Moving the conversation forward --- our plan in Georgia

by: bruce.dixon

Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 09:13

Georgia Republicans are real Republicans. I live in Newt Gingrich's old district, where Dems don't even run for state rep and senator, let alone Congress.

Our white Democrats are Dixiecrats. Think John Barrow from Savannah. Think Roy Barnes, a past governor and current candidate for that same office who nearly doubled the number of prison beds in only four years, and whose biggest brag last time he ran (and lost to a mope who promised to and did bring the Confederate flag back to the state capital) was his championing a two strikes law in the state senate under his Dixiecrat predecessor Zell Miller.

Our elected black Democrats aren't much better, most of them.

bruce.dixon :: Moving the conversation forward --- our plan in Georgia

Two of our black congresscritters, David Scott and Sanford Bishop were among the six in the black caucus to vote for full funding of the latest Pentagon war budget. Other black statewide officials brag of their own roles in pushing two-strikes. Kasim Reed, the black Democrat who's currently mayor of Atlanta ran billing himself as a "civil rights lawyer" but omitted the qualification that he's a plaintiff's lawyer, mouthpiece for the corporations who violate your civil rights. Back when he was a state senator, Reed justified his bill to nail a 5 year prison sentence on anybody seeking a job with a false social security number as a measure to "protect the jobs and living standards" of black Georgia families.

These elected Democrats don't represent the views of most Democratic voters, who in Georgia are overwhelmingly black and well to their left. But they get vast amounts of campaign cash from corporations, real estate interests, military contractors and so on. Though Rev. Lowery and some others are dear friends and respected elders, the traditional civil rights organizations have also been captured by corporate donors. Neither they nor labor are any use at all in challenging any elected Democrat.

Primarying these corporate Democrats has many disadvantages, some of which I've discussed elsewhere. The most telling for me are that

  1. no news coverage on political issues makes getting people's attention in primary seasons much harder work than it ought to be

  2. once the primary season is over, you have to flog the vote out for a slate of corporate Dems who often despise your entire community.

So I'm throwing in my lot with the Green Party in Georgia. The Green Party is a federation of state parties, so the national party's problems and conflicts are a distant rumor. They might be relevant, but if we can't build a strong state party here, we can't be much help in addressing those. The state party here, when I joined a few months ago, amounted to a dilapidated bus parked by the side of the road with the keys and title under the seat.

Political organizing being a team sport, the first thing is to assemble a core group whose judgement and instincts you trust, and who have the needed skills and commitment. Then you settle a plan. Here's ours.

We believe a big chunck of the potential electorate is well to the political left of both parties and the corporate media. These people rarely get to hear their issues even directly acknowledged, let alone advanced by Democrats, and often see them explicitly opposed by Republicans. Many are what the consultants call "frequent voter" types, and many more are the parts of the Democratic base that are only activated sporadically, as in two years ago. For a Green Party, these people are our low-hanging fruit. If we can't make major gains among them, we might as well go home.

In Georgia the most solidly Democratic areas are black constituencies, which are easy to find because the state is 26% black. They're in big city and suburban Atlanta, medium sized cities like Macon, Albany, Columbus, and Augusta, and in the rural counties of central and south Georgia, and the coastal areas like Savannah and Brunswick. These then, are the places we aim to achieve maximum density, from which we'll spread out to other areas.

I took the time yesterday to read the stuff some commenters suggested by Rayne, including the lefty roadmap. I found Rayne's stuff sensible and knowledgeable, in the way people trained in the corporate and nonprofit worlds understand these terms. But I found it light when it came to understanding of the issues that deeply motivate people. Messaging and web pages don't move people just cause you put them out there. Folks don't read your newsletters or come to your meetings if you're not saying anything they consider important or relevant. People are politically moved in big numbers when you connect with their lives and their aspirations, and when your politics help them address the difference between the lives they actually live and the ones they aspire to. So while the kind of attention to technical detail Rayne preaches in her roadmap is good and mostly necessary stuff, it gets you nowhere without a connection to the issues.

Black mass incarceration is a central issue.

For a Green Party to take root and grow in what are presumed Democratic strongholds, it has to go straight to the places Democratic voters wish their elected officials and candidates would go, and say what they wish those candidates and officials would say. Our Green party has to put the failed social policy of mass black imprisonment front and center, and has to call it exactly that. It has to connect the wars and bailouts with the unavailability of funds for schools and jobs and local infrastructure, and resolutely oppose privatization and corporate privilege. We have to give them a Green Party that does what want, but can never get from a Democratic party.

Organizing doesn't start on the net. It starts with personal contacts throughout the state.

The first thing our state Green party is doing is financing a series of four and five day organizing team trips around the state to make personal contact with activists and their networks in town and cities already in motion on some of these issues. Before the year is out our away team will have spent eight or twelve days on the road visiting activists in two dozen counties, and we will continue that into the spring of 2011.

Bringing those contacts with us back to Atlanta will put us in good enough standing with the proficient organizers among metro Atlanta's local activist nexus, those entities that actually can fill rooms full of people six to eight times a year, and the second tier ones that fill rooms twice or three times a year, so they won't feel bashful about sharing their capacity with us instead of local Democrats, or holding themselves aloof from elections altogether.

By February we'll be calling public meetings in six or twelve places around the state outside Atlanta on mass incarceration, helping service local outreach efforts and hooking them together, doing a lot of the technical stuff that Rayne's roadmap proposes. And early spring is the time to look for candidates for municipal office, to run in November 2011. Municipal elections are low-turnout, low pressure affairs, and make for good introductions to campaigning.

Candidate recruitment for Georgia Greens has some specific problems. Repub and Democratic candidates get all kinds of ego and social reinforcement. Green candidates face the possibility of economic retaliation. I know of two cases in which the private practices of lawyers were devastated. We had a couple possible candidates last year who, when we explained the history of economic retaliation against Georgia Green candidates in the 1990s, backed out. Can't say I blamed them. In your early 40s, a college teacher with no tenure and small children? You might not want to do this. But somebody has to....

By early spring we can bring outside speakers in to tour the state. Cynthia McKinney is well thought of here despite the hateful media campaigns against her. She lost her seat because she and her crew were poor organizers, not because people disagreed with her politics. David Cobb, the Green Party's presidential candidate in 2004, wants to come here too.

We expect to have a statewide meeting in the summer, perhaps along with a weekend boot camp for candidates and their key campaign folks. And by early 2012 we expect to have candidates around the state, and in metro Atlanta for state rep seats, with people knocking on doors, engaging neighbors around the state on mass black incarceration, on privatization, against the imperial wars, against the nukes in poor black Burke County GA, and so on. We expect to lose more races than we win for a long while, but to tap into something deeper, a tradition of struggle that is older than we are, and that will sustain our organization and its activists after we're gone.

