Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Moving On

As he had to do, Kerry has conceded. He will probably get flack from some progressives for not putting up more of a fight, but as I posted this morning, he couldn't have won so it probably wasn't that bad a decision. Where he deserves to get flack is over the campaign that he ran, but I'm not getting involved in that.

So what does this mean for the next four years?

The Bush administration will continue their project of consolidating the structures of power in the United States in their own favour. This will include tightening their hold over the judiciary, in particular through the appointment of two or three new justices to the Supreme Court and probably naming a new Chief Justice once Renquist dies or retires. It will probably also include further redistricting shenanigans, a la (most recently) Tom DeLay in Texas, to keep their hold on the House good and tight. Further efforts to remould the media environment and attack liberals and lefties in academia will also occur.

Also look for renewed assaults on the social safety net and the further entrenchment of religious right principles in how the remnants of social services are delivered. The last vestiges of affirmative action and other civil rights victories will be swept away, partly via the courts and partly via administrative action. Poverty and wealth inequality will increase and the percentage of Americans covered by health insurance will decrease.

In terms of foreign policy, the Bush unilateralist approach will be further consolidated, though it's not immediately obvious what this means. Though a popular anti-Bush slogan in the last few months has been "Four More Wars! Four More Wars!" to counter the obvious "Four More Years!", I'm not sure that's going to happen. After all, the recolonization of Iraq is absorbing huge resources, and could easily absorb a lot more without being less of a disaster. I don't see a return of the draft as being on the immediate horizon but if there is another major attack on the U.S. "homeland" then I can see that being part of the wishlist passed in the immediate aftermath. But without the draft, how can they invade more countries? Resistance in Iraq is only going to grow, and the ability of terrorists to recruit people is only going to increase as Americans slaughter Iraqis. (In fact, keep your eyes on Fallujah in the next few weeks to get a taste of what it's going to be like.)

All of which is pretty darn depressing.

So what do we do?

Well, obviously we do, to start with -- though it is a bit of a non-answer, just getting out and getting active however and wherever you can is a place to start.

In terms of me personally I don't forsee any big changes in the short term. I will continue going to events when I can, and participating in both the LA Bus Riders Union and my neighbourhood peace vigil. If I can find ways to deepend my participation in those spaces, I will, though I'm fairly constrained at this particular juncture of my life.

More generally, though I suspect the Democrats will not change from their meek acceptance of whatever the Bush administration proposes, the newly mobilized liberals across the country must, must, must kick and scream every step of the way. MoveON and ACT and all the rest must function independently of the Democratic party. The anti-war movement must not succumb to despair. Both liberals and the left must build community and organizations that are sustainable, and that will not give up. Which is easy to say and hard to do. Personally, I'd like to see the moneyed white liberals in West LA and Santa Monica pouring cash without strings into the coffers of progressive and radical organizations grounded in LA's communities of colour.

I think elements of the left-liberal united front that opposed Bush in this election really need to think about what they're going to do about the heartland of this country. While I think organizing in working class communities of colour is the most important work to support, I think there needs to be some serious thought by those who function at the national level of progressive organizations and coalitions about how gain ground in Kansas and Arizona and Alabama and even in Mississippi and Texas.

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