No, I'm not joining the Tea Baggers... er...Tea Partiers. On the contrary, I believe that it's time for the left to get organized.
After weeks of discouraging news from Phoenix about the Arizona legislature's plans to dismantle public education, close the parks, increase taxes for the middle class, deny healthcare for thousands of poor Arizonans-- AND offer even more tax breaks for the rich, I must say I'm pretty disgusted with our state government. Arizona Legislators are pandering to the corporatists, the gun lobby, and anti-immigrant extremists while ignoring the citizens of this state -- especially our children and the poor. At the same time, Arizona's US Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain-- brought to you by big banks, big insurance, big pharma, and big guns-- are marching in lock step with the Party of No and stonewalling all progressive legislation offered by the Obama Administration.
What's a lefty to do? With lingering recession, high unemployment, deep budget cuts, and failed government (particularly at the state level), these are dark times for our country. The grass roots populists who elected America's first black president are no match for the corporatists' multi-million-dollar war chests. But as The Doors sang, "They got the guns. We got the numbers."
Three recent Tucson events have given me hope-- the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events sponsored by the local Black Chamber of Commerce and Pima County African American Democratic Caucus, the Corozon de Justicia Awards Dinner sponsored by Derechos Humanos, and the Charlie King concert sponsored by No More Deaths.
These events gave me hope because it brought me face-to-face with hundreds of local activists of all colors who are working quietly and organizing on multiple progressive issues.
Particularly inspiring was the Corozon de Justicia keynote speaker Roberto Lovato, a writer and Latino activist, who addressed a highly diverse activist audience on Friday night. In 2009, Lovato launched the successful Basta Dobbs campaign which led to the resignation of right wing commentator Lou Dobbs from CNN. This campaign is a shining example of how the masses can take on corporate America-- and win. On Sunday, KXCI's Amanda Shauger aired a very insightful interview with Lovato, whose latest projects can be found at Presente.org.
Lovato said that national boundaries are irrelevant to corporations and that there should be no national boundaries in the human rights struggle against corporatism and fascism. Ironically, Iranians protesting against their repressive government are using The Doors' anthem from the 1960s anti-war protests as a rallying cry against fascism and sexism in their country. Is it time for us to dust off the vinyl and take to the streets? The Tea Partiers are not the only ones who are disgusted.
This article originally appeared in my Progressive Examiner column.