Dali Time Happy New Year

There’s a wonderful exhibit of surrealist Salvador Dali paintings and sculptures in New York’s Time Warner Center. They’re so alluring, they’re even upstaging the huge Botero Adam and Eve sculptures that attract much photo-snapping of people grinning slyly at Adam’s eye-level penis.

I am mesmerized by Dali’s clock sculptures. They drip time, melt time, warp time. Juxtapose fast and slow passage of time, or rather tease us for thinking such mundane distinctions exist. Apparently Dali agreed with Albert Einstein that time exists only so that everything doesn’t happen at once.

The Dance of Time

We may dance with time in our imaginations, but we mere realists and non-Einsteins need some concrete delineations of when things start and stop. Because too often it does feel as though everything is happening at once.

Milestones, Resolutions, Predictions
The New Year is a marker when we tend to think and talk about time a lot.

We look back on the big news events and personal milestones of the past year, clean out the closets of our minds, and make resolutions about what we plan to do in the next 365 day chunk of time. (Plug here—check out the new 9 Ways Power Tune-up and Journal for questions to help you consider where you are and where you want to go in your work, civic life, and personal relationships in the New Year.)

I asked my Facebook friends and Twitter followers what they think the biggest news stories of 2010 were. Responses range from Wikileaks to DADT repeal to Democrats losing the elections and therefore being freed to get some work done. That’s a very positive spin on my biggest disappointment, which the Democratic Congress and Barack Obama’s squandered time due to unwillingness to push hard enough against Republican recalcitrance on everything from judicial appointments to tax cuts for the wealthy. The campaign-promised Freedom of Choice Act was relegated to the ash heap without a peep from the women’s groups; the Paycheck Fairness Act was given a pro-forma fight but clearly wasn’t on Obama’s going home list.

On the plus side, seeing the fourth-ever woman appointed to the U.S, Supreme Court, bringing the current Court to one-third female symbolizes a shift toward leadership parity  that can’t be ignored and that despite a small step backward for women in the new Congress is, I believe, stoppable only if women ourselves fail to pursue leadership opportunities.

What are your picks?

Trends I Like

Significant gender power trend stories began with noting that 2010 was the year that women became half of the paid workforce, and ended with the emergence of stories like this one about men in the always-ahead-of-the-curve Netherlands taking “daddy-time,” working four days a week instead of five or making their flexible workdays compatible with their family responsibilities. I hope that the next great wave of the feminist movement will be men and women together changing the workplace so both can have a life and earn a living.

And in the “we’re not going to accept that any more” category, we saw Emily May’s new Hollaback saying “no” to street harassers; the Women’s Media Center, Political Parity, and Women’s Campaign Forum collaborating on the Name It Change It campaign to call out the shockingly rampant sexism in political media; and formal and informal groups like EVE and SheShouldTalkAtTed springing up all over to claim an equal share of the both historical representations and thought leadership for the future.

What’s Next?

What do you predict will happen in 2011? What are you going to make happen?

I love columnist Ellen Goodman’s approach: “We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.” And we’d do well to heed the inimitable late Art Buchwald, “Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.”

Whatever we do in the shiny New Year time ahead, let us be cognizant that the present we create will one day be someone else’s history; our actions, someone else’s inspiration.

But back to Dali time: You can find some great photos here, and you can see the exhibit at Time Warner until April 30.  Now I must rush over there to Whole Foods and buy some black-eyed peas so I’ll be assured of good luck in 2011. Goodness knows we’ll need lots of good luck for all the work there is to be done in the Brave New Year.

Wishing you and your family a New Year filled with much good luck, good health, and plenty of time for love and art and whatever purpose fills you with joy, but, of course, No Excuses.

Nobility of Time
The Snail and the Angel

2010 Election is Over; Seven-Point Plan for 2012

This was published earlier today on Truthout. I’d love for you to join the discussion, either here on Heartfeldt or over on Truthout.

Election day 2010 is so yesterday. Today and tomorrow, progressive women – who constitute up to 60 percent of the Democrats’ base – had better regroup and start a vigorous push not just to regain ground lost, but to take back the message and advance a strong agenda for 2012.

