Everyone Can Become a Real Progressive
By Scott Galindez
ur job is to build a movement to transform the country. Part of that mission will be organizing people who are not yet as progressive as we are. If you are someone who has always been a true believer, you are rare. Most of us evolved after decades of programming by our education system and the media.
When I was 17 years old, I was in the Army and I thought Ronald Reagan was making us strong again. It was while in college after my time in the military that I read the writings of Oscar Romero. It was my time serving the homeless at the Community for Creative Non-Violence Shelter in Washington DC, and my time at the anti-nuclear vigil in front of the White House, that radicalized me.
I saw the world through different lenses. Our job is to get people to the view the world from the same perspective we do. To do that we need to organize people, not vilify them. If student activists at Syracuse had judged my past and refused to work with me because I wasn’t as radical as they were, I might have joined the College Republicans. Instead, I ended up organizing for divestment from South Africa’s apartheid.
If the Community for Creative Non-Violence had had a litmus test, my vote for Ronald Reagan was I was 18 might have prevented me from interning with one of my mentors, Mitch Snyder. If William Thomas had only worked with people who had never been in the military, I would not have joined the anti-nuclear vigil. Each step on my path, I became more and more radical.
I was not a progressive when I was 18. But at 51, thanks to many wonderful organizers along the way, I believe I am a warrior for progressive causes.
There are times when questioning someone’s “progressiveness” and comparing progressive credentials is an important thing. Campaigns are such a time. Our job was to convince the American people that Bernie Sanders was the right choice for president. But the campaign is over, and our job now is to organize a movement that moves the country in a more progressive direction.
Instead of demonizing people who supported Hillary Clinton or even Donald Trump, our job is to convince them to support progressives in the future.
We will not build a majority without centrist Democrats supporting us. For decades many of us voted for centrist candidates because the alternative was much worse. It is time for them to return the favor. The country wants bold action, not “more of the same.”
Our job is to get Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to follow our lead and work with us to transform the party and country. Attacking them gets us nowhere – we need their support. And they need us. We see that in the way they are tripping over themselves to be seen with Bernie Sanders. They know what direction the party needs to go to survive. Our job is to lead them there.
We need the corporate Democrats to shed the shackles of Wall Street and start focusing on the needs of the people.
We need the underemployed trying to make ends meet to realize we are fighting for them.
We need the women who were inspired by Hillary Clinton’s receiving the most votes for president to support a progressive agenda.
We need the farmers fighting corporations who are using eminent domain to seize their land to realize that we have their back even if we disagree on some issues.
We are not going to agree on everything, but we need to move forward where we can. Why would anyone want to work with someone who directs hatred in their direction?
I will probably be in Iowa in 2020. I will not likely caucus for Cory Booker. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t spend the next four years supporting him when he does the right thing and encouraging him to become more progressive. We need Cory Booker and his supporters to build a majority. We need Hillary Clinton and her supporters to build a majority. Our job is to lead that majority.
Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador’s slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush’s first stolen election. Scott moved to Des Moines in 2015 to cover the Iowa Caucus.
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