Democratic Left

Putting a Face on the Working Poor

paycheck-to-paycheck2.jpgBy Natalie K. Midiri

In the few days that have passed since HBO aired the Shriver Report’s new documentary, “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert,” the story of a single mother of three from Tennessee surviving on a $9.49 an hour income, the report has received harsh criticism throughout the blogosphere for choosing a white woman (Gilbert) to be the face of the working poor in America given that women of color are twice as likely to be members of the working poor. 

In many respects it’s obvious why Gilbert made the cut. We never once hear her raise her voice to her children, and she worries about how she will pay for the medication she needs to manage her thyroid. Despite the back-breaking nature of her work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at a nursing home, she still manages to tell the residents that they are not alone, that she -- if no one else -- loves them. While we do hear her admit that she could really use “some help,” we never once hear her complain about her 16-hour work days, even when going to work means leaving a sick child behind. In nearly all respects, Gilbert comes off as a member of the “good poor,” who deserve help only because they are completely self-sacrificing, committed to hard work and do not exhibit any of the destructive vices stereotypically associated with the poor.

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The Contested Legacy of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta

 

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By Duane Campbell

On March 31, Eleven  states will hold holidays celebrating  labor and Latino leader Cesar Chavez.  Progressives and democratic socialists should join in the celebrations.  A new film Cesar Chavez: History is Made One Step at a Time,  starring  Michael Peña   as Cesar Chavez and  Rosario Dawson   as Dolores Huerta opens in cities across the country on April 4, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLkfMrqAmD0

Let us be clear.  Chavez was religious, but he was not a saint. Neither were the growers, the Teamster collaborators, nor corporate agribusiness saints.  Celebrations should not be about hero worship or uncritical praise, nor should we ignore the present oppression of farm workers in the U.S.  

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The Left Viewed from Space

By Harold Meyerson

In an essay in Harpers, political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. looks at the American left, missing most current events but getting some of the big picture right.


It is, I suppose, theoretically possible to get the big picture right even when you can’t see the small pictures at all. That seems to be the achievement of political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. in his cover story in the March issue of Harper’s.

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YDS Winter Conference 2014

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Throughout modern history, young people have kindled the flames of social movements across the world. In the last century, students initiated successful fights against Jim Crow and the Vietnam war, and the more recent struggles against neoliberal austerity in Greece, Quebec, and Wall Street have had an undeniably youthful energy. In 2014, the leftward trajectory of  youth in the United States  is visible in the increasing membership and participation of students in the Young Democratic Socialists (YDS).


This President’s Day weekend, over 100 young activists from across the country converged in New York for the annual YDS winter conference: Beyond Capitalism: Activism and Ideas for the Next Left. The conference offered plenaries, presentations and workshops to strengthen both the analytical and strategic acumen of YDS members, while also providing a welcoming environment to facilitate social networking among activists on a national scale.

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Bernie Sanders: ‘I Am Prepared to Run for President of the United States’

John Nichols talks to Senator Bernie Sanders

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Bernie Sanders says he is “prepared to run for president of the United States.” That’s not a formal announcement. A lot can change between now and 2016, and the populist senator from Vermont bristles at the whole notion of a permanent campaign. But Sanders has begun talking with savvy progressive political strategists, traveling to unexpected locations such as Alabama and entertaining the process questions that this most issue-focused member of the Senate has traditionally avoided.

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Justice for Cecily McMillan

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The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) condemns the prosecution of DSA member Cecily McMillan for a class D felony allegedly committed during an Occupy Wall Street demonstration on March 17, 2012, in Zuccotti Park, New York, NY. DSA calls for all charges to be dropped against Ms. McMillan.

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The Working Class Legacy and Origins of International Women’s Day

By Alicia Williamson

image001.jpgMarch 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD), an annual tradition that began over a hundred years ago. While celebrations continue worldwide, few people remember that the holiday was first initiated by American Socialists. As legend would have it, they were inspired to hold a demonstration in order to mark the anniversary of an 1857 female garment workers’ strike in New York. However, the more accurate account is that in 1908, the Socialist Party of America established a National Woman’s Committee to aid in the party’s recruitment efforts, and the committee’s first action was to declare the last Sunday in February to be Woman’s Day.

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Immigrant Women's Lives

By Christine Riddiough

On March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) – a holiday that originated in the United States and was later codified by the Socialist International in 1914. IWD reminds us that the struggle for women’s rights and liberation is an international struggle. This year on IWD we should remind ourselves of the role played by immigrant women in the U.S. These women, our ancestors, came seeking a better life. They got jobs as maids and nannies, in factories and on farms. Too often, they were disdained by the immigrants who had preceded them. The same is all too true today.

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