If this is going to be another Reagan-era winter in America, like Gil Scott Herron called the 1980s, we'll grow slowly but we'll keep growing just the same. And the next time the cycle turns to one of those spots, like the sixties, when exponential growth of the movement is possible, we'll be on its cutting edge. Watch out for us.

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Wow. Thanks for this. (4.00 / 7)
What strikes me, right off the bat, is how thoughtful this approach seems to be.  Not just well thought out, but thoughtful.  It's easy to agree with the premises you've established for getting started; they make too much sense to argue with/against.  Your central organizing focus, Black mass incarceration is a central issue., affords you real legitimacy, and a hook on which to hang every other issue important to the community.  That's the piece I find missing as I cruise left leaning sites on the web.  I despair of getting any real national organization from the web because the issues are too fragmented.  What I get from your diary is the sense that if one could find a central issue that resonates for a community, then you have a scaffold on which to hang other issues as well - without ever once having uttered the words Democrat, Liberal, Progressive or Left.  [All politics is local?]  And, from those local initiatives, which will have overlapping concerns a national effort might grow.

Maybe we could even imagine something like this some day.

The other thing I get is yours is a long planning horizon.  And, I don't think - at this point, given how low we've sunk - anything other than that which has a long planning horizon has any chance of a lasting success.

Well, how successful is the Green Party in the elections so far? (0.00 / 0)
I understand you gave up on trying to change the Dem party from within after the throwback in Chicago, and that's why you pursuit that third party idea now. Well, to me, this sounds as if there's a lot of hurt feelings behind this, and not only reasonabel arguements, but ok, your choice. However, the gernal problem of third parties in a two party system still apply. Such a move will divide the votes on one side of the political spectrum, while giving the other side a huge advantage in the elections. Also, it actually forces one party (here, the Dems) to the center to make up for the vote loss on the outer wing. That's only reasonable if at least there's a very good chance to actually replace one party, so that the third party becomes the second one.

So, apart from all the brouhaha about "cutting edge", come on, is there any chance for the Greens to replace the Dems in a considerable time frame? How many percent of the vote did Green candidates manage to win, really?

Yet, Grey (4.00 / 2)
the two party duopoly will not fold on its own. It really has to go and fighting it is the way to do it.

I happen to live in a state that has some of the more liberal voting laws in the nation. While we are still not to the point of developing a national system in which alternative parties can entertain the idea of becoming "viable", we are much closer at the state level and truly viable in smaller governments. I can tell you, Grey, the scenario is not nearly as ominous as you suggest. The alternative party candidates are important additions to the campaign  - particularly debates. Do you think it is a coincidence that MN has liberal voting laws and among the highest turn-out in the nation? Was it just chance that the Franken/Coleman senate race in 2008 did not play out like the elections in FL or OH? No. It was the strong(er) political and voting infrastructure and culture at the state level.

Can you imagine if a Green Party candidate gets into a debate stream for some office in GA? Don't you think that they will focus on introducing the black mass incarceration issue into the discussion? Don't you think that such would be a step forward, regardless of the electoral outcome?

Read Bruce's plan again. This part in particular:

We have to give them a Green Party that does what [they] want, but can never get from a Democratic party.

Is he really competing for votes with the Dems, or is he aiming for those who have already decided to sit this one out?

Is it really such a bad thing to force M$P candidates to actually earn their votes, rather than just playing the role of the "protest vote" against the other wing of the duopoly?  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
if this is the question... (4.00 / 5)
Is he really competing for votes with the Dems, or is he aiming for those who have already decided to sit this one out?

Then the answer is both.

"If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other people, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding..."
Zora Neale Hurston

[ Parent ]
Well, any change to the two party system has to come from law. (0.00 / 0)
And this means, from within. History shows that third parties who mange to become First or second parties suddenly lose their interest in changing a system that then actually works to defend them from challengers. So, sry, but I remain sceptical if going Green is the magical trick than change the US. I suspect that even if they're successful, they will be undermined by powerful inteests on this way, and once in power will simply seaminglessly replace the Dems. So, the whole efforts for nothing but a change of name. That's why I think working from within the Dems is still the better choice. Also, it should be apparent that in these dangerous times, with the right wingers willing to kill all liberal achievements since the 1930s, this is an especially bad moment to split up the left wing vote!

[ Parent ]
I have nothing against working within the either M$P (0.00 / 0)
as long as we can agree to change the duopoly in the long term. The two party system cripples our politics.

My concern is that any substantive reform of the Democratic Party will be more easily co-opted by the corporatists than a new party. Even if the goal is to replace the Democratic party within the two party system, I'd rather see that proceed from the dissolution of the Democratic Party, rather than the slow transformation from within.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
As I've Said Many Times Before (4.00 / 5)
I see quite a difference between national third-party strategies--which have no history of success in the US--and state-level third-party strategies, which have a good-enough record to warrant trying to make a go of them.

Even without changing laws, the racial politics of Georgia create a real possibility for a third-party strategy at the state level, and one could even argue that Georgia Dems have been asking for it ever since they first decided to torpedo Cynthia McKinney.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Georgia has run-offs (0.00 / 0)
I am admittedly not very knowledgeable on election laws in all the various states, but as a resident of Georgia I know that we have run-off elections here. That takes the spoiler issue off the table here in Georgia and any other states that have runoffs. On a national level, I agree with Gray's objection, but in states like Georgia with runoffs, the spoiler issue is not there.

[ Parent ]
the Dems can't even summon the maximum left wing vote (4.00 / 8)
because they so often disappoint and betray it.

Wingers didn't give away $23 trillion to Wall Street, or ramp up the war in Afghanistan to its present levels, or legalize the torture and kidnapping and secret imprisonment that Bush-Cheney did outside the law altogether.  Wingers haven't been leading the charge to pass the last four war budgets or stall EFCA or preserve the private health insurance racket, and wingers haven't appointed a cat food commission to undermine social security.  Wingers didn't have to.  Our elected Democrats did all this for them and more.

And wingers haven't made the Democratic party people-proof, democracy-proof and reform-proof, insulated from its base voters except for one day every two years when it is utterly dependent on them.

Wingers are not your only problem friend.  Wingers haven't even been in power the last 4 years in Congress or the last 2 in the White House, in case you hadn't noticed.

"If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other people, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding..."
Zora Neale Hurston

[ Parent ]
Huh? Wall Street fat cats are "wingers", too. (0.00 / 0)
Maybe your definition is different, but I don't see any real difference between a rethuglican winger and those big spenders who deliberately fund and influence BOTH big parties at trhe same time. Those fat cats who donate to the Dems simply want to hedge their bets and ensure infliuence no matter which party wins. But they are still "wingers". And of course they should be driven out of the Dems, but since the US system of funding the parties and the candidates favors the big donors, this won't happen. And the Green party won't be able to escape this systemic corruption, big money will buy off its candidates, too. Like it did in Chicago.

