Gowanus Gets Our Revolution-ized

This article is dedicated to the memory of Nat Hentoff.  In times likes these, he would have been good to have around.  

Information without action is an affront to the soul, if there is one.  Our Revolution, Bernie Sanders’s new political group, hosted an event on Thursday night in Gowanus, to reflect on where progressives are in Brooklyn and in the country as a whole.

About 25 activists huddled in a warehouse and discussed issues ranging from attending the Women’s March on Inauguration Day, to Our Revolution’s relationship with locally elected officials, to the incoming president who was referred to as dipshit.

“We are out here early looking to build community activism,” said David Druelinger, an organizer with Our Revolution, an offshoot of Senator Sanders’ campaign that is working to increase down-ballot Democratic wins.  “Tonight we were also looking to bring people together with different skillsets.”

For some attendees, it was therapeutic to have an open-ended discussion on exploring avenues for future activism.  “I wept for my grandchildren the morning after the election,” said Jeannie Wells grudgingly, a local professor.  “I wept for Mother Earth.  Bernie is my president.  He’s the only politician who has tons of staffers working the phones so they’ll hear from their constituents.  It’s great to be here with others who are interested in pushing our party to the left.”

Overall, the meeting was compelling, it’s a nobel and necessary pursuit to support Senator Sanders, a candidate who probably would have pardoned all non-violent drug offenders and prosecuted financial fraud.  Let’s see what happens with Wells Fargo and its black-letter bank fraud.  All that said, there’ll be more scheduled meetings in Gowanus moving forward where the party members out of power will speak some degree of truth, just like they did to Bush.

The sense among the attendees was that we’re entering an age of lunacy, they had the sensation of being on the deck of the Titanic and were watching it ramming the ice berg.  The thing is, they shouldn’t be too down about politics.  Drumpfausar and his supporters are raging against forces a lot bigger than our election and they can’t really win.  Say what you will about millennials but even the conservative ones are down with gay marriage.  Young people think homophobia makes as much sense as the civil rights era debate about race cooties at the water fountain did.  Look at immigration, most little kids learn Spanish from Dora and Diego.  Any given school might have a lot of Muslims and you know, the little ones don’t give a plugged nickel if their classmate is wearing a hijab.  Look at trade.  Manufacturing is changing, mechanization of jobs that used to be labor intensive is happening.  World trade is happening.  Coal, the power source of the industrial revolution, has seen its day.  China’s not investing in solar because they’re crunchy liberals, they can just see what’s coming up.

Personally, after having invested the holidays with long-time conservative friends in a red state who even muttered on about Glass Steagall and deficits, I’m getting the feeling some of them are coming off the intoxication of sweeping victory and realizing what a disaster we’re heading for.  Repealing Obamacare with no replacement, good luck explaining that one in 2018.  Dumping money into a dumb wall, cutting stuff that actually matters.  The president-elect is losing no matter what Our Revolution does.  The problem is whether the U.S. can remain a global leader in economics and ideas.

The challenge is not to get too cynical because we have to keep engaging and not isolating.  Even if many feel like this is either going to end in the end of the country or war.  And though I hate to say it, the president-elect’s attitude is reflected in the interactions we have with many of those we encounter every day, by which I mean anti-intellectual, illogical, thoughtless, entitled, and short-sighted.

So until the Dems can repackage themselves as the party that discusses the monetary system and how it really works, too many Americans won’t get involved with them, seriously.  They won’t listen.  The party needs a big idea.  The one politician in our lifetime who got it and was able to lay out the progressive version of financial reform in that arena, while mentioning getting rid of fractional reserve banking was Dennis Kucinich.  Poor Mr. Kucinich. Towards the end of his career, gerrymandered out of office by banksters, little chance for political office, but he knows what can fix the country when discussing the monetary system.  He must feel like Laocoön.  The big pitfall for leftists anywhere will always consist of basically not understanding anything about banking policies and money creation.  And yet, the concept of debt-free money is as old as the West.

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