'Flip the Script' - Jobs over Deficits
The Republican Lock on Congress
By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
January 6, 2013
Progressive America Rising via billfletcherjr.com
There is a strategic question that faces progressives, one
that is receiving increased attention. Due to the 2010
elections and the Republican domination of state legislatures,
Congressional Districts have been gerrymandered in order to
guarantee a lack of any significant electoral challenges. In
other words, these districts have Republican Congresspeople
who are not worried about opposition.
As we saw in the lead up to the `fiscal cliff'
negotiations/resolution, most Republicans felt no internal
pressure to compromise. It is quite likely that they will
feel little pressure in their districts for at least ten
years. As a result the sort of pressure that they must feel
must transcend their districts and actually be more at the
societal level. What this means is that while progressives
absolutely need an independent electoral strategy that builds
locally- based organizations capable of successfully running
candidates for office-both inside and outside of the
Democratic primary system-that is insufficient.
In fact, it is the Occupy Movement that pointed us in the
direction of the other leg of such a movement. What the Occupy
Movement accomplished, among other things, was to change the
social discourse. Despite every effort by the mainstream media
to dismiss the Occupy Movement it not only grew but forced the
country to start to address the question of economic
In the current context the implications should be clear. If,
for instance, we are to fight it out on the economy and
specifically on unemployment, this will not happen on the
basis of fights in the Republican Congressional Districts. It
will be a fight that we will have to take up in cities,
including but not limited to state capitols, around the
country. It means social protests which are disruptive.
In order for this to happen we must actually re-train many
social movement activists and thinkers in the lessons of the
1930s labor movement, the 1950s-1960s freedom movements
(including but not limited to the Civil Rights Movement), the
movement against the Vietnam War, and the work of the early
Occupy, in that sense, was onto something. We must carry out
a fight for space as part of the fight for power. Land
occupations, eviction blockades, boycotts, as well as mass
demonstrations are all critical. [Note: in fact, we need,
right now, a series of REALLY mass marches for jobs.] In other
words, the sort of pressure that needs to be brought about
must be something that Republicans AND Democrats feel, and in
fact, become a serious source of concern.
Before we find ourselves wallowing in self-pity as we worry
about the Republican `lock', let's rethink our strategy and
tactics. We may be able to flip the script, and sooner rather
than in the distant future.
[Bill Fletcher Jr. is a racial justice, labor and
international activist, and author of "They're Bankrupting
Us!" And 20 Other Myths about Unions".]
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