[ Parent ]
Well then (4.00 / 1)
perhaps the situation has become so beyond repair that we should all move to Europe and give up on the American Experiment. Any rooms for rent in your neighborhood?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Not much in my multiculti neighborhood. (0.00 / 0)
Typically affordable housing that is highly sought after. But lots of immigrants, so you would fit right in!

No, seriously again, imho a but eraly to give up on the "American Experiment" yet. But the left wing has to become better at pushing legiuslation into the left direction again, push by push, like the rethuglicans did over the decades. And the main lines of attack has to be on campaign finances and on voting laws. The field has to be levelled, by public financing and/or caps on donations, and the disenfranchisement of poor and working class voters has to be stopped. And imho it shoudl be possible to get the Dem party behind this, if progressives really make a stand for it. And with the increased left wing vote resulting from this, other legislations could be pushed than. It's a long term process, but imho it would bring rewards. The difference to the third party approach is, this actually changes the system and not only shifts votes from one party to another!

[ Parent ]
your comments suppose, again, (0.00 / 0)
that pushing for campaign finance reform and the like within the Democratic party are new ideas, haven't been tried before, and that the Democratic party is somehow amenable to such reforms.

At the risk of tiresome repetition -- more tiresome to readers, I'm sure, I remind you Gray that some of us have been at just those tasks for decades and have lots of scars to prove it.  If you've got some brand new idea how reforming the people-proof Democratic party can be accomplished, good luck wid dat.

If you wanna share your thoughts on just what it is you propose to do that hasn't been tried already, or what magic bullet you've got to make it work this time, we're all ears.

"If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other people, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding..."
Zora Neale Hurston

[ Parent ]
Here's one (4.00 / 1)
I essentially agree with you on the merits of banging our heads against the Democratic Party brick wall.  Even when we are superficially successful, there is the well-established process whereby the reformer in office is sucked into the machine, often making realpolitik decisions about "effectiveness" and "electability," that leave them in a few years.

But a few things are different.  Independents (of many ilks) make up the largest single voting bloc in the electorate.  That is new.

The empire is not only dying, but is becoming broadly acknowledged to be dying.  That is new.

Thus I would call for developing an alliance between progressive independents and progressive Democats.  One obvious difference between trying to only build infrastructure within the Democratic Party and this is that independents can potentially provide a counter-anchor to Democratic Party centrists.

Please don't give me the Underpants Gnome 123 treatment.  For one thing, such an alliance doesn't equal 3. Progressive victory.  It only provides at best a place to stand from which we can BEGIN to fight.  And step 2 would take a book to write about, please forgive me for not undertaking it in a comment thread this skinny.

I like what you say about the Georgia situation.  If your Green strategy is effective -- and I believe it will be -- at some point, if not now, you begin to exert pressure on what few progressive Dem VOTERS within the Georgia Democatic Party. You are actually one good example of a complex step 2.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
No, I didn't say this. (0.00 / 0)
I'm well aware it has been tried. The obvious problem is, the reforms always got stuck after small successes that didn't have the desired transformational effect. Take McCain Feingold, an impressive bipartisan effort at campaign finance change (I'm not against bipartisanship where it makes sense). Once that bill was passed, there was no follow up move. And so, once again, the whole thing got stuck without making much of a difference. But this shows that more determined efforts in the future could succeed, especially when supported by the public.

And what's this nonsense about a "magic bullet" about? I say all the time there is NO magic bullet! And especially "third party" ain't one, but a dud under these circumstances. It takes lots of changes to the US system to adjust it in a way that gives third parties a fair chance without resulting in the biggest minority (prolly the rethuglicans) winning all the elections (which, obviously, isn't very democratic). And imho the problem isn't that determined reformers haven't suffered enough scars in that fight, but that not enough people fought at all! Probably real change can only happen when the frustration of the US citizen with the current system reaches a critical mass that forces the parties to correct the shortcomings. But that point may be reached in the foresseable future.

[ Parent ]
Did you miss the HCR fight? (0.00 / 0)
If this were true:

the disenfranchisement of poor and working class voters has to be stopped. And imho it shoudl be possible to get the Dem party behind this, if progressives really make a stand for it.

Why was a single-payer or Medicaid for All not even raised as a potential option by the "Dem party" of which you speak? Are you gonna blame the progressives for not pushing, or the Obamites for looking only to their right?

Either way, it does not support your optimism.

This part:

The difference to the third party approach is, this actually changes the system and not only shifts votes from one party to another!

Gets to a root. Reforming one or another M$P leaves the underlying (overarching?) corporatist power structure in place. Citizens United descision makes financial reform of politics, essentially, a moot point. Money is power in a capitalist system. I happen to think that one should disperse power as much as possible - so more viable parties means more dispersed political power. Viable alternative parties requires changing the system.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
For heaven's sake, Spitty... (0.00 / 0)
...why do you ALWAYS have to create phony controversies with me? We ALL know why HCR failed: Obama, Reid, sellout Senators who have all but veto rights. And, indeed, money IS power, and after the horrible Surpeme court order, even more so! And that puts the Greens at a disadvantage that's almost impossible to overcome. But they may still move enough votes away from the Dems to make the GOP the winner in this struggle, with less than a majority of the vote! That's the problem.

Really, we agree on most of the issues. Why the constant nitpicking?

[ Parent ]
Green Party candidates refuse to take corporate money (4.00 / 1)
The Green Party is not as susceptible to corruption as the Dems and Repubs, because Green candidates pledge not to accept corporate money for their campaigns. Some Greens won't even take union money, funding their campaigns entirely on individual contributions from people who don't do business with the state; others take money from democratically-run unions only, not top-down unions. The point is that Greens are very different from Democrats - they've thought hard about what's wrong with the system, and that's why all Green candidates take (and parties enforce) the no corporate money pledge.

Aside from that, Greens get into politics to change things, not to line their own pockets. As long as they're the underdogs, which is probably for decades to come, it's going to be like that. That's a less concrete but no less sound reason why Greens aren't as vulnerable to corruption as Republicrats.

[ Parent ]
Well, that's how the Greens started in Germany, too. (0.00 / 0)
Apart from them having the advantage of a public finance system, of course. Well, nowadays, much of the initial idelaism is gone and the poilicians and the party are increasingly like all the others. That's what my point about third parties not being a long term solution is about.

[ Parent ]
the greens have specific rules against taking corporate (0.00 / 0)
money or perks from lobbyists.  They also require members to honor their party platform or you lose the parties endorsement.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
That's nice, but without campaign finance reform... (0.00 / 0)
...this puts them at a dire disadvantage!
Even more evidence for my point that the necessary conditions for a successful third party aren't really met. Actually, the situation is even worse than in the past.

[ Parent ]
Why can't we do both? (4.00 / 1)
I don't see why we can't work on both building minor parties and trying to take over the Democratic Party from within.

[ Parent ]
Because you'll lose all elections when dividing the vote? (0.00 / 0)
Uh, come on, this is a two party system! There simply aren't enough votes on the left of the GOP to support two parties. Ain't this obvious?

