wise as serpents and gentle as doves...

Shortly before I left on vacation, I found myself in conversation with a 20-something, white man about progressive politics, American race relations and the role of community organizing in challenging the status quo.  We both agreed that the only way the so-called "Sanders revolution" was going to matter beyond the Democratic convention in July was:  a) if the campaign organizers were able to formalize relationships between the new, young voters and a cadre of committed professionals who could be counted on to mobilize their base; b) if the leadership of Sander's camp chose strategic links with the Democratic Party; and c) if the whole loosely organized coalition found common ground with people of color. To date, it doesn't look like they have made much progress on any of these fronts.

Yes, Cornel West has been bold and poignant in his critique of the traditional Democratic positions on Palestine and Israel. To be sure, Robert Reich has been vigilant using social media to raise important issues inspired by Sanders. And of course many optimistic liberals are hoping that the young voters deliver in November what they promised during the primaries. But there is no driving organization to turn wishful thinking and dreams into deeds. So, my hunch is that like the Brexit vote documents, unorganized voters will waffle and fold when they are needed most. There is simply no evidence that the Sanders' mojo can be energized beyond the level of emotion.  That is always the case in these settings:  there is tremendous energy on the surface that leaders confuse for depth and discipline.

As our conversation matured, the young man and I lamented this reality - not the inspiration behind the Sanders effort as that resonates with Dr. King's call to "the Beloved community" - but the woeful naivete that persists in too many progressive movements for social change. As I have noted before, such foolishness does not define the Clinton camp - they know how to get things done and make incremental, lasting change - which too many Sanderites label "selling out." 

So, a month later - after Orlando and yet another wave of police violence on young, black men - I am wondering how a coalition of self-interest might be facilitated between Black Lives Matter activists, the Sandy Hook team, Gabby Giffords and LGBTQ leaders committed to common sense gun control?  With Sanders set to endorse Clinton and social chaos and violence exploding across the US, has the time come when we can be "wise as serpents and gentle as doves?" 


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