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RE: STRATEGY FOR PROGRESSIVES
I’ve read Michael Lerner’s strategy for dealing with the new political situation we face. Yes, working people in all of their diversity are allies and have much in common when it comes to basic values, vulnerabilities, and wishes for a better life. Respect, not disdain, can bring us together to change the world. Yet, how do we translate our underlying values into actions that address the very real and immediate issues in people’s lives?
Democratic socialist Michael Harrington argued that we on the left should build “the left wing of the possible within the Democratic Party.” That still strikes me as good counsel. Political power in the US is transacted through the electoral system of mainstream parties and the state, and if we are to be effective, we’ll have to engage with that system.
It’s worth keeping in mind also that there are many progressive Democrats in Congress and state legislatures, and if we roll up our sleeves and get to work, there will be more. Together, we have the capacity to bring an end to repressive mechanisms such as voter suppression, gerrymandering, and Citizens United.
If more spirit-minded folks were willing to work within the Democratic Party, then who knows what can be done to carry out the specific strategic recommendations made in the pages of Tikkun? This might be a good time to form “Sister Democratic Clubs” and “Sister Cities” linking red and blue districts and advocating for the humane vision that Tikkun elaborates. There are already groups in existence that are devising nationwide collaborative strategy of this kind, e.g. The Sister District Project and Swing Left.
The sister city concept encourages people-to-people relationships that link a city council, religious congregation, Democratic club, or professional association to its counterpart in another city. Sister Democratic clubs, for example, could work out principles of unity that reach beyond the Party Platform in support of the creation of a fundamentally better social order than the one we inhabit today. These principles will of course draw upon the spiritual values of openness and generosity. This is one way in which grassroots activism could reshape the entire Party.
—Raymond Barglow, Berkeley
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Tikkun 2017 Volume 32, Number 3:3