So now Harry Reid, in some kind of desperation, attached the Dream Act to a massive defense reauthorization bill. This may be smart politics, forcing the Republicans into a corner in the face of the growing Latino and other immigrant-heavy electorates, but it is cynical at its the core. This critique and statement of opposition to the way the bill is being sold is worth reading. While I agree with much of it, I must say, the best remedy must include an electoral component, and the author of the text doesn't say much about that.
Maybe it's because I just witnessed a pretty interesting primary election for our Wisconsin state assembly representative, and now on my weekly visits to Chicago I'm hearing a lot about the post-Daley prospects for a different kind of mayor. Maybe it's because I just received my three Feingold 10 stickers and will be ordering more. Maybe it's because I am seeing Christine O'Donnell on the tee vee and feeling the Fear. Whatever it is, it seems clear to me right now that progressives never got the movement lesson from the Obama victory. And that lesson is: more progressives need to run for office. Any office. School boards and city councils. Condo boards and church vestries. The Tea Partiers have learned the lesson. For every Alan Grayson, there are probably 30 hard right candidates. We simply need more leftwing voices on the floor and at the table of every governing body.
Ben Manski is running in the general election for that same assembly seat. This is a good sign. I really hope Chicago's independent and grassroots left can field a candidate for mayor. That would be big step forward, pushing the exercise of power beyond organizing marches that are hardly ever big enough to make an impact.
At the same time, more militant citizens' actions are taking place all over. The latest is an occupation of a school field house by parents of children attending Whittier elementary school in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The occupation is intended to halt the planned demolition of the building and the fair allocation of Tax Increment Financing monies back toward schools. The problem with these kinds of actions and campaigns is, no matter how just the cause and inspiring the behavior, they are too often essentially reactive.