Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Now What Do We Do?

Now what do we do?

Trump is president, the GOP still controls the Congress, and Trump will have the appointments to insure right-wing control of the Supreme Court. Our long nightmare of a campaign has become something even worse.

But we shall endure. And as we do so, we shall fix things. Yes, we can.

Some of us are old enough to have made it through five years of Nixon, eight years of Reagan, and eight years of George W grinning like Alfred E. Newman in Mad Magazine: "What, me worry?"

But we can do more than endure passively. We can organize. The Democratic party apparatus has failed us miserably. We must build anew.

We can demand a new Democratic Party constitution that takes party management out of the hands of the sold-out, ineffectual officeholders like Nancy Pelosi and What's-Her-Name Wasserman.  The new constitution will put the party's governance into the hands of a panel of Grand Old Democrats, such as retired U.S. Senators or governors or whoever, i.e. a trustworthy blue-ribbon bunch. Let them set primary debate schedules, allocate campaign funds, control who gets the lists, establish an ongoing small-dollar fund raising operation that utilizes the method Bernie used to raise millions at $27 a pop.

We can start a talent search for candidates to run for local and state offices and Congressional seats, like the "50-state strategy" Howard Dean instituted after losing the Democratic nomination in 2004.  Through his strategy in 2006 a tsunami of elected Democrats swept into Congress and the state offices. (Hey, maybe we can get Dean back!)

We can decide to stop being "too busy" for politics. Yes, everybody has a high-powered job and is a big shot with such demands on their time as you just wouldn't believe. I don't care. I've heard it all before repeatedly in recent decades, and it's just a cop-out. You don't have the time to not be involved. Because unless you get involved we are going to run out of time entirely, scorched by global warming or blown to bits by nuclear weapons.

Who's going to lead the way with this? you rightfully ask.

You are.

You have a computer. Use it. You can begin something that can grow. And you can find others who want to do something about this mess. I know various people who have started or spurred national movements. Every organization was some one person's idea. Remember Occupy Wall Street?  But let's look further back than that to a time of no computers and a setting of poverty and hardship.

In the early 1960s Cesar Chavez decided to organize the Latino farmworkers in the fields of California. I went to those fields in that era. One hundred and ten degrees and no shade, no water, no porta-potties. Children as young as five and six with their little backs bent over as they picked under the blazing sun. The adults bent over double hour after hour. (That, my friends, is how your food is supplied to you.)

Cesar was a saintly man and couldn't stand to see the people suffer. As a little boy he too had picked. So now he went to see Dolores Huerta.

"I want you to help me organize a labor union of us farm workers", Cesar said.

"I can't do that!" she replied.

Then and ever after, Cesar answered, "Si, se puede." Yes. you can.

And she did. She went house to house, hovel to hovel, and she told the laborers and their families that "We are going to be a labor union."  "No we, can't do that."  "Si, se puede," Dolores said.

And they did. And they struck against the lettuce-growers and the grape-growers and on and on. When Cesar was jailed in Salinas and the people feared for his safety, we had a candlelight vigil outside the jail and Ethel Kennedy came. Later—in 1975—I sat on the stairs outside the hearing room where the California State Legislature was approving the California Labor Relations Act.  Si, se puede. It was possible after all. She and Cesar had done it!

In 2012 I watched on TV as President Obama hung the Presidential Medal of Freedom around the neck of my friend "Dolo" Huerta, then 82 years old. Here she is in 2016, age 86. And here she is the mid-1960s  with Bobby Kenndy and Cesar.



I think of this trio today, and thus the threat of Trump and the GOP power monopoly melts into the manageable. Yes, they are a menace but we have inspiring friends. We can rise to meet these threats. We can clean up our own political home. We follow a path made by the strong ones.

Cesar said, “The greatest tragedy is not to live and die, as we all must. The greatest tragedy is for a person to live and die without knowing the satisfaction of giving life for others.”


 Robert Kennedy often quoted George Bernard Shaw: "Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say why not? "

 A Democratic party free of fat cats and of candidates who "get their turn"? A party of the people, for the people, and by the people.? I dream of such things and say why not?

Si, se puede.

P.S. I just noticed Grand Old Democrats can be "GOD". Oh, golly! Trump and the GOP had better watch out.

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