Challenges have the uncanny ability to sharpen our focus. A knee injury will make you more mindful of walking than ever before. Bad food introduces you to taste buds you never knew existed. Adrenaline enables amazing physical feats.
The same is true for political movements. Progressives are smarting now. Many on the left are disenchanted with the President, disappointed in the pending health care legislation and disillusioned about the 2010 mid-term elections. What’s a movement to do?
We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our renewed focus is an opportunity to build a foundation for future success, resilience and empowerment. This means taking stock of the real progress being made in this moment while simultaneously fighting to transition society from its peppered past to a progressive future.
President Obama was mindful of this when he said in his Martin Luther King, Jr. address that:
…our predecessors were never so consumed with theoretical debates that they couldn’t see progress when it came…Let’s take a victory, he said, and then keep on marching. Forward steps, large and small, were recognized for what they were — which was progress.
What victories have we won? A few include:
- Passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act, bringing us a step closer to fully realizing equal pay for equal work.
- Expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, an important step in providing health care for all of our nation’s children.
- Softened Federal restrictions on stem cell research, opening the door for potential cures to innumerable diseases.
Where do we go from here
Martha Coakley and others’ recent electoral defeats echo the sentiment of the 2008 Presidential election: candidates who proactively or passively represent a broken status quo will fail. Insiders can no longer combine tepid emotions and bland appeals with party machines and expect victory. They instead must take the hope demonstrated by the 2008 election and marry it to action.
The infinite hope that Dr. King spoke of us present within the progressive movement. Young people are organizing like never before in favor of comprehensive immigration reform reflective of America’s ideals, not its demons. Their hope is moving them to action.
That infinite hope is present in the hearts of millions of ambitious yet unemployed Americans. People are coming together to petition their government to work on their behalf to create jobs rather than give handouts to industries that have turned their backs on their employees. The hope of these workers is moving them to action.
That hope still exists in health care. Amidst the angst of the centrists, the exasperation of many Progressives and the perverse cynicism of corporate and conservative interests, the American people remain thirsty for quality, affordable health care. The current proposals have their differences and flaws, but our communities are speaking up in unison when they demand a health care system that works for them. Listening to the practical, conscientious voice of constituents would have led to a substantive debate that disregarded idiocy while embracing the courageous optimism of the American spirit.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made an unfortunate mistake when he said privately:
Obama, as a black candidate, could be successful thanks, in part, to his light-skinned appearance and speaking patterns with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one…He [Reid] was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama — a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.
The comments and the response to the comments have been laughable, disconcerting and indicative of the broader race-related issues that our country continually kicks down the road.
I’m frustrated that the only tellers at the Bank of Apologizing to Black People are still Rev. Al Sharpton and/or Jesse Jackson. Many have used the fact that Rev. Sharpton accepted Reid’s apology as grounds for vindication. Rev. Sharpton is as much a proxy for Black America’s social consciousness as the CEO of Goldman Sachs is a proxy for the interests of community banks. Just like there’s a movement to move our money out of big banks, Black folks should be moving their representation away from Rev. Sharpton and to community voices.
It’s further frustrating to think about how the latent prejudice of our politics has contributed to structural inequity reinforced by public policy.
Take health care reform. Why is there disagreement between the House and Senate over the need for reform to narrow disparities in health care coverage? The House bill does this; the Senate bill does not.
Take unemployment. A community jobs program would work wonders for communities over-represented on unemployment roles: Black and Latino people. Yet the current debate on public job creation has shown little interest in this regard.
Perhaps there is more at work than the latent racism that leads to remarks that are at their best in poor taste and at their worst indicative of utter moral failure. The way to work through a controversy like today’s uproar is to put these incidents into a larger narrative about the consequences of entrenched racism and prejudice. Once that narrative is constructed, we can create a solution.
One Love. One II.
What’s up fam and Happy New Year!!!
Long time no hear from I know. This SuperSpade has been holding it down in law school and hasn’t had time to blog in a really long time. I am making a commitment to write at least once a week. So where do we begin? On Christmas Day, there was an attempted terrorist attack on a flight headed towards Detroit Metro Airport. Thankfully, no one was hurt thanks to the heroism of the flight’s passengers that subdued the attacker.
I was particularly moved by a story on 60 Minutes in Wilmington, OH where a small community is getting rocked to its core by the economic downturn. A mother was profiled in the story who was struggling to make ends meet and did not have health care but refused to get stop making life insurance payments. Her rationale was that she could handle being sick but she could not handle dying and having nothing to leave behind for her children. This is madness and a clear example of the need for universal health care and a sign that our country needs to put people first.
That is all for now. I know 2009 was rough for a lot of people but do not forget to count your blessings and live everyday to the fullest. Stay up fam,