Now That The Election is Over…

I wake this morning with a profound sense of gratitude.  The election is finally over, and Obama has won a second term.  As well, although there were some big disappointments in the night, and some key things still in doubt, many good things happened.  Elizabeth Warren won a Massachusetts Senate seat, giving us a strong progressive voice in the Senate.  Gay marriage won in at least two states, and it was a great night for marijuana, and not just for what you had to smoke to get through the evening!  Now you could do that legally in Colorado and Washington state!

What does an Obama victory mean for progressives, greens, anarchists and radicals far, far to his left?  To those folks who couldn’t morally bring themselves to vote for Obama, or possibly even to vote at all?  Who grew furious at me for urging people to get to the polls and admitting that I voted for him?

I say it’s a good thing.  No, Obama won’t enact the policies we want.  For one thing, he’s not an absolute monarch and he still has to contend with a Republican Congress.  For another, even though he won’t run again in four years, some other Democrat will and they will still need big bucks to do it.  Complaining that politicians are tools of the corporations is like complaining that your sheep have wool.  Unless we change this system, that’s the nature of the beast.

So how do we do that?  We organize and agitate.  We don’t sit back, like many did four years ago, and expect the system to change itself.

But organizing after an Obama victory is like bicycling with the wind at your back, instead of peddling into a stiff head wind.  I’ve lived and organized through the victories of Nixon, Reagan, Bush and Bush, and believe me, this is better!

And we have a lot of organizing to do.  Last year, Occupy Wall Street galvanized the country and put the issue of economic inequality front and center.  Had that not happened, we might have seen an election where all the debates centered on how best to reduce the deficit and what more services we could cut.  Let’s give three big cheers for Occupy Wall Street—who right now are valiantly doing relief work in parts of New York City hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy.  Read about their efforts here:  http://www.alternet.org/occupy-wall-street/how-occupy-sandys-relief-machine-stepped-post-superstorm-void?paging=off

Now we need to focus a similar spotlight of attention on climate change, the most crucial and least-addressed challenge of our times.  Never again can we have presidential debates that don’t even mention the issue, where the candidates outdo each other to prove how much coal and oil production they can take credit for.  Obama has done some good things on the issue, notably pushing the auto industry to adopt more fuel efficiency standards and allowing the EPA to regulate carbon.  He could and must take much bolder leadership on moving us onto a new path.  He won’t do that in a political climate where a Romney can credibly utter the phrase ‘green energy’ as if it were a dirty word.

We need to push much, much harder, to make it not only politically feasible but vital for him and others to stand up against the biggest of big money issues.  350.org has been doing stellar work, but they need far more support and we need a wide spectrum of efforts that will make it impossible for politicians to dodge the issue.  And we need a clear grasp of the solutions—which do exist!  Here it is in a sentence:  conservation, efficiency, a shift to safe renewables, relocalization, and carbon sequestration in healthy, organic soil the way nature has done it for hundreds of millions of years with a device called ‘plants’.  I’ll say more about this in some future post, but for now, know that the spectrum of solutions to climate change are also solutions to our economic, social and health woes.  They involve three c’s:  community, connection, and compost—all things which will make our lives better in many, many ways!

There are other key issues we need to push Obama and all the politicians on.  Economic equality should remain high on our list.  Obama has supported egregious assaults on civil liberties, and all of you who complain about that are quite right.  And peace—we’ve got to press him to get us out of our endless wars, stop his program of assassination and to bench the drones that kill children and civilians.  There’s a lot to do!  Check out Juan Cole’s wish list:

http://rsnorg.org/opinion2/277-75/14409-top-ten-wish-list-for-president-obama.

So, for those of you who see Obama as just the cuter, browner face of corporate control, here’s my advice.  First, drop the bile, if you can.  It’s not attractive, it doesn’t win over those in the confused center who vote against their own interests, and it’s bad for your brain chemistry.  Can we make civility the new vitriol, please?

Then take that churning, burning, bottled-up energy and do something with it.  Decide what you’re most angry and bitter about, and work on the issue.  Join a group or start one.  Write letters to the editor or sit in trees—just earn every hour of complaining with an equal hour of organizing.

And look around at the next meeting of your ideologically pure affinity group.  If it doesn’t look as diverse as the crowd celebrating Obama’s victory last night, start asking why, and how you might respectfully build a broader, if less pure, coalition.  What are the priorities of the communities of color, of immigrants, of the economically marginalized and politically disenfranchised in your area, and how might you offer service?

