As I walked Saturday in the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women, I was cheered to see such enthusiasm and that so many people (60,000!) had turned out. I did wonder how many of those folks had bothered to vote, and I kept hoping that the marches around the country would be the beginning, not the end.
I had one conversation with an optimistic neophyte who was convinced that Saturday was clearly the beginning of the end for the political and religious right. I hated to burst their bubble, but I gently reminded them that, even after crashing our economy and leading us into two wars, including one based on a total lie, George W. Bush left office with a 23 percent approval rating. Donald Trump was elected by only 25 percent of eligible voters. Imagine how much damage he can do with that two percent difference.
What progressives still don’t get is what Tip O’Neill tried to teach us: “All politics is local.” We keep thinking it is all about Washington, focusing on the presidency, but, in two years, we will lose hundreds of local elections because of TURNOUT. Minorities, young people, and those who form the progressive coalition in this country simply don’t turnout for off-year elections, so conservatives and Tea Party activists have taken over the offices that determine so many of the policies that impact daily life: congressional districts, school funding, city priorities, and more.
I understand that African-Americans haven’t been able to trust local politicians to look after their interests, so they have looked to Washington. If the moderate and progressive majority is going to take our country back, however, we must build coalitions. The key will be using our faith to speak with churches in parts of town in which we might not live. We must make new friends, go to new meetings, talk to new people on the bus. We must build the Beloved Community that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about or the Realm of God Jesus talked about. We must do it here, not in Washington, D.C. … unless, of course, that is where you are reading this.
Rev. Michael Piazza