In less than a month the eviction crisis will hit the White House. The current tenants will be escorted out of the premises, the living space briskly decontaminated and the new occupants will set up shop in familiar quarters. The flags will be rearranged, the draperies changed, the Rose Garden restored to Jackie Kennedy’s original design, the stern portrait of Andrew Jackson sent back to its previous roost in the National Portrait Gallery, if not some dank storage locker at the Smithsonian. But these superficial changes, welcome as they are, will only serve to mask the underlying continuity of power.
The key word in the phrase “peaceful transfer of power” is, of course, not “peaceful” or “transfer” but “power.” The real machinery of government grinds on, year after year, decade after decade, on imperial autopilot, largely indifferent to who commands the helm. And, in Biden, we have an old hand, who offers experience and competence (instead of disruption and radical change) at managing the affairs of the empire.
We have a pretty clear notion of what this will mean. Biden was there for the birth of neoliberalism. As a politician, he has repeatedly endorse imposing “shock therapy” economic policies, not only impoverished nations, but, to be fair, also upon the poor and marginalized here in the US. He is a chief architect of our carceral state, having scripted the punitive federal crime statutes and drug laws that resulted in the US stuffing its prisons with a higher percentage of its population than the gulags of the USSR at the peak of Stalin’s purges. Biden demands obedience abroad and discipline at home.
Eight years ago, Joshua Frank and I published a book called Hopeless: Barack Obama & the Politics of Illusion, about Obama’s flat tire of a first term. Given the number of Obama retreads in Biden’s cabinet, we can probably just reissue it under a new title: Still Hopeless: The Politics of Delusion. Biden’s cabinet nominees have appeased Wall Street, Big Pharma, Silicon Valley, Raytheon and the oil companies. But he as felt no need to appease the Sandernistas and he never will unless he’s compelled to do so. Not by Bernie, but by mass movements against war, mass deportations, fracking, economy austerity and for a sane national health care system.
And here’s where we encounter the real dilemma. We can all agree that Biden is marginally better than Trump on most, though not all, issues: environment, racial justice, regulations, gender equity, education, energy policy, native rights, and immigration. Many of Trump’s worst policies where stymied by a fierce, at times even hysterical, opposition. He was confronted and often defeated in the streets, in the courts, in the voting booths. The question is: will the same resistance movements show up to confront Biden when he pursues similar policies that are remarketed under less strident packaging? It took American progressives seven years to rise up against Clinton’s neoliberal policies, even as it remained largely mute about his weekly bombings of Iraq and his war on Serbia. Obama effectively neutered the Occupy Wall Street movement and faced little opposition from his left over his escalating drone strikes, overthrow of the Libyan government, mass deportations or globalization of fracking.
So if you’re asking yourself, what is to be done now and who will do it, you’re not alone. Here at CounterPunch we get lots of calls from readers this time of year asking: where are the good groups? Where can I send a year-end check and know that the money will be well spent, not recycled into a fat executive salary or an annoying direct mail campaign? There are many such groups out there; indeed, there is a vibrant and thriving grassroots movement across a whole range of issues. Unfortunately, we can’t bring all of them to your attention. But once or twice a year we devote the pages of CounterPunch to a survey of what these organizations are up to. Here’s our end of the year list of good groups, the real resistance, fighting on the frontlines against ICE, the coal companies, the police, the CIA, the warmongers, the pipeline gougers, the bankers, the slumlords, big pharma and the child separators. They all deserve your support and, if you can spare it, your money.
Alliance for the Wild Rockies
PO Box 505. Helena, MT 59624
We are one of the smallest environmental organizations in the country, yet we have a huge impact. We have worked to protect thousands of acres of old growth forests from road building and logging in Montana’s Seeley-Swan Valley. We have stopped a 2,900 acre timber sale on the western border of Yellowstone National Park, saving 500 acres of old growth forest and preventing new logging roads from cutting into grizzly bear and lynx habitat. We have fought for native species both large and small, from mountain lions and wolverines to bull trout and ground squirrels. We are educating the public every day about the value of old growth forests and clean mountain watersheds. We are actively promoting the conservation of biological corridors between wilderness areas so that grizzlies, lynx, wolves, bison, and countless other native species can not only survive, but thrive.
