Needless to say, the Bush year’s have been difficult years for progressives. Reality’s "well know liberal bias" hasn’t been enough to keep pace with Team-W’s lies, misrepresentations, and manipulations. And we haven’t resorted to torture, or to tapping phone lines (Talking Head’s prescient "Life During Wartime" plays through my head as I type that phrase: "We’re tapping phone lines/ You know that that ain’t allowed.") We’ve had to deal with Bush’s imperial reach.

Fortunately (sort of) and not surprisingly, Bush’s imperial reach has developed into imperial over-reach to the extent that all but the most "blinded by the right" Bushies are coming to see the arrogance, deceitfulness, wrongheadedness, and just plain wrongness that characterize Bush governing. But that hardly means our difficult times are over—or that our difficult times will end on their own. And, at the rate Bush is screwing things up, we can’t allow ourselves to wait until the calendar says the bum’s got to leave the White House.

I realize that FreePress readers are already on this page. My purpose in writing it is to ground a discussion of what to do next. I know that there are many people out there who have long been doing what’s next—and I honor their efforts. I am writing here because I think I have something to add—or rather, I have some Saul Alinsky to add.

In his _ Rules for Radicals_, Alinsky argues for activists organizing for the purpose of expanding organizational power. In this view, winning is important not so much for what is won as for how what is won attracts resources to an organizations further efforts. In my reading, Alinsky’s argument makes sense in conjunction with another of his maxims: Battles big enough to be worth fighting, small enough to win. (my rendering) The more resources an organization’s winning draws to it, the larger the battles an organization can realistically hope to win.

I mention this because emphasizing organization building can argue for making different decisions about what to do next, and how to go about doing it than emphasizing substantive priorities. More importantly, emphasizing organization building can help organizers from historically different groups to identify boundary-spanning themes which could allow two or more groups to comfortably align their efforts, increasing both the power available for subsequent effort and the now-joined organization’s understanding of the problem they are organizing to challenge,

And I mention all that because I want to urge progressives of all stripes to find ways to align themselves with Live Earth and Sicko. We can’t afford to allow the high-level and highly visible momentum these two events have generated to dissipate. We must find ways to, together, bring into alignment as many of our well-justified, but also sectarian, balkanizing and so (in this view), self-limiting organizing efforts as our commitments to both our own group’s goals and the general welfare of the planet allow us.

Fortunately, both Al Gore and Michael Moore have given us a couple themes to start with. Both mentioned "we". What a concept! Substituting "we" for Reagan’s "me" (as in "are you better off now", personally? Ahhh, it feels like a revolution! Ya say you want one? As Christopher Hayes wrote in _The Nation_ (July 16/23, 2007, page 12):

"But ‘Sicko’ is more than a potent weapon in the battle for single-payer, because in a deeper sense, the movie isn’t really about healthcare. At its best, it uses healthcare as a kind of gateway drug to much harder stuff: a robust social democratic vision… It’s the extension of the logic of democracy into provision of public goods that provides the philosophical justification for socialized medicine."

Hayes then brings focus to this line of argument by quoting the British Laborite, Tony Benn: "The principle is solidarity." Benn’s solidarity—we, not me—is a difficult challenge even without capitalists and other reactionaries fighting with Bush-like methods every step of the way. At the same time, solidarity represents the ultimate in Alinsky-inspired organizing, maximizing the size of battles small enough to win.

Gore also referred to the fight against purveyors of climate change as being moral, not political. And even though I don’t recall Moore’s saying "moral" (he may have said it), his argument surely is moral. How are we to act? What world are we to work toward? What must we NOT do? These questions are inherently moral. They can’t be addressed with spread sheets, nor answered by reference to—all knees bend—a bottom line. They can’t be sloughed off to purportedly holier than thou clergy, far too many of whom wrap their hypocrisy in swaddling righteousness, and most of whom will only work in solidarity with people who think as they do.

What could be more moral than averting a planetary disaster? What could be more moral than making sure sick people get cared for? How can people claim to be moral when they stop worrying about people as soon as they are born? Don’t these people read their own "Beatitudes"? Does hypocrisy have no shame?

Wait a minute! My purpose is not to rant at people who have (mal)appropriated morality. Rather, I have been trying to argue for our appropriating it back! Perhaps—inspired by Alinsky’s rules and Hayes’ insights, and motivated by the momentum Gore, Moore, and companies have generated—we could consider organizing around such themes as these: "The New Moral Majority—Really", or "Family Values as if People and the Planet Mattered", or "Earth Family Values". And one last thing: I’m not asking for any group to take a back seat in the march toward social justice or planetary health; I’m asking us to think BIG enough, deeply enough to come up with approaches that subsume the full spectrum of progressive goals. It’s a tall order, but one I believe we must figure out a way to meet.