NEW YORK--Tonight I will be in City Hall Plaza in New York as part of the nationwide series of "We Are One" demonstrations sponsored by a broad coalition of organizations. Participants will be there to stand up on behalf of the workers in Wisconsin, collective bargaining, and on behalf of a country that cares about its entire people.
One month ago, I wrote an post in these pages entitled "From Washington to Wisconsin, an Assault on a Decent Society." In it, I highlighted the attacks being made on the fundamental notion of a real social contract in this country, including the attempts by Republicans in Congress to slash tens of billions of dollars from our public structures and services, and the assault on public workers in Wisconsin. I said then, and believe now, that a broad set of responses--on values, on policy issues, in the media, and in the mobilization of opposition--needed to be mounted.
In the weeks since then, the continuation of the conservative assault--on the budget, on the health care bill, on unions, on public broadcasting, on the rights of women---has predictably continued. But what was perhaps unpredictable, and exciting, has been the powerful response by millions of people, in Wisconsin and all around the country. From the hundreds of thousands of people in demonstrations there, to the outpouring of support for Planned Parenthood and Americorps, to the millions of emails sent to Congress about the budget, a response of unity and resolve has been heard.
It is also a response not confined to a single sector--as it was not 43 years ago. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was supporting a strike by municipal sanitation workers, represented by AFSCME Local 1733. Those workers were fighting for their dignity and paid mightily for it. Dr. King understood that union rights and civil rights are inextricably intertwined. That is as clear today as it was in 1968.
The outpouring has been refreshing and encouraging, and a symbol of how many people still believe in our commitments to each other, and in a society with economic opportunity, a vibrant democracy, and a government that has the public support and the resources to solve problems and plan for the future. A strong labor movement is critical to that, and deserves to be supported today.
In general, Demos, as a policy center, operates through the written and spoken word, in the realm of books and policy papers and op-ed pieces and posts. But today We Are One, and it is a day for being seen as well as heard.
Wherever you may be, I hope to see you.