will be able to deliver. What is needed now is nothing less than the historic reconstruction of America, an effort that has now begun for the third time in this nation’s short history. This work won’t be easy—it requires a massive shift in power away from the rich and towards the poor, and it requires whites to finally renounce their privileges and to become humble and to acknowledge the need for reparations for the crimes committed by whites throughout American history.  It requires a new respect for Mother Earth.

But the rewards for doing so will be immense. Already, nearly half of whites in this country believe they are anti-racist. These people need to acknowledge leadership from people of color and join the many on-going efforts to forge multi-racial coalitions to end anti-Black police violence, to abolish mass incarceration, to deliver justice to essential workers, to safeguard women’s reproductive rights, to radically reduce environmental harms, to protecting transgendered people’s rights, to end racial gerrymandering in elections, and so much more. And through all this work, let’s build the capacity of people to care for one another, to find brotherhood and sisterhood with one another, to forge stronger and more inclusive communities with one another. Let us build the beloved community and through this, reconstruct this country at last. This is how we will finally end the era of white rage and render the Donald Trumps of this world irrelevant once and for all.

Georgia on my mind

The Democratic victory in Georgia is historic and its implications go far beyond this election.

What Georgia progressives are doing is no less than the third campaign to reconstruct the South, a task that has been under way since the end of the slavery. The first attempt—from 1866 to 1876—ended when the North made a deal with the former slave owners to let them rule the South again without slavery. The Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror drove Black (and poor white) voters and office holders from power, and a virtually all-white electorate created a white dictatorship—the Jim Crow system—that lasted for more than seventy years. The second reconstruction effort was the civil rights movement of the 1950s -1980s. It sought to end white supremacy by forcing the Federal government to ban legal segregation and then to desegregate schools, jobs and housing as well as to assure people of color the right to vote. This effort was largely stymied in the 1990s and early 2000s by the rise of neo-liberalism, which opened the door to more and more aggressive efforts to re-segregate schools, housing, jobs and suppress minorities’ voting rights. 

And now we are on the cusp of the third effort at reconstruction. This movement has its roots in the popular revolt against neo-liberalism after the 2008 financial crisis.  From Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter to MeToo, this effort gathered momentum in the South. In Georgia, reconstruction has long focused on voting rights, in large part because Atlanta is one of the centers of the civil rights movement elders—in particular John Lewis. Stacy Abrams’ campaign for Governor of Georgia in 2018 was so powerful that the only way for Georgia to remain Republican was through naked (and quite delegitimizing) acts of Black voter suppression. This movement also gained momentum through the fight to remove Confederate statues, especially after the white terrorist attack on Charlottesville Virginia in 2017.

The New Georgia Project (Stacy Abrams) and Black Votes Matter (LaTosha Brown) kept the momentum going after Abrams’ defeat in 2018 and provided the backbone of the 2020 electoral campaign. The most important feature of this campaign was the methods that successfully mobilized a record 2,472,002 voters for the Democrats. For years, activists did the hard work of grassroots organizing, convincing ordinary people to become politically engaged through their community networks of churches, workplaces, schools and beauty shops. The activists built their organizations and coalitions from the bottom up, identifying new leaders and training them as they grew. What they built was far more than a get out the vote campaign and will be active well beyond this election. And in the immediate future, this movement has positioned Democrats with an excellent opportunity to retake the U.S. Senate on January 5.

Georgia provides no less than a blueprint for every progressive organization in the United States about how to do its work. We must all center our work on the painstaking tasks of upholding the vital community ties that marginalized people have built, vital connections that provide them with safety and support and dignity in a hostile world. Our coalitions must be based on and led by people from these communities. While winning and exercising political power is important, we cannot prioritize each election or campaign over the hard work of building and safeguarding the relationships within and between different marginalized communities. Progressives must have the discipline to painstakingly build these relationships and to understand the long game we are playing.

Conditions in the South are favorable for this work: Black communities built on powerful bonds and a profound culture forged in the slavery and Jim Crow eras still exist and form a fertile basis for the efforts at reconstructing the South today. Of course, vibrant communities of marginalized people exist everywhere in this country (similar work done among Latinx people in Arizona also produced important electoral victories in 2020). It is in these communities that progressive movements—and their leaders—must be rooted. Progressives must always remember that building long-lasting relationships of trust within and between marginalized communities is more than a tactic to win political campaigns: it is the practice of social justice today that will make possible the reconstruction of America we for which we so sorely long.

Trump is Gone.Now Let’s Get to Work!

So, Joe Biden is President-elect, and Kamala Harris is Vice-President elect of the United States.

I guess it is possible that the Supreme Court might yet enable Trump to steal this election but given the states’ and Federal courts’ quick rejection of all of his lawsuits so far, I really doubt it. (But we better be vigilant!).

So, I’m going to assume Biden and Harris really won. Here are some initial thoughts about this election:

First, the fact that Biden and Harris won is a big deal. The Biden-Harris ticket received over 81 million votes, the largest number in American history. Had Trump been given four more years to continue his white nationalist project, the damage to democracy and to people’s safety, health and prosperity might have been irreversible. The vote for Biden was primarily driven by this fear, and the 81 million people who voted against Trump should give themselves a big pat on the back for defending democracy and opposing Trump’s racism and misogyny. The fact that a Black/South Asian woman was elected to the Vice-Presidency is also a significant milestone.

