‘Pick Up Your Rock’

24 06 2022

Almost 40 years ago Jesse Jackson made a speech detailing part of the reason Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980 — “the fracture of our coalition” and “the margin of despair.” Jackson was registering voters and running for the presidential nomination when he made this speech, so he focussed on votes-that-never-were: “rocks, just laying around.” The genius of the 1984 and 1988 Rainbow Coalition, though, was that it considered every fight of any one part of the coalition to be a fight that implicated every other part. Central was the recognition of social movement constituencies and a coherent electoral strategy. Today’s Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs case was 50 years in the making, the product of right-wing social movement organizing, agitating, electioneering, vying for office at every level, legislating, gerrymandering, court-stuffing, propagandizing, protesting and lawbreaking. As the decision makes clear, banning abortion is not the right’s only goal. It never was. Just as its electoral strategy was never its only one. This is a raw day. We remember the ‘Little David’ part of Jackson’s speech as a clarion against despair.

This year’s political camp for journalists, activists and other media makers, from July 17 through 24, will address the theme Social Movements and Electoral Politics, a Critical Relationship. The struggle for reproductive freedom as everyone’s struggle will be a vital part of our discussions.



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