So students at Rutgers kickstarted a campaign to overthrow the incumbent local Democratic machine and as a result are really shaking things up.
These students created a legitimate organization that is composed of residents across the city. They do community organizing by day, electioneering by night, and (electorally) they’ve been remarkably successful.
A group of Rutgers University students and graduates have brought their brand of social-justice activism off campus and into the streets of New Brunswick, winning seats on a key political committee and starting a movement to change the way city elections are held.
“We’re community organizers,” said Charles Kratovil, a 2009 graduate. “We think it’s the best way to effect real change – just like when Barack Obama got out of college, he became a community organizer.”
Kratovil and his fellow students are members of Empower Our Neighborhoods – a group that performs a range of social-justice projects and also spawned an offshoot organization, Democrats for Change to mount a direct challenge to the established Democratic Party that dominates New Brunswick politics.
Democrats for Change, a coalition of moderate, progressive, and revolutionary democrats inspired by Obama’s campaign, shocked the political establishment in New Jersey’s recent primary election winning twenty-five out of fifty-six Democratic Party committee seats against New Brunswick’s entrenched Daleyesque political machine.
The election marks the first time New Brunswick’s conservative Democratic Party machine suffered a defeat at the polls. “For far too long the administration has heard only the voices of commercial developers and business,” said life-long New Brunswick resident Charlie Renda, “Yesterday’s vote signals the beginning of a renewal of democracy in New Brunswick” he added.
For many organizers this is the beginning of a larger political project. “It is time for progressives and radicals to get out of protest mode and to start taking power at the local level. It can be done. We are proving it,” said Keith Joseph a campaign organizer, “we hope to start uniting with progressives who are struggling for political power in other cities” he added.
We should do something like this here at Brandeis!
This is really cool, and Social Justice is our thing, you know? I firmly believe that a sustainable organization of Brandeis grads and students working for positive change in Waltham/Boston would be good for students, a great place to work after you graduate, and, most of all, great for the community.
More than Words and the various Waltham Group projects are arguably a good place to start. They already have ties to the community and Brandeis proper.
We don’t have to /copy/ the Rutgers crew, but the point is that we can and probably should get involved in our community more, and in an organizing sort of way, not just a service sort of way.
I am a member of the Waltham City Democratic Committee. On one hand, the current committee isn’t very fearsome or entrenched. On the other hand, they don’t seem corrupt either. They’re just normal, decent, people, you know?
This is my point. We have so much opportunity to do good. Let’s not forget that. Also, compare and contrast that with Student Union shitshow. Which is more worth praise and attention?