I have recently heard people on Face Book talk a lot about the rail to Boston issue and it occurred to me that civil disobedience and direct action at the State House might be a winnable strategy.
Fundraising ideas for renting buses to Boston might be successful given the concern for building the rail network to New Bedford. There are also plenty of Boomers who went through the '60s who are now retired and might enjoy participating in such an important project, not to mention young people and other activists.
Aside from being logistically possible the message at the State House could also be that New Bedford played a key role in the property tax classification campaign which according to a UMass study in 1978 saved residents $260 million a year, statewide (in 1978 dollars.) New Bedford had one of its biggest protests in its history a week before the (tax) classification vote. It was the biggest protest in the state which was, to borrow a sports analogy, like a lead off batter in the ninth, hitting a home run in a tied game.
Every public school, city and town in the state benefited tremendously from the classification victory. The protest at City Hall made headline news in every paper in the commonwealth. That means its possible to lobby every legislator in the state on how New Bedford helped them and their town and how they should return the favor. To put it in perspective, California as successful as it is, lost classification (we call it split role) at the same time Massachusetts own Classification.
California went from first to worst in education funding because of this, while the Ann E. Casey Foundation annual report always ranks Massachusetts as one of the top three states in the country in how they treat their children. Robert Reich former Clinton labor secretary, Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate and California-based political pundit, has a video clip on the issue worth watching at www.makeitfairca.com.
The issue of connectivity is an important reason why the city needs the rail connection. Metro areas in the United States and around the world are thriving economically because of connectivity. Mayor Mitchell mentioned this point at a recent public event. Connectivity by Parag Khanna is a very good book on this subject. More than nations, we are becoming a planet of metro economic regions.
It might also be the case that not only did Trump hit a cord with white voters but many of these people were frustrated people living far outside the metro loop, so to speak. Many one-factory towns are now de-industrialized leaving residents with few options. Trump would be a far better salesman if he addressed this issue instead of his hate speech message.
Massachusetts State House legislators could also be lobbied on this fact as well. Connectivity and the rail issue is also an important environmental concern, so it should be possible to get support from environmentalists, statewide. Throw in teacher and city worker unions who have benefited from tax classification for decades and you can bring some serious pressure at the State House.
One of Fredrick Douglas' most famous quotes is "Power concedes nothing without a demand, it never did and never will."
There are many excellent leaders and organizers in the New Bedford area, the rail issue might be just what the great leader Douglass had in mind. Sit-ins at the State House might be how you demand rail for the South Coast in the Fredrick Douglass tradition.
Craig Williams lives in San Leandro, Calif.