Anti-Eviction Monitoring Project
San Francisco Tenants Union,
558 Capp Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project is a data-visualization, critical cartography, and multimedia storytelling collective documenting dispossession and resistance upon gentrifying landscapes. Primarily working in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York City, we are all volunteers producing digital maps, software and tools, narrative multimedia work, murals, reports, and community events.
P.O. Box 766
San Carlos , AZ 85550
A fierce coalition of activists with the San Carlos Apache Tribes who are waging a desperate struggle to save the sacred landscape of Oak Flats from the Trump administration’s move to fast-track the the transfer of this public land to the Resolution Copper Company (a subsidiary of the notorious Rio Tinto Mining Company), which plans to annihilate the important natural and cultural site with a 7,000-foot deep mine.
Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project
228 Park Ave. S. #84810
New York, NY 10003-1502
The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) represents families crossing the border and connects them with support systems they wouldn’t normally be able to access. The organization also works to prevent wrongful deportations from the United States and provides legal and emergency services.
7304 Carroll Avenue, #182, Takoma Park. MD 20912
Beyond Nuclear works to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abandon both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic.
Buffalo Field Campaign
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
The annual slaughter of buffalo that migrate out of Yellowstone Park is one of the more horrific traditions in practice in the West today. Buffalo Field Campaign is perhaps the only group working tirelessly to defend the right of bison to wander to lower elevations during winter, without the threat of being killed by Montana bureaucrats. After an 18 year fight, Buffalo Field Campaign was finally successful in forcing Montana Gov. Steve Bullock to allow bison to roam year-round on an additional 400 square miles of land outside Yellowstone Park. It’s a step in the right direction and Buffalo Field Campaign’s relentless struggle should be championed. Pony up to ensure there are more victories ahead for Yellowstone’s iconic bison population. Roam free dear buddies, roam free.
Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice
23355 County Rd 53
Uniontown, AL 36786
BBC was created to address the economic policies and practices that influence worker exploitation, poverty, and environmental violence. BBC is currently fighting for equal rights to clean air, clean water, and equal protection of land and sacred space across Alabama’s black belt. BBC is fighting against factory farms, mega-landfills, and state policies and practices that result in water pollution, toxic waste, and desecration of sacred space.
700 Marion St. NE
Salem, OR 97301
Causa is Oregon’s Latino immigrant rights organization. We were founded in 1995 by farmworkers, Latinos, immigrants, and allies in order to defeat ballot measures that would have negatively impacted the lives of Latino families in Oregon.
Civil Liberties Defense Center
1430 Willamette St. #359
Eugene, Oregon 97401
Increasingly the Civil Liberties Defense Center, a small, non-profit law firm based in Eugene, Oregon, has become the last line of defense for radical activists in America during this age of government repression and prosecutorial crack-downs on dissent. CLDC has led the legal fight against the McCarthy-like Green Scare attack on the constitutional rights of environmental and animal rights activists. They have defended the rights of Rastafarians to practice their religious rituals in prison. They successfully defended a mosque against the FBI’s first-ever attempt to subpoena religious records. They also defended the “Valve Turners” in Washington, Oregon, and Montana–including Ken Ward for his part in the “Shut it Down” actions targeting tar sands oil production and transportation–successfully advancing the climate necessity defense for the first time. And most recently, a reporter and activists from this years Black Lives Matter protests. TCLDC has also developed and distributed much-needed “Know Your Rights” outreach material, and presented more than 150 “Know Your Rights” trainings.
Coalición de Derechos Humanos
225 E 26 St.Ste #2 Tucson, AZ 85713
Grassroots organization that promotes human and civil rights of immigrants, fighting border militarization and migrant abuses. Derechos Humanos acts to influence public policy and opinion on immigration. Its bilingual website has useful resources for immigrants and advocates, such as ‘Know Your Rights’ cards,an abuse report hotline, and updated information on Arizona migrant deaths.
