The Shalom Report
Mazeltov, America!

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow / The Rag Blog / November 9, 2012

I feel enormous relief at Mr. Romney’s defeat but only moderate pleasure in Mr. Obama’s victory. I worry that with a right-wing House and his own predilection for preemptive surrender to the Bigs, our deepest needs (I think the First Five are: jobs, climate, immigration, infrastructure, a war-preventing new approach to the whole Middle East) will not be addressed.

Not once during this campaign did Mr. Obama lay out a clear agenda for Term 2 and say that a Democratic HoR was crucial to moving forward.

The only euphoria I felt as the night unfolded was Elizabeth Warren’s winning. My thought was, “Fighting Bob LaFollette is back in the US Senate!!” (He was the anti-corporate Wisconsin senator who energized the Progressive movement and who died in 1925. It’s at last a fitting tribute to the 19th Amendment, that Fighting Bob comes back as a woman!) 

Now we have the beginnings of a coherent progressive caucus in the Senate — a lot of them women: Warren, Baldwin, McCaskill, Hirono.

But MUCH more important, we may have the beginnings of a progressive movement in the country. The referendum victories for gay marriage and legal marijuana came from grassroots movements, not top-down reform. No longer waiting for messiah, in or out of the White House. Dayenu, Yes! That is, we celebrate the victories we’ve won, take a deep breath, and now WE take the next steps.

We need a much broader, and especially deeper change than anything possible the next two or four years, but we can put the agenda forward and win some specifics while continuing to build a movement.

The full agenda includes: Healing the Earth, getting Big Money out of politics, dissolving corporate domination, rebuilding the labor movement, reenergizing the Black and Brown communities, ending mass incarceration, creating millions of jobs, stepping back from a militarized society, transforming “foreign” policy, ending Islamophobia, fulfilling the freedom of women, exploring toward a feminist society, securing freedom for GLBTQ folk, reawakening prophetic vision in the religious communities.

To sum up: Another great step forward, like the four or five great steps that have come before in our history, toward democracy in America. In the world — human and more-than-human — crucial steps moving toward, not away from, the Beloved Community. Hope is not an emotion — it’s an action. Welcome to a movement — that is, people in motion. The arc DOES bend toward justice — IF we bend it!

Specific items to focus on, for the months before the new Congress and renewed President take office:

In the scheduled lame-duck Congress, preventing cuts in Social Security and Medicare. In the new Senate, abolishing the filibuster. I will write more about that shortly, because to get anything at all done, the 60-vote rule has to go. If it does, the president and Senate can put the House’s right-wing feet to the fire. If it doesn’t, loss after loss after loss while the world and the country burn.

This is one that has to come from popular demand, even though it seems like very inside baseball.

Shalom, salaam, paz, peace!

[Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Ph. D., founded and directs The Shalom Center, a prophetic voice in Jewish, multireligious, and American life that brings Jewish and other spiritual thought and practice to bear on seeking peace, pursuing justice, healing the earth, and celebrating community. Read more articles by Rabbi Arthur Waskow on The Rag Blog.]
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