Thinking about the last shutdown, what ended it, while handing Trump a defeat, wasn’t the actions of one person or one group. It was the broad unity of the same coalition that has been resisting Trump since his Inauguration. Herein lies the formula for winning in 2020.
With a bipartisan committee coming up with a compromise bill that doesn’t include Trump’s demand for a border wall, but keeps the government open, it looks like Trump might declare a national emergency and order the building of a wall. If he does, this authoritarian power grab should be universally condemned. It’s wrong on its face and sets a dangerous precedent at this moment when Trump’s presidency is besieged on all sides
Lincoln didn’t possess the most radical outlook as a candidate or president, but what set him apart and served the country well was his strategic depth, his capacity to change his views in the face of new experience and sober self-reflection, steely determination when things weren’t going well, and nearly unmatched ability to capture in few words the stakes and meaning of the Civil War..
Climate science, not to mention the need to set the economy on a self sustaining and equitable trajectory, should tell us that a Green New Deal is long overdue. Its realization, in its robust version, will take something similar to what it took to legislate the New Deal in the 1930s — an aroused and informed public, an engaged labor movement, a multi-racial coalition of the many, and a political realignment at the national level in a progressive and left direction. A big challenge, but within reach.
Finally reading “At Canaan’s Edge,” the last volume of Taylor Branch’s history of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. In his extraordinary telling, MLK is somehow able to navigate waters in which he is simultaneously pressured to go slow by some and proceed at breakneck speed by others. I’m no expert, but I believe he — with others — did it well in circumstances that were fraught with tensions, filled with competing pulls, and resistant to formulaic answers. In reading this monumental history, I’m reminded that determining the proper pace (and scale) of reform in conditions in which the political fabric has ruptured and the boundaries of the politically possible have expanded, is a reoccurring dilemma and first class challenge for leaders and movements that entertain transformational hopes. In studying King’s life and work we can find some clues as to how to do that as we attempt to navigate another turbulent period in our country’s life. In my later years in the Communist Party I would sometimes say that we might learn more from studying King’s United States (and Allende’s Chile) than Lenin’s Russia. It would raise an eyebrow or two.