3375 San Mateo Ave.
Reno, NV 89509-5046
Fatal Encounters is an incredibly vital project by D. Brian Burghart, the editor/publisher of the Reno News & Review, to create a national database of out how many people are killed by law enforcement, why they were killed, and whether training and policies can be modified to decrease the number of officer-involved deaths. Fatal Encounters’ efforts to collect information about officer-involved homicides going back to January 1, 2000, is completely funded by donations.
Humane Borders/Fronteras Compasivas
P.O. Box 27024
Tucson, AZ 85726
Humane Borders offers humanitarian assistance through the deployment of water stations on routes commonly used by migrants, with the sole goal of preventing deaths. It also develops informational resources about migrant deaths, and accepts volunteers.
Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions (USA)
Po Box 81252
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
Since 1967 and the beginning of the Occupation, the Israeli government has demolished over 28,000 houses belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. These demolitions are part of a web of policies designed to force Palestinians off their own land to make room for expanding Israeli settlements, construct a 26-foot high “separation barrier” that cuts deep into Palestinian territory, create a network of Israeli-only bypass roads, and generally “thin” Jerusalem of its Palestinian inhabitants. Largely obscured in U.S. politics and the media. ICAHD-USA works to educate the U.S. public about the realities of the Israeli Occupation.
3655 South Grand Avenue, Suite 240
Los Angeles, CA 90007
JusticeLA is working to reduce the footprint of incarceration in Los Angeles County and reinvest county dollars into alternatives to incarceration.Since their launch, Justice LA has successfully stopped LA County’s $3.5 billion jail expansion plan and lead the development of LA County’s Alternatives to Incarceration Workgroup report.
Kids in Need of Defense
1201 L St NW,
Washington, DC 20005
Kids In Need of Defense defends the rights of unaccompanied immigrant or refugee children and ensures they can not appear in court without high quality legal representation.
Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Place NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
The Los Alamos Study Group seeks nuclear disarmament, environmental protection and enhancement, social justice, and economic sustainability. They are promoting a new balance of federal and state priorities that supports community development and economic improvement, greater democratic enfranchisement, renewable energy and related investments with local ownership, with elevated environmental and climate stewardship and associated education and careers in New Mexico.
Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859
For over a decade Lakota People’s Law Project has been standing strong with the Lakota to end the long history of treaty violations and systemic corruption that has resulted in the loss of their most sacred lands and the epidemic of children being removed from their families and traditions. LPLP engages in ongoing efforts to reclaim ancestral lands, and to stop all threats to Lakota land and resources. We believe that Native peoples possess inherent sovereignty and the right to autonomous rule and self-determination. The Lakota flourished for centuries before Europeans arrived on these lands, and their tradition of living in relation to all things is more important today than ever before. We are committed to working with the Lakota toward the revitalization of their people and culture.
Musicians Emergency Fund (Jazz Foundation of America)
247 West 37 Street, Suite 201
New York, NY 10018
Musicians who have made a living playing blues, jazz, and roots music know can call our the funds office at any time or walk through our doors for help in solving an emergency. Fund averages 30 individual musician emergency cases a day and approximately 9,000 assists every year. The mission of the fund is to prevent homelessness with housing assistance, keep artists healthy with pro bono medical care and provide financial support that keeps the lights on and food on the table.
National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
100 Warren St.
Roxbury, MA 02119
The National Council is committed to abolishing incarceration for women and girls. As formerly incarcerated women, we believe a prison will never be the place for a woman or girl to heal and advance her life. Prison most often causes further social and economic harm and does not result in an increase in public safety. The prison experience increases trauma in women and, if they are mothers, to the children they are separated from. It deepens poverty in the individual lives of incarcerated people and the overall economic stability of their communities.
