Thanks, Hope, and the Future

Submitted by Bill Crosier on November 5, 2008 - 11:24pm. ::

In this message:
1. Thanks
2. Hope
3. The Future, What We Can Do
4. Summary

1. Thanks

First, I want to thank all of you who helped make phone calls, do literature drops, canvas voters, distribute/put up signs, donate money, and do all the other work that isn't glamorous but which contributed to the election victories in this historic election.

You helped bring this country back from the abyss, and we now have a chance to help not just the people of the US but of our planet.

After Jan. 20, we won't have to feel so ashamed to be part of the same country as the inhabitants of the White House. And the rest of the world has already let out a sigh of relief.

Thanks to those of you who helped propel some of our heroes to victory. My favorite, as most of you know, is Dennis Kucinich, who won in his Ohio district with 57% of the vote on Tuesday, after battling business-supported challengers in both the primary and the general election. See his web site at for photos and stories.

While I doubt if any of us expected Obama to carry Texas, I know some of you joined me in calling voters in Virginia and other states to remind them to vote. And many of us also worked to get out the vote here for all the down-ballot Dems who have been mostly ignored by the mainstream media. Thanks to you, the Republican majority in the Texas House is significantly smaller, and the Dems got bigger majorities in Congress. Perhaps more significant in Harris Co. is that we elected many Dems who will help us get a start on restoring democracy here.

2. Hope

Tuesday night, in his acceptance speech, Obama alluded to Martin Luther King's famous "Mountain top" speech, when he said:
"The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there."

But he also said last night "this victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change."

This is what gives me hope about Barack Obama. I do think he's serious about this.

Another reason I'm hopeful is the excitement, hope, and wonder that I heard in the voice of a good friend of our family, who's in her mid-twenties and now living in Chicago, when she called today to tell me and Cheryl how wonderful it was to be at Obama's victory speech/celebration Tuesday night. She'd never experienced anything like it, and I know millions of other people hadn't, either.

I don't think he wants to let down all those supporters who gave him this hard-earned victory.

And still one more reason is expressed in the personal story by Boyd Reed that touched me the most on election day, about how this election is really about our children, and their children:
Get out your handkerchiefs for that one.

Barack Obama is not perfect by any means, but I feel better about him than I have for any person who's been elected president since I first got into politics. Don't you?

His campaign was all about hope and change. Hope is something we all need much more of. Remember Kucinich's 2004 campaign theme? It was "Hope, not Fear" -- exactly what Obama has been doing. While I wish Obama had given us more specifics (even a quarter of Kucinich's detailed proposals would have been nice), he did what linguistics/framing experts like George Lakoff and Jeffrey Feldman have been saying for several years. They've told us that for progressives to win, we need to talk less about policy and issues, and more about values. Many of us love to talk about policy and issue specifics, and wish Obama had done more of this, too. But Obama did exactly what Lakoff and Feldman have been advising, and it worked. It helped him connect with voters of all ages, and inspire so many young people to get involved in his campaign. He gave us a vision, and filled us with hope. Remember Lakoff's book "Don't Think of an Elephant"? That's what I mean.

Obama hasn't told us how he'll get out us of Iraq, or how we'll all get affordable and adequate health care, or how he'll make college affordable for every student who wants to go. And the little he's said about Israel makes me very suspicious about what he'll do to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All this has bothered me, and I know it's bothered many of you, too. But just because he didn't give us the specifics doesn't mean he'll do what's wrong. Let's give him a chance, and let that hope propel us to what we, our country, and the world needs so desperately now.

With the economy in the toilet thanks to years of Bush/Cheney/neocon policies, it may be hard for a while to get much attention to issues other than our economic mess. But many of the issues that we care about do relate strongly to this. With an adult in charge in the White House, I'm hopeful that economic reasons alone may be enough to convince many skeptics that we have to get out of Iraq as soon as possible. And with economic woes causing so much suffering, we need to make sure everyone gets the health care they need, even if they've lost their job or can't pay their bills. And a jobs program focused on energy conservation/independence, and on alternative/sustainable energy, will help our economy while helping to solve one of the biggest problems our planet has -- climate change. Polls have been showing large majorities of US citizens wanting us to fix these problems, and I think that we have elected a president who actually cares about this.

I still don't know how serious Obama is on some of these issues, though, nor how much he'll be willing to buck the corporate lobbyists who control so many of the Republicans and Democrats in Congress. But I hope that with stronger Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, with encouragement from the thousands of activists who helped him in his campaign for change, and with fear of disappointing all those activists come re-election time, that both our new president and Congress will be willing to work towards real change -- if we don't sit on our behinds and let them go back to business as usual.

