I wanted to take a moment from pre Thanksgiving cleaning and cooking to express my personal thanks and gratitude to our many members and to the many people who have donated their time, ideas and yes, money to making the Alliance for Progressive Values’ first six months so successful.
Last winter as the ramifications of a tea party controlled House of Representatives in Washington, a series of Republican Governors “gone wild” around the country, and here in Virginia a General Assembly bent on rolling back the clock on women’s health began to sink in, we began to organize. Today, the tide may be turning. Progressives around the country are finding their voices and speaking out against the wrong headed ideologies and dishonest policies that have come to dominate our nation. This year in response to a broad and concerted conservative overreach that stretches from the federal budget to our bedrooms, people are waking up and realizing that no one is going to do this for us, that we have to do it ourselves.
APV is part of a growing movement of Americans who understand that we can’t pay for endless wars by robbing the elderly and the disabled of the money we owe them. That we can’t continue as a democracy when a small portion of the population controls the majority of its wealth. When the election system and the processes of government are awash in money and corporations write the laws that regulate them. The safety of the food we eat, the medicines we take, the air we breath, the water we drink shouldn’t be sacrificed against the profit margin on a quarterly earnings report. We’ve had enough and in the year(s) to come we plan on making our voices heard and standing up to the greedy and the corrupt. Americans have done it before and won, and we can do it again.
When a few of us joined together to found APV we did it in the profound belief that we were not alone and that in fact we represented the feelings, the hopes and the fears of many, many more Americans. That belief has been born out not just here in Richmond where frankly we’ve grown and prospered at a level that has far outstripped our initial expectations, but across the nation as well. When we started organizing around a kitchen table in March of this year there was no Occupy movement, the media was fixated on a narrative given it by the corporations and the radical right wing, a narrative that stressed that the poor must pay for the excess of the wealthy and that the only way out of our dire situation was to relinquish even more of our hard won freedoms. They have been working for a generation to erase the gains of the last century and this year we stood up and said NO.
We can be proud of what we’ve started but make no mistake we have a long uncertain road ahead of us, and we’ll lose sometimes and it will feel crushing. But the secret is to keep at it, our opponents know this and they are not resting so neither can we. We can’t match them in terms of money, and many of them are lit with a powerful zeal that we can only hope to match, but we have something I think they lack. We have a grounding of tested ideas that work, where they have ridged ideologies that don’t. We have a history of practical success where they have failure. The right has and continues to exist in a tautological universe where America is great because America is great. They believe in a teleologic history where things turn out a certain way because that’s how they were meant to turn out. Faith can be a powerful force, but it’s no substitute for hard work, solution based policies and common sense answers, and we have those in abundance.
In the last year, we’ve watched our nation begin to awaken from a decade of privation and deceit. While the right seems bent on a national suicide pact, a sort of 1890 or bust mentality in which they get a do over for the last dozen decades of progress they haven’t been able to thwart, the Democrats, bless their hearts, as we say in the South right before we start the criticism, have often acted as enablers and sometimes full blown partners in crime and part of our mission at APV is to drag them back to the side of their better angels and to show them that there is a winning formula in a progressive message. APV welcomes the flowering of the Occupy movement and we greet them with open arms. Their energy, their moral courage and their ability to focus the nation’s attention on issues the main steam, corporate media doesn’t want to cover has added immeasurable power to our cause. We look forward to seeing where they go next.
Three years ago we elected our first African American president, we seemed as a people to be standing up and shaking off the fear and cynicism of the Bush era and many of us expected to see great things from the new administration. That’s not what we got and the disappointment has been palpable. But too many of us went back to our lives and left the heavy lifting to others. We left a moderate Democrat to bargain with a radical right wing and then we wondered that the outcome was not to our liking. 2012 must be different and that’s one of the reasons APV was formed, to make sure this time that our message gets across. We want an economy that produces good jobs, expands the middle class and protects and empowers the poor while they strive to better themselves. We want a healthcare system on a par with the rest of the industrialized world, one that doesn’t bankrupt us when we are at our most vulnerable. We want our environment protected and we want clean, sustainable energy and we want it NOW. We want an end to wars of opportunity abroad and a security state at home. We want the reckless bankers and casino capitalist who sank our economy held responsible and not rewarded. We plan on being in this fight and oh yes, we plan on winning.
So as I sit down tomorrow to my dinner, I will pause and be grateful for the gifts of this last year. Through this organization I have met or gotten to know better so many incredible people; our wonderful board members Courtney Cranor, Ann Hardy, Jeanne Bishop, Claire Tuite, Rhonda Hening and our President Stephanie Rodriquez. Doug Dobey our Arts Director, the Tuite family and the wonderful people at Helen’s who make our monthly Salons possible (especially John Tuite and Clay Hostetler), and the great folks who bring you this blog, most notably our tireless editor Donna Kennedy. And I am thankful for our members, most of all. At a time when things seemed bleakest you stood up and put your self on the line while others merely kibitzed from the balcony. You give me so much hope. Thank You.