While Washington pundits are talking up a new civility, many progressives are bracing for the old servility -- a bipartisanship that is servile to a corporate elite that is unquenchably greedy and more powerful than ever.
But this is not a time for despair. It’s a time for new activism -- built upon one of the great achievements of the last decade: the rise of independent media.
Every day, millions of people in the U.S. get their journalism from independent news outlets that expose not just the extremist antics of Republicans, but also the corporate corruption among Democrats. These informed Americans -- fearful of Speaker Boehner and alarmed by a White House now administered by a JPMorgan Chase executive -- represent a huge base ready to mobilize in new ways.
That’s the basis for the launch of a new online organization -- RootsAction.org -- an initiative endorsed by such respected independent progressives as Daniel Ellsberg, Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk and Coleen Rowley.
Our first action -- in collaboration with Daniel Ellsberg -- is a petition to President Obama to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
RootsAction is a response to the quietude among many liberals that followed so many cave-ins from the Obama White House and Democratic leaders in recent years. Our strategy is based on using the Internet and social media as pathways around political discourse dominated by media conglomerates.
The Internet has spurred a flourishing of spirited indy news outlets and websites that are not only independent of corporate control, but also independent of corporate politicians of both major parties.
And the Internet gave birth more than a decade ago to a once-hopeful Netroots -- springing from nowhere to activate millions of people in a flash.
RootsAction aspires to be a new kind of online group -- one fully independent of Democratic leaders more intent on protecting Wall Street and endless war than on protecting the vast majority of Americans. Read our mission statement here.
A tragic example of why RootsAction is needed came when President Obama announced his Afghanistan escalation a year ago at West Point; major Netroots groups -- who would have raised hell had a President McCain announced the very same policy -- were largely silent or muted.
RootsAction will never be silent as Congress and the president squander billions on foreign wars while failing to meet crucial domestic needs.
Please join RootsAction so we can amplify our voices and mobilize.
RootsAction is for people who are loyal to progressive values -- peace, economic justice, equality, civil liberties, environment -- rather than to politicians who offer progressive-sounding rhetoric but so often fail to uphold those values. If you want to be part of an online campaign group that is as independent as the hard-hitting indy journalism outlets that bring you news each day, RootsAction is for you.
Jim Hightower explains his support this way: “Real change is up to us, not to Obama or the Democratic Party. They are not the progressive movement, we are. Only grassroots initiatives like RootsAction can put progress back in ‘progressive.’”
Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen
Jeff Cohen is a board member and Norman Solomon is a senior fellow with RootsAction. Cohen is an author (“Cable News Confidential”) and journalism professor who founded the media watch group FAIR. Solomon is an author (“War Made Easy,” “Made Love, Got War”) who founded the Institute for Public Accuracy.