[ Parent ]
Your reply doesn't make much sense, as stated (0.00 / 0)
If "we" are simply Democrats who don't believe that corporations should run things, then you should not suffer any losses in total votes. The trick to avoiding splitting votes is to form a vote bloc that can flip between Democratic and 3rd party, as is optimal for running it's 'game' (ala game theory). While you'd lose a handful of votes of corporate-loving Dems, you'd pick up more previously disaffected Dems and independents. (I'm glossing over very real complications due to the fact that you generally can't vote in a primary of more than one political party.)

If "we" are Democrats on the left of the Democratic Party, then your reply makes a little sense, if we assume that moderate and conservative Dems would never join either the new party, nor a vote bloc, as indicated in the former paragraph. However, what you "win" (at best) by staying with the Democrats, in the long run, are just some smattering of social matters. In economic matters (and, indirectly environmental matters), your political muscle will amount to nothing. Not only is your serfdom assured, but as the planet moves through environmental tipping points, the degradation of your life will make make you wonder if living is worth it, much less politics.

If "we" are Democrats who could live with compromises in a populist voting bloc, then your answer is dead wrong, as such a voting bloc could easily grow, in the next, say, 4-8 years, to easily overwhelm both Democrats and Republicans. Note that, in 11 states, independents already outnumber Dems and Repubs, put together.

I'm rooting for this option, and sincerely hope that, if it comes to pass, the most obnoxious, deceitful and deluded elements of both the Dems and Repubs are what is left behind.

Probably you meant the "we" of the 2nd paragraph. If you agitate for such a point of view, though, shouldn't you also give fair warning about their likely serfdom in a planet that isn't going to be friendly to human life?

Which "we" did you mean?

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
Left wingers in general, of course. This includes most Dems. (0.00 / 0)
And some, but not all, independents. Actually, your generalisation of "independents", as if this is a homogenous block, confuses me a bit. Not to speak of your misguided view of the teabaggers, when polls show that 70% of the GOP see themselves in this group. This should really put an end to all illusions that these are, or can be, allies!

Apart from this, not a single one of your three cases deals with what I'm talking about, so excuse me pls for not poiting out the inconsistencies.

But maybe you can answer a simple question to me: If the potential vote for left wing policies oscillates between 50 and 60%, as several polls indicate (remember, p.o. 60%), and consequentially the conservative potential is between 40 and 50%, how do you come to the strange idea than an addit6ional party on the left won't seriously divide this vote in a way than only the rethuglicans profit? The odds are high that this will be the unfortunate outcome of such a divide! It's Nader 2.0, with a new formula and bigger impact!

[ Parent ]
I don't advocate loyalty to 3rd parties, especially when they are so small that they are guaranteed to split votes (4.00 / 2)
Neither for liberals, or conservatives. Rather, I advocate for voting blocs, that can threaten to split votes via voting for a 3rd party, and, on occasion, will split a vote, to make sure that at least a few of it's demands get met by candidates. If not in the current election cycle, then in a subsequent one (because the candidate knows that the voting bloc will carry out their threat). The optimal strategy should be made in consultation with a political game theorists. I'm only able to visualize the broad strokes, having no background in the subject.

I don't advocate loyalty to any party. Instead, I advocate loyalty to a voting bloc, which view parties as mere vehicles to achieve their ends.

The demands of the voting blocs have to be in line with the amount of votes that the bloc can deliver. It'll also be in line with it's guts - it has to be willing to take losses rather than suffer being ignored, or lied to (which it'll find out after the candidate gets elected, unfortunately.)

I've written about this many times, and don't want to get into it, now. The key is voting, within the bloc, before real world primaries and real-world elections. Both to ascertain the strength of the bloc in numbers, but also to jointly make a decision. Another key is thinking in multiple election cycles. If you can't think beyond 1 election cycle at a time, or you're always so scared of the evil other that you end up practicing lesser-evilism, I don't have much to say to you, other than that you are practicing a losing strategy.

I refer you to a diary of mine:
Gaming competing 'FireDogLake Voting Blocs' scenarios - getting Unity out of Diversity

Progressives seem mostly uninterested in political game theory, even when they're told about it's successes. I'll make an effort to be kind, here: Part of this is probably because they are simply unfamiliar with the idea that there's a more rational way to approach elections. (The alternative explanation is not one that is very flattering to progressives....)

See also:
"Change Theory" or "Game Theory" and Its Usefulness in Politics The author apparently didn't know much about the subject, and abandoned the discussion. But some posters did know about it, e.g. Nathan Aschbacher.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
OK, "voting block" sounds quite different (0.00 / 0)
I'm not in the mood now to boot my brain up, but I'll take a deeper look into this later. Thx Meta.

[ Parent ]
You're welcome (0.00 / 0)
Unfortunately, right now we don't have voting blocs that provide even a minimal amount of group facilitated electoral action that would justify the name. The closest I can think of, to this, are labor unions. However, I don't know much about their governance. Do union members even decide who they will endorse, as a union? Or is this handed down to them from union leadership? I assume it's the latter, in which case they wouldn't meet my minimal conditions to be a voting bloc.

For those people who have given up on the D's or R's, I still wish them well, and hope that they maximize their efforts. The system is fragile, and a realignment looks like it would have support. If and when the organizational effort appears to match the public's appetite for something beyond D's and R's, the defection to the new kid(s) on the block might be dramatic.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
So what do you propose? (4.00 / 1)
Give up and stick with the duopoly?

I think you may be spoiled by your Parlimentary system.

No progress is ever made without risk - and your timidity is part of the reason that the M$Ps have Americans in thrall.

If the political system were more supportive of alternative parties, what makes you think that the rich and corporate wouldn't create one? Where do you think the Tea Party came from?  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Come on, Spitty, I don't have plans ready for everything! (0.00 / 0)
I said, there is no magic bullet, and I'm not remotely enough of an expert to come up with a grand strategy to this complex problem. And yes, I'm spoiled by the parliamentary system. But, excuse me pls, my timidity is ruining the US? Damn, I don't want that on my conscience!

OK, so just out of my, uh, intuition, I'd say increase the share of the progressives among the Dems first, by concentrating on progressive candidates only and totally ignoring the rest of the Damn party. Use that power to push campaign reforms through, in small steps to stay under the radar of corporate interests and to avoid a big counterattack. Also, reform voting laws in order to seriously reduce voter infringement and thus boost the share of the lower income vote. Moving voting to a Sunday (NOT a Saturday, we don't want to lose the Jewish vote!) would be a great move. Those actions should result in increasing the progressive power even more.

