Richmond, California: This community in the suburbs of San Francisco, the largest municipality in the country with a Green Party mayor, sent ripples of fear through financial circles last year. The city council has raised the possibility of using the city’s powers of eminent domain to seize the mortgages of foreclosable properties, restructure the debts, and thereby make it possible for homeowners to stay in their homes. The idea is starting to spread; Newark and Irvington New Jersey are among the many cities considering similar strategies. See tinyurl.com/p57987n for more information.
These are but three examples. I could also mention the elections of unrepentant leftists like Mayor Bill DiBlasio in New York, and councilwoman Kshama Sawant in Seattle, WA. There’s a man in Wisconsin named Amar Kaleka who is gearing up to unseat Paul Ryan in Wisconsin (Kaleka’s father was a local Sikh leader who was shot by a white supremacist.) Robert Reich’s documentary “Inequality for All” has added fuel to the growing discussion about the long-term effects of income and wealth distribution in the U.S.
I don’t expect 2014 to be a cakewalk, far from it, in fact. I’ll go on the record now with a prediction: it’s gonna be a hard, messy slog. But I am more hopeful now than I was a year ago, and it will be up to us to make that hope grow into new realities.