ok, so what now?

The following comment was left by Anna in the comments section today, and, as it was on the subject of tonight’s post anyway, I thought that I’d move it up here to the front page to set the tone.

So Mark, what the hell should we do?

I started (writing) a book the day after the day after the election — a lot of it is about psychology (charisma and personality variables, physical attractiveness and perceptions of competence, the psychology of persuasion, decision-making and heuristics, the social psychology of anti-intellectualism), but I also wanted to include a chapter or two about policy.

What do you think the Dems should do? Go more moderate? Less moderate? Do a better job of articulating ‘our’ values, playing the GOP as a party of big government (e.g. the party wants to get into your bedroom), it wants to take away your rights just because someone thinks you ‘might’ be a terrorist? Do you think we need to go more toward Nader (a friend of mine does; I disagree)? What?

I think that the campaign for the next election needs to start now, and clearly, the Dems need some new ideas.

The short answer is, I don’t know what to do next. I’ve been sitting here for a week now, trying to wrap my mind around it, but nothing ever comes of it. The problems just seem insurmountable. I know that’s not the case, but when you look at the machine that the Republicans have created over the past few decades (e.g. fundamentalist universities, conservative think tanks, talk radio, etc), and how it’s capable of spinning absolutely anything to its advantage (making heroes into cowards, and cowards into heroes), it just looks unstoppable.

First off, I don’t know that I’m a Democrat, or at least I wouldn’t have claimed to have been one until this last election. I probably would have referred to myself, up until 2000, as an Independent, even though I voted for both Gore and Clinton. The reason I stared working for the Democrats in the last campaign was primarily because I wanted to get Bush out of office and they seemed like the best bet. And, like it or not, it looks as though the Dems will continue to be the best viable bet we have, at least through the next several electoral cycles. (Unless we look to form a third party that would draw more votes away from the Republicans than it would the Democrats, as Perot did against Bush the Elder. If there were, for instance, a move to have John McCain, or another fairly moderate Republican run as an independent, I might be convinced to join that cause (if not for the fact that I now dislike John McCain greatly). The most important thing for me going forward is that we lessen the amount of power wielded by right-wing religious fundamentalists in our government, and I will support whoever I feel has the best chance of getting us to that goal.

So, I’ve spent the last few days wondering what I should do. Like many people, I’m considering where I can add the most value, given my talents, the time I have available, and the network of people that I have around me. I’m asking myself that every day… One of the things I’ve decided is that there has to be a non-local component to whatever I do. As much as I enjoyed my work with MoveOn, and believe that we really did have a significant local impact, I want to do something bigger, something that can somehow be replicated, or at least used, outside of the immediate local area. And I also want to be a part of something that can grow with the input of others across the country. That’s one thing. The other is that there has to be some sort of arts/entertainment component… OK, let me step back for a moment. (I know this post is a bit jumpy, but I’m thinking that I’d rather just let everything rush out than take the time to structure everything at this point.)

First off, there are a lot of people discussing the problems with the Democratic party. Some of them are dealing just with the immediate practical matters, and others are dealing with the bigger “message” issues. So, on one side you have people saying, “We need a southern Governor as our next candidate, someone without a long legislative track record, who can carry a few red states.” On the other, you have people arguing, perhaps rightly so, that the Democrats don’t have a compelling story, that they don’t have a narrative that compels Americans.

The Republicans, as I mentioned before, have a 20-year headstart when it comes to crafting and marketing these kinds of messages. For instance, they’ve carefully cultivated so-called “family values,” to the point where they now own it. It’s theirs… They have brilliant marketing people who are able to dig down deep into the reptilian brain of man and discover where the hot buttons are… fear of impotence, fear of those not like you, etc. (If you haven’t seen the new Frontline, The Persuaders, you should check it out. They spend quite a bit of time on Republican pollsters and how they, for instance, came to make the decision, after several focus groups, to refer to the “inheritance tax” as the “death tax” in order to sell Americans on reform. It’s insightful.) And, on top of that, the Republicans have so beaten up the American press that they’re too scared to do their jobs (see the early coverage of the War in Iraq). (You might also want to read this new article on the Columbia Journalism Review site if you have a chance. The author does a great job of articulating how, in the quest of being “balanced,” media outlets are often put in the position of legitimizing fringe believes. The example they give in the story is the belief held by some in the anti-choice movement that women who have abortions are more likely to develop breast cancer. While there is absolutely no scientific evidence of this, and while all indications are that they’re just suggesting it as a way of decreasing the number of abortions, the press feels pressured to treat it as though it’s a legitimate possibility.)