Now, go all in for the presidency. With left wingers making up a majority of the Dem voters, it should be possible to get a good progressive both nominated and elected. She/he should be careful with the messaging, though, to not overly alert the corporate forces of the danger to their power structure. No loud calls for changes, pls! Under the impression of the victory, and with the power of the mandate, hijack the government, and conduct a complete overhaul. All advocates of the status quo will have to go or be sidelined, man all positions with steadfast progressives who first and foremost see the wellfare of the people as their task. Use that new power to engage the corporations on all fronts, workplace security, discrimination problems, environmental issues, anti-trust, accounting rules, you name it.

While big money is busy defending themselves, Congress should have a clear path to pass consumer and worker friendly laws that will create a turnaround on income inequality and deliver very real improvements to the people. The midterms shouldn't then be much of a problem and increase the progressive power again. If there's already a majority for constitutional changes, use it to reform the democratic system. If not, continue with the strategy for two more years.

Somewhat like this. Certainly lots of flaws in this, but not bad for something that came out of my uh, lazy brain on short notice, I hope.

[ Parent ]
I miswrote (0.00 / 0)
I did not mean to imply that you, yourself, was "ruining" the US. I meant the kind of overly cautious, let's always assume the worst case kind of timidity. With that kind of attitude we'd still be paying taxes to the Brits and drinking tea at 4.

I agree with the gist of the rest of what you post, but differ in that I would rather see such happen outside of either of the current parties because overcoming the internal power structures would likely blow them apart anyway. So why not just admit that dismantling one, if not both, of the current M$Ps is a goal? OF COURSE,

without a reform of the underlying two party structure, the polity will likely recoalesce into two parties again. Some folks seem OK with the two party system, others are not. I'm in the latter camp. BUT,

even if you don't want to change the duopoly, alternative parties and extra-party organizations in general offer the opportunity to build a parallel structure that can be ready to form the nucleus of a new party when and if one of the others dissolves.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Well, imho it's easier and faster to work within the Dems. (0.00 / 0)
The third party moves now are simply too far away from power, even the PCCC has tremendously more influence. And the fact that the DINOs and centrists are under harsh attack from the right makes it easier for the progressives to chip away at their share of the party. Imho still the much easier path.

As for transformating the US democratic system, imho it makes a lot of sense in the long term. If there are only two parties, they unavoidably are too big and to removed from the increasingly narrowing interests of population groups. The party majority will run roughshod over the minorities time and again, and will disenfrachise people from participating in the majority. However, there are huge constitutional hurdles on the way to changes (the ratification by the states is sheer madness), and so this will be very difficult. We're talking about decades here, imho.

[ Parent ]
It is also corrupting and indoctrinating (4.00 / 1)
Unearned, implicit, party loyalty - like most tribalistic notions-  tends to dislink followers brains from their bodies.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
This explains all the zombies voting rethuglican! (4.00 / 1)
Uh, or not?

[ Parent ]
Speaking of zombies (0.00 / 0)
I just came across this interview with a zombie, recently:

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
Disgusting! (0.00 / 0)
Damn, that zombie is really creepy. And so talkative! I didn't like the interviewer with his pale face, either. Horrible program.

[ Parent ]
Georgia has runoffs (4.00 / 1)
Gray, I agree with your objection on a national level, but Georgia has runoff elections, so the issue of dividing the vote is moot here.

[ Parent ]
Good point! (0.00 / 0)
Thx, Miasmo. That's important, of course.

[ Parent ]
Building and taking over parties aren't just about elections (0.00 / 0)
They're also about voter education, outreach, recruiting and training candidates, and just cultivating a liberal/progressive political climate generally.

Getting liberals elected is great but it means nothing in the long run if voters themselves are still stuck in a conservative mindset.  I think we can all agree that changing the way voters think about politics and government is the most powerful thing we can do to make our politics better.

But yeah, I imagine that left-vote splitting may happen in some races.  Better than, to lay the groundwork for liberal campaigns so that this vote-splitting is brief and liberal consolidation happens quickly.

[ Parent ]
no hurt feelings.... (4.00 / 7)
These were valuable lessons, and there was no place else to learn them.  I'm grateful for my experience as a Democratic campaign volunteer, staffer, consultant, operative, whatever, for the defeats and the victories I was part of.

Working for change, as opposed to allowing oneself to be manipulated by the two party calculus, takes a longer view than the next election cycle or two.  If Democrats were really true to their base we'd have no hope of making any progress there.  But Dems want that base without satisfying its most basic needs, without standing up for its interests.

If they lose their base, they deserve to.  If they lose elections because they disappoint their base, as it appears will happen this year, they deserve that too.  And if they ultimately lose that base to some other formation, well, that's in the game.  They never had any divine right or entitlement to it anyhow.

Put another way, if Republicans win for a while because we erode the Democratic base, that's all in the game.  Right now, Republicans win even when Democrats win, and lots of our Democrats are indistinguishable from Repubs.  The only way out of this bottle is out.

No, of course Greens have never won much of anything here.  It hasn't been done before.  I suppose that's a great argument for not trying, right?

"If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other people, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding..."
Zora Neale Hurston

[ Parent ]
Sry, Bruce, and with a lot of respect... (0.00 / 0)
..for your fight for your convictions, but imho the casual way in which you go over the horrible consequences of the rethuglicans winning in elections right now is outright dangerous. Especially calling that a "game"! For heaven's sake, this isn't a game, that's deadly real, with very real consequences if the current right wing extremists come to power! Sry, but you should think a lot more about the real life consequences of your actions, imho.

[ Parent ]
Republicans win even when Democrats win (0.00 / 0)
Bruce didn't gloss over the horrible consequences of Republicans winning. He said that Republicans get their way even when Democrats "win", and that's true. Democrats have held Congress for 4 years and the White House for 2, and all our money is going to Wall Street and the military-industrial complex while our communities crumble. Sure, there are some minor differences - now women can sue for equal pay, and now the uninsured among us will be forced to buy health insurance from bloodsucking death pan- I mean, private health insurance corporations, but to me that sounds like Nero fiddling. And who would've thought that Obama would escalate Bush's war on the Constitution? The neocon/neolib agenda marches on.

Think about it this way: the wealthiest 1% have long seen it as a game. They have two teams; we have none. That's why we need the Green Party.  

[ Parent ]
It depends on WHICH dems win! (0.00 / 0)
Maybe I'm overly optimisitic, but I still believe there's a difference between progressive Dems and DINOs. And the big money wouldn't be amused if the first group gains too much influence.

Also, the good progressives in the PCCC are our team! And they have a chance to get elected. The same isn't true for most Greens, who in many races (except those with a "runoff" rule) will be a negative force because they reduce the left wing vote.

[ Parent ]
What have progressive Dems done for us? (0.00 / 0)
2 years with a Democratic super-majority, and what did "progressive" Democrats accomplish? Seems like they led a lot of people around by the nose, while the ORahma administration continued the neocon-neolib agenda. Maybe the prog Dems mean well, but what does it matter? All they've done is keep the progressive base pouring all their energy into a party that always disappoints them. If the last 2 years haven't shown that the Dems care a lot more about their corporate donors than about their base, I don't know what will.

