Nonviolent action theorist/activist/author George Lakey published a fabulous essay, “A 10-point plan to stop T***p and make gains in justice and equality” last week*
George has been a hero and mentor of mine ever since I first heard him speak around 1977. His presence at Movement for a New Society’s Philadelphia Life Center was a big part of why I moved to that community for a nine-month training program in nonviolent action, back in 1980-81.
He argues that this is our moment to break out of reactive protests and into big sweeping social and environmental demands. He notes that the LGBT movement was one of the only progressive movements to gain traction under Reagan—because its agenda was so much bigger than just fighting cutbacks. Twenty and thirty years earlier, the Civil Rights movement accomplished sweeping social change as well.
So instead of defending the weak centrist gains of the past 30 years, we go beyond and organize for our wider goals. We refuse to play defense against DT’s shenanigans and instead take the role of pushing for a new, kinder, people- and planet-centered normal. With direct-action campaigns that link multiple issues, such as Standing Rock, and with alternative institutions like the Movement for Black Lives, we create a nonviolent invasion of deep social change (this is my metaphor, not George’s).
In short, we think bigger—and act bigger. and instead of crawling to the politicians, we force them to court us as they see us come into our true power.
I’ve been saying we need to think bigger and more systemically for years. George says it succinctly and eloquently, and with a lens I hadn’t looked through.
How does this apply in today’s world?
- The Republican attack on what George calls the “medical industrial complex-friendly Affordable Care Act” (a/k/a Obamacare) is a chance to bypass the witheringly bureaucratic and unfair insurance system and push for real single-payer, Medicare-for-All plan of the sort that’s worked so well in Scandinavia (he explores the Scandinavian social safety net in his latest book, Viking Economics)
- The Standing Rock Water Protectors have linked multiple issues into a coherent whole: clean water, the environment generally, the rights of indigenous people (among others)
- Movements around creating a meaningful safety net, such as the $15 per hour minimum wage, can reach disaffected white working class voters as well as people of color; when those who voted for DT on economic grounds realize he has betrayed them, we can win them over (I would add that this will only work if we have mechanisms in place to defuse the racism and nativism that DT used to attract them, and have meaningful ways to integrate the lesson that all colors, races, and religions can be allies to each other and are stronger together—and Lakey does point out that the United Auto Workers has been successful organizing on these unifying principles)
I could add a lot to George’s list. As one among many suggestions, let’s push to not only end all subsidies to the fossil and nuclear industries but let’s push for a complete transition to clean, renewable energy—whether or not we get any help from the government.
Read his essay. Come back the next day and read it again. Then share it with friends, social media communities, and colleagues and discuss how you personally and your group of individuals with shared positive purpose can make these changes happen.
*Why did I replace DT’s last name with stars? And why do I call him DT rather than by his name? Because I am doing my best not to give him any search engine juice. I don’t want him showing up as “trending” or driving traffic to him.