“I don’t think any of us yet recognize how monumental [Bernie’s] campaign was,” says khalid kamau (he asks that his name be lower case) of his run for city council in South Fulton, Georgia. “Every presidential race brings into the political process a new generation of volunteers, but Bernie galvanized a group of highly educated, highly skilled activists, folks pretty much already politically involved. Then, he charged us to run for local office, specifically, as a way of both infiltrating and transforming the Democratic Party, and working our way up the political ladder.”
Kamau observes that South Fulton, newly incorporated into a city, has the possibility of being the largest progressive city in the South.
Here are some other outtakes from kamau’s interview with Sarah Jaffe. Click on the player above to give it a listen!
"This is our shot, in Georgia specifically, but in the South in general, to show that [progressive] policies actually do work and that they are not just good ideas, but they are smart ideas and they can grow economies and transform regions and get people involved in their electorate and their local government. Those are things that excite me.
The support [of the Democratic Party] has been tepid, at best. But I see true progressives, unapologetic progressives building a movement that is sort of like the Tea Party, where we are not afraid to endorse in intra-partisan races or non-partisan races.
I don’t think this is a personal failure of Bernie, but perhaps of the people that were around him and advising that campaign – is that there wasn’t enough attention paid to people of color. I am not sure that people of color who were in that campaign were listened to the way they should have been. The best way to reach out to communities of color is by having candidates of color and instituting these policies in cities of color. If you look at a lot of these most progressive places, they are places like Seattle or Massachusetts. In a lot of these most progressive cities, they tend to be smaller cities, they tend to be more white and more affluent. The idea is that only rich people, only rich white folks can afford to enact these kind of progressive policies. I think it is going to be really important that the leadership of the Democratic Party, specifically, but the left in general, that the leadership needs to look like its base of voters.
I know that there has been all of this angst about “How do we get working class white voters?” But, right now, the most consistent voters in America are black women and the most consistently progressive voters are black and brown folks. We need to grow the base of our party or of that movement with those folks and make sure that we are running candidates in places and instituting policies in places that support those folks. I do think that the big issue of these next few elections, and I think the next twenty years of America, the biggest challenge that we will face is income inequality and this growing disparity. The middle class has disappeared. Now we have a working class and wealthy class. We really need to keep hammering that truth into the public and political conversation that is happening. That is what I hope to do, is to bridge that racial gap for people to understand that whether you are red or yellow, black or white, that we are all suffering from income inequality for the past thirty years.
People can get in touch with me at KhalidCares.com.
Interviews for Resistance is a project of Sarah Jaffe, with assistance from Laura Feuillebois and support from the Nation Institute. It is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Not to be reprinted without permission.