Ten years ago, progressive steps in Congress and state governments were far less common. The death penalty wasn’t on the way out. Automatic voter registration wasn’t on the way in. Talk of a Green New Deal was rare. Even progressive groups didn’t talk much about moving money from police and the military to human and environmental needs 10 years ago, apart from RootsAction.
As of April 4, 2021, RootsAction has been at work for 10 years. The successes we’ve led the way on or been a part of include 116 we’ve put into a list. Some tributes from people who’ve worked with RootsAction during its first decade we’ve put into a video. We’ve helped to enact progressive legislation at the local, state, and national levels, helped elect progressive leaders, and successfully pressured corporations, including media outlets, for positive change. In the process, we’ve educated and mobilized huge numbers of people through the media, and through our email list, website, social media, videos, and books that we’ve produced.
Noam Chomsky has this to say: “It’s a real pleasure to join in celebrating ten years of impressive accomplishment of RootsAction — in stemming the tide of reaction and pressing forward toward the kind of world to which we aspire and that we can and must achieve. The challenges we face are daunting. RootsAction is needed more than ever. On to what lies ahead with energy and commitment, and mutual support.”
On April 4, 2011, we sent out our first email, to a very small number of people. It shared resources for expanding one’s understanding of who Dr. Martin Luther King was and what he worked for. It was on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, that King said,
“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. . . . A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, ‘This way of settling differences is not just.'”
Since that day, RootsAction has been almost unique in advancing a full platform of progressive causes that does not omit peace, and in advancing the same principled demands regardless of the political party of the current U.S. president. That includes some demands made in both April 2011 and April 2021, and for 10 years in between, such as the demand to end the war on Afghanistan, the proposal of a tax on Wall Street, and insistence on accountability for destroyers of the natural environment.
RootsAction now has over a million of us involved, which has allowed us to have a bigger and bigger impact. We didn’t have a lot of company in vigorously opposing the nomination of Neera Tanden for the Office of Management and Budget director, and only a little more in opposing that of Michèle Flournoy to head the Pentagon. We’ve organized a good-sized coalition now opposing the nomination of Rahm Emanuel for an ambassadorship. We joined with many others this spring in winning an end to the death penalty in Virginia and an end to the blacklisting by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee of consultants who work for challengers to incumbents.
In this, our first decade, RootsAction has created an Education Fund and a Do-It-Yourself petition site that have won numerous victories as well. Some people who have used out DIY petition site successfully talk about it in our video.
Congressman Ro Khanna says, “For the last decade, RootsAction.org has done the essential daily work of helping to grow progressive movements from the grassroots. RootsAction organizes strategically in support of big reforms that our country needs – such as Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, police accountability, workers’ rights, fair taxation of giant corporations and the super-wealthy, real diplomacy and an end to forever wars. RootsAction is the kind of steadfast ally that progressives in Congress need when we’re challenging entrenched power.”
Ten years from now, we have every reason to believe that RootsAction will be stronger than ever, especially if more and more people join in. And the 10th anniversary gear found here and here may be real collector’s items.