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A Notable Voice in the California Elections

As many know, I don't get involved in electoral politics. But when a campaign is actually an organizing effort draped in the electoral garb, I can be persuaded.

A campaign unfolding in California doesn't even need to persuade me. It involves Greg Akili (known mainly as just plain "Akili"), a veteran activist, union organizer, community organizer, teacher, explainer and family person. I know Akili through the Praxis project and am cheerleading his run this year for California State Assembly. I just think it's significant that he's as old as I am; a man of color and a long, long-time activist and organizer.

Just look at that bio on his site (whose url is below).

But what's most significant, I think, is the campaign itself and the moment in which it unfolds.

Now I'm not saying that California is my new concentration or that state politics is a new hobby: hell, if I can't get involved in National politics, you can imagine my take on state politics. But this is something else and it's worth considering for all progressives.

In light of the right-wing organized attack on anything human and humane in this society, there is a clear multi-pronged response going on and this is actually reflected world-wide. In most of the countries of the Third World, there are clear movements of revolutionary orientation whose immediate tactical goal is change in the government and whose short-term tactical approach encompasses elections. Obviously, all such movements have a much wider tactical array than that but electoral work is certainly part of the package.

Akili is not a politician; never has been. His purpose in going into that campaign is to establish a pillar: a place in the California State campaigns where major political questions facing this country are voiced, debated and then linked to the specific local and state issues facing the residents of California. California is a testing ground. In some states dominated by the extreme right, you can pass all kinds of stuff but in California, which is very mixed politically (and very contested in many ways), it's not all that easy for them to do what they want. And yet they are trying because it's such an important state politically and the outcome of that struggle is certain to have national impact.

Taking that on, as Akili is doing, is a great use of a campaign and the time involved in it.

But, hang on for a sec. What if he wins? What if that voice joins the disjointed chorus that determines so much about the day to day life in that huge state? And what if that voice were to join a chorus of progressive voices in state houses nationally?

Again, this is not a full strategy; in fact, I think electoral work is more a tactic than a strategy. But there's no question in my mind that an independent electoral force is needed in this country. I'm talking about a real independent force -- not some "progressive" section of the Democratic Party or some "white led" alternative party. I'm talking about an electoral movement that is actually led, in great part, by people of color.

Akili's campaign is representative of the seeds people are planting to move toward that goal.

Visit the site and see what kind of support you can give this campaign.