Often when training new organizers or talking with activists trying to better understand the theories behind progressive social change, I have a list of recommended readings. Bob Creamer’s new book Listen to Your Mother Stand up Straight! How Progressives Can Win has just been catapulted high on the list.
I cannot recall such a comprehensive offering of solid progressive analysis with as much “how to get it done" detail. Bob utilizes his great storytelling skills to showcase his compelling belief that we have a unique opportunity to force a progressive realignment of our politics.
His work is illuminated by decades of experience fighting for justice, resulting in specific recommendations for advancing a progressive worldview.
While Bob may not be a familiar name here at the Lake, his family and his work have been well represented. His wife, Representative Jan Shakowsky, is a leader of the Get Out of Iraq Caucus and one of the most effective progressives in Congress.
Bob, founder of the Strategic Consulting Group, will never be confused with Mark Penn or other scumbag Democratic consultants. He has been an active participant in virtually every progressive issue including the last 30 attempts to end the war, the fight for immigrant rights, and the new national push for guaranteed health care as a leader in Health Care for America NOW! (HCAN).
Arguably, his most important recent contribution during the Bush nightmare was his leadership in forcing progressives and Democrats to oppose Bush’s efforts to privatize Social Security. While his name was not in the papers for this, there should be no doubt that Bob was central to this fight before virtually anyone else.
I have known Bob for over twenty years, around the same time he hired Rahm Emanuel as a fundraiser (sorry Bob – no one is perfect) and when he met Barack Obama as an organizer in Chicago. As the youngster in the predecessor organization to US Action, I sometimes clashed with some of the other longer serving Directors from other state affiliates, but not Bob. Even during the most difficult times I was always impressed by Bob’s passion for justice and his optimistic belief in the possibility for change. I am very happy that Bob has been able to share these traits with everyone in Listen to Your Mother.
The book starts with his thoughts on the tremendous opportunity these times present, and moves quickly into an analysis of the motivations of the people that we are trying to organize. Section three provides great insight into communication strategies. I have worked with Bob on a near daily basis over the last six months on efforts to end the war and prevent one in Iran in this area and can attest to his abilities here.
The last two parts of the book are about organizing campaigns and the importance of progressive vision in building a more just and democratic society. Bob has done a masterful job in laying out an inspirational manifesto for the left in the United States that is accessible and worthwhile reading for the full range, from the new organizer to the most experienced among us.
As Arianna said, “Stand Up Straight is a one-stop, nuts-and-bolts manual on how to run a winning campaign — and, in the process, return America to its progressive roots. Filled with learned-in-the-trenches lessons, Creamer’s book is a master’s class in electoral politics.”
Seldom people that do can teach. We are lucky that Bob is one of those few people. Please give him a warm welcome to the Lake.