Today, tens of thousands of right-wing tea bag supporters marched on Washington. From the images I saw on the internet, there were well over 100,000 (it turned out that the images I saw on the internet were forged. They were of a previous demonstration and the tea-bag demo had far few people). While we on the left debate whether demonstrations do or don't work, the right-wing is mobilizing and is out on the streets like I have never seen them do before in my lifetime. These mobilizations have had a big effect. They have moved the healthcare debate to the right and taken the momentum that the left felt with the ending of the Bush administration and the election of a Black president and turned it into a right-wing momentum against any progressive change.
One of the key differences between a right-wing government and a fascist movement is that a fascist movement gets people mobilized in the streets. When they get strong enough, they break up union meetings and physically attack their political opponents. I characterize the right-wing mobilizations that we have seen as an incipient fascist movement. It is clear to me that there are people, such as the talk show hosts, who are trying to build such a movement. This is both a huge threat and a big challenge to the left. During this period of history, I believe we are the ones who will literally make the decision of whether or not humankind is going to make it. The only way we'll survive is if we can stop the ravages of war, build a peaceful world without nuclear weapons, put the brakes on global warming and the end the depletion of our natural resources.
These right-wingers are motivated in part by the realities of our times. The lives of working people are getting worse and worse as healthcare becomes less affordable, people are losing their jobs due to corporate greed, and the living standard of the vast majority of the working class continues its downward slide. In this rampantly racist country, we've elected a black president, signaling to the right wing that they are losing what blacks are gaining. Besides the blacks, they scapegoat immigrants and Muslims, whom they blame for their misery. It is this anger that is moving them into the streets.
The left should always be able to out-mobilize the right even though we don’t have corporate wealth and the media behind us like they do. This is because our issues of peace and justice speak to the real needs of people and to viable solutions to our collective problems. It's also because our movement is inclusive of everyone--young or old, black or white, gay or straight, Christian, Muslim, or atheist.
I urge people to get out in the streets. Join your local peace vigil; come to the events sponsored by our progressive organizations; join the picket line of the hotel workers at the Holiday Inn Express in Latham as they fight to form a union. I urge you to join in our local anti-war protest on October 17, which will coincide with similar rallies throughout the country (see www.nepajac.org). The right is taking our tactic of mass mobilization and using it their advantage. Let's not let that happen.