The Triumph of Do-It-Yourself Democracy.

Author:Hightower, Jim
Position:VOX POPULIST
 
FREE EXCERPT

If you despair that a mysterious plague of incurable political knuckle-headism has swept our country, turning previously progressive white working-class people into mindless Trump worshippers, check out "The Promise of a Progressive Populist Movement," a report released earlier this year by Peoples Action, a multiracial, grassroots coalition.

Between September 2017 and April 2018, the group's volunteers knocked on more than 5,000 doors, had nearly 2,500 phone conversations, and visited scores of local events and churches in "Trump Country"--rural counties in ten swing states including Iowa, North Carolina, and Wisconsin that went for the yellow-haired corporatist in 2016. The door knockers would ask folks in economically distressed rural communities what mattered to them politically. The most common initial response was, "No one's ever asked me before."

While Trump voters are predominantly white, the working-class families visited by People's Action included black, Latinx, Native American, and other residents living in economically distressed rural communities. They were not impressed by the inflammatory bugaboos that idolatrous Trumpsters cite: hordes of invading aliens, mooching poor people, fake media, et cetera.

Rather, what they most cared about was being told by word and deed that they--America's hard-hit and hard-working families--don't matter. And rather than embracing Trump's elitist ideology and agenda, the residents told People's Action they want populist reforms like health care for all, fair wages, free access to education, clean water, and a government uncorrupted by big money. As a North Carolina door knocker said of all the front-porch conversations she had: "No one ever asked me to deny [workers] a living wage; no one ever asked me to give tax breaks to billionaires and multinational corporations; no one ever asked me to transfer wealth off the backs of working people, or allow big money to influence an election."

One way to enact public policies that benefit common people over moneyed interests is to bypass corporate-purchased lawmakers and write the laws ourselves. In the November 6 election, people in states and municipalities all over the country put laws and constitutional amendments on the ballot. This Do-lt-Yourself citizens' initiative process has, in this era of plutocratic rule, become a major avenue for achieving progressive change. Here are just a few of the state and local measures voters enacted via ballot...

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