Van Jones gave an incredible speech at Netroots Nation. I wanna vote for this guy for something. He said many things that made a lot of sense to me. Watch the video.
One was, reelect Obama, then hold him accountable. You can’t elect a president, then say “Mission accomplished!” and go home. That was the fundamental error of 2008. You have to stay active and committed and push the guy to do the right thing. It reminds me of what Saul Alinsky said:
It is not enough just to elect your candidates. You must keep the pressure on. Radicals should keep in mind Franklin D. Roosevelt's response to a reform delegation, “Okay, you've convinced me. Now go on out and bring pressure on me!” Action comes from keeping the heat on. No politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough.
The same lessons apply to unions. Support your union. Make it stronger. Then hold it accountable. You can’t declare victory and leave. The pressure has to be applied continuously. Unions built the middle class. Everything Jones says about Obama applies to unions.
Let’s take it down another order of magnitude. Our local just reached tentative agreement with the school district. We have controversial provisions. Yes, you can get pissed off and walk away. But Jones’ message resonates even here: ratify, then administer. If you ratify, then go home for four years, you deserve what you get.
Organizing and activism are a pain in the butt. Too bad. That’s the price we pay for democracy.