Originally published by CounterPunch.com here.
Last January during one of the early skirmishes in the Democratic Primaries, Bernie Sanders took a rare direct shot at Hillary Clinton and her political support group, the DC cabal of liberal NGOs. Sanders had been badgered for weeks by the media for his failure to attract more endorsements from public interest groups, like Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the Human Rights Campaign, even though his record on many of their core issues was much less blemished than Clinton’s.
Finally, Sanders snapped back: “You know what? Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time. Some of these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment.”
These groups responded with mock outrage, clustering before the cameras of MSDNC to denounce Bernie. How could Sanders possibly call us part of the “Establishment”! It’s ridiculous! He should be ashamed of himself!! He must apologize!!!
But Sanders was absolutely right, of course. The Beltway network of liberal NGOS–from the Sierra Club to NOW–have become little more than dutiful subsidiaries of the Democratic Party. Many of them have enabled and abetted the party’s wholesale lurch toward neoliberalism without so much as a bleat, while howling against almost every minor infraction made by a Republican politician.
Sanders deserved credit for pointing out the obvious, but he almost immediately backed away from his comments, which pretty much symbolizes the entire course of his advance-and-retreat campaign. Again and again, Sanders won on the issues, but his campaign seems to have changed nothing about the Democratic Party or its labor and NGO allies. This is in part true because both the Democratic Party and the liberal public interest community are dependent on and beholden to the same sources of corporate and philanthropic funding. Money talks and it gags.
So the question is: what do we do now? Here at CounterPunch we are getting lots of calls from readers asking: where are the groups who will stand up to Trump? Where can I send a year-end check and know that the money will be well spent, not recycled into a fat executive salary or a bait-and-switch direct mail campaign?
There are many such groups out there; indeed, there is a vibrant and thriving grassroots movement across a whole range of issues. As a general rule, groups that didn’t challenge the policies of Obama and Clinton can’t be counted on to confront Trump.
Here, however, are 20 fearless groups fighting on the frontlines who aren’t crippled or muted by their allegiance to favorite politicians, political parties or big politically-connected donors and foundations. When the chips are down and the odds are long, they’ve got your back. Once a year, you should have theirs. They all deserve your support and, if you can spare it, your money.
Alliance for the Wild Rockies
P. O. Box 505
Helena, MT 59624
From the grizzly to the bull trout, the grey wolf to the lynx, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies is the last line of defense for the largest swath of unprotected wild lands in North America.
Anti-Police Terror Project
Beatings, taserings, illegal arrests, chokeholds, and shootings are a daily occurrence in urban America. The police won’t police themselves. With Trump in power, the Justice Department will probably stop doing even cursory investigations of such brutal actions. The Anti Police-Terror Project is building a replicable and sustainable model to end state-sanctioned murder and violence against Black, Brown, and poor people.
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 400
Takoma Park, MD 20912
Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abandon both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic.
Buffalo Field Campaign
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
The annual slaughter of buffalo that migrate out of Yellowstone Park is one of the more horrific traditions in practice in the West today. Buffalo Field Campaign is perhaps the only group working tirelessly to defend the right of bison to wander to lower elevations during winter, without the threat of being killed by Montana bureaucrats.
Campaign to End the Death Penalty
PO Box 25730
Chicago, IL 60625
The Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) is the premier national grassroots organization dedicated to the abolition of capital punishment with active chapters and members across the United States—including California, Texas, Delaware, New York, and Chicago. The campaign has placed those who have experienced the horrors of death row ﬁrst hand–death row prisoners themselves and their family members–should be at the forefront of their movement, arguing that those experiences help to shape their political strategies.
Civil Liberties Defense Center
259 E 5th Ave, Ste 300 A
Eugene, OR 97401
Increasingly the Civil Liberties Defense Center, a small, non-profit law firm based in Eugene, Oregon, has become the last line of defense for radical activists in America during this age of government repression and prosecutorial crack-downs on dissent. CLDC has led the legal fight against the McCarthy-like Green Scare attack on the constitutional rights of environmental and animal rights activists. They have defended the rights of Rastafarians to practice their religious rituals in prison. They successfully defended a mosque against the FBI’s first-ever attempt to subpoena religious records. CLDC has also developed and distributed much-needed “Know Your Rights” outreach material, and presented more than 150 “Know Your Rights” trainings.
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
P.O. Box 360
Mercersburg, PA 17236
Communities facing fracking, pipelines, factory farms, and other threats are recognizing that these seemingly “single” issue threats share something in common – the community doesn’t have the legal authority to say “No” to them. The existing structure of law ensures that people cannot govern their own communities and act as stewards of the environment, while protecting corporate “rights” and interests over those of communities and nature.
Family Farm Defenders
P.O Box 1772
Madison, Wisconsin 53701
Family Farm Defenders mission is to create a farmer-controlled and consumer-oriented food and fiber system, based upon democratically controlled institutions that empower farmers to speak for and respect themselves in their quest for social and economic justice. To this end, FFD supports sustainable agriculture, farm worker rights, animal welfare, consumer safety, fair trade, and food sovereignty. FFD has also worked to create opportunities for farmers to join together in new cooperative marketing endeavors and to bridge the socioeconomic gap that often exists between rural and urban communities.