So, where were we?

First off (again), I don’t have any advice for the Democratic party. Personally, I’d like to see them take more of a stand against corporate power, but I understand the realities of the situation and I see how that might be difficult. At the very least, I’d like to see them stand up against offshore tax shelters and promise more rigorous oversight. And, certainly, I wouldn’t pander to the religious right by trying to come across as having “better” values than the Republicans, even though it may be the case. (Yes, I think Jesus would like us better, but I don’t want to be in that fight.) I’d like to think that there’s a better way. Personally, I think better education is in the long-range best interest of the Democrats. I think that Clinton was absolutely right when he said, “When people are afraid, they vote for Republicans. When they think, they vote for us.” We need to get beyond fear and appeal to the rational intellect of people. Of course, that’s difficult to do when attention spans are short and when the message machine you’re up against is so loud and unrelenting.

One of the ideas that I was playing around with was working to establish education programs for young southerners, or college scholarships. (Of course, if you believe the exit polls, college grads were evenly split, and Kerry only got the advantage as people started to acquire post-graduate degrees.)

My first idea, which was admittedly too reactionary, was to call for a tourism boycott of the red states. In the end, however, I didn’t think that would get us anything but increased animosity. (I do, however, like the idea of using economic carrots and sticks to red the red states to embrace modernity.)

Maybe, at the end of the day, the best thing for us to do would be to cultivate and sponsor a progressive NASCAR driver.

So, what to do… Locally, I plan to stay involved in MoveOn (who just announced today that they’ve decided to help in the fight to have all the ballots counted in Ohio and Florida (follow the link and sign the petition)). I’ve also discussed the possibility of working with a local professor friend to get a progressive book club/discussion group off the ground. I haven’t followed up on the lead yet, but there’s also the possibility that I might be able to assist in an effort at a local high school to teach kids how to use new media, like blogs, to organize politically and disseminate information. (And, if this works, there’s also the possibility of streaming content to other schools in other parts of the country/world as well.) There’s also the possibility of working with a team of people in Ann Arbor to foster closer ties to the international community through live, on-line exchanges and cultural programs. (This is just getting off the ground. I’ll tell you more when I can.)

I’ve also been talking to a number of people about trying to create a series of non-partisan animated programs dealing with subjects like the Bill of Rights and the separation of church and state. These primarily would be for young adults, but, hopefully, there would be enough humor/substance in them to make them of interest to older folks as well. And, while I haven’t yet discussed it with my friend James, the screen-printer, I also think there may be an opportunity to start churning out some viral marketing clothing pieces. This might actually be one of the more successful ideas of the bunch, if I can pull it off the way I have it envisioned. (I’ve even got a little germ of a business plan started.)

So, Anna, the truth is, I have no idea what I’m doing. Right now I’m just throwing it all in a pot and seeing what comes to the top.

On one level, there absolutely needs to be local, grass root activism. People need to knock on doors, meet their neighbors, and share information. Clearly, that’s where a majority of the work needs to be done. (Only 26% of voters polled said that they’d been visited by a representative of the Kerry campaign (and I assume that would include MoveOn, ACT, and others.) In addition, there needs to be a local social component. We can’t fight this long fight unless we have the support networks to sustain us. Whether it’s a progressive salon, or a knitting group, we all need access to like-minded people to share information with. (I’m considering a monthly Think Tank approach.) There also has to be an educational component. We need to think of the long-term and getting these ideas into people’s minds. The Democrats need to own inspiration and optimism like the Republicans own fear. (I like that. You can quote me.)

Gay marriage? I have no idea what to tell you. If it’s going to cost us an election, the practical side of me says that we need to find a way out of it, even if we know it’s the right thing. I’ve heard it suggested by Juan Cole that we take it out of the government’s hands and give it over to religious institutions (with the government doing civil unions). That sounds like a good idea to me, and it gets the subject off the table.

