What’s Good For The Goose(steppers)
Democrats have lost the ability to speak to their base. Liberals and progressives have been left out of the process because the establishment mistakenly believes we have nowhere else to go. They think we are too practical to vote for a third party candidate if it threatens to put a Republican in office. But the frustration is growing, as is the number of Democratic voters willing to do just that. Congressional Democrats and Presidential hopefuls are courting voters they don’t understand and losing their base in the process. Why not activate the base and grow the ranks with our help? Pandering to the middle hasn’t been a very effective strategy. It’s time to try something new.
I received an email from RightMarch.com, a conservative activist organization, inviting me to attend a conference in Washington DC. They will train me to get the word out and give me the tools to further the cause and really make a difference. I’ll even get to rub elbows with the biggest names in religious extremism, fascist ideologies and corporate shilling.
“Attendees can look forward to an exciting line-up of speakers and panelists throughout the first day including: Representative Tom Tancredo (CO), Lt. Col. Oliver North, Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum, Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, Senator George Allen (VA), Senator John Cornyn (TX), Senator Rick Santorum (PA), Representative Sam Johnson (TX), and many more! That's just the first day! Thursday's excitement will be followed by two more days of events, panel discussions, and appearances by conservative leaders and grassroots activists from across the nation, including Sen. Sam Brownback (KS), Ann Coulter, Ken Mehlman, Gov. Haley Barbour (MS), Ambassador John Bolton, Robert Novak, Rep. Mike Pence, Steve Forbes, Pastor John Hagee, Sen. Jim DeMint (SC), Grover Norquist, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (KS), Jim Gilmore (VA), Rep. Trent Franks (AZ), Judge Charles Pickering, Rep. J.D. Hayworth (AZ), Newt Gingrich -- and many, many more, including your humble servant, Dr. William Greene (that's me)!”
And the conference only costs $125 to attend, $25 if you're a student. Too bad I’m not a conservative, which got me thinking. Why the hell aren’t we offering this type of conference to our liberal activists? And more importantly, why aren’t we capitalizing on the opportunity to take people who make one small move in our direction and turn them into full-blown activists? I hear people all of the time say, “I’m ready, just tell me what to do!” The problem is, for whatever reason, our leadership isn’t asking for help. I hate to point out the obvious but, isn’t it the job of “leaders” to lead? Yet no one at the top is pointing the way.
All I did was sign up with this organization, at the behest of Sam Seder at the Majority Report who encouraged his listeners to change their email form to call for a filibuster of Alito, and they sent me this invitation. They are working to make activists out of ordinary people who agree with their point of view and turning couch potatoes into warriors for the cause. Not a bad idea, and the thing is, they’ve been doing it for 30 years! There’s no doubt it has paid off for them, and even with control of Congress, The White House and now thanks to the confirmation of Sam Alito, The Supreme Court, they’re not done. They are still pounding the pavement to make more waves and attempt to wash away any last refuge for the secularists and populists among us.
We don’t have to stoop to their level in order to win elections and Karl Rove is not someone we should emulate. Calling war heroes traitors and cowards might be okay for them, but we are better than that. Still, there is no denying that the right is having success at pushing their agenda due to some positive means as well, they have taken our grassroots style of activism and turned it against us. In fact they have improved greatly on the model we built while we are still stuck using outdated methods. We would be stupid not to at least take a serious look at what has worked for them, and take a few notes.
The right loves to brand Democrats as “liberal elites”, and although this is not an accurate description of most of us, perhaps the “elite” part is right on the money when it comes to the Democratic establishment. It seems pretty clear that our Senators, Congressmen, Mayors and Governors are not particularly interested in hearing our point of view. They are unwilling to rub elbows with us, the unwashed masses, and instead are content to go it alone as we sit back watching them take one misstep after another. The Democratic leadership needs our help in order to mold them into a more viable alternative for Americans who are unhappy with Republican rule. They just don’t want to acknowledge it, which is pure hubris on their part. The Democrats' tin ear is contributing to their losing again and again because they have no real ideas and no comprehension of what is necessary to turn the tide. It’s time for them to consider that maybe we do.
Wouldn’t it be great to get an email from say, Progressives United for a Better America? Where’s our invitation to attend the premier liberal conference with appearances by Al Frankin, Nancy Pelosi, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Ron Reagan, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Russ Feingold, George Soros, Al Gore and Janeane Garofalo. Where is our chance to be inspired, to help formulate the message and learn how to stick to it? Why not give training seminars on how to organize our communities and learn how to effectively sell our message to a public that is eager for a change and push a progressive agenda that average Americans can get behind? Why are they so unwilling to take our pulse or ask for our help in crafting the message? Left to their own devices they have left us behind and lost one election after another. Clearly they have no idea what plays with the average voter, why not ask us, the ones who live out here in the real world that they haven’t been a part of for a long time, if ever?
And enough with the whining that they can’t get their message out when they are effectively blacklisted from mainstream media outlets. Get creative! If they would commit to a progressive agenda, we would be more than happy to tune in to a webcast and listen intently to new ideas, a cohesive agenda and an effective strategy for getting it done. Even liberals watched “Justice Sunday”, we’d certainly tune if for “the Saturday Progressive Project”. Advertising certainly wouldn’t be a problem since there are plenty of liberal blogs to make sure there’s an audience. All they have to do is show up with the goods and we’d be on our way.
It is true that grassroots organizing doesn't require top down leadership or a big personality to lead it, but it certainly couldn't hurt to have some big name support and an opportunity to converse with those who hold the power. At the very least, politicians on our side of the aisle should be willing to listen, and if they were smart, they would harness the energy found at the bottom and channel it in a positive direction. We're doing our part down here in the trenches, but we're tired of propping up the big names at the top, especially when they refuse to do our bidding. If they think that their interests have diverged from ours, perhaps we should believe them and cut ourselves loose from the apron strings that are only holding us back. It would be interesting to see how they'd fare without their base. They would likely find that they are the anchor around the neck of the party and we are the buoy that's been holding them up.