Okay, first take the day off.  Maybe the week.  We all need a bit of a break, here.  But don’t take the month or the year or the next four years off.  Elections are the smallest part of what we need to do to change the world.  The real work is up to us.

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22 Comments

  1. Robin Landseadel
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    So what am I going to do with all this bile I’ve stockpiled?

    I keed, I keed. This is better than anything.° I’m thrilled that 30 passed and 38 failed [you shoulda mentioned that one, but I forgive you, used your crib sheet on propositions otherwise.] I think 37 failed because the scientific community supplied rational arguments opposing the law, based on the proponents overstatement of the potential threat*. If the Goddess is in everything them we must hope that her presence is immanent in the scientists who develop genetically modified entities. I hope those scientists are guided by Sophia. Personally, I may have been focusing a bit too much on Kali lately, but eight great paintings came of it so I refuse to apologize for that. In any case, Kali always serves as a useful reminder that we’re all on the clock : )

    Meanwhile, how about that Washington and Colorado, eh? I love it for no other reason than the DEA will have to spread their resources thinner in their un-winnable war against people who use drugs. With all those drug busts, this is going to become a great big issue of cost overruns and fiscally unsupportable prison populations. I hope for the downfall of the DEA and they can take the CIA with them when they go. The two biggest drug dealers in the world, only nobody sees it. At least that’s the way it used to be. Now it’s become mainstream. FREE HEMP! Get off of the pulp from trees, get back to hemp paper, hemp fabric. Hemp seed too for all its useful nutritional factors, like plenty of Omega 3′s. And last but not least, we get to use the least toxic, most medically useful substance on the planet. Legally. Or get high on same. Why do you think they call it ANANDAmide anyway?

    Nuff’ said.

    *Of course the corporate interests that opposed 37 beat us with a club on the subject. But the issue will come back. Meanwhile, let’s let everyone know who’s got the frankenfoods and keep telling people till they get the point. I think it’s a simple issue of truth in advertising/marketing.

    ° ‘cept falling in love. Oh yeah, and Hurray to more Legal Gay Marriage too.

  2. Liz Hamilton
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Starhawk, such beautiful words from such a beautiful soul!!!

  3. David Larson
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I love your thoughts, very nicely put. I love the enthusiasm. Right away you show signs of a person meant to lead. Perhaps as I read more about you and from you I may even allow you to lead me.

    I however worry about the cause. Though I find it well worth a fight and find your points valid, dare I say, Democrats and the left wing are traditionally lazy in political good times. Obama just got re-elected, already I sense a sigh of relief from the left. Complacency will soon follow.

    Unlike democrats, the right wing is relentless. They will not let any issue go, no matter how small. A prime example is Roe. V. Wade. How long ago was the ruling? Yet today they still hammer to have it their way, like they think this country is Burger King or something (forgive my attempt at humor).

    In the end, democrats are done for now. We will not get this active again until we get another right wing president who threatens the very fabric of our liberal lives. Then the occupy movements will be reborn with a vengeance, and we fight the head winds again.

    Thanks
    David

    • Posted November 7, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      I think you’ll find that progressive movements do far better under Disapointing Democrats than they ever do under Repressive Republicans!

    • Debi Baughman
      Posted November 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      David, I have to thank you for your remarks. I know exactly what mean, was and have been myself ready to ‘give up’ on an issue; to sit back and let it be simply because I have gotten used to it. I used to be Repub and you are right. And I think that it was very much like being a part of the church…we were relentless. As Dem, so much of our feeling in many ways…the ol’ live and let live syndrome takes over at times to extreme.
      But there are some things in which, if we simply ‘let live’, there will be nothing left to live for.
      I am glad I read the comments here.
      Just a push here for Starhawk if it is Ok. She is definitely not a sit back kind, other then contemplation and determining her next move I think….correct me if I am wrong, SH….
      if you are looking for somebody to put your energy behind, she is a good one to get behind.
      anyway….
      that’s all

  4. Tatiana Makovkin
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Do you really think that organizing under Obama will be easier than it would be under Romney? It’s my impression that the left tends to get complacent under a Democrat. Many of our lefty friends are willing to accept horrific policies, the same policies that would be repugnant to them if presented by a right-wing leader. These people do not want to scrutinize Obama or hold him accountable for his roll as a pawn of the corporatocracy.

    • Posted November 7, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Yes, I do. I think the left was exhausted four years ago and hoped for more from Obama, and we’re a bit wiser now. But had Romney won, we would have been depressed, dispirited and unable to claim a popular mandate–even if they’d stolen the election.

