Sharing some Monday morning post-J20 post-Women’s March thoughts:
1. Dismissing the Women’s March isn’t helpful.
We (vaguely speaking “the left”) may not be able to survive (literally), let alone win or succeed, if we think we don’t need to engage and win over the “centrists” (center-left, center, and maybe even center-right) forces in this period.
2. Pushing for unity with the center at all costs isn’t helpful.
Decades of centrist politics and policies are what got us into the current moment in the first place. Forgive the caps but: WE CANNOT TAIL THE CENTRISTS.
3. The left can and must lead with expertise and innovation, not just analysis.
We need some kind of alliance between the left and center forces, to not only to fight back, but possibly even to just survive. The key question is whether we can build this alliance with the left providing leadership rather than tailing the centrists (see above). That said, the left will not come into leadership by having the right analysis. The left will win leadership by both engaged and principled struggle, and by taking lead in campaigns, issues and methods where we have the expertise and innovation.
4. Shaming is not strategic.
Shaming, calling out, and ridiculing the centrists for not having the right analysis or for not having the right historical record will get us nowhere. In the words of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “None of us was born a radical.” The most important skill we must develop in this period and for the long haul is how to have a principled struggle of ideas — and to do it in a way that wins people over to our side.
5. Values trump analysis.
This is a time of populism. This is a time to speak of our values and what kind of vision we have for society. The need for critical analysis is deeper than ever, but that is not what is going to move or win people over.
Let’s turn our principled critiques into a path forward!
Fahd Ahmed has been a grassroots organizer on the issues of racial profiling, immigrant justice, police accountability, national security, and educational justice over the last 16 years. He is currently the Executive Director of DRUM-Desis Rising Up & Moving of New York City, where he has served in various capacities since 2000. DRUM has mobilized and built the leadership of thousands of low-income, South Asian immigrants to lead social and policy change that impacts their own lives- from immigrant rights to education reform, civil rights, and worker’s justice.