Jesse and the 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 were more consistently expressed and more creatively interwoven with the struggles for equality and social justice than the politics of contemporary social movements. Not many have done it – mastered this dialectic – better in my opinion than Jesse in my lifetime.

Moreover, given the movement of a considerable section of high school educated white workers to Trumpian politics and the outsized MAGA constituency in rural America, a serious examination and adaptation of Jesse’s politics and practice to current circumstances would seem to be in order.

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 myopic a view. Its mission should also include assisting, uniting, and cooperating with the whole anti-MAGA coalition, not least the Democratic Party. I know this goes against the received wisdom and practice in some of these circles, but it is hard to envision a decisive defeat of MAGA without a strengthening of the whole anti-MAGA coaliton.

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.


Only a few weeks into the new Congress should be enough to remind us how important it was that Democrats won the Senate. 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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