  5. Firebird
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Great blog Starhawk. You just forgot one thing, to tell everyone who has a problem with it to ‘have some soup,. :)

  6. Posted November 7, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I did but it never posted,????? TRUTH for CHANGE, “America Can’t Wait” Get back to me STARHAWK !!!!

  7. Jennifer Miller
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    From ‘across the pond’ I applaud all that you say esp: ‘civility is the new vitriol’ and the idea of broadening group membership. I would also advocate local gatherings to discuss the power of peaceful protest and the counterproductivity of violence rather than waiting until tempers flare when it is way to late to do anything about it.
    Bless you, Starhawk. The Fifth Sacred Thing was one of the most influential books I have ever read. Its time is coming. Om Shanti.

  8. Nicola
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for these words, Star.
    I commend the invitation for all those who feel fire in their bellies to conduct a ‘charm offensive’. It’s a fun ride and it keeps the humour alive.

    In reference to those who feel fear and fear that fear … there are some great writings out there – I recomend “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker or “Fearless”, which he wrote a year or so after 9/11. Fear is another spectrum on the emotional scale and has had a lot of bad press because, like death, we aren’t raised to understand it and channel it to our benefit. Like the emotion of adversary, fear is also irrationally contagious.

    Adversary is the most contagious emotion on the human scale. It can be ‘reasonable and nice’ or ‘in your face and confrontational’ … but either way, beware of it’s contagion level. The way to know if you are in adversary or not is to listen to whether or not you are being ‘reasonable’ and trying to make the other person wrong whilst trying to assert that you are right. The way out of adversary is to go for a result. I’d love to see our political structure move out of adversary sometime…. a woman can dream, right?

    I’m delighted Obama got back in and now I’m taking a day off.

    Love love .. and thanks again for writing.

  9. John
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I have a different view of what this election means. I remember what happened with groups like UFPJ after 2008. I also think that your claims about ‘ideologically pure affinity groups’ are a pretty cheap shot and profoundly hypocritical when I think at the even greater lack of diversity among spiral dance participants and the rest of the New Agers. Any mass scenario like say a sports event is going to generally be far more diverse and representative than any small groups. It’s a basic principle of statistics.

    • conspiritech
      Posted November 7, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      having read books of both, and met the new age, I would have to argue that feri and reclaiming are quite different from new age theories. a review of Evolutionary Witchcraft might demonstrate the difference. one big thing is the differing positions on what Barbara Ehrenreich considers in her book ‘Brightsided’

    • Kathleen Theriault
      Posted November 8, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know Star Hawk or anything about her first hand, but I believe she does not exclude herself when speaking of these “ideologically pure affinity groups.” No need to take offense at that, I say. I found the commentary completely inspiring. I remember thinking when Obama got elected in ’08 that we just had to let it ride for a while and hope that he’d get that second term. I don’t remember what the reasoning was behind this thought. I do know that I feel differently after this election than after any other. I feel that this is the time…this is the time for action and the main challenge is to choose your cause. Research history, gather facts, become an eloquent spokesperson for whatever cause you choose. Know where your state representatives stand on issues and educate them if need be. Get to know how our system works so you can be part of making it work for us. Thanks Nance for forwarding this blog, Thanks Starhawk for the direction/inspiration/call to activism without anger.

  10. Doris Asherah Diamond
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful article Starhawk! Your words always inspire us to do more! We’re sharing this article on Facebook and with our Long Island Reclaiming Community. Thank you so much! Doris Asherah and Awe

  11. Posted November 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    That series of actions you propose – conservation, efficiency, a shift to safe renewables, relocalization, and carbon sequestration – is the solution to much more than climate change. The obstacle, as always, is corporate interests, especially when you point to relocalization and renewables. IMO, breaking the life-alienating cultural habit of chartering corporations is the way around that obstacle.

    I propose an act of nonviolent direct action on November 23. What if everyone attended their local Gift Circle that day? We can name it Gratitude Day in honor of humanity’s natural state (and the original intention of the holiday of the day before). This would be so much more meaningful than a boycott where we sit at home alone and stew over the consumer culture, and it might even work!

    Stand by for a Facebook event invitation!

    • Posted November 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Say more about Gift Circles for those reading this who won’t get the Facebook invite!