Your analysis is based on the premise that Democrats are entitled to the votes of anyone who isn't Republican. Lots of people don't think either corporate-sponsored party owns their vote. That's why we are trying to build a viable progressive independent alternative. Yes, it would be easier with instant runoff voting and proportional representation, but how can we ever expect to get electoral reform if we first resign ourselves to voting for the lesser evil? There's the Catch-22.

This much is clear: if Democrats really wanted to solve the 'spoiler' problem, they'd be hard at work passing instant runoff voting everywhere they can. They haven't, so the logical conclusion is that the Democratic Party prefers having a system that forces people to vote for the lesser evil, instead of a system that allows you to vote for your favorite candidate without fear of inadvertently helping your least favorite. Look at the UK: they're going to hold a referendum on IRV because a third party won enough to make up the balance of power. That's real power, and that's how change can come.

[ Parent ]
They were outnumbered and outgunned, but they did fight! (0.00 / 0)
They were in a bad strategical position, because they wante dto achieve real improvements for the people, while the other side would have had no problem with a prolongation of the  status quo. Under these unfortunate conditions, they fought a good battle not only against DINOs and centrists, but also against the WH and Harry Reid who did everything possible to discourage their efforts. It's realy not their fault that they didn't have the power to push the p.o. through, and we shouldn't blame them for that! Really, we have to be realistic, and not expect a progressive troop armed with pantball guns to win against the Damn party equivalent of effing Blackwater!

And supporting a thrid party instead of progressive Dems is no "magic bullet" at all! Quite to the contrary, it's more of a dud, since those party candidates are even more unlikely to win when they run in three way races. That's a sure recipe to actually REDUCE the progressive power in the House.

And when I look at the UK, I see a third party who has been around for, what, like a century?, finally getting into power again after several decades of almost irrelevance. Only to instantly sell out all the left wingers who gave them their vote as a show of protest against old "new Labor". Imho that's not especially inspiring.

[ Parent ]
For a better example (0.00 / 0)
Look at Australia, where voters unhappy with the center-left Labor government went to the Greens instead of staying home or voting for the center-right Liberal opposition. Now a Labor-Green coalition is in power, and the Greens are putting climate change and other issues ignored by the big 2 on the table.

As for the UK, the point was that the Lib Dems forced electoral reform onto the table. I never claimed they were especially progressive. The only UK party that is progressive is the Green Party - who just won their first seat in parliament after years of building.

Is the role of progressives to build pressure for progressive public policy? Or is it to make excuses for why the Democratic super-majority spent all its time funneling money to Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, and insurance corporations while throwing its base under the bus? I don't think the latter strategy is really helping, so why not try the former?

[ Parent ]
Dunno next to nothing about Australia. (0.00 / 0)
Aren't they more like a parliamentary democracy?

"Is the role of progressives to build pressure for progressive public policy? Or is it to make excuses"
No, and no. The role of the progressives is to achieve progressive improvements! Any which way they can. Let's not confuse the means with the goals, pls.

[ Parent ]
The voice of experience (4.00 / 5)
Just about everything I think I know about how things really get done is listed here. The symbolism of a black man in the Oval Office isn't trivial; the New Deal legacy looks at first glance like something one could build on as well as betray, but the bottom line is that underneath all the message consulting, horse-trading and flimflam, people have real needs, and one way or another, they have to be addressed. As this article in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell points out, putting a real social movement together and making it work looks absolutely nothing like what passes for politics among the so-called serious folks today. We should act accordingly, and Bruce, your five paragraphs here address that prospect more directly, and more completely, than just about anything I've read lately anywhere -- even here. Your advice may be free, but in my opinion it would be worth whatever you wanted to charge for it.

[ Parent ]
Thanks for that link, William. (0.00 / 0)
It's a must read.

[ Parent ]
That's the key (4.00 / 1)
if Republicans win for a while because we erode the Democratic base, that's all in the game.  Right now, Republicans win even when Democrats win, and lots of our Democrats are indistinguishable from Repubs.  The only way out of this bottle is out.

I put more emphasis on the Democratic primaries than you do (but then I'm not from Georgia), but ANY plan has to take that stance.  Otherwise, lesser-evilism overwhelms all.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
Georgia and more (0.00 / 0)
A majority of Georgia's population , albeit a slim majority, now lives in the Atlanta suburbs.  A few close in areas have large black populations and are reliably Democratic but most areas vote 70% Republican.  The Dixiecrat "moderates" are stuck in the past and don't speak to this group or to the blacks who are a key part of the losing coalition patched together by Georgia Democrats.

The needs of the Atlanta suburbanites are pretty clearly roads, schools, and some sort of foreclosure relief.  The want is lower taxes and the prison-cop establishment is a burden on all of Georgia not just the black areas.  Hey, it's a burden on much of America.  I keep repeating it, but here in NJ the median salary for a local cop is $90,000.  That's 80% more than the income for the people they "protect."  Teachers median salary here is $57,000.

Incarceration and drug laws impact the taxes and the opportunities.  Better by far to spend the money on roads, schools and stabilizing the tax rates.

Third parties, as hinted at, have been very successful in some places, mostly in New England.  Maine elected an Independent Governor, Angus King, in the 1970s.  Vermont elected Bernie Sanders as the Socialist mayor of Burlington and as an Independent US Representative and later US Senator.  Jim Jeffords switched to Independent while in the US Senate.  Lincoln Chafee has a very good chance of being elected as an Independent Governor in Rhode Island this year.  Lowell Weicker was elected Governor of Connecticut  from "A Connecticut Party."  Joe Lieberman was elected from "Connecticut for Lieberman."  James Buckley made it to the US Senate on the Conservative Party line from New York.  Of course, John Lindsay was re-elected Mayor of New York City as  a Liberal Party candidate and Bloomberg ran as an Independent awith the Republican endorsement and $100 million of his own money.
Finally Charlie Crist (Independent) has a chance in Florida and Jesse Ventura was elected Governor of Minnesota on the Reform ticket in a three way race.  One more.  Wally Hickel was elected Governor of Alaska on the Alaska party ticket.

That's relatively recent.  I'm going back to the 70s or later.  Georgia has more blacks than any other state in the union although Mississippi (37%) has the highest percentage.  A Green Party able to do very well with black voters and able to pick off even a few traditional liberals and Atlanta suburbanites looking for real solutuins instead of Sonny Perdue baloney would be intantly competitive in a three way state race.  It would also have an inside track for Atlanta area US House seats currently represented by black Democrats.  In the case of David Scott, that would be an instant upgrade.

This is aviable, well thought out program.  But then much of what you say reaches that standard.

[ Parent ]
Runoffs in Georgia (4.00 / 1)
David, doesn't the fact that Georgia has runoff elections eliminate the spoiler effect? I'm not arguing with you that the Greens following this strategy could "be instantly competitive in a three way state race," but is that even necessary for this to be a good strategy if there's no spoiler effect regardless?

