When I walked into Laughing Horse Books and Video Collective the other day, I found member Tim Calvert in a darker than usual mood. Tims been out of sorts and with good reason since at least the Reagan administration. The Bush victory two days earlier didnt help. Tim has no doubt that Bush stole this election just as he did the last one. He sees the locks that will make up Gulag America sliding into place.
Hes not alone. A growing number of progressives are immersing themselves in the election fraud issue. Some are following Mike Ruperts ongoing conspiracy saga of drugs, dictators and board rooms. Others are adopting a more narrow focus on the election process in Ohio and a few other states where fraud may have occurred. They are becoming involved in groups like Black Box, Votergate or Action Speaks.
These issues warrant investigation. If concession speeches arent legally binding, then what happens should Ohios vote turn out to be for Kerry rather than Bush? This sort of digging has the potential of bringing down the administration or at least portions of it as occurred during Watergate. But we shouldnt lose sight of the fact that Watergate stopped Nixon but didnt stop growing corporate power. That power continued to grow under his successors, including Democrat Jimmy Carter.
Theres no question that we face great challenges in the coming years. We need a solid foundation a solid understanding from which to move forward. We wont overcome these challenges, however, if we spend all our time looking back at what has happened rather than ahead at what might be.
People do not come together just to explore all the facets of their exploitation. They do not take up a struggle to be a little less oppressed. People take action to win freedom.
We can contribute to that struggle by helping craft a compelling vision of a different world built on justice and democracy. I dont mean spending our time coming up with different versions of Utopia (from the Greek for not a place). This vision must also be tethered in real struggles something of which we have no shortage.
As youll read in the pages of this issue, Oregons economy remains in perilous shape. Those most at risk are, as expected, the lower half of our society. The typical Oregon household lost nearly $3,000 during this recession. The average annual earnings for Oregon workers slid $600 from a 2000 peak, putting workers $100 behind what they were earning in 1976. The cost of health care, housing and education is driving more Oregonians into poverty. We now have more fast cash-payday lender operations with their usurious lending rates than McDonalds restaurants in Oregon.
In the mid-1990s, Jobs with Justice advanced a sustainable economy agenda that addressed many of these issues. The states minimum wage increase was fruit of that labor. More important than the individual victories although those victories were essential to building momentum within the campaign was developing the way to talk about these specific issues within a broader framework and offering a more comprehensive solution.
This is work that goes beyond the confines of presidential terms, but doesnt exclude electoral politics. The movement we need to build must be ready to make use of all the resources at hand: local electoral politics, direct action, litigation, and so on, if we are to eventually win. By doing so, we are also building the capacity in the short term to resist the worst excesses that we all know will be coming out of the White House.
The Alliance board recently completed a two-day retreat where we spent time looking at what we needed to do over the next few years. We recognized that as alternative media we played an important role in helping cultivate and disseminate such a vision particularly beyond the usual suspects.
In the coming year we intend to significantly expand our distribution network. We will be looking to new areas where progressives and potential progressives are currently not receiving this newspaper. We are also committing to expanding our coverage, particularly around those issues that have not received the coverage they warranted in past years. Beyond the next year, we will be looking at the possibility of expanding staff, allowing us to achieve more in all areas of our operations.
Of course, this is going to take money. We have a plan for that as well. Dont worry well be sharing that with you very soon as well as asking your help. And if all goes as planned, if nothing else Tim Calvert will be enjoying a better mood in the days to come.
The Portland Alliance
2807 SE Stark Portland,OR 97214
Last Updated: February 6, 2005