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What We Lost After We Won in 2008

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  • An anti-war activist explains what the Democratic establishment fails to understand.
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  • Two years after an election that saw record voter turnout and engaged huge numbers of new voters, a sense of anomie and disconnection has replaced euphoria.
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  • This article is part of In These Times' December issue cover package, Where We Go From Here. The other cover story is Amy Dean's "A New Blueprint for Change."
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Marilyn Katz, In These Times

On a sleepy Sunday in September 2002, I was awakened by a call from Bettylu Saltzman, a longtime progressive activist and fundraiser in Chicago, who, disturbed by a dinner conversation the night before, asked, “What are we going to do about this war that Bush is going to lead us into in Iraq?” Awakened also from nearly a decade-long slumber in which there were no mass demonstrations, we realized that if we didn’t do something, it was more than likely that no one would. Gleaning names from our phone books, we called together a small meeting of about 15 people from various former alliances—Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Harold Washington coalition.

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It was only a year after the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York, and the repression in the country was palpable. John Poindexter, director of the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness project, was rumored to be compiling a list of subversives. It was a scary time—and even among these long-tested activists, there was apprehension: What would be the repercussions of our acts? One year after 9/11, would people really speak out? What if no one came?

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