  12. Moira
    Posted November 10, 2012 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    Congratulations!!!

    All people that I’ve met here in Germany after the elections breathed deeply… It is a great relief…

    I read in a newspaper, that Obama would have been elected by 92 percent of the Germans, also the green party is rising…

    This gives us hope, that we get rid of Mrs. Merkel, her big-companies- and bank-friendly-politics…

    What happens right now reminds me of a spell that we have done for many years:

    ‘Now let the flames of truth ignite, the fire burning, the vision bright. Before the truth no lie can stand, ash and compost feed the land’.

    Blessed be!

    Moira

  13. John Coltrain
    Posted November 10, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Americans find it difficult to do much self-criticism. We are quick to cast our projections outward as if they should have relevance for the rest of the world. Yet we tend to look the other way when disturbing events are in contradiction to our view points.

    Food for long-term thought:

    Would Martin Luther King have voted for Obama who is: the drone decider? , the money maker’s man? Corporate welfare advocate? Believes Americans are fair play for execution at any time.

    “No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.”
    ― Martin Luther King Jr.

    Americans are suckers for “things” (look up George Carlin on “stuff”) and are unwilling to make big sacrifices so the world is more egalitarian. We are consumers first, something else second and citizens third or fourth. Self-interest is paramount to justify action.

    “Everybody loves justice done………on somebody else” ….Bruce Cockburn

    We have no moral compass unless it is amoral guidance:
    1. Not admitting of moral distinctions or judgments; neither moral nor immoral.
    2. Lacking moral sensibility; not caring about right and wrong.

    Perhaps our biggest denial is that the USA is an empire, the empire of the day, and like history solidly shows, empires rise and fall.

    “The day we see the truth and cease to speak is the day we begin to die”
    ― Martin Luther King Jr

    Jill Stein got 0.35% of the vote. (regardless of her political view point – this is a good thing)? The ‘ lesser of two evils’ approach to elections is nothing more than a faux method of keeping the” system” intact.

    “Every civilization carries the seeds of its own destruction, and the same cycle shows in them all. The Republic is born, flourishes, decays into plutocracy, and is captured by the shoemaker whom the mercenaries and millionaires make into a king. The people invent their oppressors, and the oppressors serve the function for which they are invented.”
    - Mark Twain in Eruption

    “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
    ― Martin Luther King Jr.

    As for “Organize and agitate” – We should step outside our hologram and try to learn from other wiser cultures. Maybe just maybe we can decline with grace:

    “….It’s not just physical comfort we’re addicted to. We are addicted to insulating ourselves from unpleasant realities. The average Bhutanese knows much more about the world than the average American and goes through some discomfort, if you will, or at the very least some maneuverings, to pay attention to what’s going on. Bhutan is small, fragile, and vulnerable. It behooves the people of Bhutan to know their adversaries and to keep tabs on what’s happening in the rest of the world. Americans don’t feel that urgency. What we learn when we do look beyond our shores is uncomfortable and disconcerting. It’s more comfortable to watch fake news about celebrities than to know what’s happening in China or Southern Sudan. But events happening in China or Sudan affect us so much more because they are real…..”
    Leaming, Linda (2011-04-01). Married to Bhutan Hay House. Kindle Edition.

  14. Jennifer Greene
    Posted November 12, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Starhawk, thanks for your take on the election, and the work that’s ahead. You make excellent points.

    A note about climate change: if you don’t already know about http://www.chompingclimatechange.org, I hope you’ll take 3 minutes to watch the animated video.

    It represents the work of Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, who propose reducing our consumption of livestock products, as this will reduce emissions and permit widespread reforestation.

    This approach is at once hopeful and in need of much more publicity. I urge you to help spread the word about it.

    People need to know that choosing more meat-free meals now can matter a huge amount to the climate, and our future.

  15. Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Dear Starhawk,

    I love how you ask us to move forward and take action after the election… I’m with you. It’s up to us to “be the change.” We are in challenging times…

    In New York, much is happening with “Sandy Relief.”

    I write about this here on my blog:
    http://ecofeminism-mothering.blogspot.com/2012/11/normal.html

    I also write about the meaning of #Sandy in a larger environmental context at Tikkun: http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2012/11/12/hurricane-sandy-an-island-in-mourning-and-crisis/

    A wonderful organization that is working very productively on behalf of the elderly and disabled post Sandy is People’s Relief: https://www.facebook.com/PeoplesRelief

    For anyone looking to donate time or goods, please go to their facebook page for regular announcements and information.

    Blessings for all that you do, Heidi Hutner

  16. Laurie Larson
    Posted November 15, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    If we lauded and rewarded folks like the 4 teenage African girls who developed a generator powered by urine, and got just that creative, we could drop nukes, and coal and oil tomorrow, completely. Let’s do that!

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