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Progressive Network to Bush: All Politics is Local January 18, 2007

Posted by publicpolitics in Resistance, War Policy.
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As state legislators grow increasingly opposed to an Iraq war that is stretching and weakening the National Guard and draining desperately needed funds at home, activists and legislators are launching a 50-state legislative response to stop President Bush’s Iraq escalation plan.

Katrina Vanden Heuval. The Nation (1-16-07)

One of the reasons for the nearly complete route of progressive thinking in the era of Bush II and before is that conservatives and neocons have been much better organized at the state and local level. Those opposed to current U.S policies have been slow to realize this, partly out of apathy and partly from a deep seated and wrong belief that some issues and candidates are not worth promoting in some places because they are bound to lose. I

If Irving Krystal and others on the neocon right had believed the same, instead of toiling away in their formerly obscure journals for the better part of three decades, their political representatives would never have come to power. The liberal opposition had finally made a belated but sorely needed start toward the rightful appropriation of some-not all, but some- of the organizational genius that has for a long time now, been almost the exclusive intellectual and organizational property of the right. Today, several organizations are joining together with the specific purpose of increasing the role of progressive state legislatures in countering Bush, and in encouraging those legislators to use their popular support to comment on national issues.

Not surprisingly, the first rallying point will be a concert of opposition to Bush’s Iraq escalation, and will argue the very good point that removing the restrictions on National Guard units will have a direct and detrimental effect on the availability of trained and dedicated citizens to respond to crises in their own regions, and that citizens will become increasingly wary of enrolling in a Guard where the terms of service can change almost overnight, not in response to a passing crisis, but as a stopgap for failed national policies. will create personnel problems for the National Guard in the long run by discouraging enlistment and reenlistment.And that will decrease our ability to respond to events both nationally and internationally. T

State and local governments can have a dramatic effect on world politics, as Matt Singer of the Progressive States Network claims. Citing the examplesof apartheid and more recently of Darfur, Singer believes that the states and locales can change the national debate on Iraq as well, but only with active citizen participation in bringing the campaign to change our policies to the counties, cities, and states where we all live.The emphasis on local and state governments is not entirely new, as the numbers of extant organizations now collaborating in the venture illustrates. But the left appears to have tapped a creative genius for exerting influence and using connections, and the power of this broadly collaborative spirit has yet to be tested. The best part of this effort is that it will allow volunteers to do something of national and perhaps world significance by asserting themselves in the not so distant state and municipal regions, and to advocate causes to people whose jobs are dependent on , among other things, the good will and trust of those volunteers. The legislators have a vested interest in listening to strong local voter lobby. truly, “all politics is local.” Karl Rove and company stole the spirit of that sentiment and took it to his organizational heart. It is time for the rest of us to reclaim it (minus the skullduggery of Rove and the gerrymandering of Delay) and use it to build organizations equally powerful, with better ideas.

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