[ Parent ]
Good point (4.00 / 1)
Yes, Georgia has runoffs.

Would the Greens potentially inherit nearly all of the traditional Democrats in a runoff?  Frankly I don't know.  Any successful effort has to eat into the Republican vote in the Atlanta suburbs and a new party mightnot haver the baggage of Georgia Democrats.

The traditional, dixiecrat Democrats would seem to have the weakest base of a three way stool perhaps as little as 15 or 20% of the electorate.  Would an afro-american based Green party supplant the Democrats locally?  Would this transplant to neighboring states like Mississippi or South Carolina?

I sure don't know but maybe Bruce Dixon would have some thoughts.

[ Parent ]
Increased turnout (0.00 / 0)
I would think that having an alternative to the two major parties make it to a runoff would increase turnout enough to outweigh D votes switching to R in the runoff. But more importantly in the short term, runoffs allow people to vote Green without fear that their vote will have a Nader effect, i.e. taking just enough votes from the Dem candidate to give the election to the Repub with a mere plurality.

[ Parent ]
No, not instant runoff. (0.00 / 0)
If no candidate gets 50% or more, they schedule a runoff election about a month later for the top two vote getters.

[ Parent ]
No, I mean we should have IRV (0.00 / 0)
in Georgia as well as other states.  It'd be cheaper than a two-stage runoff and it'd avoid the problem of runoffs not giving voters more than two choices.

[ Parent ]
Read the post again, please. (4.00 / 4)
This is textbook party-building Bruce is describing and it works. It takes time and a lot of energy, but it works for precisely that reason. You have to start local, build up a solid bench of candidates and start moving them upwards through the system. You have to build community relationships.

With 58% of Americans saying it's time for a third party, this is a good time to do this. And when the Democratic elites are pissing all over their base, it's even better.

But as I told the Greens I knew back in the '80s, if you're not willing to do the heavy lifting on a local level and build an actual party, you get nowhere. They weren't interested in it back then, which is why I couldn't be bothered with them.

So I have no doubt Bruce will enjoy the fruits of his labor at some point.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates

[ Parent ]
Thanks, Bruce (4.00 / 5)
This makes a helluva lot of sense given the specifics of Georgia politics.

I agree that black mass incarceration is the civil rights issue of the time, and while there is some sensitivity to that in Dem circles in some places (Marcy Winograd is progressive Democrat here in Southern California who doesn't shy away from talking about & working with prisoners' rights groups) Georgia seems to be fairly begging for the sort of strategy you articulate.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Organizing the Greening of Georgia, with only half a nod to Paretto (0.00 / 0)
One expression of Pareto's Principle is:  80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes

When I read Rayne's recent angry left/miserable left series, I recognized the frustration of a member of a community who is not getting what one could call a fair level of support. I recognize this from what I hear goes on in churches, with volunteers few and far between, who are consequently overloaded. (Hence what I call the unfairness.) It doesn't surprise me that a similar phenomenon occurs in politics. (Which, unfortunately, makes for exploitation by completely selfish, monied interests that much easier. In a church community, the worse that tends to happen is that they don't pay their bills on time, and members with big egos dominate.)

If you want to grow the Green party quickly, while still bearing in mind that there are non-trivial levels of volunteer hours needed, I think the following strategy might be useful. It's closely related to a recent idea I expressed about how to 'villagize' the education of Newark's schoolchildren (which, I claim, has more potential for success than spending another $100 million, in a system that already spends $20K/student per year; see here). The basic idea is that you don't want 2% of the members of the Greens to do 80% of the organizing work. Instead, you want 20% of the members of the Greens to do 80% of the organizing work. And, furthermore, you want that work more or less spread out evenly amongst that 20%. This would still satisfy the 80/20 expression of Pareto's principle, but in a way that enables a positive result, rather than inhibits it.

If you can seriously aim for such a fairer distribution of the work of organizing, then you can create what I'd call a compelling civic value proposition, along these lines: "If you and your household will vote Green, and if you (or at least every 4th household) will volunteer for 3 hours per month, and if we can propagate such a minor level of commitment to 60% of the adult population of GA, then we can definitely control the state government, and role back draconian incarceration of blacks, etc." As you are thinking of black incarceration as a signature issue, one can even think of personalizing the civic value proposition. You could draw up a list of prisoners that are being unjustly/unduly imprisoned, and (shades of the village education idea I floated) have each block 'adopt' a different member from that list. What might be especially powerful is if you can get letters from each of the prisoners, print out copies, and pass these out during the civic value proposition 'sales pitch'. Don't forget to include photos, where available. Putting a human face on suffering, and all.

So, does the following organizationas strategy make sense to you?

Try and get 1 Green member per block, who is in charge of recruiting not just Green voters, but also Green organizational volunteers, from just within his/her block. You basically need an online breakdown of the various volunteer job categories. The job categories are, as a first approximation, those defined by Rayne, with local politicos custom tailoring her roadmap, plus making best guesses as to numbers of hours, required. (Note that I'm not too concerned about $$. If volunteers and voters are fully tapped, money becomes a distinctly secondary or even tertiary factor, except for it's potential for tempting into a life of corruption and cooption. If you sign up 60% of GA for the Green party, and they will definitely go to the polls, you don't need to outspend corporations. Not even close.)

Let's call this local recruiter of volunteers and voters the block captain. The block captain talks up the need for Green volunteerism, just as much as the need for Green voters. The block captain simultaneously needs to bear in mind that most people aren't Jesus Christs or MLKs. I'm guessing that they should try to limit commitments for most volunteer jobs to 6 hours per month. An average of 3 hours per month would be better, IMO. If a particular job requires more than that, then the pitch can be along the lines of job sharing: "Why don't you and your best friend, that lives in town, share this job, so that it's not individually too demanding?"

By making a strong effort to abundantly supply whatever organizational needs exist, with volunteers, but in a way that nobody will find onerous, you can (I argue) set the stage for explosive growth, leading to a state where whatever level of organization and outreach needs to be attained, is attained.

While I appreciate Rayne's contribution, I thought her attitude to other people who probably spend too many hours complaining, online, that could instead be spent organizing in their neighborhoods, was not stellar. In fact, it was a bit of a turnoff. My guess is that she has over-extended herself, and it was the fatigue speaking.

I'm a big believer in working smarter, not harder, and in making civic efforts as fun as possible. If there's thankless dog work to be done, well, better to get 5 of your neighbors and friends to help you, no?

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

sounds nice on paper... (4.00 / 4)
but in the real world, people have uneven levels and types of ability to do the tasks at hand, uneven levels of commitment, dissimilar levels of experience, and the people YOU use, or WE use to reach them are similarly uneven.  

Also there is a reservoir of good will that is only so deep, and repeated calls by other forces, even those only superficially related to us, affect our ability to get results from the volunteers we do get.  Put simply, the Dems and their like have used a lot of people up, and they're not having any more right now.

