Center for Democratic Renewal

Since 1979, the Center for Democratic Renewal (CDR) has been in the forefront of the struggle against the injustice of white supremacy. Our experience in research, organizing, and training was developed through work with more than 1,000 communities faced with Klan marches, Holocaust denial, or hate crimes. Even though the lines distinguishing the far right, the Religious Right, and ultra-conservatives have blurred, many of their themes are the same. Their ideological and organizational overlap must be exposed. We offer the following strategies for consideration by the progressive movement:

  • Build strong think tanks for progressives so that the ideology and strategies of the right can be countered.

  • Increase the use of media, especially talk shows and talk radio, to get our message out to the majority of the public that gets its information this way.

  • Establish strong relationships with mainstream religious groups and churches to counter the sanctimonious claim that only the Religious Right are people of faith.

  • Democratize access to the information superhighway, such as the Internet. This valuable resource is under-utilized by people who share our perspectives and is inaccessible to a large part of our constituency, yet over three million Americans now use the Internet.

  • Start grassroots voter education about the true policy implications of the right; don't let them get away with clever soundbites without exposing the policy consequences of their proposals. For example, unfunded mandates would mean that many environmental regulations would be thrown out of the window.

  • Decouple their sweet talk from their meanness. Make the right talk about real issues, not just slogans on moral values. Religious groups shouldn't act, or sound, like hate groups.

  • Use a human rights analysis to link progressive issues together and offer a strategy for holding our government and individuals accountable to international standards.

  • Work in broad-based coalitions that unite all of those affected by the right. Single-issue and identity-based politics have their limits and are inadequate for tackling the complexities of the right.

Understand that the key to combating the right is at the grassroots level, so build and strengthen local organizations that can mobilize people community by community and block by block. Don't get discouraged. The backlash politics of the right are just that--a response to the success of our movements for social justice. We will win again!

The Center for Democratic Renewal in Atlanta, Georgia is a national organization assisting community-based groups fighting prejudice and hate crimes. This article first appeared in the CDR newsletter The Monitor, in March 1995. © 1995, Center for Democratic Renewal.

Center for Democratic Renewal

P.O. Box 50469
Atlanta, GA 30302-0469
(404) 221-0025

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This article is adapted from:
Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash
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