So, with that out of the way, here’s my platform: Universal Healthcare for Kids, Higher Minimum Wage, Alternative Energy/Energy Independence, Pro-Choice, Tolerance and Inclusion, Separation of Church and State, Nuclear Proliferation, Election Reform, Deficit Reduction, and, obviously, National Security… I must be leaving lots of things out, but that’s a pretty good start.

What we need, in a nutshell, is Bobby Kennedy to come back and lead us. We need someone that challenges us to be the Americans we have it within ourselves to be.

OK, I’m sorry this post was all over the place, but I can’t stay awake to edit. If you have ideas as to what we can all do next, leave a comment.

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19 Comments

  1. Posted November 12, 2004 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    I’ve set up a website to explore Dave Pollard’s Eight Fronts of Resistance which I hope can be some sort of organizing tool. Feel free to come help! Tis in it’s infancy with a lot of wiggle room.

    I read somewhere (possibly Gary Hart’s piece in the NYTimes) that echoes your thoughts on education ,especially for rural areas, he called them teach-ins, which sounded good. Education is key!

    I think we all have scattered thoughts, but hey, at least we’re thinking.

  2. Tamara
    Posted November 12, 2004 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Thanks for that post, Mark. I thought it was quite articulate! I, like many people I know, feel energized but unsure where to apply that energy, and I’m looking forward to hearing more from you and my fellow readers about great ideas like yours and Cyndy’s.

    We only live 30-40 min. from Ypsi so we would be quite interested in a monthly “salon,” if you will. I’ll keep in touch.

  3. Dave Morris
    Posted November 12, 2004 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Mark –

    Generalizing, I think the success of the Republicans has been the result of having very clear goals and sharp distinctions ( in their heads ) of right and wrong. The Democrats, generalizing again, dwell too much on subtleties. A good analogy would be a team of philosophers and scientists, replete with pocket protectors and coke bottle glasses lined up against a team of 270 pound bruisers with helmets and padding. One teams goal is to make a touch down and the other teams goal is rational inquiry.

    I think that the quality sets of both generalizations are important, and I share your reluctance to say I am a Democrat or a Republican. I vote for the candidate that appears to have the best combination of clear goals, a sense of right and wrong, a spirit of rational inquiry, and a creative approach to problem solving.

    The problem I have with a growing group of Republicans is that they believe that “the means justify the end” and I do not. For example: It is not ok to “interpret” the Geneva Convention to allow for torture in the name of security for our nation. There are many more of these examples, but you get the idea.

    I agree with John Stuart Mill that a “Liberal Education” is the foundation of a democracy, but in the sense that he and others before him intended- which is very different from our current “Liberal Arts” degrees. He felt that those who had leisure time had the responsibility of keeping their minds sharp, to develop and employ the faculty of critical reasoning. A “Liberal” was one who was liberated from work- a freeman. The term today is now almost the equivalent of calling someone dissolute, a rake. It is about the near absolute freedom of the individual rather than the limiting of personal freedoms for the greater good. It is interesting to note, again, the similarities of the far right, the far left, and the libertarians on this issue.

    Making sound judgements and reasoning critically is impaired by the loudest, smoothest, and most repeated message. If critical reasoning were treated as a measurable resource, I would guess that it is pretty low right now. I would also guess that the division of our public discourse into small, disconnected clips does nothing to help correct this. The ability to string together a set of thoughts into a cohesive argument is not a passive activity. One (unsolicited) suggestion I would make for sharpening this skill would be to read through Book 1 of Euclid’s Elements. It is like mental calisthenics. Abe Lincoln felt strongly enough about the 13 Books of Euclid’s Elements to stay up into the early morning hours every night to study them. The whole thing is in the public domain and on the web.

    So, that is my first suggestion. The conversion of leisure time into the most valuable of resources in a democracy – critical reasoning.

