04 November 2010

After the Election: A Future Worth Fighting For

The midterm elections have certainly altered the landscape. Conservatives, as predicted, captured control of the House, made significant gains in the Senate, and will take up residence in a host of new Governor’s mansions nationwide. For those of us who spend our lives fighting for equality and social justice, there’s plenty of reason for deep concern: health care legislation, unemployment benefits, investments in child care, and protecting a woman’s right to choose are all up for attack given this new balance of power.

Many progressives have greeted this news with an understandable level of despair. But as we enter this new chapter in our nation’s political life -- we at the Ms. Foundation encourage you to forgo despair in favor of something much more powerful: a belief in the ability and tenacity of grassroots organizations to engage communities and build momentum -- even in the face of the political challenges currently before us.

This belief buoys us right now, and for good reason. We know the work our grantee partners do every day to push for policies at the local, state and national levels that will benefit women and families. We know that their organizing and advocacy makes a difference in communities across the country -- whether they’re fighting in New York for the passage of a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (signed into law just this year) or demanding that California’s new governor undo drastic budget cuts that will otherwise leave 80,000 low-income families without access to child care.

We are hopeful because we know that the ongoing economic crisis presents a moment of opportunity for systemic social change -- one that our grantees will fight for no matter who holds the power in Congress. Our grantee partners are working from the ground up to build a new economy based on a new set of values and principles – an economy that puts those directly affected by the economic crisis and most marginalized from the centers of power (very often women) at the forefront of creating powerful policy solutions. They do this by pushing for green and other non-traditional jobs for women; by organizing in state-wide coalitions to fight for paid sick leave; by launching campaigns to ensure that local workers have access to living wages that keep them out of poverty; and by implementing creative organizing strategies that connect grassroots solutions to national platforms for greater impact.

Whatever the media may have told you, the grassroots progressive movement hasn’t lost its steam. The organizations we fund are steadfast and stalwart; they fight for equality in good times and in bad. They fought to advance social justice in the 111th Congress and will continue to do so during the 112th – whatever the political climate may be.

One thing is for certain: now, more than ever, progressive grassroots organizations need our help in holding the line against regressive measures, and in pushing forward local and state-based initiatives that expand opportunities for us all. They will need our support as they continue to build larger and stronger and constituencies, the only hope in paving the road to a more progressive political future.

The problems we face today are insurmountable only if we stop believing that change really is possible and the future worth fighting for. Women working at the grassroots every day are creating that future by meeting basic needs and healing families and communities. Will you join them?

Sara K. Gould, President and CEO

Susan Wefald, Executive Vice President and COO

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