Defying Progressives, Obama Revives Nuclear Power

Nuclear-Power

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.

Media Ignoring Labor Union Successes

Sally Field in "Norma Rae"

Randy Shaw: The absence of labor reporters is a symptom of a larger media trend that now sees union activism and elections as deserved only of local coverage, while corporate news wins national attention. So the New York Times reports on Disney’s public relations event in Orlando, Florida is reported by, while UNITE HERE’s far more newsworthy event at Disneyland gets only local press.

Obama Era Sees Decline of Organizing

Clockwise from top: UNITE-HERE protests Hyatt; Immigration Rally in 2006; ACORN protests Wachovia; HCAN rally

Randy Shaw: As the midterm elections approach, progressives face a critical choice: either spend resources now on funding organizers who can win real change in 2010, or invest in the November elections to set the stage for 2011. The choice should be clear.

Beyoncé’s Soulless Starbucking of Music Industry

beyonce grammys

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.

Obama Revives the Dukakis Presidency

Michael Dukakis

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.

Democrats Return to Slumber after Massachusetts Wake Up Call

Harry-and-Nancy

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.

Americans and the European Way

europes promise

Randy Shaw: As someone who thinks Hill’s work could convince the uncommitted and deserves the widest possible audience, I wish he had directly confronted — through interviews, for example — those who oppose the policies that work in Europe but are still not in place in the United States. For example, it would have been helpful for Republican and Democratic Party political leaders to explain why our nation follows the lead of Papua New Guinea in still not offering paid maternity leave.

Why I’m Skipping Obama’s State of the Union

Obama One Year Later

Randy Shaw: Speechmaker Obama’s efforts to sell that economic plan to a Democratic base reeling from rising unemployment and stretched pocketbooks may even exceed his mighty oratory skills, and could leave President Obama’s base wondering what happened to the candidate they elected.

Despite Obama, “Yes We Can” Spirit Survives

meridien rally

Randy Shaw: In the Beltway, the Obama Administration frustrated key constituency groups and organizations by failing to push for transformative change. In the world where most people live and work, activists were not deterred by Obama’s inaction and instead seized upon the “Si Se Puede” spirit to build successful campaigns for justice.

Blaming the Left

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana)

Randy Shaw: The Democratic Party is facing a voter revolt because it once again allowed its corporate wing to set its agenda. And while the media blames the left Obama and the Democrats either implement a progressive agenda and shape the midterm elections around populist themes, or face further electoral “upsets” in November.

Tea Baggers Repackaging America’s Right Wing

Marco Rubio and Jesse Helms

Randy Shaw: If anyone still doubts that politics is all about branding, the rise of the “teabagger” closes the case. Here we have a group of overwhelmingly white anti-tax crusaders with a long history of political backing for right-wing causes suddenly re-branded by the media as populist crusaders for the common good.

Defining Progressive Victories in 2010

Climate Candle

To help avoid the “defining downward” of progressive goals on the key issues of 2010, I thought it would be helpful to assess what would constitute activist victories and whether progressives should cheer measures short of what they are now backing.

Holding Obama Accountable

Obama-Magician

Randy Shaw: pecifically, activists must employ what I describe in The Activist’s Handbook as the “fear and loathing” approach that has long proved necessary to get most politicians to do the right thing. Activists must make Obama fear the political repercussions of not backing progressive positions, even to the extent that the President comes to “loathe” those creating such pressures.

2009: Labor’s Missed Opportunity

sjhsrally

With the Democratic Party needing union money and volunteers for the November 2010 elections, it will have to start delivering for labor soon. This means that Congress will enact some changes in union election rules, though expedited elections rather than card check appears to be where the debate is headed.

Obama Ignores Community Organizing Lessons

yes-we-can

When Barack Obama backed a Senate health reform plan that differed radically from prior proposals, he ignored the lessons he learned as a young organizer on Chicago’s South Side. Obama once knew that it’s wrong to bypass the community’s agenda to strike a backroom deal, regardless of its superior terms. Obama also understood that failing to consult with the community disempowers the base, and discourages people from participating in future organizing campaigns.

