Why the hell don’t we stand up like that?
I have heard this question a hundred times and all the answers for it are silly and wrong: That we’re just too inherently disorganized, that we’re busy doing other stuff, that my generation or the one after it or the one after that one are just too dumb/lazy/entraced by iPods/shallow to actually rally in support of anything other than American Idol, etc. We look at the teawads and people ask: Why the hell don’t we stand up like that? Well, it’s not about us standing up, because it’s not a fair comparison. The teawads standing up isn’t about the teawads, either.
I keep flashing back to the Ned Lamont primary win over Joe Lieberman, and thinking about how eagerly everybody jumped all over this opportunity to take our country back and kick some ass and become a new movement, complete with breathless coverage of every single thing anybody involved with anti-war activism said on their Facebook pages and how newsworthy it all was, and how nobody in the party dared express any contempt at all for these new passionate activists, who after all have a point, and we ignore their anger at our peril. Remember that?
But the Obama White House, sure of its fundraising ability and organizing genius, has consistently sent the signal to Democratic donors to not support outside efforts. They did it after they won the primary in 2008; they did it when they set up OFA to operate solely inside the DNC in 2009; they did it during the health care fight when they felt HCAN was being a little too independent in pushing for a public option, sending a clear signal to donors not to give to them at crucial times during the fight; they did it when ACORN had some bad publicity, very quickly making the decision to distance themselves and let them die even though no group has registered more voters or turned out more people in the last 10 years than ACORN.
It’s more than just the Obama White House. I’m not defending their getthefuckawayfromme attitude, but this isn’t new. How many members of Congress marched with anti-war protesters in 2003 or otherwise? How many prominent Democratic politicians went down to San Francisco and stood on the steps throwing rice (or birdseed or butterflies or whatever the fuck we throw now) for gay couples being married? How hard did Democrats push to rebuild New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast after Katrina? How loudly have they fought for the rule of law? How hard did they push on any one of a dozen things that could have been the impetus for a “revolution?”
And for all the lauding of outside progressive organizations in that post above, where’s the money to fund such a revolution? People should just do it all themselves, I suppose, like the tea parties, sprung from a kind of spontaneous rage our people lack?I’m sorry, the tea parties are a fucking joke as far as grassroots go. You don’t get people to show up to parties like this without serious coin and massive infrastructure support.
And where are the progressives? Sulking is not an alternative to organizing, and weary resignation is the first step toward capitulation. The Tea Party may be pulling a fast one on the country and the media. But if it has more audacity than everyone else, it will, I am sorry to say, deserve to get away with it.
I plan events semi-professionally and everybody thinks they just happen by magic. The only way you get people to your party is to spend fucking money (and yes, Glenn Beck’s show counts as spending money; fucker don’t pay for his own meals, that’s for sure). Marketing, logistics, publicity, all these things COST. The teawads’ backers understand that. Democrats’ don’t. They just want to sit back and blame the American people for a lack of outrage, talk about how nobody protests anymore like we did MAN, and why are these hippies showing up in rude shirts instead of suits and ties? Don’t stand next to ACORN, you might get some of their idealism on you! Somebody said something about Cuba, run away as fast as you can!
All this also takes a credible media cowed not so much by politics as by sheer audacity and the dearth of party members to demonize one another. Every time Alan Grayson opens his mouth he’s right about everything, but there’s always some concern-trolling dick with a D after his name ready to denounce him, so the press can marginalize him as a crazy and talk about Democratic infighting some more. Ditto Kucinich. Sarah Palin says stuff, and the next call isn’t to Newt Gingrich to talk about how she’s nuts, it’s to Newt Gingrich to talk about what Real America thinks and how her power is huge and immense, which by the time he’s done it’s on to the next batshit thing for her. A huge part of this is media strategy and this, too, is a problem at least 20 years old. This, too, isn’t free. Again, an army of publicists and money, money, money.
Conviction, too, I mean, that helps. It sure would have in Connecticut, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Portland, and every other place where something could have started, and didn’t. We have stood up like that. We’ve done it over and over again. It’s just that nobody our politicians consider worth listening to paid any attention.
First post via Atrios.