'No two ways about it, 2003 was a demoralizing year for those of us working for peace and justice,' says Medea Benjamin for AlterNet.org. And yet, as she points out, the year also held a number of important progressive victories that deserve remembrance.
To begin with, 2003 saw the largest global anti-war protest yet. After more than 12 million people in 700 cities showed up for February 15th's protests, the New York Times was inspired to claim that 'there were now two superpowers: the US and global public opinion.' Although public opinion wasn't great enough to avoid the war, in hundreds of cities, counties, and states, it was enough to pass resolutions against the Patriot Act, offering yet more evidence that the public isn't willing to be so politically passive anymore. The Supreme Court also showed some progressive chutzpa, producing 'landmark' rulings that upheld affirmative action and supported gay rights. Legislation has also been passed to counter corporate crime and to treat non-violent drug-offenders as opposed to incarcerating them.
International circles similarly saw important victories for the left. In Bolivia, 'people power' came to the front and demanded President Sanchez de Lozada's resignation, halting his efforts to privatize and export the nation's natural gas. And at the World Trade Organization's talks in Cancun, the tactics of activists and NGOs were so successful that the talks collapsed.
Progressives can also congratulate themselves for getting their message out to the mainstream. Books by left-wing pundits like Al Franken and Michael Moore have not only been successful at incensing the public, they've also made it to the top of the best-seller lists, demonstrating there was 'no more preaching to the choir this year.' Additionally, the Internet proved to be an important resource in progressive circles; e-activism has raised millions of dollars and challenged powerful corporate organizations.
In short, the year may have had its share of setbacks, but it
also offered numerous examples of progressive power. Now, as
Benjamin states, 'let's move on to score the big victory in 2004 by
sending George Bush back to Crawford.'
-- Erica Wetter
Go there>>10 Good Things About a Bad Year