News and Notes : Spring 2005
As reported in prior issues, we completed a reconsideration of the role of the Anti Racism and Latino Commissions within DSA. In response we have decided to end publication of our newsletter Our Struggle/Nuestra Lucha. In its place we will use our new blog. It is at http://www.antiracismdsa.blogspot.com Many other organizations have switched over to electronic communications.
DSA is preparing for its national convention in Los Angeles in November of 2005. The convention will be important for the organization. If willing, you should get yourself selected as a delegate. Contact the national office of DSA for instructions.
Bob Wing described our current situation well in his analysis of the 2004 elections. “The 2004 presidential contest was a warning shot across the bow of all progressives. While the president and the Republican pundits vastly overstate their "mandate," progressives need to become clear on the motion of racial politics if we are to get ourselves in shape for the coming battles.”
This charge gives us much work to do. In Sacramento we have decided to work for now with Progressive Democrats of America ( www.pdamerica.org) as a vehicle for working within and outside of the Democratic Party. But PDA, for all of its promise, has begun like most left projects with a largly White leadership. They were excellent at recruiting African American voices to their founding convention.
At the time of this writing it looks as if Antonio Villaraigosa will be elected Mayor of Los Angeles following in the footsteps of Henry Cisneros and A. Peña. And the California legislature now has a Latino caucus of 26. Even as this growth of voting power occurs, there is a distinct shift to the center within Latino politics. Even with of caucus of 26 the legislators can not achieve equal funding or quality schools for students of color. And, they are not really trying to . See the blog http://www.choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com
In California and most states unfair tax system damages our schools. We rank about 37 in the nation in per pupil expenditures. And, the recent study by the Harvard Civil Rights Project reveals once again that California schools are failing Latinos, Blacks, and low income Whites. We grossly under fund our schools, and we get reading and math results appropriate to our funding levels. This inadequate funding is confirmed each year in the state budgets and the Latino Caucus does not try to change this. They accept inequality as inevitable.
To return to the evaluation of Bob Wing of our ally United for Peace and Justice,
”The good news is that people of color--African Americans, Latinos, Native peoples, Asian Americans and Arab Americans--surged to the polls in unprecedented numbers and voted overwhelmingly in opposition to the Bush agenda despite an unprecedented Republican attempt to intimidate them. People of color constituted about 35 percent of new voters and, despite their dazzling diversity, showed uncommon political unity.
A key lesson of this election is that progressives and Democrats need to stop chasing the Republicans to the right and instead adopt a clear vision that mobilizes our main social constituencies and wins new allies. Only a long term strategy that draws deeply and skillfully from the high moral ground of peace, jobs and equality and refuses to cede the South and Southwest to the right can enable us to staunch the country's longstanding movement to the right. Otherwise what Lani Guinier calls the "tyranny of the (white) majority" will continue to lead us into authoritarianism and empire.
The bitter truth is that the election marks a substantial and dangerous victory for the rightwing forces in this country.”
In a sense both parties have failed the people. Elected officials have a minimal responsibility to protect our democracy. They have not. Instead, both parties redistrict, gerrymander, and conspire to gain a few more seats at the table. And, our democracy is weaker for this.
The working people, people of color, do not have- in most cases- representatives in our government nor a party which fundamentally represents our interests. Both mainstream parties are dominated by corporate interests, as illustrated by their unity on ‘free trade” , on tax cuts, on the war and other corporate agendas.
Our task then is to figure out where to go from here. We invite you to join us in this quest.