Monday, April 13, 2015

The Ghost of Howard Dean

So I read THIS story about how some Democrats are finally going to try and grow a 50-state on-the-ground movement, and it makes me want to pound my head with a mallet.
Thirty years ago, the DNC made a decision to essentially abandon its state-level structures. As was explained to me later, most of the state-level Democratic groups were viewed as "too far left" and considered a liability to getting Democrats elected. There followed loss of Democrat control of Congress. Save for the brief period of 2006 to 2010, Republicans have been in control of Congress for the last 20 years. At the same time, Democrats have been steadily losing control of state legislatures and governorships. Today, a clear majority of states have complete GOP control of state government (there are presently 31 Republican governors and 31 GOP-controlled legislatures).
I can only hope that such a rebuilding movement is successful. I fear that people Like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Chuck Schumer will fight this tooth and nail. Ever since the days of Marshall Whitman and the DLC, the official policy of the Democratic Party is that it will not spend money on races below the level of U.S. Congress, and it will not spend money on any race that the Democrat isn't pretty much guaranteed to win. Both of those things need to end yesterday, so here's hoping that tomorrow brings us revitalized local Democratic Party organizations--and a new wave of true liberal/progressive candidates!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Speaking for ????

One of the neatest tricks of the Right is picking some obscure person and making them the spokesperson for all Democrats and liberals. Back in 2001, it was Ward Churchill--a college professor who was otherwise unknown, but mentioned that maybe U.S. foreign policy played some minor role in foreigners hating us. That sentiment was instantly attributed to every Democrat. Since then, it's been a non-stop parade of non-entities being elevated by the Right as spokespersons for the Left.


So we're stuck in this wildly unbalanced world. Obscure personalities who voice their own personal opinions are proclaimed to be speaking for all liberals. Yet, we have people on the Right who are actual spokespeople for the Right--Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Reince Preibus, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, ad nauseum--who make the most outrageous statements (and can follow through with real actions) and their words are somehow NOT indicative of how all conservatives feel or think.


Part of this is due to the power of the Rightwing Wurlitzer. But there's more to it than that. The complete lack of accountability for the Right's loudest voices is due to something that I suspect undergirds our society at large. What is it? What can we do to change it?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fractious Children

One of the Left's greatest handicaps is our inability to work together. For reasons that escape me, liberal groups seem to look at the world as a zero-sum game in which Group A's particular cause must be front-and-center in whatever is going on at the moment. You can see this at work in almost any large and well-publicized demonstration. If there's a march for climate-change awareness, you'll find groups of people with giant puppets protesting against abortion restrictions. If there's a march against Wall Street's depredations, you'll find people pushing to get the U.S. out of Burkina Faso. Worse, at far too many such events, you'll find violent anarchists and simple vandals who just want to smash something, whether it's the state or somebody's store-front windows.
This inability to make common cause results in liberal events being ignored by the media, or else what media attention does accrue ends up being focused on the smallest, most colorful and vocal groups. Whatever the message could have been becomes watered down, mockable, ignorable. Or, if the anarchists show up, it becomes "Look at those violent anti-social liberals!"
The inestimable TBogg <a href="http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2008/02/25/your-mumia-sweatshirt-wont-get-you-into-heaven-anymore">nailed a part of this phenomenon</a> back in 2008. Here we are, six years later, and I still run into people who won't vote because they're not getting everything they wanted delivered in one candidate or campaign, or because they personal pet cause is not being showcased and promoted.
If there's one thing the Right understands, it's that all of their causes are ultimately tied together. The Bible bangers may not care at all about eliminating the Estate Tax, but they understand that their agenda of imposing Christian Sharia on America depends on getting sympathetic candidates into office. So they'll campaign for, raise money for, and ultimately vote for a candidate who is at least making sympathetic noises in their direction. And if that candidate doesn't deliver once in office, they'll still back him or her until someone more inclined (read "extreme") makes an appearance.
So the question becomes, how do we get all the disparate groups on the Left to understand that their individual causes actually align? And then, how do we get them to unite behind candidates who represent something close to that unified view?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tools in Our Kitbag

Yesterday, Susan of Texas suggested (over at Roy's place) that we consider putting together an inventory of what we have, and maybe what we don't have. Here's a few thoughts off the top of my head:


WHAT WE HAVE:
1.) If polls are to be believed, we have an agenda with which a majority of voters agree. People really do like Social Security, accessible (and affordable) healthcare, equal pay, and so forth.
2.) An established and demonstrably effective network of on-line communities.
3.) An untapped reservoir of people young and old who are looking for some way to effect change.


WHAT WE DON'T HAVE
1.) Money.
2.) An extensive or sympathetic media structure.
3.) A simple, coherent message.


Feel free to add to this list, or to tell me I'm all wet with any or all of these items.



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

About Last Night . . .

So, Democrats managed to lose control of the Senate, and get our hats handed to us in lots of down-ticket races from governor to state-house reps.


The question is, what are we going to do about it?