Maybe it’s been my choice of panels, but thus far, the events I’ve attended here at Take Back America have felt curiously subdued. Under the pall of the plummeting economy and the Iraq War’s fifth anniversary, there’s not much people seem to feel that sanguine about. “Crisis is opportunity,” said Rob Johnson yesterday. But in light of how neither Clinton or Obama look poised to take on Wall Street (given the contents of their campaign coffers), and how narrowly focused the left has been for years on simply kicking Bush out of office, according to Johnson, “Right now, progressives aren’t prepared to seize that opportunity.”
What surprises me more about TBA, though, is the complete lack of programming that directly addresses the criminal justice system. There are few institutions that better represent the entrenched nature of race and class in America, or do more to replicate those inequalities over time. And even at a minimum out of political self-interest, I’d think TBA would be more engaged with the issue (nationwide, 5.3 million have lost the vote because of felony convictions–a figure that may very well have cost the Democrats the White House in 2000). One of TBA’s organizers tells me that the schedule filled up too quickly with groups representing other issues, but that absence still seems like a conspicuous oversight.