Don’t Mourn, Organize!

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By Mike Rhodes

Now that the transition is under way to install a right-wing Republican narcissist who has the potential to alter the political landscape into a post-apocalyptic nightmare, we progressives have some work to do. Not just nationally, but right here in Central California too.

Where we begin is by understanding what went wrong and what needs to be done right now to develop a strategic plan to win political power. Inaction is not an option.

Michael D. Evans, who is on the executive board of the Central Valley Progressive PAC (CVPPAC), speaking about the outcome of the Nov. 8 election, said “everything that we as progressives, as Americans, hold dear is now under attack and the impacts of turning back that progress be damned. But the key takeaway from this election is the role of communications; the media made the Trump presidency possible. And the media is now essentially the fourth arm of our radical government.”

A local example of how cozy mainstream media is with supporting right-wing politicians is the Fresno Bee’s political writer John Ellis going to work for Republican Fresno Mayor-Elect Lee Brand. (Ellis will start his new job on Jan. 16.).

CVPPAC President Pam Whalen, commenting on the election, said that “none of us could escape the shock and horror and depression of the presidential election results. We are all in for a very rough four years. That said, we have both much to be hopeful about and a great opportunity to organize and mobilize around issues and shared values that the vast majority of our fellow Valley residents and neighbors support. But first we must not let them divide us.”

Whalen points out that “Trump lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. Fresnans, Califorians and Americans voted overwhelmingly to support raising the minimum wage, taxing the rich, ending Citizens United and decriminalizing drugs. We have also recently witnessed the amazing power of nonviolent direct action led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe against the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

Howard Watkins, immediate past president of the CVPPAC, said that he is “hopeful that the outrageousness of Trump’s policies and appointees will unify a broad range of moderates to hardline progressives to unite in opposing the Trump administration and being actively involved in the 2018 and 2020 elections. Hopefully, this energy will manifest itself in local door-to-door canvassing/precinct organizing. Most of the U.S. Senate races up in 2018 are currently held by Democrats. It is critical that the party hold these seats and make headway in the state legislative districts and governor races.”

Whalen is optimistic about our ability to move a progressive agenda forward both locally and nationally. She pointed out that “an article in the most recent edition of the Nation magazine, Bill McKibben of 350.org quotes author Jonathan Schell, ‘Violence is the method by which the ruthless few can subdue the passive many. Non-violence is a means by which the active many can overcome the ruthless few.’ That is our task. We must be the ‘active many.’ Fresno is fortunate to have a wealth of progressive activist organizations that have accepted the mantle of leading the resistance to the calamity that is the Trump Administration. I urge each and every one of you to give all possible support of time and or money to these organizations.”

Watkins argues that the Democratic Party needs to be more connected with progressive values. He said, “As Trump’s policies damage his working-class supporters, we need to explain why and offer a working alternative. The Democrats need to run younger candidates that will resonate with the middle class and middle America.”

Evans adds that “we also must develop effective messaging. And that’s difficult. Progressive messaging will never be as simplistic as right-wing messaging. There is a large swatch of America that is taking to heart messaging that defies their individual and collective interests. Finding a way to communicate progressive values to those who would benefit most from them is a key to our future success. We must find innovative ways to communicate with the populace—both friends and foes. Traditional media is part of the problem and will not be an effective outlet for progressive messaging. The next revolution must be communicating truth directly to the population.”

The role of the CVPPAC is to organize and unite progressive individuals and groups to form an electoral strategy to win political power. CVPPAC President Pam Whalen has a suggestion about what you should do next. “Let’s start with the Central Valley Progressive PAC. Join us in our efforts to support progressive causes and candidates. Please go to cvppac.org, and join us online and come to our next meeting on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 3:30 p.m. at the Fresno Center for Nonviolence (1584 N. Van Ness Ave.). Also, subscribe to or make a financial contribution to this publication, the Community Alliance. Independent noncorporate journalism is vitally important in our current situation.”