    My second suggestion revolves around Non Governmental Organizations ( NGO’s.) This term covers a whole slew of organizations that have filled the much needed role of keeping corporations, and governments, in check. The collection is pretty varied – The Catholic Church, Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, etc. A number of larger corporations have what they are now calling ” Non Financial Accountants” that take stock of complaints and suggestions filed by NGO’s and make recommendations for change. These NGO’s can have an enormous positive influence over corporate, national, and international policy. Take, for instance, the Catholic Church’s stance on Third World debt forgiveness and the impact it is having on the decisions made by the World Bank and the IMF.

    The important thing, I think, is to operate in a spirit of inclusion – to put aside our differences, identify and clearly state a specific goal, find agreement on this stated position and goal among as many NGO’s as possible, and present a bullet proof case to the applicable corporations and/ or governments. I have hope that secular organizations like Planned Parenthood and evangelical organizations like Habitat for Humanity can find a common voice. The force behind a partnership like this would be incredible.

    As far as the influence of NGO’s over government policy on civil rights, I think the three big ones should be worked on.

    Civil Union. Just making the distinction between marriage and civil union would do a world of good. I am sure that well over 50% of Americans believe that gay couples should have the same rights of survivorship, etc. that heterosexual couples have. This is the goal. Civil union is the potential solution. Marriage is a religious ceremony and institution, and is in the domain of the Church. The two should not be confused. The confusion of the two has already made civil unions illegal in a number of states. The Catholic Church believes in the civil rights of gay couples and, as far as I can tell, is in favor of civil unions. They are against gay marriage though because it is their institution and they clearly define it as the union of a man and a woman. I think that getting a clear statement from numerous Archdiocese on this issue would lend one hell of a lot of clout to the cause.

    Abortion. Again, the discourse should be about minimizing factors that contribute to unwanted pregnancies. One suggestion would be to put the alcoholic beverage industry under scrutiny. It is purely an intuition, but I suspect there is an enormous connection between Big Beer, the media’s “Youth Culture”, and uncontrolled hormones. The perfect storm. I think that many organizations on both sides of this issue can agree to minimizing the numerous factors if they clearly define one factor at a time and work together to correct one factor at a time.

    Human Rights. This is a pretty big category, but I think the most important issues under this one are torture, the right to due process, and protection from illegal search and seizure. The idea that national security is more important than protection from these is a slippery slope. I think that finding law organizations as well as religious groups (evangelical included) that can make joint statements to the Attorney General may go a long way in protecting these rights. I think that there also needs to be some more attention paid to the prison system in the US and the rights of prisoners here. For instance, part of the check in process for prisoners at the Wayne County Jail is a cavity check. And that is just the checking in process.

    I have a some ideas on international law as well, but I’ll save those for later. My writing time is up now.

    Dave

  4. Posted November 12, 2004 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I think the Democrats (and other groups for that matter) need to focus on local politics, in every state, every city. County and city governments make decisions every day about where public funds will be spent and nobody even bothers to go to the meetings, not even the newspaper. The Michigan legislature was trying to pass abortion restrictions and gay marraige prohibitions all last year. How many people bothered to write their rep? Bottling companies are draining the Great Lakes right now.

    Conservatives I know think that Democrats are a bunch of dirty, lazy pot-smoking, free-love hippies that are ruining Christian America. They remember John Kerry from the 70’s. He threw his medals and joined the protests. That’s all they needed to know. Howard Dean wants to marry gays. That’s it for him too. If the Dems are stupid enough to nominate Hillary Clinton in ’08, I’m done with them.

    I agree with your platform 100%, Mark. Barry is probably going to run for Mayor next time around. Don’t you live in his Ward?

    The only thing I would add is Universal Healthcare for Michiganders, if not all Americans. University of Maine says it’s feasible there, so why not here? Any state that could provide basic health insurance for all of it’s citizens would be fertile for small business and start-ups, reducing the advantage of large corporations. Universal healthcare also creates an environment friendly to biomedical research, an industry that Michigan is actively trying to attract.