3375 San Mateo Ave.
Reno, NV 89509-5046
Fatal Encounters is an incredibly vital project by D. Brian Burghart, the editor/publisher of the Reno News & Review, to create a national database of out how many people are killed by law enforcement, why they were killed, and whether training and policies can be modified to decrease the number of officer-involved deaths. Fatal Encounters’ efforts to collect information about officer-involved homicides going back to January 1, 2000, is completely funded by donations.
Guardians of Our Ancestors Legacy (GOAL)
P.O. Box 30000 #360
Jackson, Wy, 83002
GOAL, the Tribal Coalition to Protect the Grizzly, may be the last best hope to save the grizzly. This fierce, small, grossly underfunded outfit has pulled together over 40 tribal nations in an effort to keep the Interior Department from removing the grizzly from the Endangered Species list. With many of the big green groups missing-in-action, GOAL has mounted a powerful legal and cultural defense of the bear, arguing that allowing trophy hunting of the grizzly infringes on tribal sovereignty and violates the federal trust responsibility by disregarding tribal interests and pursuing a policy that benefits three states over a coalition of tribes from Montana to Arizona.
Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions (USA)
PO Box 8118
New York, New York 10116
Since 1967 and the beginning of the Occupation, the Israeli government has demolished over 28,000 houses belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. These demolitions are part of a web of policies designed to force Palestinians off their own land to make room for expanding Israeli settlements, construct a 26-foot high “separation barrier” that cuts deep into Palestinian territory, create a network of Israeli-only bypass roads, and generally “thin” Jerusalem of its Palestinian inhabitants. Largely obscured in U.S. politics and the media. ICAHD-USA works to educate the U.S. public about the realities of the Israeli Occupation.
PO Box 466
Moab UT 84532
From the Rocky Mountains through seven states and Mexico, the Colorado River is the artery of the desert southwest. Its canyons, ecology and heritage render an international treasure. However, ignorance, greed and complacency are robbing the Colorado of its ability to sustain life. Living Rivers empowers a movement to instill a new ethic of achieving ecological restoration, balanced with meeting human needs. They work to: restore inundated river canyons, wetlands and the delta and repeal the antiquated laws which represent the river’s death sentence.
Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Pl. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Since 1989, the Los Alamos Study Group community—our staff and board, volunteers, interns, and supporters—has consistently provided vital leadership on nuclear disarmament and related issues. Their work includes research and scholarship , education of decisionmakers, providing an information clearinghouse for journalists, organizing, litigating, and advertising, with particular emphasis on the education and training of young activists and scholars.
Middle East Children’s Alliance
1101 Eighth Street, Suite 100
Berkeley, CA 94710 US
The Middle East Children’s Alliance is a non-profit organization working for the rights of children in the Middle East by sending humanitarian aid, supporting projects for children and educating North American and international communities about the effects of the US foreign policy on children in the region.
294 N. Winooski Ave, Ste. 130,
Burlington, VT, 05401
The seeds of Migrant Justice were planted in 2009 after young dairy worker José Obeth Santiz Cruz was pulled into a mechanized gutter scraper and was strangled to death by his own clothing. This tragedy inspired the production of the documentary film Silenced Voices and led to the formation of a solidarity collective organizing to partner with farmworkers to gather the community to share food, discuss community problems, envision solutions and take collective action.
Nevada Desert Experience
1420 W Bartlett Ave
Las Vegas, Nevada 89106-2226
Fighting drones at Creech Air Base, nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site and radioactive waste disposal at Yucca Mountain, Nevada Desert Experience is trying to keep the Great Basin from becoming a national sacrifice zone for the Nuclear-Military-Industrial Complex.
Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign
174 W. Diamond St.
Philadelphia, PA 19122
The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is building a movement that unites the poor across color lines. Poverty afflicts Americans of all colors. Daily more and more of us are downsized and impoverished. We share a common interest in uniting against the prevailing conditions and around our vision of a society where we all have the right to health care, housing, living wage jobs, and access to quality primary, secondary, and higher education.
Community Futures Collective: Attn. Solitary Watch
221 Idora Ave., Vallejo, CA 94591.
While polls show that a decisive majority of Americans oppose the use of torture under any circumstances, even on foreign terrorism suspects, the conditions in U.S. prisons and jails, which at times transgress the boundaries of humane treatment, have produced little outcry. The widespread practice of solitary confinement, in particular, has received scant media attention, and has yet to find a firm place in the public discourse or on political platforms. Solitary Watch is a web-based project that brings the widespread use of solitary confinement out of the shadows and into the light of the public square. Their mission is to provide the public—as well as practicing attorneys, legal scholars, law enforcement and corrections officers, policymakers, educators, advocates, people in prison and their families—with the first centralized source of unfolding news, original reporting, firsthand accounts, and background research on solitary confinement in the United States.
Stand With Standing Rock
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
#1 N. Standing Rock Avenue
Fort Yates, ND 58538
The battle at Standing Rock isn’t over. In fact, it’s just beginning.
Voices For Creative Nonviolence
1249 W. Argyle St. #2
Chicago, Illinois 60640
Since Obama’s election, the anti-war movement in the United States has withered away, even as the wars and interventions have expanded with rising body counts. Yet one group has never wavered. You’ll find activists with Voices for Creative Nonviolence leading protests at the White House, blocking the entry to Drone Operational Centers, occupying nuclear missile silos, educating inside US prisons, and organizing for peace inside war zones, from Afghanistan to Syria. Most crucially, Voices for Creative Nonviolence recognizes that war is waged by many means. Almost alone among US anti-war groups, Voices For Creative Nonviolence is mounting a resistance to the economic war machine.