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Come Together: This Brave Nation And The Power Of Unity

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead

Brave New Films and The Nation have teamed up to produce a series of documentaries on activists who have made a difference — and are still making a difference — in their communities. This Brave Nation series is an enormous tonic to all the anger and bitterness swirling about — because it puts the power to change back in the hands of all of us. We have to choose to channel our anger into something better…and then do the work necessary to make it happen.

Linked at left is the trailer for the entire series, and gives you a feel for the conversations between activists that will follow: Carl Pope and Van Jones, Majora Carter and Pete Seeger, Bonnie Raitt and Delores Huerta, Anthony Romero and Ava Lowery, and Tom Hayden and Naomi Klein.

It’s an amazing idea — and one that reminds us all of how much in common we have, and how much common good can be achieved when we work together to achieve something better for us all.

A kind of "living history" project composed of short videotaped conversations, This Brave Nation brings together the most intelligent, passionate and creative voices of one generation with the activists, journalists and artists of the next to dialogue on loves, lives, politics and history. Each discussion will be produced as both a five-minute video and a thirty-minute mini-documentary, which will be collected in a DVD box set. Starting today, June 1, a new video will be released each Sunday for four weeks leading up to a live event in Los Angeles on July 13.

The first discussion between Carl Pope and Van Jones is available at The Nation to watch in full. And a teaser trailer on the conversation with Pete Seeger and Majora Carter is available on YouTube. All of them are worth a watch, and I am truly looking forward to the discussions that will follow.

There is a lot of frustration and seething going around these days, because too many have been looking at our primary as a zero-sum war — but it is not, and should not be, since a single election will not be nearly enough to solve every problem we face.

That isn’t to say the frustration is not real or valid on anyone’s part. As Digby so eloquently puts it:

To many African Americans, a constant clamor for Jackson (or Obama if it had gone that way) to drop out of the race would have been seen as a call to go to the back of the bus. Likewise, for many of Clinton’s supporters, it’s been seen as a call to sit down and shut up (or "stifle" as Archie Bunker used to say to Edith.) I’m not saying it’s entirely rational, but then these things rarely are. The extreme closeness of this race makes it even more frustrating and emotional for a lot of people.

There is opportunity in all this mess. Obama’s main rationale for running is that he’s uniquely capable of bringing the disparate strands of our frayed politics together to get things done for the common good and change politics as we know it. If this is handled well, and the party comes together, he can take credit going into the fall for healing a painful rift in the Democratic party thus making the case that he has the ability to do the same thing for the country.

Activists can all help him do that by getting past this tedious pie fighting stage as quickly as possible. Obama supporters should acknowledge the fact that Clinton got an enormous number of votes and represents a vital constituency in the Democratic party that must be respected if we are going to win. And Clinton supporters need to acknowledge the fact that while their candidate came extremely close, at the end of the race, she came up short. Somebody has to win it and by the measures the party has set forth, Obama is the one who did. This is a Democratic year and I believe we will win this thing. But it’s going to take leadership from both the candidates — and us.

It is going to take leadership — from each and every one of us — to pull off a win in November. Without it, you can kiss the Supreme Court and the desperately needed reforms on the rule of law, on labor issues, on poverty, on women’s rights, on constitutional concerns…any progressive priority goodbye if a McCain Administration walks through the doors of the White House.

We cannot wait to come together — the nation’s soul is at stake in this election cycle, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow my country to be defined for four more years by John McCain’s crony posse. I’ve had more than enough of craptastic corruption and lack of care for the least among us to last a lifetime.

Given how narrow the margins are between the Obama and Clinton camps, can we honestly say that potentially throwing out close to half the Democratic party’s votes to salve individual needs for revenge or punishment or saying "suck it up and deal" is a winning strategy for November? Is it the human thing to do — something that felt right when the GOP spat it at you after the 2000 race was decided by SCOTUS? Is that who we want to be as a party, who Obama supporters want to be as a whole? Clinton folks? I don’t think so, not based on most conversations I’ve had with staunch supporters on either side.

I certainly hope folks aren’t willing to cut off their votes to spite their nation, anyway, and that supporters of one candidate aren’t quick to be dismissive to those on the other side of the fray.

It’s time we all stood up and became the leaders we wish to see. That means putting the nation and it’s desperately needed policy changes ahead of our own egos and grudges and snippy, poo-flinging urges. That means finding compassion somewhere inside the ire, and forgiveness inside the scars from a very closely fought race — because we must, or we will lose. All of us will lose.

It’s time we all lead, including the politicians themselves, because the nation desperately needs us to do so. What say you?

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com