  5. [steph]
    Posted November 12, 2004 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I saw on the one of the news channels the other night someone (unfortunately, I forget the name) saying that gay marriage is such an important issue of civil rights that losing the next 1000 elections would be acceptable in exchange for gay marriage.
    I had some trouble deciding whether I agree with this sentiment, since it is obviously not a realistic exchange to make and I have my doubts that if we lose the next 1000 elections there will be any world left at all, let alone gays to get married in it.
    I do, however, agree about the importance of this issue. I’ve lived for almost my entire life in various parts of New England, and I haven’t known very many conservatives. My stepfather is a staunch conservative (who voted Kerry this year, hurray!) but he tends to keep his opinions to himself. Other than my stepfather, I don’t know of a single person who I see or speak to on a regular basis who is against gay marriage or something like it (civil unions, etc). To me, it seems like a matter of fact, common knowledge, even, that homosexuals are people, too. They should be allowed to love one another and be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples. There is nothing “wrong with” gay people. No one I come into contact with on a regular basis would disagree. But I live in Boston.
    It was very strange for me living in Virginia this past summer because there, it seemed, most of the people I came into contact with on a regular basis believe the opposite of the things I believe (except for those people who live in DC).
    Like most people, I tend to surround myself with a majority of like-minded people. It almost gets to the point where I just assume that everyone feels the way I do when it comes to the issue of gay rights. Which is why it is so unnerving and so depressing to me to turn on the news and see people who are respected and regarded as experts suggesting that homosexuals don’t deserve the same rights as all Americans, that they are some sort of second class citizens, that they’ve chosen this status for themselves and could change their minds whenever they like, that they’re sick or even evil. These are views that I consider “fringe views” but I’m told that a majority of people hold these views. And I just don’t know what to make of it.
    I react to people on the news (or in regular life) speaking out this way in the same way I’d react to someone speaking out against interracial marriage, for example. I regard them as shameful, backward, bigoted people. But we don’t turn on the news and see people speaking out against interracial marriage. And were anyone to do so, they would be regarded by the media as fanatics and bigots.
    It’s not that I want to silence the people who disagree with me. I believe strongly in their right to say what they’re saying, no matter how much it disgusts me. It’s more the attitude toward this view that I take offense to. No wonder the suicide rate among gay teenagers is so high, they are being told that they are disgusting, immoral, and any desire they might have to legally legitimize their relationships as adults is “eroding the foundations of America.”
    I feel like I am somewhere off in the future, where we look back on this prejudice with the same embarrassment and disdain we hold for issues like segregation. And I often let myself think that everyone else is here in the future with me, but they’re not. The people who make the decisions and the supposed majority of America are not.
    Mark, I agree that marriage is an institution of religion and the government should stick with civil unions for all couples, regardless of gender (although I have a feeling the majority of Americans wouldn’t go for this change, even if gays were still banned). But I just can’t agree with those who say that homosexuals should just be content with civil unions, while heterosexual couples have government-sanctioned marriages, even if the civil unions provide all the same benefits as the marriages of straight couples. And I don’t think anyone should have been content were it proposed that interracial couples should have had civil unions and couples of the same race could be married. It’s just another form of segregation, and anyone who supports this distinction between the marriages of heterosexual and homosexual couples is supporting an updated version of “seperate but equal”.
    Possibly most depressing to me of all are those who blame the election loss this year on homosexuals, gay activists, and the “gay agenda.” Those who say that gays had the chance to accept civil unions but got greedy and had to have marriage, too. For those former allies to twist the knife in the backs of so many Americans who were told on November 2 by the numerous States that banned gay marriage, in effect, to fuck off, is just so wrong. And it’s the wrong place to point fingers, too. People figting for their rights in this country can’t be asked to “settle,” even for the greater good of winning the election. We can’t back off from this issue. We’ve got to force the red States to join us here in the future. From what I’ve read, it seems that interracial marriage was pushed through by “activist judges” in a time when the majority of Americans didn’t approve…
    While I have a deepening fear that the issue of women’s rights over their bodies will come up sooner than later, right now the issue of gay rights is one of the most critical issues we’re facing today, and we really have to fight for it. If the Democratic party backs off from this, it will surely be a sad day for the protection and assurance of equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation.
    [steph]

  6. Dave Morris
    Posted November 12, 2004 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Steph-

    I am for the right of homosexual couples to marry and to have equal treatment at the state and federal level. However, there is a separation of church and state issue here. The institution of marriage, I believe (please let me know if I am wrong), is historically the domain of the church and they have a right to define it as they choose. Getting them to change this definition is a separate battle. I think that some denominations are more likely than others to do this, but even if they did, the issue of equal recognition of rights at the state and federal level still needs to be dealt with.

