The Work for the Common Good
There is much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. We have come through a threshold moment that changes everything. With the election of Barack Obama, we have regained the respect of the world (at least for the moment), regained a sense of unity of purpose, regained our sense of self-respect. And for the first time, a majority of us are saying that our nation is one that includes all citizens, regardless of skin color.
Now, in spite of the terrible challenges we face, everything seems possible.
So here's the question. Will we now go back into our separate groups to battle for our separate agendas? Will we have a tug-of-war over the Obama administration agenda?
Here's another idea. How about if we keep the spirit of the Obama campaign alive by making a commitment to press for the common good. Instead of asking if the new administration will serve my agenda, how about if we ask what actions will serve all Americans, or better yet -- now that we are an interconnected world -- all people and all life?
I don't believe it is overstating it to say we are facing the biggest crises in our nation's history. NASA climate scientist Jim Hansen, Al Gore, and others tell us we have very little time to turn around the climate crisis. People are losing their homes and jobs; their health care and even their lives. The conflicts in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa continue to kill and maim.
These are crises that we need to confront together.
We have reason to believe the Obama administration is going to have the freedom to set policies based on the common good. He has shown his commitment to remaining free of the overpowering influence of big money and corporate lobbyists by limiting their role in his campaign. And he has the community organizer instincts to build on the grassroots mobilization and financial support that got him elected. He carries an enormous mandate from "we the people," especially from young people, people of color, the middle class and poor. And many members of Congress know they owe their election successes to his coattails.
We can't afford to sit back and wait for an Obama administration to solve all the world's problems. He's the first to say we all need to be involved. But we can make the chances of success much higher if we pledge to work not only for our particular interest but for all people and all life. And it will be critically important that we continue to build independent social movements that have their own capacity to act, apart from the Obama administration.