Real democracy in action. Both situations did not have the law on their side, regulations or much of anything. Yet both of those fights had real victories. There are real lessons that can be learned from these two high profile situations. Lessons that are important as we as a country enter the Trump era. Although there was science and legal work in both situations that was done to build a case to stop the madness that was not the magic answer. It was people. Hundreds of people and at time thousands of people who stood up, took risks, spoke out in a united voice to say, “NO” that made the difference.
It was also using the media and a narrative that the average American person could understand. It was value-based and widely supported. One of the differences was at Love Canal the residents had the mainstream media on their side. In Standing Rock it was the alternative media, Amy Goodman from Democracy Now, who refused to let the story go. It wasn’t until she was charged by police for breaking the law, that the story caught on with the mainstream media. There was also the difference of Love Canal families who were largely working class white people and at Standing Rock were Indigenous Peoples at the center of the struggle. That’s part of America’s racism that is real and again demonstrated at Standing Rock.
This is a story, a comparison which needs more analysis and lessons learned. Yes, a longer article needs to be written. Unfortunately I can’t do that now, but will likely in the future. My reason for raising this comparison at all, is for all of those who say under Trump we have no chance. Yes you do–yes we do– but only if we organize people, unite voices and build the political power that is needed to not only save what we’ve got, but win more. We can do it– but it takes stepping out of your place of comfort, take some risks like signing a petition that your friends might not agree with or giving something– a dollar, an hour, food, make a phone call, go to a meeting and so much more. Today is the day for you to make a change so we — all of us — can live in a free, safe, healthy and inclusive world.