Jesse and Rainbow

Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition were ostensibly and outspokenly pro-labor and pro-farmer. Rev Jackson’s working class politics, it seems to me more consistently expressed, and more creatively interwoven with the struggles for equality and social justice than the practice and politics of contemporary social movements on campuses and in communities. Not many have done it – mastered this dialectic – better than Jesse in my lifetime.

Thus, given the movement of a considerable section of high school educated white workers to Trumpian politics and the nearly calcified divisions between urban and rural America. both of which are taking place within the context of an existential threat to democracy and social progress engineered by the MAGA movement, a serious examination and adaptation of Jesse’s politics and practice to current circumstances seems obvious.

Too limited

The role of left, or the social justice movement, isn’t only to grow and consolidate itself in the course of its organizing efforts. That is too limited a view. Its mission, oppositional at times, should also include assisting and cooperating with the whole anti-MAGA coalition, not least the Democratic Party. I know this goes against the received wisdom and practice in these circles, but it is hard to envision a decisive defeat of MAGA without a strengthening of the whole anti-MAGA coaliton, not least the Democratic Party politically and organizationally across geographical space. It should be, srategically speaking, more than a convenient ballot line for the left. Much the same could be said about the labor movement.

Key link

Electoral mobilization is an indispensable form of mass action. And for the next two years it should be the primary terrain of political, mass engagement. It is, I would argue, the key link in pushing the whole chain of social struggle forward.

Balance of power

When Republicans win congressional seats that they should, as they did in November, that isn’t a Red Wave. Saying that doesn’t minimize the danger of right wing, anti-democratic Republican control of the House (and large swathes of the country for that matter.) But it is to say that the balance of forces didn’t shift in a qualitative/decisive way in their favor.

Had the outcome been different, that is, had the GOP taken control of the Senate out of Democratic hands as well secured a bigger majority in the House, it would be fair to speak of a Red Wave and a qualitative turn in the balance of forces toward right wing authoritarian, even fascist rule of the country. But that didn’t happen.

Thus the ground on which the anti-Maga coalition fights for democracy, equality, and social progress and against an anti-democratic authoritarian takeover, while less favorable for sure, isn’t one in which at every turn Democrats are in a hasty and steep retreat. Nor is it out of the question to think that they could win back lost ground in two years when voters once again cast their ballots.

Just imagine

Only a few weeks into the new Congress should be enough to remind us how important it was that Democrats won the Senate. Just imagine if Republicans won both chambers! And while the Democratic loss of the House could have been avoided, especially if the anti-MAGA coalition in New York had performed better, the actions of the Republican majority in the House might come back to bite them as the most extreme members of its caucus – and there are a lot of them –play Russian roulette with government solvency, the economy, and people’s lives in the months ahead

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