740A Round Lake Road
Luck, Wisconsin 54853
Nukewatch began in 1979 in response to the cold war build up of nuclear weapons and the secrecy surrounding the nuclear industry. Nukewatch conducted TrackWatch; a program to monitor and expose secret shipments of radioactive waste on U.S. rails; TruckWatch, the transportation of H-bombs and component parts in unmarked trucks by the DOE; Nukewatch mapped all 1,000 land-based nuclear missile silos for educational and organizing purposes. Nukewatch has a long history of successful grassroots organizing across the nation.
Students for a National Health Care Program
29 E. Madison St., Ste. 1412
Chicago, IL 60602
The mission of Students for a National Health Care Program is to educate and organize on the need for a comprehensive, high-quality, publicly-funded health care program, equitably accessible to all residents of the United States. Equitable accessibility requires removal of the barriers to adequate health care currently faced by the uninsured, the poor, minority populations and immigrants, both documented and undocumented.
PO Box 411074
San Francisco, CA 94141
A voice of freedom broadcasting from behind the walls of injustice? Look no further than Prison Radio, where you’ll hear fantastic, insightful commentaries by Mumia Abu-Jamal and others who have faced decades of repression from within our unjust judicial system. These are the best, most fierce reports on life inside America’s prisons. NPR can’t touch these folks. Tune in and donate if you can.
P.O. Box 5007
Larkspur, CA 94977
Project Coyote works to change negative attitudes toward coyotes, wolves and other misunderstood predators by replacing ignorance and fear with understanding, respect and appreciation. Project Coyote has campaign to end brutal coyote “killing contests” and advocated for non-lethal forms of predator control by ranchers and farmers.
Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty
P.O. Box 1362 Lanett, AL 36863
Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty is an Alabama death row prisoner founded and run organization. We were founded in 1989. Our mission is to work together with friends and other supporters to educate the public and to bring about the abolition of the death penalty in Alabama. For the past 16 years we have been working on a moratorium initiative, which has taken us before city councils, county commissions, groups, churches. 850 entities in Alabama have signed on. We also reach out to families of murder victims and law enforcement to help us achieve our goal of a moratorium. We believe we can not do it without their generosity.
Showing Up for Racial Justice
PO Box 1376
Buffalo, NY 14205
Showing Up for Racial Justice is working to organize white people, especially working class people, into racial justice work. SURJ employs three core strategies: Delegitimize racist institutions; Fight for a fair economy that refuses to pit communities against each other; Shift culture (meaning the underlying beliefs folks have about people and the world) in a way that undermines support for white supremacy.
Community Futures Collective: Attn. Solitary Watch
221 Idora Ave., Vallejo, CA 94591.
While polls show that a decisive majority of Americans oppose the use of torture under any circumstances, even on foreign terrorism suspects, the conditions in U.S. prisons and jails, which at times transgress the boundaries of humane treatment, have produced little outcry. The widespread practice of solitary confinement, in particular, has received scant media attention, and has yet to find a firm place in the public discourse or on political platforms. Solitary Watchis a web-based project that brings the widespread use of solitary confinement out of the shadows and into the light of the public square. Their mission is to provide the public—as well as practicing attorneys, legal scholars, law enforcement and corrections officers, policymakers, educators, advocates, people in prison and their families—with the first centralized source of unfolding news, original reporting, firsthand accounts, and background research on solitary confinement in the United States.
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Austin, Texas 78708-2212
TCADP is working to reduce use of the death penalty in Texas and, ultimately, end this arbitrary, irreversible, and unfair punishment. Partly due to the work and organizing done by TCADP, on cases that raised troubling questions about the fairness and accuracy of the Texas death penalty less than half of the executions scheduled for 2019 were actually carried out.
Voices For Creative Nonviolence
1249 W. Argyle St. #2
Chicago, Illinois 60640
You’ll find activists with Voices for Creative Nonviolence leading protests at the White House, blocking the entry to Drone Operational Centers, occupying nuclear missile silos, educating inside US prisons, and organizing for peace inside war zones, from Afghanistan to Syria. Most crucially, Voices for Creative Nonviolence recognizes that war is waged by many means. Almost alone among US anti-war groups, Voices For Creative Nonviolence is mounting a resistance to the economic war machine.