Muhammad Ali and Freedom Road

I came this close to buying a ticket to Chicago today for the People’s Summit next week, but the I Ching said “It does not further one to go anywhere.” Only half kidding. Plus I’ve been facing health issues which stress won’t help. Why did I want go so much?
Our movement is in a crucial phase, as it always is. Perhaps Democracy for America is a good model for how to turn Bernie’s campaign into an ongoing movement. DFA came out of Howard Dean’s campaign in 2004. It’s a testament to the democracy of that organization that Dean came out for Hillary early in the game and his brother Jim still heads it, DFA came out strongly for Bernie and remain an integral part of the movement. Something like this should come out of the People’s Summit. Something which effectively merges many of the sponsoring organizations, including DFA and MoveOn, the latter of which is conspicuously missing from the sponsor list.
The election is behind us. The media circus has the momentum now. We do need to drop out of the damn horse race, which is mostly an entertaining diversion from actually dealing with reality. Indeed, the elections are a reality show, which tells you why Trump is doing so well. One of the great things about this primary season is that the electoral system was exposed, the emperor wore no clothes. 
Democracy in the USA has always been, from slavery times on, a cruel joke.
Last night, in honor of the Greatest, we watched a movie called “Freedom Road” (1979), starring Muhammed Ali, as far as I know his only movie.’s the story of the bloody aftermath of another hotly contested presidential election, in 1876. Democracy was for a brief period flourishing in the former slaveholding South. During Reconstruction, Union soldiers protected the revolution. Black farmers and teachers were being elected to Congress, to state assemblies, to local offices. They were even teaming up with white farmers to buy the foreclosed plantations, land deals federally monitored. Then we had a close election. The Democrat Tilden won the popular vote but neither he nor Republican Hayes had a majority of Electoral College votes. they made a deal: the remaining three Southern states would throw their support to Hayes in exchange for his withdrawing federal troops from the former Confederacy. Ali’s movie shows how Black and virulently racist white farmers worked together and engaged in serious armed resistance to the klan and its allies as they viciously reclaimed their supremacy. Needless to say, the ending isn’t pretty.
The parallel with the current election is that Trump would “withdraw the troops from the former Confederacy” by unleashing the organized white supremacist movement that supports him. They are likely to aid in his election by standing as armed guards at polling places, intimidating non-Trump voters. If he actually got elected (and, he could, he could), his “militia” supporters, including the police, would hold target practice at the border, at mosques, and at Black Lives Matter rallies. Trump will deplore their violence and pay their legal fees. The question isn’t who to vote for anymore. The question is who will stand up to the surge of racism that is sweeping the globe.
Bernie has built a beautiful movement. What I hope will come out of the Summit next week is the foundation of a national organization, led by the Black and other people of color movements. Its goal should be to rigorously advocate for Bernie’s four “justices” – economic, racial, social, environmental – but also to keep the country out of war and to take over the Democratic Party, the largest organization of any kind in the country. In retrospect, it is obvious that this was Bernie’s primary objective all along.  

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