Add Street Heat and Stir: A Recipe for 2012

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson  

In January, 2010, a five member majority of the Supreme Court – the very same members whose supporters oppose every slightly progressive or even centrist judicial candidate as an “activist” judge who will ride roughshod over established law – overturned 100 years of precedent by ruling that corporations are people, with the same free speech rights as human beings.

Thus the court unleashed political monsters such as the Koch Brothers, oil billionaires who love freedom, as long as it’s theirs alone. Thus was born the temporary victory, in the 2010 biennial elections, of the radical right wing that put people such as Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker in office. Thus started Walker’s campaign to destroy the union movement in his state as a model for the rest of Republican governors.

This chain of events, I believe, was the electroshock therapy that launched progressives out of their two-year depression and that, I expect, will lead American politics to take a sharp reverse turn in 2012.

Meanwhile, there’s work to be done, and three progressive groups to help us to do it. I’ve already written about two (scroll down and you’ll see.) The third is Progressives United, former three-term Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold’s answer to Citizens United, the five Supremes’ egregious decision that opened the doors to full, frank corporate fascism.

[Note this well: Fascism and Naziism are not the same thing. Fascism is the merger of government and corporate interests. Fascism is nothing less than outright war on the working/middle class.]

Feingold, the second name on the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that Citizens United in large measure overturned, has formed a PAC.  Progressives United, Feingold says, will

  • Empower Americans to stand up against the exploding corporate influence in Washington, especially since the Citizens United decision.
  • Hold our representatives accountable to every constituent, regardless of economic class or insider access.
  • Support national, state, and local candidates who stand up for our progressive ideals.

In an e-mail to supporters, Feingold wrote

For too long, we’ve witnessed the ever-increasing, corruptive power of corporations over our democracy.

As you know, I spent much of my career in the Senate fighting that corruptive power. I am no longer in the Senate to represent Wisconsin, but I have no intention of giving up that fight — or giving up on you and all the people who have fought it with me.For too long, we’ve witnessed the ever-increasing, corruptive power of corporations over our democracy.

Today I am proud to announce that progressives — demanding change and demanding action — have come together to help me launch a new group: Progressives United.

Together we will empower Americans to fight back against corporate influence and corruption in Washington, D.C., and demand democratic reforms to our election system. We will support candidates who will work for the people, not the corporations. We will call out the media when they hide from the real story.

And we will do it all united.

Here’s Feingold in a two-minute video announcing the organization.

Progressives now have the apparatus we’ve been lacking in the 40 years during which right wing think tanks, PR people, and fundraisers have developed in identifiable brand. If a candidate self-identifies as a conservative (How I hate that they’ve stolen that word. Conservatives used to be reasonable people you could talk to, who actually conserved things.) you know immediately what s/he stands for. Progressives have to introduce themselves over and over, because we’ve had no brand.

Now Cognitive Policy Works, a firm that consults with progressive organizations, has pulled together a free, downloadable handbook for strategic action, and a working group to develop the progressive brand.

The third piece is also in place: US Uncut. Backed up by facts and numbers, this group is dedicated to the proposition that corporate tax evaders should pay up before Congress and the President agree to budget cuts in all areas except war and spying, cuts that would do irreparable harm to education, health, and everything else people hold dear who believe in the golden rule and the moral code that says we should take care of each other.

While Progressives United provides the funding and political-cleanup arm (Feingold has a good reputation for nonpartisan legislative action) and Cognitive Policy Works provides a forum for strategy and brand development, US Uncut will provide the street heat. Joining them will be others inspired by what’s happened in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere.

We are the people we’ve been waiting for. It’s our turn. Where will you fit in?

Also of interest:

If They Can Do It, Why Can’t We?

OK, Here We Go

The Progressive Brand

Walk Like an Egyptian

US Uncut

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