Prospects for Change in 2015

Submitted by Andrea Perrault

change2As 2015 gets underway, what do we have to look forward to? It seems impossible to contemplate, but the political campaign for President of the United States will begin in earnest.  The mid-term election of 2014 left many of us in despair, feeling that we’ve been inundated with too much hype and too many unsatisfying election results.  The first six years of Barack Obama’s presidency have gone by quite fast, and its promise seems largely unrealized. When I think back to the optimism I had felt, it seems that there were forces of retrenchment to which I was blind that had gathered to obstruct any progressive change. Does this mean that progressive change is not even possible within government, or that the mere election of a black man as President – or perhaps a woman – is the most change that progressives can get? Is change on issues that need strong action too much to hope for, too?  Must we expect that environmental, civil rights, and economic justice issues will be stalled inevitably when “nontraditional” people gain power? This seems to have been the reality of the past six years as Congress became gridlocked. With this recent history, what can we hope for from the next election?

Can the United States aspire to have a truly representative government at the very highest levels? Do citizens even want such a government?  Can they even envision it?

I think the 2014 statewide election in Massachusetts held some very interesting keys to how change might be effected. The primary elections are the perfect crucible for stealth change. We had candidates who built electoral victories by seemingly coming from out of nowhere – Maura Healey won for Attorney General, and Scott Moulton won the sixth district Congressional seat. Both are highly accomplished individuals, yet largely unknown. They both deserved the opportunity to hold office. It seems that they went directly to targeted voters or to specific communities, vaulting over entrenched political forces to win their primary races. However they did it, I salute their success! I hope they will be active as role models for others seeking to do the same. That primary elections have dismal turnout rates is undisputed in the Commonwealth. Targeting these elections to bring progressive voices into the mainstream may be the best way to see the changes we hope for.

Political campaigning for the Presidency will begin this winter, but in fact, we will be inundated with slogans and positioning for the entire year and beyond. Let’s keep our ears to the ground in search of real progressive change, understanding that it may be coming from new voices who are already organizing.