Fighting Bob LaFollette

1. Come out as a progressive! Join the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, become a card-carrying progressive—join the Progressive as a Sustaining Member, get the magazine that tells you what is going on at the grassroots every month, and, more importantly, join the movement!

2. Support Native Americans struggling to defend our water and land against the overpowering power of corporations and the police state: people are gathering blankets, flashlights, etc to take to the #NODAPL encampment at Standing Rock—donate, volunteer, help out!

3. Show solidarity with immigrants and Muslim Americans: no one is more horrified and frightened by the white supremacists in the Trump Administration than recent immigrants and Muslim Americans. If Trump makes good on his plan to register Muslims, Americans of every religious faith and background have pledged to register as Muslims, too. Show you care about immigrants, including the undocumented members of immigrant families who now fear a knock on the door more than ever. Many cities are creating sanctuaries to resist mass deportations. Join the movement and be ready to stick up for our immigrant neighbors—both by showing solidarity and friendship now, and by pledging to help out should someone need to be protected from government overreach.

4. Embrace a nasty woman! Women’s reproductive rights are under attack as never before under the Trump/Pence administration. It’s time to give money, time and support to Planned Parenthood, and let your elected representatives know that you support women’s health and oppose the destruction of clinics that served more than 2.7 million women in the last year alone.

5.  Make sure the world knows that black lives still matter, and American citizens will not give in to police violence and terror in black communities. Join the activists demanding police accountability and the demilitarization of local police forces in communities across the country, show up and be counted when BLM demonstrates, let your city officials know where you stand, and support local leaders who are pushing for a better vision of civil society-- without authoritarian and racist violence.

6. Keep fighting for economic justice. Bernie Sanders’s revolution is not over. Millions of people across the country fueled the Sanders campaign, not because of his unique charisma, but because he connected with activists fighting for a better life, including those who started the Fight For $15 movement—a movement that has gained momentum and won victories in local and statewide ballot measures across the country even as the Democrats experienced an electoral wipeout. We must fight for economic justice for workers—the true driver of politics this year, as inequality reaches staggering levels. The billionaire New York real estate tycoon/reality TV star who will be splitting his time between the White House and his luxury digs in New York is not going to bring economic justice to America. The fast food workers who kicked off the most energetic campaign of the last year are. Support their efforts in your local community!

7. Show some kindness. There is enough hatefulness in the world right now. We need to embody compassion—to be the change we want to see in our country and in the world. You don’t have to be doormat to model love, tolerance, and community values. Get involved in organizations fighting homelessness, food banks, and other service providers, build community, and set national politics aside to connect with your neighbors in helping make the world a better place.

8. Get out of your comfort zone. One of the lessons for the national Democratic party of this election is that too many politicians did not understand how ordinary voters—especially rural voters—were feeling. We don’t have to give up our multicultural values or our commitment to our own political activism to connect more with people who feel alienated by politics and either did not vote this year or voted for Trump. We progressives are not the Democratic Party. We are just people, and so are the many other people who find all politicians too slick, and Washington too far away and unconcerned, to connect to national politics. If we are going to make politics better, we are going to have to get out of our in-groups and build a mass movement that demands representation for the interests of the great majority of non-wealthy Americans. That means we have to reach out to other people who share our values, even if (or especially if) they are turned-off by the language of politicians and academics.

Ruth Conniff is editor-in-chief of The Progressive.

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Comments

There are more than just rural voters suffering from decades of a downhill economic slide since Reagan/Friedman's fiasco called the free market. It also included inner city people in all major and minor cities, It is not just the top tenth of a percent who must look realistically at what is going on economically out of "class." It is all Americans....some college educated, some NOT college educated, who, for whatever reason, are comfortable in the "Wall Street-market-investor economy. We are at a crossroads. Will we continue to excuse the exodus of US manufacturing overseas, salute Robots in the workplace, or do we want to be a nation that actually produces something besides fast food? Will we choose only the "investor nation" status and continue to be shocked when another nation gets fed up with us and wants us out of their industries? Or, will we get responsible and revalue our own people, no matter the education to make a living wage, and actually produce our own products? The suburbs whine when these lose a tiny bit of a percent. Maybe we all must fall to rebuild something besides the opportunity to invest in a non guaranteed market driven pie-in-the-sky (possibly just a scam). When social security is destroyed or placed on the market, do you really think that investors are going to care when it disappears? We are allowing the safety net for our children and grandchildren to be destroyed to feed the greed of investors for "new turf" .... What a deal for them: tax guaranteed and paid social security to bounce onto the world market and take or break. Smiling all the while, Ryan is grinning his way into destroying the security of Social Security, and discriminating against future generations, by continuing to try to raise the retirement age, Worse, the propaganda is false. It is Republican priorities that are off. Scamming our tax dollar and possibly completely destroying the only safety net future retirees may have for groceries is their game. And yet, all these folks vote for the people promoting programs that potentially will destroy their lives. Why vote for Trump and a GOP Congress like Ryan, McConnell, Ron Johnson? Let me count the erroneous ways? Star Power? (If he has money, he's doing something right. I'll get there too!) Anger and Misery: (I have none of that stuff, so I'll have some of it if I vote for that kind of guy.) Voted for Democrats and they didn't correct it or bring me back my union and wages, so vote GOP; that'll show 'em. I can't stand seeing anyone getting a free ride...lots of people are getting a free ride on my tax dollar. (Let them get a job! Yeah...and my wages went down. I want a raise, and they're getting my tax dollar.) Who? I don't know....well, old Joe down the street...oh he lost a hand at work. Yeah, well I'd rather give my welfare money to the corporations. They need it to bring our jobs back. (Wrong. They have used your tax dollar to provide jobs in China. Well, that makes our stuff cheaper to buy! I need lots more "stuff." Guns, Boats, a truck or two! The kids and family need more cheap junk and stuff.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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