So much has been written about the election, perhaps there is little to be said. Never in our lifetime did so much seem to be at stake. The McCain-Palin ticket offered a continuation of policies redistributing wealth upward, waging endless wars, and extending the grip of the Christian right theocrats. Obama's election was a historic milestone in the long, painful struggle for civil rights. Equally important, Obama has galvanized the energies of millions -- especially the young -- and has raised both their hopes and their expectations.
Yet some disillusionment has already set in. Is it cynical of us to point that out? We believe not. In this issue, both Joanne Landy and Jack Gerson show that Obama's promises themselves, as well as some of his choices of people for key positions in his administration -- people responsible for the current economic and international debacles -- are causes for concern. The hole that this country is in is a hard one to climb out of. If severe disillusionment sets in, combined with ever-deepening crises, will the pendulum shift wildly to the right? (Ominous is the fact that the sale of firearms has greatly increased since the election.) The Limbaughs and Hannitys will not hesitate to spur on their legions in any crisis. This will test our resilience. Yet we must always keep in mind that, after decades of struggle, consciousness really has been raised: a vast majority of Americans now believe in a single-payer universal health plan, in equal rights for minorities, in the protection of women's right to choose, in jobs and a living wage for all, and in peace abroad. (Not all of this was true sixty years ago. In fact, very little of it.)
In this issue, we offer Part 2 of the Gay/Left symposium begun in #45. Each of the writers gives a hard look at the past and present relationship of gays and the left. Elsewhere … Historian Nelson Lichtenstein carefully examines the way in which another time of ferment -- the year 1968 -- changed history. Robert Fitch analyzes the current economic crisis. Herman Benson considers the struggle in the powerful SEIU union. Cyril Mychalejko addresses U.S. policy in Latin America, and Robert Stout discusses the region's social movements. Jeffrey Shantz looks at a struggle -- little known in this country -- by indigenous women in Canada against the destructive threat to their community in British Columbia by the coming Olympic Winter Games in British Columbia. A long time worker in the horse racing business, Denise Flakes, continues the discussion -- begun in #44 -- of the impact of immigration on American labor.
This is a time when the enthusiasm generated by Obama's victory should offer important opportunities for progressive politics. We hope the analyses and ideas of our diverse authors will contribute to the clear thinking that the struggle for peace and justice demands.
MARVIN AND BETTY