Sunday, January 16, 2011

Democracy: Inertia Is Not an Option


Whither One Nation?

By Mark Solomon

Published by

The October 2, 2010 "One Nation Working Together" rally at the Lincoln Memorial was a successful expression of the working class and multiracial foundation of the progressive majority. The large turnout of labor unions, African Americans and other communities of color provided a solid start for building a broadly based national coalition to urgently address the crisis of unemployment and inseparably related crises in education, health care, housing, militarism and the environment. While the imperative issue of peace and the ending of Washington's wars was not insistently stressed (except for Harry Belafonte's inspired speech and the strong words of Bob King of the UAW), the peace movement was a large, highly visible and indispensable presence whose major role in the coalition cannot be questioned.

Since October 2, there has been little or no visibility of "One Nation Working Together." Such a lack of evident activity is fairly typical of coalitions that often fall prey to inertia after initial bursts of engagement. That is largely due to the pull upon participating organizations to address their own agendas and constituencies while organizational and financial commitments to the larger coalition fester.

However, while such inertia is not atypical, it is not an option: not when the depth and urgency of multiple crises compel the existence and activism of the broadest and most inclusive coalition of nearly fifty major national organizations.