The lessons of the 1988 election: the need to organize.
Thank you so much for writing "Lessons of the 1988 Election" (MR, February 1989. As usual, "The Review of the Month" was clear and to the point. It helped to put into prespective where we are and where we should be. You are on target when you write that the Jackson 1988 campaign was a class movement that challenged the Republican-Democratic status quo and also when you indicate that this represents the most progressive movement we have see since the 1930s. In that insightful editorial, you also stress the need for the Jackson movement to estavlish a historical linkage with the progressive tide of the Roosevelt/New Deal era of the 1930s and early 1940s. You call for a revival of that programmatic theme by quoting the excellent economic bill of rights which was the centerpiece of FDR's 1944 State of the Union message to Congress.
You and your readers might like to know that the Jackson Platform prepared by Jackson representatives to the Democratic National Platform Committee of which I was a member, did include such a comprehensive economic bill of right, with a call to maek the dreams of forty-four years ago a reality in today's United States. As with many other parts of the Jackson draft, this was voted down by the Dukakis majority in the committee. But the Jackson forces did indeed see themselves also as part of the progressive tradition of the New Deal that struggles to achieve for all what is denied to most in this country of ours. Moreover, we in the Jackson campaign showed that the United States has the resources to make such a dream a reality. In area after area--health, education, housing, jobs, and ' others--we showed that we could and should be able to meet such a program. The problem was not the scarcity of resources, an argument
iiidced see tlicmselves also as part of" thc pr()grt-ssiv(, traditioii of the N(,w Dc;il that struggles to a(:Iilevc fo - r all what is denied to most ill this countrv of ours. Moreover, we iii tlicjttcksoii campaign stiowt-d
, that thc United States has tlie resources to make su(:Ii a drcam a realltv. Iii arc;t at-ter areit-licalth, C(]Ll(-atioti, housing, 'obs, and
' i orliers-we showed tfi;it we could and should be able to mect sucli a program. 'rlie problem was not thc scarcity of'resources, ;Ill argument that justified the reactionary politics of austerity, but rather the control over those resources. They were in the wrong hands. In health care, for example, we showed that the United LStates, where problems of coverage still affect the majority of our people, could provide comprehensive and universal coverage to all our people--as Canadians do--at less than the current costs.
The program for changes was (and continues to be ) there; the will to implement it was (and continues to be) there, Jesse Jackson program. Seven million people voted for it, and many other millions agreed with our stands. But the great challenge is to organize all these people. And this is the part of your editorial that I would expand by calling for progressives to organize and help to extablish the Rainbow Coalition where it does not yet exist, and strengthen it were it already exists. What we need is to establish an independent movement that can work within and outside the Democratic Party, within and outside the electoral arena, and within and outside our political institutions and that can help to make that economic bill of rights part of our reality. The Rainbow Coalition is such a movement Commitment to change cannot be limited to the act of boting every four years. Commitment to change requires a constant organization and mobilization (Jesse calls it "street heat"), constant struggle to redefine the realm of what is possible in this country of ours. I am sure you agree.
Nothing short of along revolution, aimed at deconstituting the present structure of power, makes much sense. It is illusory to believe that the same modes of power that, by their constitution, use up humans, society, and nature at a fearful rate can simply be "turned around" and trained in a more benign direction; or that the same human dispositions toward power-passivity by the many, control by the few--will serve as well for a new social order as for the current one.
--Sheldon Wolin, Democracy, vol. 1, no. 1. p. 24
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|Title Annotation:||U.S. presidential elections|
|Date:||Jul 1, 1989|
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