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James W. Knowles, III – does that name ring a bell? Don’t worry if it doesn’t. Knowles’ 15 minutes of fame came and went with the Ferguson uprising. Maybe it’s coming back to you now -- James Knowles was the mayor of Ferguson back in August 2014 when unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot multiple times and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.


Since that fateful day back on August 9, 2014, the City of Ferguson Police Department was placed under consent decree, the Black Lives Matter movement emerged, and the Brown family was awarded over $1.5 million for their loss. Other than that, not much changed.

If progressives couldn’t even mount a successful campaign to get rid of a small-town mayor, how the hell are we going to get rid of Donald "Inject the Body with Disinfectants" Trump?

Police officer Darren Wilson was not indicted and, in 2017, James W. Knowles, III won another mayoral race. Yes, James W. Knowles, III is still the mayor of Ferguson.

If progressives couldn’t even mount a successful campaign to get rid of a small-town mayor, how the hell are we going to get rid of Donald "Inject the Body with Disinfectants" Trump?

At some point we have to admit that at the center of our failure to remove this grossly incompetent president and his band of sycophants is the sad truth that progressives are as weak as Trump is incompetent. And that’s a helluva lot of weakness!

Now, we can debate about why we’re weak till the cows come home but a simple foundational truth keeps staring us in the face. It was made clear in Ferguson – we are not a “we”.

Sadly, our inability to present a united front produces disastrous results which lead to a vicious cycle. We fail to move the needle forward towards a more equitable democratic society which leads large swaths of the population to become apathetic and just give up. They’re not civically engaged in any meaningful way and they don’t show up at the polls. The perfect storm for making bad matters worse.

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Still, we have to work from where we are – yes it is true that many know or have recently accepted that we do not really have a democracy. They believe that their vote doesn't matter, that nothing they do will result in a material change in their lives. Truth is, those beliefs aren’t off the mark, case in point, the report based on a 10-year study conducted by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page that found that the United States is not a democracy. Their data suggests that ours is an oligarchy. In other words, we’re ruled by a rich and powerful elite not “by the people”.

But for those of us who still have hope that we, “the people”, can turn this oligarchy into a democracy, now is the best time to do it. And maybe that’s the best thing that can come out of this clusterf*ck we call the Trump presidency.

I listened to a podcast this week that reaffirmed my deeply held belief that we can build and sustain a progressive movement that has the power to create the democracy we were all led to believe we already had.

The podcast is the Ezra Klein Show, A Master Class in Organizing with Jane McAlevey.

Jane McAlevey talks about how the Left builds power wrong and she offers insight on how to do it right. She makes sense but equally as important, she has decades of experience to back up her theories.

Breakfast Club Biden

I thoroughly enjoyed this interview but I have to warn you, McAlevey talks a mile a minute. If you intend to take notes be prepared to hit the pause button often – I certainly did. I also purchased one of her books, "No Shortcuts; Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age". One thing she says that all progressives need to do -- we need to change our understanding of power. She then goes on to explain how and why. I'm loving this.

Sharon Kyle

You can listen to, "A Master Class in Organizing" below: