A salute to all who stood up for Democracy: Savor the victory and sustain the struggle!
By JoAnn Watson
Every now and then, it is important for us to stop and proclaim victory at the end of a prolonged fight for justice. So, I urge all who are activists, to praise God and thank the masses for the re-election of President Barack Obama!
In many ways this historic re-election of the first African American president in the history of the United States of America is sweeter and more important than the 2008 victory because he won — we won — in spite of the billions of dollars poured into the campaign by corporations who are now considered “persons;” and in spite of the right-wing propaganda; and in spite of the never-ending spiel of disrespect, which has been fueled by the die-hards of discontent in America who can’t abide a Black man in the White House.
But, through it all, we won. Let us celebrate and send a hearty “thank you” to the millions who fought back against voter suppression across this nation and who stood in long lines for hours to make sure their vote counted. Thank you to the volunteers who conducted phone banks and knocked on doors to support getting out the vote and protecting the vote.
In the state of Michigan, we won again with the repeal of Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager Law. This historic statewide vote to repeal a law that was unconstitutional and undemocratic was a clear victory for The People; and we must not — should not — take it lightly.
The Emergency Manager Law was ushered in on the wings of Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled Legislature on the alleged premise of providing “relief” to municipalities and school districts who were suffering financially. The law allowed the appointment of “dictators” who have unseated elected officials; it has bypassed city charters, checkmated the state and federal Constitution and obliterated bargaining agreements and union contracts — with no checks, no balances, no votes, no accountability, no one to answer to and with no consequences after the promised “relief” to cities and schools never materialized.
Case in point: Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Flint, Detroit, Highland Park and Muskegon Heights school districts have all had emergency managers — dictators — appointed by the State of Michigan and all of these entities are faring worse after the emergency manager, with no financial relief in sight.
The Consent Agreement, which was approved by five of nine Detroit City Council members and is a provision of the Emergency Manager Law, should also be DOA along with “imposed” labor agreements.
Tragically, just as some Tea Party pundits and right-wing piranhas are unwilling to acknowledge and respect President Obama’s victory, similarly, the Republican right in the state of Michigan has arrogantly introduced yet another emergency manager bill during this lame duck session of the Michigan Legislature. This is an in-your-face confrontation to the millions of citizens statewide who voted to repeal the EM law and who valiantly engaged in months of protest, signature-gathering, lawsuit and demonstrations to Stand Up For Democracy.
But we should not allow the negative, acrimonious, anti-people dogma of the defeated to dismantle our right to claim victory, nor to lessen our resolve to demand peace, justice, dignity and freedom for all people.
We have won the historic re-election of President Barack Obama. We have won the repeal of the Emergency Manager Law. We have won the passage of Proposal C to strengthen the independence of the Corporation Counsel and we won with an historic voter turnout, which helped launch this victorious season.
The struggle still continues, as we still must fight to save our water, to save Belle Isle, to protect our land from encroachment, to preserve the rights of organized labor, to protect all of our assets, to prioritize people over profits, to fend off foreclosures and hold predatory lenders accountable, to demand housing, food, jobs, utilities and quality of life resources for citizens forced into poverty, to save our city, save our state, save our nation, save our global family and planet, to end the prison industrial complex, to insure peace, end violence and militarism and demand equally funded quality education for all students.
But beloved brothers and sisters, stop for a moment to thank God and thank the people who have fought so hard, who have worked so hard and who have loved so hard and sacrificed so much.
We know that the people united will never be defeated. We won.
JoAnn Watson is a member of the Detroit City Council.