This article appeared in the 2016 Fall Newsletter
After the bruising 2016 election cycle, the people’s movements and the political revolution will face enormous challenges in the next four years. Massachusetts Peace Action, American Friends Service Committee, Progressive Democrats of America and others have organized a post-election conference on Saturday, December 3 at Simmons College.
The Next Four Years: Building Our Movements in Dangerous Times will help us to frame our issues and public messaging, to forge a common vision, to increase greater integration of our movements, and to build an action plan that will inspire and motivate more and more people to get involved.
Keynote speaker Bob Wing, a founder of Color Lines and of United for Peace and Justice, will analyze the rise of the far right in the 2016 elections and the opportunities to connect electoral campaigns with base-building organizing.
In an Issues Panel, five Boston area movement organizers, Rev. Paul Robeson Ford for racial and social justice; Elena Letona for economic justice; Emily Kirkland for climate justice; Joseph Gerson for peace; and State Rep.-elect Mike Connolly for electoral and democracy organizing, will present their proposed campaigns and the possible interconnections.
In a Movement Intersections Panel, Rev. Mariama White-Hammond of the Massachusetts Moral Revival, DiDi Delgado of Cambridge Black Lives Matter, and Jared Hicks of Our Revolution Massachusetts, will discuss and compare cross-movement strategies. Bill McKibben will present a video greeting.
Workshops in a variety of formats will call on activists to build connections between our issues.
Because of space, the conference is limited to 300 participants. For more information and to pre-register, go to http://masspeaceaction.org/event/the-next-four-years/.
Bernie Sanders’ campaign ignited a widespread hope that our corrupted democracy, where money and power rule, could be taken back and transformed into a society based on the welfare of all. For many of us, it was the first time our values and needs were made front and center. We were elevated and inspired by a common agenda of fairness and justice.
We now have a greater awareness of the potential power we represent if we mobilize ourselves and encourage others to become involved participants. It is time now for us to think strategically on ways to harness and recapture the spirit of the political revolution we glimpsed, and place that energy toward action for change.
If we are to realize our hope for solidarity, cooperation, justice, security and a truly democratic society we will need to build a vibrant social movement of large numbers of people. Together we will confront the obstacles to building a society that values life over death: runaway economic inequality; climate catastrophe, and war, racism and violence, at home and abroad.
The pervasive inequality in the United States is the major driver of the inherently unjust pain and unfairness that afflicts our society in the early 21st. The strangling impact of racism is exacerbated by economic decline for large sectors of national minorities, especially African Americans and Native Americans. Police murders have triggered nationwide protests, which we support.
This economic decline has also strongly impacted large parts of the white working class, leading many to support the Bernie Sanders campaign, but moving large swaths of others into reactionary and dangerous directions.
Increasing inequality is built into the model of economic development which characterizes the global economy that rules most of the world today, and in which the USA has long played a dominant role. The wars and war preparation carried out in service of this energy empire generate vast carbon emissions. We cannot address climate change or the economic inequality without opposing US military interventions and the huge defense budget that funds this war-making.
Conference organizers aim to showcase and develop a Massachusetts movement infrastructure and begin to create a bold common agenda that promises work, hope, dignity and real security to our families and the possibility of healing the planet.