September 26, 2014

The return of fusion politics

Harry Targ, Popular Resistance - Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, has emerged as a powerful spokesperson for the Moral Mondays movement. He articulates the view that the country is in the midst of the third reconstruction. The first, after the Civil War, brought former Black slaves and white workers together to write democratic state constitutions. They practiced a “fusion” politics;” that is working to unite people around shared issues and values and unity around race, gender, faith traditions, and the common passion for building a real democracy.

Barber reports that the fusion movement of the 1860s and 1870s was destroyed by Klan extremism and rightwing plantation supporters of the old slave system. The second reconstruction emerged in the 1950s after Brown vs. Board of Education and succumbed to a new round of extremism resulting from candidate Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” of the 1968 election season.

Now, Barber says we are in the midst of a third reconstruction. Moral Mondays movements in North Carolina, and 13 other states in the South and Midwest have begun to build a new fusion movement that draws together workers, women, young and old, black, brown, and white people, documented and undocumented, environmentalists, people of faith and atheists, and the LBGT community based upon “moral” and “constitutional” agendas. He argues that whatever an individual’s personal religious or political values, most people hold to a moral core that addresses economic justice and freedom. And, the federal and most state constitutions clearly state their commitment to democracy and justice. The moral and constitutional dimensions are not, he says, about political parties or ideologies but about these fundamental traditions.

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