Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog

Progressives Made a Clean Sweep — Don’t Look Now But the Movement Has Begun

Nov 09, 2011

If there's one thing we can take from yesterday's elections, it's the simple fact that power truly rests with the people. Despite tremendous money pouring in from conservative groups, individuals and think tanks, the American citizenry spoke out in volumes when they defeated Ohio's anti-labor measure, silenced Mississippi's attempts at restricting women's rights and restored Maine's election-day registration status. It was a decisive victory for progressives and proof still that the majority cannot be duped into believing that this nation desires to be on a conservative trajectory. Yesterday was clear evidence that a movement that has been bubbling on the ground can and will take their power to the polls.

After championing a bill designed to strip away collective bargaining rights, Gov. Kasich of Ohio had no choice but to recognize defeat and the tremendous pushback this legislation received yesterday after it was repealed by a decisive majority vote. Following election results, he stated 'It's time to pause, the people have spoken clearly'. And indeed they have. Voicing their discontent over Republican measures to deter voters by ending same-day registration in Maine, that state's citizenry voted to restore the practice on Tuesday. And in Mississippi, GOP lawmakers tried to push through a ballot initiative declaring 'life begins at fertilization' in an attempt to eventually challenge Roe vs. Wade, but again, the voters responded with a resounding 'no'. All across the country, teachers, police officers, construction workers, laborers, firefighters, EMS workers, nurses, caretakers, civil service employees, mothers, fathers and those concerned about the state of our future said repressive and regressive measures will no longer be tolerated.

Yesterday morning, I joined community and labor leaders on the steps of New York's City Hall to announce plans to launch a Dec. 10th rally in front of the UN designed to address the need for global jobs and justice for all. We at National Action Network (NAN) have also been actively fighting against concerted efforts to further disenfranchise Black, Latino and poor voters by attempts to enforce new voter ID laws across the country. Organizing a 25-city nationwide rally, NAN will tackle the greatest modern threat to voting rights head on. When this sort of egregious legislation is being passed, we simply cannot sit silently and watch our collective progress be stripped away.

It was labor and civil rights organizations that brought about progress in this nation decades ago. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself was fighting for the liberties of sanitation workers at the very moment his life was taken. In states like Ohio, labor, civil rights organizations like NAN and the NAACP joined forces yet again to increase civic participation and deliver a more accurate portrayal of what voters want for themselves and for the next generation. On October 15th, we led a march and rally for jobs and justice in Washington, D.C. where tens of thousands participated in order to demand employment opportunities and a more equalized playing field. And all across this country we see the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations not only continuing their push for bridging the tremendous wealth gap in society, but simultaneously gaining momentous traction and supporters as it continues to expand.

Everywhere you look, there's a movement afloat. Whether it's in the civil rights community or within organized labor, or among everyday citizens, there is something in the air, something on the ground and now something in the voting booth. To those that want to keep pretending we're a center-right country, I say again, nice try. Just look at yesterday's election results -- the proof is in the pudding.

And for those that think voting doesn't matter, all you have to do is observe what took place on Election Day 2011. There are some in positions of authority that can -- and will -- do anything to have us believe that we do not have power, but just remember that we are the majority and we will not tolerate attempts from the right-wing to destroy all of the progress we have achieved.

Let the movement begin.