10 Good Things About a Bad Year

‘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

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10 Good
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