Election day I knocked on doors in three parts of the city, probably with a three-to-ten fold difference in average income -- a housing project, a slightly run down part of town, and a long-gentrified part that was run down when I moved here thirty five years ago. More people in the project answered their doors; everybody who hadn't voted was planning to.
I've spent more than an afternoon's time on electoral politics for three candidates: Shirley Chisholm in 1972, Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988, and Barack Obama in 2008.
Jo Freeman reproduces a Chisholm flyer, which says in part:
WHAT HAS SHE DONE?
- Leader in fight for women's rights and minority rights
- Sponsor of Equal Rights Amendment
- Co-sponsor of legislation to create nation-wide system of day care centers
- Supports minimum annual income of $6500 for family of 4
- Supports withdrawal of American influence from SE Asia
- Has voted against all appropriations for the military, and will continue to do so "until priorities are reversed"
- Co-sponsored legislation to abolish the draft & establish volunteer army
- Opposed NO Knock Law & preventive detention
- Leader in Consumer Protection
JoAnn Wypijewski writes of Jackson's 1984 campaign:
Looking back, people with the campaigns say it was the amplification of issues, and the bolstering of ground forces driving them, that are Jackson's profoundest achievements. [Jackson's deputy campaign manager for issues Ron] Walters coordinated twenty-three issue desks in the '84 campaign. "It was like a school right in the middle of the campaign headquarters," he says. "No one else at that level was talking about environmental racism, 'no first use' of nuclear weapons; antiapartheid (remember, the ANC was a 'terrorist organization'); the Arab-Israeli situation." No other candidate had an economic policy based on major investment and cuts in the military, a program Bill Clinton would run on in 1992 (though abandon forthwith). None advocated extension of the Congressional health plan to all Americans. None regarded gay rights as inherent in a larger moral claim and not simply something to be pandered to. None twinned race and class so naturally. None had ever been black.
These are not radical positions by the standards of Europe, let alone by the standards of anarchism; and Obama is less radical still. But Chisholm, Jackson, and Obama all have called on the U.S. to move in something like the right direction; and if we have answered the call thirty-some years later than we might have, at least we have answered it.
Sleep grounds us,
Death frees us,
Life loves us,
Love lives us.