Nothing is happening? Activists are busy in Dallas

On Saturday, I met an old friend in a downtown sandwich shop. Both of us had arrived a little too early for the demonstration against corruption in American politics. Naturally, I asked what he had been doing lately. “Nothing is happening. Dallas is dead!” he told me.

My jaw must have been hanging open for some time, but I finally gathered enough wits to tell him just some of the things happening in just the last couple of days. Religious leaders held an organizing seminar at Southern Methodist University on Thursday. At the same time, Congressman Veasey was speaking to retirees in another city. The retirees announced a plan for a statewide meeting in faraway Waco during the upcoming Veterans’ Day. The Dallas AFL-CIO announced the appointment of a young man to head up their young workers movement and asked people under 35, union or not, to join in.

At that very moment, while the two of us were sitting in the sandwich shop, I continued, Walmart workers were protesting in a suburb just east of Dallas. In addition, schoolteachers and other supporters were out walking neighborhoods to elect a Dallas school board candidate, Kristi Lara, who was well known around the progressive movement.

At that point he interrupted to ask, “What district?” When I told him, he checked his voter ID card and realized that he lives in the disputed district! He said he’d get to work on it before the election.

The two of us then meandered down the street to the rally. Speakers there told us that the Dallas AFL-CIO has a program to organize everybody who works. The aim is to create a broad, progressive, independent political movement. Other speakers told us about fighting fracking at gas wells around the city. Another woman talked about the dangerous pipeline expected to pass near by. Another said that help was needed to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership “free trade agreement.”

The main point of the rally was to oppose the way that big money is undermining democracy. The point was well understood in Texas: the current election is the first one since the tea party implemented voter suppression.

Somebody else said that one in seven American children didn’t have enough to eat even before Friday, when food stamp cuts went into effect, and that Congress is expected to pass even more severe cuts in supplemental nutrition. Heaven knows what else may come under the knife during the current budget talks.

Don’t tell me that nothing is happening!

Photo: Jim Lane/PW