LETTER: Two paths forward

Lots of people have been emailing me to ask: what do we do now? My advice is that activists should immediately start moving into rural cities—low population areas of America—and prepare to sweep local elections in 2 years. This is the solution on many levels.
My campaign for Mayor of Nehalem demonstrated that this rural path to power is not easy but it is viable. I achieved 20 percent of the vote in Nehalem, Oregon on an unabashedly revolutionary democracy platform. The Green party got less than 1percent nationally. Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, who raised $222,000 for his campaign, won just 2 percent of the vote in the primary in Baltimore, an urban city.
I was the only person to challenge a Mayoral election in Tillamook County, Oregon. In every city except for Nehalem, the people were given no choice. In nearby Bay City there weren’t enough candidates to fill all of the open city council seats. If an activist had run, she’d have won outright. This signals a tremendous opportunity.
During my campaign, I discovered quite painfully why elections here are traditionally uncontested. My political opponents spread terrible, malicious lies accusing me of Satanism and worse. Rallying under the reactionary slogan “Keep Nehalem, Nehalem” they resorted to bullying and social ostracization against anyone who supported my candidacy. And in the final days before the vote, some turned to overt racism and outright harassment. Now that we know their tactics, we are better prepared to win the next election.
There are two paths forward.
We must double down on showing the good people who already live in rural communities that it is in their family’s best interest to demand greater democracy. As we can see in Nehalem, one out of five people is convinced by this message. And it is already changing the way power flows here: now, at least, the people are watching. In January, only one person attended the Nehalem City Council meeting. This week, so many citizens crammed into council chambers that they had to bring out more chairs.
Second, we need urban activists—you!— to relocate into rural America. This is an entryist strategy that requires a leap of faith. It takes courage to uproot your life in pursuit of an ideal. The reward in this case is sovereignty and the power to transform the movement’s positive dreams into concrete reality.
If we were to control the city council of Nehalem, for example, we could eradicate hunger in our city; establish a citizen advisory council; and end the disenfranchisement of the vast majority of people who live within Nehalem but outside of Nehalem’s city limits and are therefore unable to vote or run for office. This would be just the beginning of a reimagination of democracy that could spread across the world.
When the people have sovereignty, all things are possible.
At the heart of the essential conflict within America is two competing visions of populism. On one side is Populist Authoritarianism, a dangerous regression to charismatic leaders and the perils of the 20th century. On the other side is Populist Horizontalism, a forward-looking people-centric vision of planetary democracy.
This is an invitation to join us in Nehalem, to become our neighbor and to help us as we continue on the uncharted path toward people’s democracy.
Only by grace,
Micah White

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