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American Dream Movement Generates Over 400 Protests Across the Country in August

Above you see the dog that didn’t bark on cable news. It’s a compilation of some of the 400 jobs protests from around the country in August. Thousands of people participated in the actions. If 2009 was any indication, it should have been an enormous story. As it is, you had to search for any traditional media coverage of the story. I called it the Invisible Townhall Revolution, and it stayed invisible for the duration.

Local news did pick up the story, however. I think the representatives heard a message, whether they listen to it or not. The progressive movement is often fractured, and has been frustrated by a relative lack of movement over the last few years, after helping Democrats into power. Perhaps it works to start small and under the radar with an independent movement at the grassroots level, rather than as a conduit for the party establishment. Many of these 400 actions across the country were at Democratic offices, though most were at the offices of Republicans. And this was not a party-based message, but an idea-based one. It called for an end to corporate welfare, tax fairness including progressive taxation on the rich, and action to create jobs through public investment. It offered a repudiation of conservative dogma over the last 30 years. It built on consistent messages of belief, and was rooted not in identity but economics. It implied that nothing that has been done over the last decade has worked. It manifested the anger with the political process in Washington.

It wasn’t about a person, it was about ideas. That’s sustainable, but not without a commitment to do the work, and even to know that it might not be all that successful at first. The end result of American Dream Movement jobs protests and town hall actions in one month is ultimately going to be nothing in the short term. Republicans won’t see the light and agree to tax the rich or invest in infrastructure. Corporations won’t cower in fear and step out of the political process. The President isn’t going to sign the American Dream five-point plan into law, and it’ll never arrive on his desk. And that’s OK. A necessary condition of building is that you have to establish a foundation. The work is long, painful and accompanied at every level by setbacks. And it must be done.

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David Dayen

David Dayen