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PORTSIDE  July 2011, Week 4

PORTSIDE July 2011, Week 4

Subject:

Bigger Than the Tea Party

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

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Date:

Sat, 23 Jul 2011 12:12:20 -0400

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text/plain (173 lines)

Bigger Than the Tea Party

By Van Jones
Progressive America Rising via OurFuture.org
July 21, 2011

http://progressivesforobama.blogspot.com/2011/07/can-1600-meetings-grow-into-progressive.html

Last month, I joined with MoveOn.org and launched the
Rebuild the Dream [1] campaign to help give a voice to
the millions of Americans who aren't being heard in
Washington.

This past weekend, we organized nearly 1,600 house
meetings across the country -- nearly double the number
of protests the Tea Party held when they launched in
April of 2009. The American Dream Meetings gave more
than 27,000 people, from all across the country, an
opportunity to come together and discuss what the
American Dream means to them and their families.

They talked about how the jobless crisis and
foreclosure mess is impacting their communities. They
put forth creative ideas for the Contract for the
American Dream [2] -- a bold progressive vision to help
fix the broken economy and rebuild our communities. The
Contract has already received nearly 26,000 ideas
submitted online alone and over 6 million ratings.

While I'm beyond inspired by the enormous outpour of
ideas we've received thus far, it doesn't surprise me
that the American people are yearning to come up with
practical solutions to our economic crisis. While so
many Americans struggle with joblessness and rampant
foreclosures, we keep hearing from Washington that we
need to reduce the deficit, even if it means slashing
Medicare or gutting vital programs families depend on.
Washington appears to be operating on an entirely
different planet than the rest of America.

There's an important story that's not being told in
Washington. It's the story of the mother or father
getting the dreaded call into the office where their
boss informs them that they've been laid off. They were
already underwater on their house, and now without a
steady paycheck, they start to get behind on their
mortgage payments. Then comes the big bad bank. They do
everything they can to keep their house but it's no
use. The bank posts that horrifying foreclosure notice
on their door, and takes their home. They sell most of
their belongings and move their entire family into a
one-bedroom apartment. Or if they're lucky, they move
in with grandma. It's a vicious cycle and it's
happening every single day in America. It's the new
American nightmare.

Our brave men and women in uniform are coming from a
war battlefield only to return home to an economic
battlefield with little hope of finding a job. Young
Americans are graduating off a cliff, and sleeping on
their parent's couches waiting for an opportunity to
come along.

In Washington, it's almost as if these problems don't
exist. It's fair to say that Washington has become
obsessed with deficit politics, even though poll after
poll shows that the number one concern of Americans is
the economy and jobs. So, how did Washington get so off
track with the rest of America? How did the debate
change from being focused on job creation during the
stimulus debate, to becoming focused mostly on cutting
spending and tightening our belt? There was a movement
with a message, and it has helped drive this deficit
obsession in Washington -- the Tea Party.

In April of 2009, Americans who identified themselves
as Tea Partiers took to the streets to protest against
what they perceived to be a "big government takeover".
With the help and funding of lobbyist-run think tanks
such as Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works, 800
Tea Party protests were organized across the country to
speak out against "big government", taxation, and more
specifically, President Obama.

The media started to take notice. Who were these
people? Why were they so angry? Should they be taken
seriously? Like bees to honey, right-wing candidates
began to flock to the Tea Party and adopt their
platform as their own. The Tea Party organized protests
at town halls around health care reform -- successfully
heckling members of Congress and making sure the TV
cameras were there to spread the story. From that point
on, anything and everything the Tea Party did, the
media paid attention to. And, anyone on the left who
didn't take them seriously had pie in their faces when
Tea Party-backed candidates propelled to power in
Congress in the 2010 Election.

The Tea Party didn't just make waves in Washington, DC,
they also helped elect extreme right-wingers to State
Houses and began occupying Governor's mansions across
the country. These newly elected Tea Party candidates
weren't afraid to take risks, and they weren't shy
about putting their right-wing ideology before the
economic well being of their constituents. They
immediately began an all out assault on public workers,
women's rights, and began doling out tax breaks for
millionaires and corporations. They threw everything at
the wall in the hopes it would stick. And to the
detriment of working families, some of it did. But it
wasn't without consequence for their movement or the
candidates they helped elect.

Fast forward to February of 2011, Madison, Wisconsin.
Just after Governor Walker doled out $140 million in
tax breaks to corporations, he proposed the Budget
Repair Bill, which restricted the collective bargaining
rights of workers. Tens of thousands of Wisconsinites
filled the Capitol and surrounded the grounds,
protesting the attack on workers' rights. The protests
reached a magnitude of 150,000 people in Madison --
larger than the rally put on by Glenn Beck and the Tea
Party in Washington, DC. The protests in Wisconsin
helped ignite and inspire other protests around the
country. In an effort to show solidarity with the
workers in Wisconsin, "Rallies to Save the American
Dream" were held in all 50 states. From Ohio to Montana
to New York, protests against right-wing attacks and
unfair budget cuts began breaking out across America.

A new movement to save the American Dream was born.

The Tea Party has their message and their movement, and
it continues to impact the debate in Washington. But
the movement to save the American Dream is bigger.
There is a silent majority of Americans who are
fighting back, and many of them have been fighting
alone. They've been fighting to find a job and provide
for their families. They've been fighting against the
banks that are trying to take their homes. They're
fighting against unfair budget cuts that will
disproportionately hurt the middle class and poor.
They're fighting for the American Dream. But, as we saw
in Wisconsin, and we're now beginning to see around the
country, millions of Americans are starting to fight
back together. And, it's only a matter of time before
the American Dream Movement comes to Washington.
_____________________

Campaign For America's Future 1825 K Street, NW, Suite
400, Washington, DC 20006 202-955-5665 (tel) |
202-955-5606 (fax) | www.ourfuture.org

http://rebuildthedream.com/

___________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.

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