Donate to Grassroots Policy Project now through Network for Good
To encourage dialog about ideas and trends in social movements for economic, racial and environmental justice, we survey various movement-oriented forums. Please contact us with your comments on these ideas and be sure check our 'What's New' page for updates.
A series of tornadoes has left thousands of people homeless across Alabama. One town’s mayor is refusing to allow homeless residents to obtain FEMA trailers for temporary housing. He says the trailers will make the town look “trashy.” And besides, people may be tempted to keep the trailers instead of finding ways to rebuild their homes. Like most mayors, he has few, if any, local resources to bring to bear. He rejects FEMA’s help, but he’s not offering any viable alternatives.
All this talk about deficits and spending cuts got me thinking about something that is in short supply today: trust. Our trust deficit is far more corrosive to the body politic than fiscal deficits. Why? Because trust is a necessary ingredient for an open, democratic society. It is why we support programs that may not benefit us directly, for something called the 'common good.' Without trust, people are less inclined to get involved in the process of governing. They are less likely to interact with elected and appointed representatives who have been entrusted with doing the peoples’ business. Over time, they feel less connected to, or concerned about, their fellow citizens.
The headlines say a government shutdown was averted at the eleventh hour. But was a crisis averted? Instead of an abrupt shutdown of the entire government, where we all can see what's at stake, we face a slow and, to many, less obvious crippling of government programs that are part of our shared safety-net. A rolling shutdown of sorts.
Looks like there may be a government shut-down at midnight tonight. If so, it won't be about differing versions of what constitutes fiscal responsibility. It comes down to ideology, thinly veiled as concern over spending.
GE not only pays no taxes, it gets billions in tax breaks. And yet, pundits continue to say corporate tax rates are too high. They also say the economy is on an upswing --- Wall Street profits and bonuses are as high as they were before the downturn. So you can stop worrying about unemployment, foreclosures, state and local budget woes and rising consumer prices. They’ve got it covered, right?
For most of the last decade, I lived in the crazy, cold, contradictory state that is Wisconsin. I wrote research papers in Madison, performed poems in Milwaukee, walked picket lines in Jefferson, organized student conferences in Eau Claire, led artistic workshops in Green Bay, spoke at my roommate’s wedding in Merrill, and went camping with my future wife at Black River Falls.
Wisconsin’s public workers are showing us the way to stand up to the tyranny of 'balancing budgets’ on the backs of poor and working families. All week, the state capital has been overflowing with union members and their allies. Over 25,000 people took over the grounds on Wednesday.
Tuesday night's State of the Union address was dubbed by pundits on MSNBC and CNN as 'the most centrist speech we've seen in a long time.' This may have as much to do with the absence of drama as it does with the content. Giving the President the benefit of the doubt, his party is weak right now, and, if he were to step up, and openly challenge the Republicans' backward-looking anti-investment agenda, the Democrats wouldn't have his back. His best hope is for the Republicans to over-reach --- something he can count on them to do, sooner or later.
We usually find the most vitriolic rhetoric on the political fringes. What’s striking about the current political climate is how much the vitriol has infected the mainstream. We cannot understand the tenor of today’s political climate without looking at the power that far-right conservatives have, which is aided and abetted by corporate forces.
War metaphors are pervasive in politics. We, and the groups we work with, often use them: we talk about the fight for social justice. Our campaigns have targets. Our tactics include confrontations. Would we really want to take the fight out of our struggles for social change? No. The problem is not war metaphors, per se. Or even maps with crosshairs, necessarily. The problem also has little to do with appealing to beliefs and emotions. These, too, are necessary parts of political discourse.
Licenced by Creative Commons. The documents on this site are free for all to use noncommercially, with attribution. In addition to giving us credit when you use or reproduce our materials, we also ask that you let us know how you are using them.