Since the Rories “manifesto” was drafted nearly a decade ago we have witnessed an incredibly long list of changes in the American political landscape. The Bush-era political scandals, abuses of power, and consolidation of control by a moneyed elite were but a few. We have seen white supremacy once again rear its head, this time in Arizona but supported elsewhere. We have a State Department urging openness abroad while at home they are trying to bring down promoters of open government who happen to be abroad. Even with a black former community organizer as president we still have twenty-five percent of the world’s prison population and only five percent of the world’s population. There’s a populist movement bent on serving the interests of money and power while doing little to support actual democracy. Detailing every issue is impossible; detailing a substantial list requires another time and place.
However, this populist movement has had substantial political impact through constant agitation and organizing and should serve as a reminder to people interested in actual democracy and the disparity of power in this country that only real political organizing can actually change anything. No amount of on-line blogging, social network posting, or tweets will result in change. Organizing is bigger than that. History is replete with examples and the literature includes, for example, the work of Staughton Lynd to name only one. Unfortunately, the movement of the moment is well-funded and well-organized and supports an agenda underwritten by those same moneyed elite that if its ideas are fully implemented would do more to divide us from each other than to actually promote prosperity.
Universal health care – the piece of legislation providing a lightning rod for this present movement – is not going to lead down a swift road to totalitarianism anymore than Medicare did (the 2010 Republican defenders of that program were its staunchest critics up until 2009). Opinion polls suggest that most Americans support most of what the health care law does and disagree only with that one requirement – mandating coverage – the very requirement necessary for the whole package to work (and one that could have been replaced by other devices). Even the staunchly right-wing Economist magazine endorsed the legislation in early 2009! “Obamacare” is, after all, a free market solution to the problem of universal coverage, just as critics on the left (ourselves included) claim. Anyway, this long preamble is a way of saying, that this flawed piece of legislation had the right idea. Promoting the general welfare, building a community that takes responsibility for its members, that’s a nice place to live! We still have a planet and other peoples to reach out to too, but anyway. . .
So here it is minus its old preamble and with one additional paragraph responding to the wisdom of this new movement. The Rories’ manifesto is as pertinent now as it was a decade ago. I still don’t know if we have it right, but I know that a commitment to the common good will be far more constructive than one devoted to pathological ideas of individualism.
We believe that this begins with supporting what is left of our labor unions and building them up to the levels they had attained two generations ago before attacks upon them diminished our national level of prosperity. We think that a balanced and sustainable approach to the environment accompanies this, for our effort means nothing without a planet to support us. And we believe that every American has the right to adequate health care in line with the rest of the industrialized world.
We believe that historical wrongs have been perpetrated against non-whites in our country and the world and that consequently white Americans, males in particular, have benefitted disproportionately from these wrongs and that therefore it is only appropriate to reward the historically oppressed with improved access to the mainstream denied them so often in the past and even now in the present.
We believe that hatred is not a family value. Amendments, propositions, and other legislation against the LGBTQIA community are expressions of contempt and hatred. We believe all people are equal in the human community and we will fight to oppose any affront against our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual comrades. We also believe that opposition to the right of a woman to choose an abortion is an assault upon women and an attempt to oppress them and contain them in continued submission to men’s desires and domination. We therefore, while respecting the rights of children to those same rights of adults, believe that the right to choose to have a child is one that belongs to a woman alone and not men or those who desire to keep her in a condition of servitude and restraint.
We believe that Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Criminal Court apply to all nations without exception and therefore that they should be adhered to by the United States and that opposition to this adherence demonstrates United States opposition to a human community and balance of global justice.
We believe that only a persistent effort to support, promote, and realize these ideas can succeed and that only direct human contact that builds that community and network will possibly succeed. Anything else is wishful thinking. Support your local radicals!
These are the core of our beliefs and we believe that they have been attacked with the intent of burying them for an agenda that masks itself as just and moral while it actually serves the interests of the rich and powerful. Therefore, we invite you to join us in rebuilding our community based on the principles outlined above. This effort requires involvement in the political process by putting forward candidates for political office who share these values and by organizing our friends and family to support these candidates. It requires building organizations, whether existing or yet to be created, that will reinforce our principles and reach out to strangers and welcome them into our community including those who now oppose us, for they too are our equals. This effort requires action in the form of political protest and dissent as these are the only tools that have ever led to lasting change in the world.
Finally, we will build this movement democratically with a keen ear for all ideas and suggestions from all our brothers and sisters. Utilizing our resources of communication via the phone, email, postal mail and, most importantly of all, direct face-to-face contact we will look beyond our cynicism and shattered hopes, reject our prejudices against the failed reform efforts of the past, and reach out to each other like compassionate and feeling people should. Together we can achieve anything and we will refuse to let our opponents divide us or demean us. We are not dreamers or deluded fanatics, as they will argue. We are realists who recognize that only through the radical strategy of opposing the continued rightward shift of this country can we realize the kind of world safe for our children and future generations.
–The Rories: Keith, Eric and Alex