Monday, September 16, 2013

Celebration time

One of the harder tasks for progressive political activists is to recognize when we win something. We're used to getting beat up, hurting, and painfully pulling together the courage to move on to the next necessary fight.

But hey -- US progressives have been (part of) some big wins for people power in the last week. Let's celebrate before moving on.

At least for now, the US is not going to make war in Syria -- and maybe now will become never! This time, the people said NO and our leaders followed. Sure, our rulers got a lifeline from a self-interested Russian nationalist, but hey, we got to take what we can get. And keep making friction in the system.

David Swanson, a peace activist whose purism I often think impedes building broad coalitions, is saying this well:

Admit It: Things Are Going Well
... A major victory has been won, and we need to claim it and celebrate it.

Imagine the euphoria -- or don't imagine it, just remember it -- when this country elects a new president whose main redeeming feature is that he isn't the previous president. For personality fanatics that's big stuff. And there are big parties. For policy fanatics -- for those of us interested in seeing policies change rather than personalities -- that kind of moment is right now. We need some parties ...we have to celebrate what really happened. We have to announce it. The point is not to take credit. No one person or group did this. People espousing a variety of ideologies did it. And they did it over many years. Millions contributed. The point is that war was popularly rejected.

Why does this matter? It's not a case for optimism, or for pessimism. I continue to have very little use for either bit of self-indulgence. The forces that press for more wars have not gone away. Neither have they been empowered. The point is that those who nonsensically proclaim that stopping wars is impossible cannot get away with saying that anymore.

Read it all.

And then, over the weekend, Larry Summers took himself out of the running for appointment as chair of the Federal Reserve system. The president had wanted to give him the job, but, again a wide variety of people simply said NO. Summers was one of the architects in the Clinton administration of releasing the financial and banking business from any restraints, all to great profit among Wall Street wheelers and dealers. He may have all sorts of good economic plans now, but putting one of the guys in charge who enabled the crime is just wrong.

The popular NO to Summers worked because a new crop of Democratic Senators on the Banking Committee (where their votes were essential) have come along who listen to progressives. It's worth learning the names: John Tester, an old fashioned rural populist from Montana; Jeff Merkley, a tough progressive policy guy from Oregon; and Sherrod Brown, a union-backed economic populist from Ohio. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who actually understands finance, was also expected come out against Summers. These people bear watching.

For a fuller discussion of how liberals won this one, see Jonathan Chait.


Rain Trueax said...

Based on how it's worked with Obama before, Summers was told he wasn't going to get it and he then got to 'withdraw'. I think Obama reacted to the voices but I think he made the call.

Hattie said...

Let us rejoice. We liberals and Progressives tend to be bad at winning, since we are so accustomed to losing.
Two victories! That's major.

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