Quantcast

The Beat | The Nation

  •  

The Beat

  • Share
  • Decrease text size Increase text size

BEYOND SEATTLE

The one-year anniversary of the "Battle in Seattle" saw embattled World Trade Organization chief Michael Moore peddling the argument that the WTO had weathered the storm of protest that derailed its "millennium round" session in Seattle. But the word from the streets was that the resistance continues. At least 2,000 people joined anniversary demonstrations in Seattle, where a day of peaceful protest--including a march that saw Sea Turtles dancing with Santa Claus and the Lesbian Avengers--gave way to a tense evening in which Seattle police fired pepper spray and pellets at crowds of demonstrators before arresting 140.... Many anniversary celebrations featured a pair of documentaries on the Seattle protests: This Is What Democracy Looks Like, with footage from more than 100

Independent Media Center

About the Author

John Nichols
John Nichols
John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated...

Also by the Author

Hillary Clinton may not be a populist, but she is a savvy politician.

Eighty percent of Americans want to hike wages, but powerful Republicans keep saying no.

activists, narration by

Susan Sarandon

and music from

Rage Against the Machine

; and

Shaya Mercer

's Trade Off, which won best documentary honors at the 2000 Seattle International Film Festival and has been selected for inclusion in the

Human Rights Watch

International Film Festival. A Washington, DC, reception honoring Trade Off drew together

Public Citizen

, the

United Steelworkers of America

and other key players in the "Seattle Coalition," which was badly shaken by this fall's split between backers of Democrat Al Gore and Green Ralph Nader. "I'm glad to see the Seattle Coalition is still together," said

Teamsters

president

James Hoffa

. Notably absent from the sponsor list for the event, however, were the

AFL-CIO

and the

Sierra Club

, which released a joint statement recognizing the anniversary and announcing plans to hold town meetings on globalization.

NORTHERN EXPOSURE

Canada got an introduction to American-style right-wing politics with the candidacy of Alliance Party chief Stockwell Day in the country's November 27 parliamentary elections. But after a strong start, Day, a flashy populist whose antiabortion, antigay and antigovernment views earned him the title "Canada's Jesse Helms," fell far short of his US contemporaries, with the Alliance winning only sixty-six parliamentary seats to 172 for Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's Liberal Party. Activists who weren't necessarily pro-Chrétien mobilized across Canada to stop Day, while Day's plan to allow citizens to force national referendums on issues like abortion led Canada's satirical television news program This Hour Has 22 Minutes to launch a petition demanding a national referendum on the question of whether Day should change his first name to Doris.... Canada's

New Democratic Party

, a democratic socialist group, won 8.5 percent of the vote. But the party, which moved toward the political center prior to the election, lost six seats, provoking calls from top backers for a leftward shift. "We have a crisis, and it's going to require the rebirth of a democratic socialist left party," says

Buzz Hargrove

, president of the powerful

Canadian Auto Workers

union.

COMING OUT GREEN

After the November 7 election, not many Democrats were embracing the

Green Party

banner. But San Francisco Board of Supervisors candidate

Matt Gonzalez

has done just that, announcing his decision in the midst of an intense campaign leading up to a December 12 runoff election. Gonzalez, who ran a strong race for district attorney last year, said he was angered by Democratic candidates' refusal to debate Greens running at the state and national levels, and he expressed his distaste for the support by top Democrats of the death penalty and anti-gay marriage rules. "Many in my campaign urged me not to change parties or at least to wait until I had won the election,'' explains Gonzalez, who as a result of his announcement drew rebukes from local Democrats and saw a fundraiser that had been scheduled on his behalf canceled. "But why should I? What kind of impression would I be making on voters when I'm asking them to trust me if I can't even be honest about my party affiliation?'' Gonzalez has the support of tenant groups, local unions (which announced their support after his party switch), the

Bay Guardian

newspaper and Board of Supervisors President

Tom Ammiano

. He's running as part of a loose-knit slate of candidates challenging the pro-business policies of Mayor Willie Brown.

BACK TO THE BADLANDS

In the bleak midwinter of 1981-82,

Bruce Springsteen

read

Howard Zinn

's A People's History of the United States and reflected on hard times in Ronald Reagan's land of plenty. Retreating to a rented house with only a tape deck and a guitar, Springsteen recorded Nebraska, an album critic Patrick Humphries called "as compelling and poignant a comment on the Reagan years as any in print or on film.'' Said Springsteen, "A bunch of people wrote about it as a response to the Reagan era, and it obviously had that connection.'' Now, with another Republican poised to assume the presidency,

Chrissie Hynde

,

Ben Harper

,

Ani DiFranco

,

Johnny Cash

and other artists have contributed tracks to Badlands: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska (Sub Pop), sales of which aid

Doctors Without Borders

.

Dar Williams

's gender-twirling take on "Highway Patrolman" is brilliant, as is her new solo album, The Green World, which includes a moving tribute to

Daniel

and

Philip Berrigan

.

John Nichols's e-mail is jnichols@thenation.com.

  • Share
  • Decrease text size Increase text size