by Randy Shannon
PA 4th CD Chapter, Progressive Democrats of America
While the media speculates on President-Elect Obama’s cabinet picks, much of the electorate that put him in office is anticipating decisive action from the government to address the nation’s woes. Progressive Democrats need to focus on how to help bring about the change that the Obama campaign promised. Progressive Democrats of America should adopt a program of concrete steps needed in the first hundred days of the Obama administration to lay the basis for an economic recovery.
Now is the time for mass petitions for single payer healthcare, employee free choice, a peaceful foreign policy, rebuilding the infrastructure, and full funding for college education. It’s important to correlate the tactics of mass action to the stance of the ruling political coalition. It is now time, not to call for mass protest, but mass petition of our newly elected government. Not criticism, but appeals.
500,000 people in Washington DC this coming spring break petitioning Congress for single payer healthcare, employee free choice, full funding for college education, and rebuilding, for example, the crumbling locks and dams on the Ohio River will get the nation moving in the right direction.
The Democratic Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Obama administration could do no less than welcome American citizens who come to Washington en masse to petition for meeting their basic needs in this deepening economic crisis. What better than the active involvement of hundreds of thousands of people in solving this crisis.
The leadership of the labor movement should call this action in consult with our allies in the Democratic Party. Only through the support of organized masses in the labor movement, the African-American and Latino communities, the young generation, and the Medicare for All movement, will Congress and the President find the will and the way to get us out of this crisis. President elect Obama has made it clear that he believes that change comes from below. He learned that as a community organizer in Chicago. Since this community organizer is now President, it is up to the electorate to do its part to organize change from below. There are many mass organizations that would swing into action following a call of the AFL-CIO to rally and petition Congress.
Let us not imagine that the far right power under Bush is defeated. They are vocally joining the fray in defense of corporate financial interests in solving this crisis. The vicious attacks on the American autoworkers get right to the essential question of the recovery. The financial elite want to pauperize American workers and pursue a global empire to save their narrow interests. The electorate must work to build a strong national movement to transfer wealth to the working people, the unemployed, and the retired, with concrete steps such as Medicare for All, rebuilding our infrastructure to create jobs, fully funding college education. We must see to it that unions are again free to organize in the USA with the Employee Free Choice Act. We need to end the global “War on Terror” and shift resources from the military to diplomacy and police work.
It is not time to agonize about Obama’s choices or criticize failed policies, but neither is it time to sit back and wait to see what will happen. Only mass action can take us down the road to peace and prosperity and off the path of war and austerity.