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Vision: Progressives Consider Using Tea Party Tactics to Rebuild the American Dream

At a "Rebuild the Dream" meeting, Brooklyn progressives ponder whether they have to act like the Tea Party in order to inspire change.

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And here Chopra’s virtue/critique comes in. In our little microcosm of the liberal community, Roseboro highlighted a problem facing progressives in the room and in the country: knowing when to rally and when to compromise. Our varied focuses and attempts at a succinct explanation of our ideologies came to a head an hour and a half into the meeting. Mariana, a teacher, interrupted with a call back to reality and a plea that we get something accomplished today by 2pm.

We broke into groups divided by the four separate areas defined by the organizers of the movement. The goal was to offer our suggestions to solve, promote or fight against the issues facing us. After the meetings the solutions were sent to the " Contract for the American Dream " website and the best ideas were rated by dream meeting participants all over the country.  How did our little community compare with the final consensus gathered and rated from the 25,000 people in 1,500 meetings nationwide? Here’s the comparison:

1. Good jobs now

  • Nationwide: “Substantially reduce military spending.”
  • Brooklyn: “Too-big-to-fail banks have never been held accountable for the recession. Fund community based efforts. Reach out to religious community on the issue of jobs.

2. We all pay our share

  • Nationwide: “Be sure that corporations pay their taxes.”
  • Brooklyn: “Focus on stock market tax and transactions. Strong visual messages that explain economy in layman’s terms.”

3. Strong communities

  • Nationwide: “Eliminate corporate personhood.”
  • Brooklyn: “Invest in people and in education. Host community events with food. Get schools involved in public issues. Free child care.”

4. Working Democracy

  • Nationwide: “Stop paying corporations to offshore American jobs.”
  • Brooklyn: ““Limit corporate campaign contributions. Work on voter access and election fraud. Bring other organizations into the coalition.”

After the group presentations, we were charged  to think about what specific activities we should be involved in and what skills we could bring to the table. We decided on another meeting at the end of the month and a Google group to keep in touch.

So after a rocky beginning, the members of the gathering channeled their frustrated energy in the areas they care most about, revolted (politely)  against the designated leader and verbalized thoughts and ideas into clearly defined suggestions. Whether or not that would materialize into action remains to be seen. and the other organizers have followed up with those who signed up, encouraging members to take part in local actions and to mobilize for the upcoming August recess. As the contract’s ideas continue to be rated and added to, it seems the organizers of the larger movement are leaving it up to the gatherings to decide their next steps, while suggesting deadlines of actions to rally around. No particular DC rallies to go to, no simplified Tea-Party call to action circulated.

A more hands-on, directed approach can seem antithetical to a progressive ideology, but it might be necessary to get something done. Is the Rebuild the Dream initiative the much awaited culmination of all the anti-Tea Party efforts? Is it another forum for lefties to air our grievances and go home to a defeated reality? Can we figure out when to rally around or against a person or one defined cause?

Though he didn’t emerge as the group leader, Roseboro channeled Chopra’s sentiments in learning how and when to implement our much cherished freedom of expression and when to buckle down, listen, and act on a more or less agreed upon action. “Rebuild the Dream” might very well be that long awaited opportunity for progressives to prove that the tactics that made the Tea Party successful can be adopted and capitalized by the left , in order to act on the change we've been talking about for years. 

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