The United States is experiencing an extraordinary political moment. Apart from the omnipresent chaos that surrounds the Trump presidency itself – the near-daily stress test on the country’s democratic institutions – there’s also contention around how the economy functions, around social benefits, around civil rights, around gender relations, immigration policy, the environment, the composition of the US Supreme Court (not to mention a slew of lower federal courts), voting rights and myriad other big-ticket items.
“We’re at a crossroads,” says Brigid Flaherty, the co-founder and co-director of Down Home North Carolina, a group that has spent the past two years organizing Appalachian communities in the state around social justice and economic issues. “Depending on how things go in the midterms, this sets the course for the next 10 years, if not more,” Flaherty says. “Everybody’s issues are on the chopping block.”
With the 2018 midterm elections fast approaching, Equal Voice News talked with a number of social justice organizers to get their read on what is most at stake over the coming years. Many say that the interwoven nature of the challenges – from sweeping attacks on voting rights and longstanding systemic racism in housing and education, to the rolling crisis of climate change and the criminalization of protest – creates great political dangers. But at the same time, they see opportunities for alliance and movement building and the sort of cross-issues organizing, especially for families, that was too often muted before.
“We’ve asked if this is a new political moment. It is,” says Cindy Wiesner, the Miami-based national coordinator for the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. “No single faction alone can take on what we’re facing. The resurgence of right-wing populism globally. We see it as a manifestation of multiple systemic crises – neo-liberalism, a crisis of the environment, people questioning state legitimacy.”