Randy Shaw: Unlike today, there were politically strong progressive movements during the Brown era that operated outside the Democratic Party establishment. Brown had strong backing among environmentalists, tenants, those focused on “appropriate” technology, and the United Farm Workers (UFW).
Randy Shaw: The June 8, 2010 election is not the most eventful in recent years, but it will provide valuable guidance for November. In California, the Republican Party will continue its pattern of political suicide by nominating two candidates — Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina — who have almost no chance of prevailing in the fall.
Randy Shaw: while Obama and the Democratic Congress have achieved major gains, there is a entire other range of critical issues — the record military budget, increased troops in Afghanistan, inaction on both comprehensive immigration reform and EFCA, the absence of a major job creation program — where change is missing. This leaves Obama’s “remaking” far less sweeping than Ronald Reagan’s achievement in 1981.
Randy Shaw: From an environmental agenda imperiled by nationwide public transit cuts, to a “Jobs” agenda jeopardized by state-induced layoffs, to the lack of full implementation of the President’s prized national service expansion, state budget cuts imperil progressives’ electoral gains of 2008. And no group risks having their expectations more shattered than the students and recent college grads – often described as “the Obama Generation” —whose energy and turnout helped define the 2008 election cycle.
Randy Shaw: For the Arizona boycott to succeed, activists must follow the lessons of the UFW grape and lettuce boycotts of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the South Africa divestment campaign of the 1970s and 1980’s, and the UNITE HERE “Hotel Rising Boycott” of 2006. And the timing is perfect for a “Boycott Summer,” which would boost immigrant rights activism both in Arizona and nationally.
Randy Shaw: Yet Ronald Peters’ and Cindy Simon Rosenthal’s just-released book, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the New American Politics , shows that Nancy Pelosi played a far greater role than is realized in reviving progressive politics after the disappointing 2004 defeats. Pelosi shaped the Democrats message, framed attacks on Bush and the Republican Party, maintained party unity and then delivered for progressives after becoming Speaker in 2006. Nancy Pelosi is not only the most powerful female politician in United States history, but she may also be the most effective progressive national elected official of her time.
Randy Shaw: CNN’s chief problem is not a lack of partisanship. Instead, it is that CNN’s “news” primarily consists of opinions from partisan political hacks. Most work for CNN because no candidate wants to hire them, and it’s an easy gig because they don’t have to know much about the subjects they pontificate about. Does CNN really believe viewers are still interested in the opinions of the corporate-funded James Carville? Or that CNN will steal viewers from FOX News by hiring Erick Erickson of Redstate.com, who publicly threatened to shoot census workers? CNN is failing because it’s selling stale conventional wisdom, which viewers are rejecting.
Randy Shaw: Cesar Chavez dared to accomplish what most thought impossible, demonstrating the potential of national grassroots campaigns to win against all odds. Understanding the UFW’s success should cause activists to think bigger about what’s possible.
Randy Shaw: One clear impact of the health care victory: a deeply demoralized activist and progressive base has been reenergized. Activists who had lost faith in Obama’s ability to get things done now have evidence that candidate Obama’s “Yes We Can” spirit has not disappeared, a boost in enthusiasm that may have greater short-term significance than the substance of the health care bill.
Randy Shaw: I knew how proud Burton was of his protégé, Nancy Pelosi, but his description of her as a single-minded “bulldog” never jibed with my own perceptions. Until now. Because when the history of the health care reform effort of 2009-10 is written, Speaker Nancy Pelosi deserves chief credit for making it happen.
Randy Shaw: Organized by the Center for Community Change (CCC), the March 21 event will be the largest protest march since President Barack Obama took office. It will include activist groups from nearly every state, and revives the labor-religious-community coalition that built the mass marches of 2006.
Randy Shaw: While conservatives love bashing “Hollywood liberals,” Sunday night’s Oscar telecast showed how little this description applies. From Kathryn Bigelow’s promoting George W. Bush’s argument that the U.S. invaded Iraq to protect Americans, to the disproportionate acclaim given to films exalting the military, to the exclusion of Michael Moore’sCapitalism, A Love Story from the documentary nominees, Hollywood now largely avoids any hint of progressive social analysis.
Randy Shaw: The worldwide recession deepens, the impacts of climate change worsen, and health care costs continue to skyrocket — yet people are primarily discussing other matters. Chief among them is why curling is an Olympic sport, since it is the on-ice equivalent of bocce or shuffleboard, two games that do not require much athletic talent.
Randy Shaw: Many progressives are so excited that Obama is not Sarah Palin that they accept any small step as a great leap forward. The irony is that many of these progressives saw a night and day difference between Obama and Clinton in the primaries, yet now accept policies from Obama that are virtually identical — if not more conservative — than those we feared from a President Hilary Clinton.
Randy Shaw: Beyoncé has been a great star since childhood, and has gotten to the top through hard work, dedication, good looks and a powerful singing voice. But she seems to have gone through a corporate homogenization machine that has deprived her of real passion, real soul, and of the ability to express true feelings and emotions in her songs.
Randy Shaw: President Obama aspires to change the way politics is played, saying he is tired of questions masquerading as talking points, and of “tactics” substituting for the best policies. Like Dukakis, he wants the two parties to engage in national policy debates, where the best ideas prevail. Unfortunately, that’s not how politics works in the United States, and Obama’s misguided idealism is costing his base dearly.
Randy Shaw: Consider the Democrats top concerns. Health care? “We’ll get to it sometime.” Comprehensive immigration reform? “It’s still a priority.” EFCA? Off the political radar screen. Climate Change? “We don’t have the votes.” The Budget? Freeze all domestic spending but education and research but protect defense.