Secondly, this election was won because of the grassroots organizing work done all over the country to mobilize people of color. These organizations, led mostly by young Black and brown women, have been growing in numbers and capacity for the last decade. And this November, they delivered the decisive votes to push Biden and Harris over the finish line by mobilizing Black, Latinx and young voters in Michigan (Detroit Action, We Make Michigan), Pennsylvania (Make the Road Philadelphia) and Georgia (the New Georgia Project). A few labor unions (UNITE HERE and SEIU) also played important roles in this historic voter mobilization effort.

Thirdly, the win in Georgia is particularly important because it brings the herculean effort to reconstruct the South to a new level. This work has been already successful at forcing a rethinking of the history of the South (the removal of Confederate statues being the most visible part of this) but it has also been for years fighting against Republican voter suppression efforts that had been enabled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s notorious 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision. This voting rights work, advocated for decades by John Lewis, was invigorated by Stacey Abrams’ 2018 gubernatorial campaign in Georgia which failed only because of naked Republican voter suppression. Her revenge: the New Georgia Project. And this year, if Georgia does go blue, it will mean that Georgia has finally broken through the wall of white supremacy that was erected when the state was first established in the slave era. Even better, there can be little doubt that this victory is a harbinger of things to come throughout the South. The Republican Party’s days of winning national elections by relying on white supremacy in the South are fading fast.

Fourthly, this election has saved American countless lives by ending Trump’s denial of the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, the vote for Biden and Harris might have been more motivated by this issue than any other. Starting in January, the United States will finally rely on public health experts to fight this pandemic.

OK. So that’s the good news, and that’s a lot to be grateful for. But the election also revealed something else: some 74 million Americans voted for a President who is an open racist and misogynist and is more than willing to undermine core democratic values and institutions. And, as of this writing, Republicans still control the Senate (although Georgia could change that on January 5), and Republicans now have a solid majority on the Supreme Court, and Democrats failed to flip any state legislatures in the year that redistricting is scheduled to begin.

The Trump voters, of course, were the majority of white people (men and women) who went to the polls. The few people of color who voted for Trump were disproportionately men (18% of Black men vs. 8% of Black women, 36% of Hispanic men vs. 28% of Hispanic women) who seemed willing to conciliate Trumps’ racism because of his “strong man” hype and his opposition to women’s reproductive freedom. Charles Blow recently suggested that 45% of gay men were also pulled towards Trump by his patriarchal and misogynist message.  

While many Trump voters said they voted for him because of their belief that shutting down the economy was an inappropriate response to Covid-19 (!), we must never forget that every single person who voted for Trump found a way to support an openly racist and sexist President who had amply demonstrated his willingness to use violence against immigrants and Black people. If anyone still needed more evidence, this election certainly showed the depth of white supremacy in the United States.

So, how should the Biden Administration deal with the reality of a deeply divided America? Biden has already stated that the mandate of this election is that the American people want Democrats and Republicans to cooperate to get things done. And he is certainly right that most Americans would dearly love to find a way out of the polarization that now has a death grip (literally) on this country.

But Biden needs to be very clear about one more thing: he must assure those who organized and voted for him that he is committed to working for racial justice. This commitment must be in the form of actions, starting with the appointment of a Black Attorney General to head the Justice Department and a Covid Task Force that understands the disproportionate risks faced by the Black and Latinx  communities. Already, many Democrats are pushing Biden to the right, claiming that the losses suffered in this election were the result of the Party being too ‘left.’ AOC, in a New York Times interview, pushed back against this narrative (LINK) but so far the Democrats are following an old playbook: they rely on progressives to win the election, and then cast them aside when it comes time to govern.

This time must be different: if Biden hopes to heal the poisonous division of this country, he cannot conciliate white supremacy. I believe the only way to win over some of the 74 million Trump voters is through equitable economic policies that promote real benefits for poor and working-class whites as well as for people of color. This can be done. Obama and Biden succeeded in pulling the U.S. out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression in 2008-2010. This time, the economy is actually in better shape than in 2008, but economic growth since then has been measured almost entirely by stock market prices. It is time to shift economic policies away from support for financial markets (banks) and towards policies that support the production of real goods and services. This understanding is at the heart of Biden’s partial embrace of the Green New Deal. Biden’s experience with the automobile industry bailout in 2009-2010 certainly has prepared him for this job.

All of this certainly underscores the continuing importance of the grassroots organizing that won this election. Given the pressure to conciliate “centrist” Democrats, Biden and Harris must feel real pressure from progressives to live up to their commitments to racial and economic justice. The organizing work that produced the historic defeat of Trumpian fascism must not only continue but must grow. This will only happen if the millions of young people who were politicized by the protests against George Floyd and Breanna Taylor’s murders and who then stepped up to work for the defeat of Donald Trump continue to work for justice.

 It was most encouraging to see the huge crowds of mostly young people who flooded the streets of cities across America when the election was decided on November 7.  But when the celebrating is over, there is still so much work to do. Rather than thinking of this election as the finish line, let us think of it as the spark that ignited the progressive movement.