Thursday, June 23, 2011
Rebuilding the Dream
We have a whole generation of young people who graduate off a cliff into the worst economy in two generations. And it doesn’t matter if they went to school, didn’t go to school, if they dropped out, or they stayed in, if they got good grades, bad grades. They wind up, way too many of them, on the same couch anyway.
Tonight, Van Jones and others will launch a new progressive movement that seeks to build a grassroots coalition that confronts corporations and the oil industry from killing the American Dream and to fight for all those massively disenfranchised by the corporate agenda. "Who are the disenfranchised?" you ask. Jones cites 5 key groups:
1. The Veterans: especially young soldiers coming back from war who return from war "into an economic battlefield with no support." Jones claims that these vets are committing suicide at 17 per day!
2. The Foreclosed: millions of Americans have lost their homes or are just holding on to grossly underwater mortgages. Wall Street gets bailed out, but these folks get very little relief.
3. The 99ers: that's how many weeks the unemployed can receive jobless benefits from the federal government. Then they are on their own.
4. The Young Grads: they are in their early 20s with a college diploma and have nowhere to work.
5. The Public Employees: Jones calls them "The people who never abandoned America in a crisis." Now these card-carrying union members are being scapegoated as the ones whose pensions are sucking state budgets dry.
This American Dream Movement is precisely the kind of movement that we've dreamed of in the past couple of years: a coalition that lobbies and protests and rallies around the marginalized and oppressed in America. It seeks to be the flip-side of the Tea Party Movement which hit its zenith in 2009 with a 150,000+ march on Washington DC barking and echoing Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. Tea Partiers are rightfully angry but have wrongfully scapegoated the government and her workers for all of society's ills. Sure, like all institutions, "the government" has her share of corruption, but it was actually deregulation that put our entire economy in the extremely vulnerable position that it is in now.
Because corporations now have a vast majority of the wealth and power, the rules of our "democracy" basically demand that our political leaders bow to the Walmarts and Goldman-Sachs of the world so they can stay in office for another couple of years. We are hopeful that this American Dream Movement will be able to save our democracy from the tsunami of corporate cash and will be able to flip the script on which voices are heard and privileged when making vital policy decisions. This can only come from intentionality and a creative strategy. Let's tune in tonight.
*For more info, check out this interview with Van Jones and watch the action live tonight on Alternet at 8:15EST.