DON’T MOURN, ORGANIZE
In the wake of Bush’s election, time to regroup and take the long view:
The bad news is obvious and awful,
but the good news is that our movement continues to grow
Here at United for Peace and Justice we share with millions of people around the country – and millions more around the world – a sense of horror about what happened on election day. The largest grassroots electoral mobilization in memory was not strong enough to unseat George W. Bush. We are upset by the outcome, and disgusted that the politics of fear have been so fine-tuned by Karl Rove and company. We are outraged by the voter intimidation, vote suppression, and other tactics of disenfranchisement used before and on November 2.
But we are not totally surprised by the outcome of this election. For more than 40 years the right wing has been planning, organizing, fund raising, and executing strategies for taking control of this country. With George W. Bush and the so-called “war on terror,” they have found the perfect instrument for consolidating their power.
We’ve known for a long time what we are up against. We worked with all our might to stop the U.S. from going to war against Iraq, but we could not prevent it, even with 10 million people taking to the streets simultaneously around the world on February 15, 2003. We have all been working hard to end that war and occupation and to bring the troops home, and even though the lies behind the war have been exposed, we have not yet succeeded.
At the same time, every day we are inspired by the outpouring of energy and creativity around the country. In the past few years the peace and justice movement has been re-ignited: vigils, rallies, and marches in hundreds of cities; a rich outpouring of cultural dissent; activism in schools, workplaces, and places of worship; and some of the most massive mobilizations our country has ever seen. Just this past August 29, at least 500,000 people marched in New York City on the eve of the Republican National Convention. And in these past two months vast numbers of people put their time into an unprecedented grassroots electoral mobilization, including voter registration, voter education, get-out-the-vote and election protection campaigns.
Our long-term hope lies in this grassroots upsurge, and to win, we need to take the long-term view. No, the Bush Agenda was not defeated on Nov. 2, and we share the frustration and anger of so many activists. But the truth is that the progressive social change community…the peace and justice movement…is not yet strong enough to successfully change those in power.
That does not mean we are giving up or going away. On the contrary: As we take a moment to catch our breath, and get some needed rest, we are already beginning to sort through the lessons of this election and our recent past. In the days and weeks ahead we’ll all see lots of analysis about what happened. We encourage you to organize discussions about what happened in the election, and where we should be headed as a movement.
United for Peace and Justice always knew that our work to end the occupation of Iraq would not be immediately affected by the outcome of the presidential race. We are preparing to move into a period of much more focused organizing on the Iraq war, working with local groups around the country on implementing plans to reach the people we don’t usually talk to. As that work unfolds, we are exploring ways to strengthen the impact of our mobilizations, including planning for activities that might make it harder for those in charge to actually carry out this war.
Look for new organizing materials from us in the near future, as well as resources for deepening the discussion and expanding our grassroots base. In the meantime, we encourage you to keep the fighting spirit alive by displaying one of our “Say No to the Bush Agenda” flags or t-shirts, available through http://www.unitedforpeace.org/merchandise
As the nation begins to look back on the election of 2004, we remain committed to looking ahead. The United for Peace and Justice coalition of more than 800 national organizations and local groups has tremendous potential. Working together has made it possible for us to make a significant contribution to the larger social change movement. The months and years ahead will not be easy, but we are hopeful that our common efforts will bring us closer toward a world where justice triumphs and peace prevails.
United for Peace and Justice