The closing minutes of Telesur host Abby Martin’s interview with Noam Chomsky last week provided a blueprint for progressives to follow after several setbacks on Tuesday.
Martin asked the MIT professor and philosopher about grassroots involvement, which prompted Chomsky to mention Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
“He’s doing good and courageous things, he’s organizing a lot of people,” Chomsky said. “That campaign ought to be directed toward sustaining a popular movement which will use the election as kind of an incentive but then go on. And unfortunately it’s not. When the election’s over, the movement’s gonna die, and that’s a serious error.”
Chomsky’s remarks resonated on a night when several progressive measures were rejected at the polls: Measures to legalize limited recreational marijuana use in Ohio, to expand anti-discrimination regulations to include LGBT workers in Houston went down in defeat, as did a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Portland, Maine to $15 an hour.
“The only thing that’s gonna ever bring about any meaningful change is ongoing, dedicated popular movements which don’t pay attention to the election cycle,” Chomsky told Martin. “It’s an extravaganza every four years — you have to be involved in it, so fine, we’ll be involved in it. But then we go on. If that were done, you could get major changes.”
Maine also provided at least one bright spot for progressives: state voters approved a measure giving more money to the Clean Election system, which cuts down on private campaign spending. The campaign manager for the bill, Alex Youn, spoke to Chomsky’s point in addressing the potentially larger impact of the victory.
“Tonight we truly started a movement,” Youn said. “We have focused a lot on the impact it would have on Maine. What we didn’t talk about was the impact it would have for the rest of the country. We’ve proven that we can fight back against special interest money in elections.”
Watch Chomsky’s remarks, as posted online, below.