Let’s face it – Democrats (do they ever learn?) and all progressives are in for a very rough ride again, after only the briefest of post-Bush respites.

But we have to remember that the political process is an oscillation, not a straight line between two points. Count on it: Every political defeat sows the seeds of the next victory, and every victory sows the seeds of the next defeat. This year’s defeat was sown not by moving too fast or thinking too big, but because Democratic leaders with President Obama at the top failed to keep the electorate thinking expansively and courageously enough.

Contrast this with Republican performance during the last two years. Did they wait even one minute to begin their battle to regain control of Congress? No, they redoubled their efforts. Instead of licking the wounds of their 2008 defeat, they set about opposing Obama, vilifying Nancy Pelosi, and obstructing the legislative progress. They unabashedly blamed the Democrats in power for not passing the very legislation they themselves killed – and worse yet, the Democrats let them get away with it.

Here’s a seven-point plan so progressive voters can celebrate like it was 2008, come November, 2012.

1. Carpe the chaos. Post-election regrouping with its inevitable shifting boundaries and jockeying for power is the perfect launching pad for victories ahead. Far from being a time to step back, it’s an opportunity for progressive women to assert leadership and do things differently while people are searching for new solutions. Defeated Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell said the Republican Party will never be the same because of her candidacy. If that’s true, progressives have an ideal opportunity to stage a come back in 2012.

2. Opt out of being co-opted. Some say, “You lost, so change your platform to be more like those who beat you.” That’s a losing strategy.

Insist, instead, that the Democratic Party recant its lose-lose, Blue Dog recruitment and focus on beefing up support for the 60 percent of their voter base that is women, largely progressive women. Democrats can’t win without those votes. Period.  Notably, many Blue Dogs lost their seats despite “running against their party” in futile attempts to placate conservative constituents.

3. Embrace the power of choosing. Nonpartisan women’s political groups like the White House Project and the 2012 Project should rethink their missions and set standards for helping only women who support a pro-woman agenda, if not by party affiliation, then on key issues. Many women resist choosing sides in an ambivalent relationship with power. Time to get over that.

4. Articulate a bold and righteous agenda. What Obama promised before he was elected is a good start. That would define new terms for the debate. For example: health reform with universal coverage and full reproductive health care (NOT starting with yet another compromise as he is already offering to do); the Paycheck Fairness Act; quantum leaps to stimulate the economy with green jobs, investment in education and technological innovations; the Freedom of Choice Act to guarantee reproductive self-determination. And while we’re at it, let’s raise the need for quality, affordable day care. We should be gearing up to run a progressive woman for president in 2016, or 2012 if Obama continues to throw women under the bus. (Yes, I have someone in mind, but the truth is, that because of her, there will be a solid bench of qualified female candidates in the pipeline.)

5. Learn from the mama grizzlies. They embrace that which is uniquely female – childbearing (82 percent of women, including progressive women, are mothers). Emulate their fierceness and moral certainty, and the energy of their insurgency. But fight their attacks on policies designed to help our children. And call out the $11,000 pay disparity that mothers face  by proposing real solutions such as Moms Rising’s Motherhood Manifesto.

6. Shape and monitor media coverage. Make sure that more progressive females are represented, and represented in a positive light. The right has played the news media like a virtuoso on a Stradivarius, while the ever-appeasing talking heads tack to the middle of the road, where it’s said there’s nothing but a yellow stripe and a dead armadillo. Enough of that.

7. Don’t play so darn nice. When reminded that he isn’t giving us the change we needed, Obama shakes his professorial finger and chides, “You weren’t listening.” Oh, but we are listening. Women’s groups and progressive women voters were seduced by fool’s gold, thinking that the 2008 victory represented lasting change. But it’s not a place of power to confuse access for influence, or any one election for lasting change.

The way forward is to carpe the chaos, opt out of being co-opted, and never ever get off the offensive. Progressive women must embrace their power to put themselves not just back into office, but back into political ascendancy.