Obama’s Right Turn

Obama-Army

When President Barack Obama took office, many activists and organizations saw their role as mobilizing the public support necessary to enable him to implement progressive change. After Obama’s September health care speech this strategy appeared to be working, but the President has since ignored the progressive base and taken a sharp turn to the right.

Activists Giving Obama a Pass

Obama2bush

Obama still has time to deliver for his base. But this will require activists and constituency groups to ramp up public demands for such a course, rather than thinking they are helping the progressive cause by making excuses for a president whose inspirational words about social transformation have not been matched by actions.

The Speech Obama Should Give Tonight

If the health care outcome shows that the U.S. Senate will not allow progressive change even with a 60-vote Democratic caucus, then what argument can the Obama team make to infrequent voters in 2010? If electing Obama and strong Democratic congressional majorities in 2008 did not bring real Change, why even bother voting?

Giving Thanks to Activist Heroes in 2009

The week of Thanksgiving offers the perfect opportunity for us to give thanks and appreciation for those in 2009 who have worked for social and economic justice.

New York Times: “American Workers Are Overpaid”

Maze

If recent resistance by IBEW and UNITE HERE members are any indication, the Times’ BreakingNews folks and corporate America have a long way to go before convincing workers that it is they, rather than their high-paid, amply-bonused bosses, whose compensation should be downsized.

SEIU Throws Eggs at NUHW Supporters in Los Angeles

seiu_nuhw

One night after withdrawing its support for the California Democratic Party and picketing progressive politicians and labor leaders in San Francisco, SEIU threw eggs at those attending an event honoring NUHW in Los Angeles.

SEIU Wages War on Progressives

Former SEIU President Andy Stern

The increasing willingness of other unions to openly back NUHW is most ominous for SEIU. It means that SEIU’s efforts to frame NUHW as a “rogue” labor organization guilty of “raiding” other unions has failed, and that the labor movement now sees NUHW as health care workers’ leading voice for democracy.

Health Care Debate Triggers Mass Confusion

Palin_obamacare

The media gives false credibility to claims by insurance company-owned politicians that their real motivation is fiscal prudence. No matter that the prospect of large budget deficits never deterred these politicians from supporting wars of choice or deficit-creating tax breaks for the rich.

Despise the Initiative Process? New York City Shows Why Progressives Need It

Yankee-Stadium

New York City provides a case study of a large, ethnically diverse, California-like entity where citizen ballot measures are not an option. The result? A profoundly undemocratic city where large real estate developers call the shots.

“Doom and Gloom” on the Left

Obama_and_Cheney

Nine months into the Obama era, it’s not simply the Right that is detached from the perspectives of everyday people, and not just the Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck crowd that express an “I told you so” attitude toward the President’s actions.

Gay Activist Divisions Are Political, Not Generational

act_up

It had to be frustrating for Sunday’s rally organizers President Obama get a standing ovation from HRC at a gala event for simply repeating his unfulfilled campaign pledges on gay rights. This smacks of the type of lack of political accountability that can kill progressive change.

ACORN’s Problems Create Void for Community Organizing

acornphoto

As ACORN cutbacks weaken one of the progressive movement’s leading organizer training vehicles, everyone from labor unions, to interfaith networks, to progressive foundations, to the Obama Administration better start thinking about how to fill this organizer gap.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Watching Latino Politics Disappear

Sotomayor

This exclusion of Latinos from the health debate, and from all public policy issues other than immigration, is neither coincidence nor accident. It is part of the same strategy that sees Latinos excluded from the cable political news shows, and from the Sunday interview shows on the traditional networks.

UNITE HERE Rejoins AFL-CIO

UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm

On the last day of the AFL-CIO convention, UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm announced that his union is leaving Change to Win and rejoining the AFL-CIO. The announcement, while not unexpected, will soon to followed by a similar decision by the Laborers Union, and represents a likely fatal blow to SEIU’s efforts to create a competing labor Federation.

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