Monday, October 4, 2010

One Nation Fed Up With Corporate Power

I spent Saturday down on the National Mall at the One Nation Working Together rally. It was a beautiful Fall day, and it was refreshing to see a whole host of progressive organizations marching together for jobs, justice, and education. I spent most of my time walking around observing the crowd, reading signs, and carrying my own sign.

Two Observations

1. I am always pleasantly surprised at how progressive marches, rallies, and protests have the feeling of celebrations. Every big march I've been to has felt like a street festival. There are virtually always drums and dancing. This was the case even back in March when we were protesting at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, where the health insurance industry's biggest lobbyist group was meeting to plot strategy to block reform. Activism and joy mixed together. What does this say about the Left? Of course I have not been to many right-wing rallies, but I don't think they have this kind of thing going on. Is there dancing in the Tea Party, at an anti-immigrant rally, or a gun rights rally? I don't think I've ever seen this difference between Left and Right discussed.

2. The crowd at the One Nation rally was as ethnically diverse as America itself. Latino, Asian-American, White, African-American, Buddhist, secular, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. Not just individuals, but organizations were there representing each of these groups. This is what you get when your movement is based on the common good instead of on the wishes of only the most powerful ethnic group or of only the wealthy. It stands in stark contrast to the snow white Glenn Beck rally back in August and the right wing in general.

Proposing A Theme For The Progressive Movement

Here's me holding my homemade sign the day of the rally. (Face hidden so I won't be fired from my job.)
"Democracy vs. Corporations: Which side are YOU on?"
I chose this sign because I believe all the various progressive constituencies (labor, environmental groups, peace groups, civil rights organizations, etc.) need a unifying theme. Well, how about this? On virtually every pressing social issue we face, corporate power stands in the way of progress.

Big corporations keep wages low and working conditions poor.
Big corporations fund fake science to create public doubt about climate change.
Big corporations lobby for ever-increasing defense budgets and new imperial adventures.
Big corporations stoke racist feeling to keep the public divided and powerless.

In short, big corporations thwart true democracy by empowering the few over the many. Therefore, all progressive individuals and organizations should act as one anti-corporate power, pro-democracy force. That should be the underlying struggle that unites all of the Left's various causes.

More Cell Phone Pictures I Took

From the World War II memorial looking west toward the Lincoln Memorial:

On the south side of the reflecting pool. We were near groups from the NAACP and the UAW.


delaine said...

Hey, Dave, check out the opinions today in the Washington Post. Not only do corporation squelch democracy, but through the vehicle of fake non-profits they funnel kazillions into political races. And guess which party is the recipient of this largesse ? Republicans. Thanks to those dingalings on the Supreme Court and the Citiznes United ruling, corporations are people now and can donate money in absolute secrecy. The editorialist said an estimated $80 million before the November elections. Anonymously. It makes one wonder where this will all lead.

Dave said...

It does make one wonder. I think the impact of the Citizens United case almost can't be overstated. I think about how much political momentum plays a role in the ebbs and flows of our history. You have to look at Citizens United and think about not just how bad it is but also about what else they'll be able to win down the road because of Citizens United.