3. The Future, and What We Can Do

Get some rest. You need it and deserve it. It's been a difficult 8 years and it's time to take a break from activism (for a short while).

We can all breathe easier knowing that -- even with widespread voter disenfranchisement, with malfunctioning equipment, with a mainstream press that continues to perpetuate the "war on terror" frame, with misinformation about voting and registration, and with an unknown number of hacked Republican-controlled election machines -- the people of the US voted in record numbers to give a clear mandate that they want change, and that Obama's vision is a lot closer to what they want than McCain's.

We didn't win everything we want. I'm really suspicious of the person that Obama has asked to be his chief of staff (Rahm Emanuel), even though we need to remember that with W out of office, the President (not his chief of staff or other advisors) sets policy.

We can be sure that Fox News and their friends in the misinformation business will continue to keep the lies and fear flowing, and will blame the Obama administration for every real and perceived or invented problem that the neocons can think of. We need independent media now as much as ever, and we need to work to keep it strong and growing, and to help more people find it.

I also hope Barack Obama will read and take to heart some of the concerns that Ralph Nader wrote about in an open letter to Obama on the election eve:

Although we won some electoral victories in Harris Co. and in Texas, the person leading in the District Attorney race (still too close to call) seems intent on supporting the growing prison-industrial complex and the state death machine at all costs. And we re-elected a voter registrar who sees his job as keeping as many people from voting as possible.

It's going to take all of us, and many of those new activists who helped push Obama into the White House, to put the pressure on Congress (and on Obama) for action on the issues we care so deeply about. I suggest we focus our efforts on some of the most critical ones that can help prevent us from having another Bush era, including:

  • election reform:
    • verifiable voting (hand-counted paper ballots, even if they are also scanned by machine)

    • campaign finance reform
    • repeal the Keep America from Voting Act (Help America Vote Act)
  • restoring the Fairness Doctrine, to keep Fox News, et al in check
  • stepping up our support of independent media -- Pacifica, progressive web sites/blogs
  • helping rather than attacking our environment and climate
  • getting out of the Middle East
  • providing single-payer universal health care
  • instituting a cabinet-level US Dept. of Peace

There are a lot of other issues I really care about, too, including all the ones listed on the PAA web site at But even the above list may be too long for us if we spread out our efforts too much. I like to encourage people to work on one or two issues that they personally care the most about, and we may continue to do that. I'd like to hear from the rest of you about this.

Some of the issues above haven't received much attention lately, but may be critical for success and progress in the long term. With the war criminals out of the White House, we can and should spend more effort on strategic planning (although war crime trials are appropriate, too). The Republican think tanks did this starting with the Reagan administration, and remember what their strategic thinking gave us -- abolishing the Fairness Doctrine gave us Fox News, the New American Century gave us endless fear and war, "modernizing" our election systems and preventing "election fraud" gave us voting machines controlled by Republican CEO's who pledged to deliver the votes for them, and tort "reform" gave us corporations that can kill and injure consumers and the environment with only a slap on the wrist to worry about.

That's why, for long term progress, I think it's critical that we push our elected reps for action on all of the above issues, but also do some strategic planning for the future.

In the fall of 2004, when we started the Progressive Action Alliance to help us keep pushing for action on the issues of Dennis Kucinich's campaign, we did some strategizing and realized that one thing that was needed, and a niche we might be qualified to help with, was to help form alliances between various progressive groups. There are many of them in the Houston area alone (I remember we stopped when we got to 100 of them when making a list in one meeting), and lots more across Texas. Many are doing great work, but most are disconnected from each other. We decided that to make progress we need to support each other more, and help groups to find allies, even if they're working on different kinds of issues. The Republicans don't have to divide us to conquer us if we're all working on 100 different issues without helping each other out. We may not have done as much alliance building as we could have, and that's something I'd like to discuss with you to see what you think.

At the November 13 PAA meeting (remember, second Thursday of each month), I'd like us to spend much of the meeting on this sort of planning. It's likely to take more than one meeting, but as we did four years ago, we need to evaluate what we're doing, what we want, and how to get there. Let's start that at our next meeting. (Update: This will be continued at a second planning meeting, with a potluck dinner, on Nov. 30. Details are at -- hope you can come.)

Of course, check our web site regularly for information about upcoming events. Our web site changes often as new events are posted.

I welcome discussion on all this. If you have comments, feel free to post them on the PAA discussion list. If you aren't subscribed to it, you can do so (and remove yourself at any time) by going to


Thanks again.

I have hope.

Get some rest, and recharge your batteries.

I'm looking forward to continue working with all of you in the future. You are a great bunch of people. There is much to be done, but now we have a chance to make real progress, if we stick together and help push for real change.

I do believe that Yes, We Can!

And it's OK to feel happy and CELEBRATE!