Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Guest Blogger: Ruben Solis on Elections, USSF and Community Governance

The following pieces are from Ruben Solis, a founder of Southwest Workers Union and long time community organizer, political strategist and a true working class intellectual and historian. Southwest Workers Union is celebrating it's 20th Anniversary this coming weekend.

Presidential elections
Ruben Solis

It was a people’s victory in the November 4, 2008 presidential elections. The huge record voter turn out reflected a growing ‘revolt’ by the grassroots movements. The new grassroots power base and movement force is Youth, African Americans, Women, Indigenous and Latinos as counterweight to the usual conservative (WASP) right wing national agenda under the neo-liberal Reagan-Bush dynasty.

The immediate impact of the outcome of the Presidential elections was change in the political power base that has dominated the White House for nearly three decades. The outgoing DC powers moved the government and state to be a sort of ‘military governance’. The whole of the national agenda, budget and policies became dominated by the strategic-political game plan of war.

The new administration headed by President Obama, the first African American President in the entire history of the United States, has begun by organizing the transition teams developing plans for a multitude of areas of governance, administration and policy directions for the new administration. Some of the work is to map out how to implement campaign promises; the other work is to establish the infrastructure to push through the whole of the four year Obama plan, Party plan and vision.

The ideological-political framework set out by President Obama seems to reflect an approach that is ‘center governance’ or attempts to govern from a centrist position to unite the country under his new plan and platform. His plan to end the war on Iraq is a campaign promise and is planned to happen in the first two years of his administration.

However, his plans to expand the war on Afghanistan and surrounding countries in the Middle East seems to point to his supporting the ‘age-old’ U.S. foreign policy of ‘peace through war’ and not ‘peace through diplomacy’. President Obama’s role as President as the first African American to hold the office can also be the first President and Commander in Chief to establish a new U.S. policy of diplomacy, negotiations, and peace. President Obama can be reduced to a ‘neo-colonial’ President, meaning one that serves the interests of the ruling group that cannot be in power for the interim while the economy and country is in shambles after the Republican Party, W’s string of failures and the failures of the capitalist system.

The two headed party system that has ruled the United States politic and government forever has been by-passed by the grassroots social movement as was seen in this last election. More people voted outside the political party box and more from the demand for a new national agenda politic and national direction. Communities across the country organized voter education and mobilizing projects and campaigns impacting millions of youth and new voters. In most of the states that went from red to blue the determining factor in the turn around in political party was the Black, Women, Latino and youth vote. New Jersey, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, California, to name a few were overturned because of the new grassroots voter power base.

The new power base has been developing for some time now in movements like ‘Push Back’ and the ‘South X Southwest’ as two examples. It is an example of the newest political devilment in the US and it is called ‘community governance’. The new voter base is not running over to the Republican or Democratic Party or third party movements to give away their new found power. Community governance is keeping the power at the community level organized independently of political parties and working for ‘accountability’ at all levels. The grassroots movement is expanding and deepening their efforts to organize and educate the ‘community governance’ movement to be a part of developing the new national agenda in a change we can believe in. This work starts by taking over politically community institutions like the school board of education, the city council and the state legislature. It also involves developing a ‘blueprint’ for change in each state and local community.


United States Social Forum reloaded
Jan. 20, 2008
Ruben solis

The first ever United States Social Forum took place in June-July 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. It brought together 20,000 organizers and activists of the US Social movement. 12,000 delegates registered and participated in the march, proceedings, sessions, assemblies, etc, in the USSF.

The USSF looked at six intersecting thematic axes in hundreds of self organized workshops and plenary sessions and deliberated in the Peoples Movement Assembly and came out agreeing ‘Another United States is Necessary for another world to be possible’. People at the USSF, nor the organizing committee, made it a central point to discuss the upcoming presidential elections. Yet, the historical juncture and the coming change were in the air of the USSF. The very essence of the USSF was about the self-realization of ‘change we can believe in’.

The USSF was filled with the sense and power, meaning and spirit of ‘community governance’ it was thick in the air at the USSF. The sense of ‘yes we can’ and the power to believe another United States is possible was a powerful wave brought on by the grassroots social movement at this stage of development. This wave of ‘change we can believe in’ preceded the Obama campaign and his campaign slogan. It reflects how real the USSF was and Obama’s recognizing the ‘political and historical’ importance of the moment.

With the Obama victory in the Presidential elections, the first African American President in the history of the US, the slogan of the USSF comes more to life. The Obama victory affirmed the vision, thinking and actions of the delegates at the USSF that saw “another US is possible”. With the Obama victory as a people’s victory we can say “what we said was not possible yesterday, today we say yes we can! “.

To make another US possible it was necessary to remove the entrenched neo-con administration of W. It was not easy to get rid of the W. Bush administration with its ‘bunker’ entrenchment mentality. People felt it was immediately necessary to change the W administration’s ‘military governance’ style that made all government policies, funding and programs predicated on accepting its military ideology. The immediate change is that the Obama administration seems to have established a policy of ‘governance from the center’ which makes his plan and administration more inclusive than the last and therefore more unifying for the country.

The most important outcome of the process starting with the organizing process of the US Social Forum starting in April 2004, and the victory of Obama in 08 was the growth and development of a mass movement both civic and social movement that believes in ‘community governance’. This means not just voting or marching but being part of the decision making processes, locally, regionally and nationally. It is a sense that you own the vote you do not give it away to the candidate therefore you retain a responsibility to get involved. It is this growing mass movement capable of moving millions of immigrants in the May 1 2006 march and general strike, moving hundred thousand in the Jena Six mass protest rally and the millions of voters who turned out and mobilized for the defeat of the military governance administration that dragged the country through at least two recent wars and debt.

Looking back at the United States Social Forum the participants were majority young, People of Color, Indigenous, women and LGBT. The diverse make up of the USSF was the best example of the new society of a world where everyone fits, where everyone is equal. The diverse thinking, organization, ideology, and life styles were an important characteristic of the US Social Forum. The Peoples Movement Assembly after the end of the USSF served as a proto type for how to come together as equals in the civic and social movements in the United States.

Hit the following link to reach Ruben.

1 comment:

neal said...

Community and Cultural events are also being planned for Hammonds failure of the federal government to respond have illuminated extreme. The U.S government and its allies have escalated the implementation of a long- term . In doing so, the international community compounded the suffering. The U.S. Social Forum presents a unique opportunity to develop.



word of mouth