    So, which first? The church or the state? Or both at once? I say move slowly to win over the majority rather than putting it all on the long shot.

  7. Posted November 12, 2004 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Of course I’m with Hillary on this one.

    If the Dems think they can get Mrs. Clinton elected in ’08, it confirms that they’ve completely lost their minds. I’m losing faith in the Democratic understanding of the world-view of americans. Their only chance at a win would be to nominate another Southern Baptist.

    As long as presumably intelligent people continue to ignore all the political posts between drain comissioner and president, their electablity will continue to slip.

    Historically, political parties need widespread support in local elections to ever make a run for the presidency. Look around outside of Washtenaw county, it’s a republican sea.

    Perhaps the centrists in the democratic party have forgotten that states and municipalities still have governments that make decisions.

    While we’re all here carping about a Massachusetts Democrat losing a presidential election (duh), Republicans are planning their campaigns for state and local elections in two years.

    So what do we do now? Same thing we all should have been doing before the election: engage local politics.

    If Democrats put 1% of the effort that goes into whining and complaining instead toward direct political action, things would change. But they won’t. Talk is cheap, local action is hard, and meetings are boring.

    Forget about fixing the country for a mintue, let’s fix our backyard and our state.

    Why not engage in battles we can win?

  8. [steph]
    Posted November 12, 2004 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I agree that the best solution would be for “marriage” to mean a ceremony controlled by the church and bearing only religious/spiritual significance and for what we now know as “marriage”, particularly the marriage license, etc, to be renamed “civil unions” and controlled by the government.
    I know of several chruches and synagogues that will perform the marriage ceremony for homosexual couples even though this does not have any legal standing. The court will not recognize these marriages.
    I think removing the church and changing the term to “civil union” and making it a right all Americans of any sexual orientation can enjoy would certainly be the best solution. Unfortunately, I think the suggestion to those in opposition to gay marriage that we are changing the name of “their” institution to include gay people or to take the church out will not be met favorably. As far as they are concerned, the church’s position in marriage is right where it belongs. And gays are right where they belong, too: outside of marriage. They don’t want anything to change unless it is merely cementing the way things are once and for all (ie the constitutional amendments banning gay marriage).
    We put the “progress” in “progressive” and they put the “stuck in the past, refusal to grow alongside the changing world” in “conservative” (it’s in there somewhere, trust me…)
    Hopefully I am too pessimistic or just mistaken, but I actually think Americans would be more likely to accept gay marriage than civil unions for all. That would be good enough for me, although I do think the term “marriage” is too tied up with religion.
    Some say that allowing gays to marry changes the definition of marriage as we know it. I tend to disagree. But what we’re proposing is literally changing the definition of marriage. It would be great if it could be done, but do you really think people will go for that?
    [steph]

  9. Dave Morris
    Posted November 12, 2004 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    There was an article somewhere recently about the history of religion and politics in America. I cannot remember where I saw it. Perhaps Mark can help. The gist was that 200 years ago pretty much everyone was of some faith or another in this country. The creation of laws was kept to a minimum with the principle being to secure personal liberty, religious freedom, etc. The religious institutions had their own codes of conduct that governed public life within their communities. As time progressed, people have become more secular and the churches power to enforce their authority relied heavily on what may or may not happen to you after death. People questioned it. The authority slipped. More conservative types who are adverse to change fight. However, the trend is in favor of change. Take the Blue Laws for example. My parents remember them, but I don’t.

    It is similar to the difference between communism and free market captialism – the difference being personal values versus market values. I think that if the guiding principle behind this change is social justice then the results will be good.

    I have heard a few times that the exit polls indicate 3 out of 5 people are in favor of gay marriage. That is almost 66%. Although there are a few people in DC that would like to see a constitutional ban on this, the fact is that their responsibility is ultimately to represent us.

    I would like to see some discussion with the religious right about the Seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Greed, Envy, Anger, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth- as well as the Seven Vitures that accompany them: Humility, Generosity, Love, Kindness, Temperance, Self Control, and Zeal. I think they are doing well in the zeal department, but failing miserably in exercising love, humility, kindness, and (in some cases) self control.

