An Interconnected Movement

by: Adam Bink

Thu Sep 24, 2009 at 12:15

ACTION: Help protect marriage equality in Maine

As many of you know, I've been writing about the marriage equality ballot initiative in Maine for some time. I've been writing about this campaign not only because I care as a gay man, but because I care about the broader progressive movement.

As I wrote here, I think a win or loss in Maine will have a profound impact on the LGBT movement. A loss will mean the right-wing is batting 1.000 on marriage initiatives since 2004- through constitutional amendments, Prop 8, and now this. It gives the haters something to go back to their right-wing funders with, it shapes the media narrative that the country isn't "ready" for gay marriage. And it means couples will remain second-class citizens.

But I also think it will impact non-LGBT progressives. Here's why:

I often hear the theory that issue movements are disconnected- that a win or loss on marriage equality has nothing to do with, say, a win or loss on climate change. Ergo, the straight individual living outside of Maine won't be impacted by what happens in Maine. I don't think that's true.

The conservative movement is very interconnected. The right-wing foundation which funds anti-LGBT orgs also funds clean coal "studies", right-wing press outlets, and more. A win on any of these issues keeps right-wing money flowing overall, while defeats help to interrupt right-wing resources in other areas. Resources won't dry up, as there will always be die-hard activists, but they can lessen if there are across-the-board losses for conservatives on health care this fall, on marriage in Maine, on cap-and-trade later this year.

For our side, if we string losses together on issue after issue, it becomes demoralizing. It's demoralizing to movement activists as well as to many donors and foundations. Doubtful? Think of how many people you know who said they haven't felt so inspired- or even voted- since Kennedy in 1980, or McGovern in 1972, or even Kennedy in 1960, until Barack Obama. Winning and losing matters, and it matters across a multi-issue plain.

Because I believe in this inter-connectedness, and the critical nature Maine plays in a movement of which OpenLeft is a part, I'm going to travel to Maine next month to blog on the ground about the campaign. I'm traveling in conjunction with the New Organizing Institute's National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative, another critical part of our movement. I'll be doing video interviews with key folks on the ground- including campaign staff, bloggers, traditional media, activists, and even a right-winger or two. I'll be talking to local voters, and sending back lessons on the politics of marriage equality, something we're going to be looking at here in DC very soon. I'm also hoping to explore how the campaign impacts progressives across the country, and shed a little light on Maine politics, including our favorite senior Senator there.

For this, I need to ask for your help.

As you know, such a venture has expenses, I'd like to ask for your support to help cover travel expenses (the rest will go to OpenLeft projects). I assure you that your dollars will be going to generating quality, interesting daily content here at OpenLeft on the Maine campaign, as well as instructive and productive lessons on our progressive movement overall. Between coming to the finish line on health care next month, getting a view from on the ground in Maine, and continuing to build an inside-outside progressive movement, I guarantee OpenLeft will be in its element.

If you have $5, $10 or $50 to help send me to Maine, and to advance LGBT equality and strengthen our progressive movement, please donate by clicking here.

Thanks for your generous support.

Adam Bink :: An Interconnected Movement

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Kicked some cash in. (4.00 / 1)
In honor of all my gay friends who've managed to build loving long term relationships despite all the odds.

Go kick some ass in Maine.

I'm confused. (0.00 / 0)
You are the author of

aren't you? Have you changed your opinion in the last 15 days, or do I simply not understand your earlier essay?

In any case, good luck.

I think you may misunderstand it (0.00 / 0)
Arguing for patience and prioritizing doesn't mean ignoring all other issues. And Maine will be voted on Nov 3rd, one way or another. The campaign is happening, like it or not, so activists should put in. The same can't be said of ENDA or hate crimes, which were the subject of the post.

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[ Parent ]
Interconnectedness does matter, (4.00 / 1)
but it's not only about morale or resources.

The other way the conservative movement is interconnected is that every issue is used as a vehicle for advancing the movement conservative world view: we are not in this together - rights and rewards are for the deserving (a relatively small group), force and punishment are for the undeserving (a much larger group, who get war, prison, poverty, lack of government protections, etc.)  Government can only do good through punishment of the undeserving, but markets alone will do good for the rest.  Power is it's own reward.

Democrats need to do the same.  Marriage rights, the right to health care, to be free from unreasonable search and seizures, to vote and on and on - belong to us all. Government performs poorly when it's treated as a mechanism to advance the private interest of the powerful, but performs well when it protects us all.  Force is a blunt instrument that often creates backlash, which is why we need less war, less prisons, and more opportunity.  

So while this battle matters for marriage equality in Maine and everywhere else, it also matters for progressive politics more generally.

They key of course, is to promote progressive policies with progressive arguments - which I'm sure Adam will be doing.  
Selling Democratic policies by saying that we won't fund abortions or allow undocumented immigrants to benefit, talking about the importance of deficit neutrality with respect to health care (but not war or taxes), or giving credence to tort reform nonsense are all ways to disconnect things that ought to be connected.  

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


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