One continent alone - South America - could provide more than ten examples
of wonderful progressive victories, but I’ll just list some of the highlights.
1. Hugo Chavez has shown how an oil-rich nation can use
the country’s wealth to provide education, health care and small business
opportunities for its people—and we here in the US have discovered an
oil company we can feel good about buying gas from: Venezuela’s CITGO.
2. Bolivians have, for the first time in their history,
elected an indigenous president, Evo Morales. The former llama farmer and
coca grower has fought against “free trade” and the privatization
of his nation’s resources, and has brought new hope to indigenous people
throughout the continent.
3. Anti-war activists—who once represented a much-maligned
minority—now represent the majority of Americans who agree that the
war in Iraq was a mistake and the troops should come home as soon as possible.
And with Cindy Sheehan and Cong. Jack Murtha, we finally had spokespeople
the mainstream media listened to!
4. In an historic blow to the Bush administration’s
five-year attempt to destroy the Kyoto Protocol, the climate summit in Montreal
ended with even stronger measures to combat global warming. At home, nearly
200 cities are taking their own Kyoto-type actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
5. The Senate ended the year with a spurt of defiance, refusing
to permanently extend the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, blocking
the Republican maneuver to attach Arctic oil drilling to a defense spending
bill, and passing John McCain’s anti-torture amendment.
6. Despite a concerted offensive to lift the president’s
sagging public support, George Bush’s approval ratings are still below
50%, his economic agenda (from the privatization of social security to the
repeal of the estate tax) has unraveled, key cronies from Lewis Libby to Tom
DeLay have fallen from grace, and 2006 might just put impeachment back into
the congressional lexicon.
7. Labor, community activists and women’s groups have
mounted a spirited campaign against the behemoth of behemoths, Walmart. And
a California jury awarded $172 million to thousands of employees at Wal-Mart
Stores Inc. who were denied such basic rights as lunch breaks, with 40 similar
lawsuits pending in other states.
8. With the wild swings in gas prices, SUV sales have plummeted
(Ford Explorer down 52%, Chevrolet Suburban down 46%), the sale of hybrids
has doubled, and the US House of Representatives actually held a forum on
the “peak oil theory”.
9. In a great win for farmworkers, the Coalition of Immokalee
Workers forced the fast food giant Taco Bell to raise the price for picking
tomatoes (nearly doubling many workers' salaries) and now they’re ready
to take on an even bigger bully: McDonald's.
10. The global movement for peace and justice proved it
was alive and kicking: witness Argentina during the Free Trade Agreement meetings,
Hong Kong around the World Trade Organization ministerial, and the ongoing
rallies against the war. The steady growth of the fair trade movement also
shows that we are not just protesting, but we’re also building a more
Let’s make 2006 the year we broke the right wing tide, refused to give
pro-war, free trade Democrats a free ride, and built a “people’s
movement” with some muscle to it. We might just get some lessons from
our southern neighbors. If Mexico City's progressive mayor Manuel Lopez Obrador
becomes Mexico’s next president, Latin America’s revolutionary fervor
will be smack up against the Texas border. Que viva el poder popular en 2006!