  10. Dave Morris
    Posted November 12, 2004 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Here is a good article on the religious right in the Economist.

    http://www.economist.com/world/na/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3375543

    Take a look at the chart in there. It is pretty revealing.

    Also, there is a mention again of GW coming out in support of civil unions. I have heard this on the periphery, but have not looked closer at it. Anybody?

  11. Andy
    Posted November 13, 2004 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    This may seem like a silly thing, but on rightwing blogs that I read and bitch on, there’s a lot more “Damn Socialists!” and even “Commies!” than you might think. It’s silly because it seems crazy that we have to defend ourselves from such labels. I wish I had more handy stats and such to show people where tax money really goes (and what legislators are sending it there). I feel there is a huge gulf between the perception and the reality (re: Dems and Repubs and gov’t money) that is hurting our image really badly. How many Welfare Queens can there really be? Not many, I suspect, but I can’t prove it!

  12. mark
    Posted November 13, 2004 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    I don

  13. Posted November 13, 2004 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Mark, thanks for the thoughtful response. National politics are terribly important but contrary to popular opinion, we live in a republic not a democracy. I am often shocked by the amount of time people will spend on it in perportion to the amount of affect they can exert.

    If you could measure your impact on the national political picture what would it be? You, an average joe, what kind of realistic impact can you make on the national level? You can write your congressmen, which I do regularly. You can canvass during an election like Mark did. You can vote. That’s about the long and short of it. How many waking hours should you spend on it?

    Now measure your potential impact on local and state policy. I posted about the Ypsilanti Brewing Company and the Farm Market on my weblog, and the city council read it. Hell, Barry LaRue posted on a site with “revolution” in the title.

    Endless dialog about national politics is sort of like wrestling a pig: you get all muddy and the pig likes it.

    As far as an Ypsilanti political group, I don’t think there is, or ever will be, enough folks to make it fly.

    If I were going to stick around Ypsi and try to make a differnce, I’d likely join forces with Arborupdate.

    Mark, they could probably use an Ypsi correspondant. We’ve met Murph and Rob and they’re good guys. I think they’re more politically aligned with you than we.

    Finally, if you take SOTR at face value, you’ve fallen for my less-than-subtle propaganda piece. It’s never been about a “reasonable, rational, and balanced argument”. We all can’t be Mark Maynard after all!

  14. Posted November 13, 2004 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    No matter which you think is more important between federal, state and local issues, I beleive our course of action should be the same.

    The heartening thing about the last election for me is that the punks now outnumber the zealots in our great state.

    1. Join mailing lists and groups that will keep you informed about issues you care about.
    2. E-mail your representatives when one of your issues is being discussed. (ACLU and Planned Parenthood make it easy with a default letter and automatic routing)
    3. Donate money to organizations that further your personal causes.
    4. Attend events.
    5. Vote.
    6. Participate in public meetings.
    7. Post eyewitness accounts off all activities on the internet for easy integration of new recruits.
    8. Build local action groups for common causes.
    9. Dig holes for the buses.

    Democrats should also be more focused on local elections for resume building purposes. People love long public service records and obviously enjoy voting for the same person over and over again. I don’t think a Green or Libertarian has a chance for President until there a number of Green Governors and Libertarian Senators.

  15. mark
    Posted November 14, 2004 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I wanted to get back to this thread tonight, but I haven’t had a chance… I’ll be back tomorrow though. I don’t want to forget about this.

  16. Posted November 15, 2004 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I haven’t had time to read all the comments here yet but I did pick up on the Hillary issue from both Hillary and Steve. Agreed. (and very good to know I’m not the only one who would drop the Dems in a heartbeat if she runs)

  17. Tony Buttons
    Posted November 16, 2004 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    On the subject of what the Democratic party needs to do now, check out the Martin Luther-esque theses that was just pasted on the doors of the DNC.

  18. Robert
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    The time has arrived. We have only days to do all the things that need to be done just to have a shot at bringing an end to this horrible nightmare.

  19. mark
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Jesus, is this what it was like before trolls? We actually discussed things openly, and worked with one another on identifying problems and coming up with solutions?

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