The Anemic Left Fails the Structure Test in the Face of Trump
By Mark Rudd (September 23, 2019)
ANEMIA AND ITS DISCONTENTS
Well, the Stench came to Albuquerque on September 16. He filled an auditorium in Rio Rancho with about 7000 people and more hanging around outside. He and his crowds got considerable coverage on the 10 o’clock tv news shows, but there was little to nothing about our rally back in Albuquerque at Old Town’s Tiguex Park, where we countered the Stench’s hate with the slogan “A New Mexico for All.”
The Journal did report that there were about 700 there and about 200 more anti-Trump protestors up in RR. My estimate was in the range of 1000, maybe even a few more, at the rally at Tiguex called jointly by the Democratic Party and a smorgasbord of issue-based mass movement organizations involving immigrants, the lgbt movement, women, Native American and environmental groups.
Although it was a pretty nice feeling at the rally, listening to politicians and others call for the Stench’s defeat, the truth of the matter is numbers count. 7,000 vs. less than 1,000. Eek! No wonder everyone I talked with today about the rally yesterday used the adjective “anemic.”
I don’t mean anemic in terms of anything but numbers. Militancy, excitement, willingness to take risks or disrupt or shout against the Stench, I’m not considering. Just numbers attending the rally.
The union movement has a concept called “structure test.” It means every time you go public with an event such as a demo or rally or in the case of unions, a card campaign, the results in numbers show how strong your organization is. You always want those numbers to go up. Down is very bad. The structure you’re building can’t bring people out.
(An exception might be the Albuquerque Women’s March in January, 2017, which had an estimated 10,000 people; the next year there were 5,000, which is still an acceptable showing, given that the organization was new and there would be a natural drop-off due to an inevitable normalization of life under fascism. The big test is how many the Women’s March will bring out in January).
The structure test last night didn’t look so good.
The crowd tended older, a lot of white people with a decent portion of younger and browner mixed in . Women predominated, both up on the stage and in the crowd.
Women are the only demographic group in New Mexico who have shifted their consciousness as a group, a significant number of whom have decided to organize for power. The far-right crazies knew they wanted power, they’ve been working at it for decades, tirelessly and strategically. Now women are gaining control over the NM Democratic Party, following the model laid down by the right in capturing the Republican Party. They’ve been electing good women to office.
Women have reorganized the Party. They’ve entered into active leadership positions, such as running committees, chairing campaigns, captaining precincts and wards. They figured out, en masse, that the goal is power and the means to power is through elections.
Stephanie Garcia Richards would not be our first women Land Officer, nor would Deb Haaland and Xochitll Torres Small be in Congress without women power. (I suspect that Ben Ray Lujan, whom I respect for his organizational skills, has underestimated the power of New Mexican women. My money is on Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who, with the critical support of women in her campaign, has a good chance to take the primary in June and go on to become NM’s first female senator).
The anemia on display yesterday, is a symptom I think, of the fact that ONLY women have caught on as a group. Other demographic groups haven’t shifted consciousness yet, haven’t concluded that it’s time to change their lives and organize for power.
I’ve pondered the question of why it’s so hard for most of us on the left to figure out that the goal is power. Basically, I think, those on the left are people who avoid telling other people what to do, who follow a live and let live attitude. Plus, power is ALWAYS compromised and it’s necessarily dirty. So our default status is to avoid power by not recognizing the need to work for it.
This, of course, left a great vacuum that the wrong people were only too glad to fill. They are in power now because we neglected to organize for power. It’s that simple. Since we represent the large majority of public opinion–people want health care, jobs, decent education–all we need to do is organize for power. Get out the vote. What could be simpler?
While we were abdicating power we did a lot of other things, many of us choosing work and careers that held the society together while it was being looted by the rich: we are medical workers, teachers, social workers, public interest attorneys, or work for non-profits. But it didn’t matter because the Trumps of the country were going for power.
The poor numbers yesterday are an indication that our organization leaves a lot to be desired. Not enough of us have joined in, have figured out that our lives depend on our working for power.
Most of us are hoping that the Stench will be defeated in November, 2020, and that we can then go back to our normal real lives. That’s only wishful thinking: if the Stench loses, his most rabid supporters will reach for their guns. Am I the only person who’s noticed the gradual and continual ratcheting up of violence?
If something like civil war breaks out in this country, our movement’s chances of survival are not based on our fire power, far from it. Nor on who’s president. Only if we have the local and state power to control and rein in the police, who are naturally inclined to intervene on the side of the fascists, can we win. Law over politics.
Which brings us back to electoral power. We gotta have it.
Another big test is coming Friday, when high school organizers bring people out to protest climate extinction. It’s a global day of action, but my attention will be in Santa Fe and at Robinson Park in downown ABQ to see the first structure test of this new demographic’s organizing. Whatever happens Friday, the follow-up demonstration will tell us even more.
Friday’s rally against extinction is an absolute necessity for power, a pre-cursor. The momentum-driven mass movements around issues are necessary complements to the movement to transform the Democratic Party.
It’s happening, but how quickly?