Today, I sat in a room while a dozen or so everyday Americans prepared to share the stage with top leaders from the Obama transition team and the new Congress. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) will be shoulder to shoulder with April Page, a single mom working two jobs in Western Massachusetts. Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to Barack Obama, will sit next to Ghazala Chughtai, a Pakistani immigrant from Maryland. April, Ghazala and others were preparing for Realizing the Promise, a forum this Thursday, December 4 in Washington, DC, where over 2,000 grassroots leaders from across the country will present the people's agenda for change.
Imagine if change wasn't about replacing a set of conservative elites with a set of liberal elites but actually delivering more power to the people! As a community organizer, it's in Obama's DNA to resist the urges of the Washington status quo to replicate itself with a blue-ish tint and instead implement the habits and structures of real democracy. Yes, this election is about change in the sense of policy --- re-regulating Wall Street, ensuring health care for all, fixing our trade policies wreaking havoc on both sides of the border.
But in this election, change was also about process, too --- it's no accident we elected a community organizer who won in large part by building a movement of voters who finally felt they could have a voice in politics. Don't be surprised when the new chorus fails to die down; once people get a taste of power they're expectations only tend to rise. On Election Day, Americans were merely clearing their throat. Now it's time to tell Washington what we want.
I recently appeared on GritTV hosted by Laura Flanders, along with Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter, a grassroots leader with the Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition, and Chris Hayes, Washington Editor with the Nation, to discuss the role of organizing in delivering change. We talked about Realizing the Promise, the first time following the election when the people will be coming to Washington to tell government about the big changes we demand. Check it out:
Valerie Jarrett, Melody Barnes, named director of the Domestic Policy Council, Rep. Chris Van Hollen and other members of Congress and key progressive leaders in Washington will share the stage with people just like you --- single moms who can't make ends meet, immigrants whose homes and offices have been raided, small business owners who can't afford healthcare. As the economy gets worse and worse, the funny thing you realize about a sinking ship is that we're all in it together. It's time to work together to find shared solutions to the shared problems we all face --- and tell Washington we won't take "no" or even "sort of" for an answer.
Watch the live webcast of Realizing the Promise: A Forum on Community, Faith and Democracy this Thursday, December 4 at 3:00pm EST live from Washington. And join the discussion --- we need your voice to help make the promise of change a reality.
You and millions of others turned out on Election Day to vote for change. Now we need your help to realize the promise. Watch, join and act!