I was in Berlin for the election, and was on a plane all day yesterday, so I am catching up on the spin and punditry. Having removed the knee that was figuratively inserted in my groin, having briefly debated seeking asylum in Europe, and having decided to root against all Cincinnati sports teams forever, I have calmed down and now am only deeply saddened and a bit numb.
But, inspired by Dorian's search for optimism, here are some initial ideas that might be worth thinking about.
1. Mobilize to make sure that Ashcroft does not return. I don't think this needs much explanation, but the Economist--not a magazine noted for its liberal bias--in its endorsement of Kerry emphasized Guantanamo as the singular turning point in the U.S.' fall from liberal ideals. I also suggest this because it is not unrealistic to think that he could be defeated. He has played a role in voter disenfranchisement, Republican gerrymandering, the mass denial of civil liberties, the equally massive limits placed on human rights law, and the advancement of religion into secular society. His removal would be a good start.
2. Mobilize with labor unions to seek an alternative to the National Labor Relations Board and to more broadly promote workplace rights. This has been percolating for a while and unions may speed up their desire to go this way (Dorian may want to say more on this). The Board, with more Bush appointments, as well as courts generally, are not going to be receptive places for unions to seek rights, both strike related and for collective action. But conservative political institutions may provide an opportunity for unions to mobilize all of those who are left out. As courts and politicians no longer provide work place rights, labor unions will be uniquely situated to be a galvanizing force on these issues.
3. Through human rights organizations, environmental organizations, and labor organizations, we need to continue to form international coalitions that can create institutions and rules which will, in the short run promote reform world-wide and, in the long-run, set up a framework that the U.S. can join when it realizes it isn't an island. International governance is the future of the 21 century--yes Steve, again a bold proclamation on the history of america ;)-- as Europe's signing of its first constitution last week indicates (an incredibly dramatic and significant event for anyone who has put it in historical context). For those of us saddened by the minority status of progressive movements in the US, majorities are available if we look outside our borders. We need to continue to strengthen these international organizations and the great thing is that we can do this without Bush and the Republicans and Fox pundits can scoff all they want. Someday, when the US either wants to or has to participate in these international bodies, we will have helped put the major features of this new world in place. When social and economic reform looks particularly here, lets go find all the other 'blue states' outside of our borders.