In its own way, what you're saying seems to me to have the same  defect as Rayne's stuff, in that it is an unreal model of the ways people actually act and react with and upon each other.  I don't mean to mock your suggestion or appear not to take it seriously.  But those "each one teach ten" kind of things don't exactly work out right unless lots of other reinforcement for the teachers and the ten are present.  Putting that stuff in place is the work of years.  It took generations to put it in place for the atmosphere that existed in the sixties.  Maybe not so long this time, with your help, eh?

"If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other people, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding..."
Zora Neale Hurston

[ Parent ]
What sorts of "reinforcements"? (0.00 / 0)
Also, I wouldn't put an upper limit on anybody willing to give more, of course. But a voluntary overloading is very different from an involuntary one.

I take it as given that not everybody is able or interested to do all the different sorts of tasks, at hand. But what exactly is the relevance of this point? I also took it as given that people will gravitate towards the sort of work that they are suitable for. Are you suggesting that some sort of inhibiting intervention by a Green Party apparatus is necessary (say, to prevent people who are poor judges of their own talents from filling jobs that they're not suitable for)?

the Dems and their like have used a lot of people up, and they're not having any more right now.

If people are not psychologically ready to give and to trust, well, they aren't going to be of much help until they put their bad experiences past them. Why not give them lots of inducement to do exactly that, and hope for the best? Meanwhile, I hope you're not suggesting that most all people are unreachable for that reason. If that's the case, on what basis do you have any optimism, at all, for any approach, at all? What would keep you going, besides a dreary stubbornness?

It took generations to put it in place for the atmosphere that existed in the sixties.

We don't have decades available, if we want to head off or mitigate a planetary die-off.

Maybe not so long this time, with your help, eh?
I'm a programmer, and in fact want to write software that would make implementing a village educational system feasible (I claim it's essentially not feasible without the web). Implementing organizational work scheduling is clearly much more easily done via the web, and even creating block-level political communities would be somewhat enhanced with a web component.

Unfortunately, I'm very marginal, economically, and my situation is extremely tenuous. I intend to do what I can.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
do go on and write that software... (4.00 / 2)
don't let an old fool like me dissuade you from that.  

I don't mean to suggest that following your suggestion is impossible, just that it's complicated, and that the way you outlined it does not seem to take account of some difficulties that are bound to arise.  That might me just the limitations of this kind of online exchange.  You might well appreciate those very difficulties for all I know, and left them out for the sake of what's convenient to post and read in a place like this.

What did I mean by reinforcements?  I meant social reinforcements, affirmations from the people around you that your values are the right values even though they might not be paying any bills, that struggling for a change, even though you might not see it any time soon or even in your lifetime is a worthy thing to, that kind thing.  

The energy volunteers are able to expend in your cause is partially dependent on these inputs in their lives.  The long term organizer has to take factors like this into account.  We didn't so much, back in the day.

"If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other people, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding..."
Zora Neale Hurston

[ Parent ]
don't worry about dissuading me from anything (4.00 / 1)
I live by the simple maxim:

Go ahead and plunge in, where angels fear to tread!


435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
Yes and no (4.00 / 1)
Putting that stuff in place is the work of years.  It took generations to put it in place for the atmosphere that existed in the sixties.  Maybe not so long this time, with your help, eh?

I believe in long-term building.  But the explosion of the 60's wasn't just an incremental process gradually bearing fruit (though that would apply to some extent to the civil rights movement).  Rather, that explosion was a qualitative shift, a reaction to certain events happening in the world, in many ways a rejection of much of the building that had gone on before, at least in terms of subservience to Democratic Party electoral politics.

So the question now, and I do consider it a question, is whether events in the world might contribute to rapid qualitative developments in the coming years.  The Empire dying has been in process for a goodly while, but that becoming  part of the public consciousness is a recent development, as is this Great Recession being FELT as different from the usual boom/bust cycle that Obama keeps putting out.

I'm for solid building.  If that doesn't take place, all the "world events" in the world won't matter.  But I believe in positioning ourselves for POSSIBLE developments.  Otherwise, we're just fucked.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
In my experience ... (0.00 / 0)
the Dems and their like have used a lot of people up, and they're not having any more right now.

... this has been a deliberate ploy, to burn out any energy to their left, while they husband their forces to make their power plays the day AFTER the election.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
Great, this is really good (4.00 / 1)
I'm involved with the Greens in Philadelphia.  One of the key things that makes the Green Party worth supporting (over the Dems, instead of some other third party, etc) is their idea of "adaptive governance," which goes hand in hand with their key points of decentralization and participatory democracy.

Before I get bogged down in Green terminology, here's what I mean - if prison reform is a big issue in Georgia, make it the Green Party's issue.  Here in Philly our one candidate for state rep (who is really strong and all the party needs at the moment) is focusing on things like public education, the right to unionize, and, of course, the environment.  But whatever your needs are in terms of focus in Georgia, that's what you should do.

And just some advice - we've had enormous success with friendly fundraisers like barbeques and spaghetti dinners and gatherings at peoples' houses and bars and stuff like that.  With a single big spaghetti dinner we had at a local VFW, we made about $2500, iirc.

Best of luck and remember the mistakes of Green Parties past.  Don't get too big for your britches - focus on winnable races that build the party.  Don't be afraid (at all) to confront the Democrats and spoil some races.  Don't get bogged down with how you view yourselves.  Etc.

You might be interested in an interview I did with one of the Illinois Green Party's leaders, Phil Huckelberry, since they've been doing this kind of stuff since about 2006 there:

Some points about Green strategy (4.00 / 1)
I'm very excited to see this coming from Georgia. Good luck, Bruce, and keep up the excellent work.

From what I've seen, most in the progressive blogosphere are right with the Green Party on the issues, yet most don't support Green organizing, for a variety of reasons. On one hand, there are those who believe progressives should never challenge the Democratic Party, while on the other pole some believe all political parties turn corrupt and anti-human once in power. Then there are many who are somewhat Green-curious, but have their own conditions for a third party: only local races; focus all money on one congressional seat; emphasize these three issues above all else.

The thing is, Green strategy is shaped by a number of factors that aren't always readily apparent to a national audience. Ballot access law is a major factor. In New York, Greens have done well in local races for mayor and city council. Building up from these local races would seem to be the natural strategy - but state law requires that we get 50,000 votes for governor to be on the ballot. Otherwise, running as a Green means you first have to collect a huge amount of signatures. In many states, you need to get a certain amount of votes for president, governor, or other statewide office to be on the ballot.

Another reason why Greens run for high office is that running for governor gets at least a little media exposure for the party and the platform, in a way that local party-building doesn't. Visible top-of-the-ticket campaigns lead to local party building, which leads to strong local campaigns.

If we had fair ballot access laws, instant runoff voting for single-winner seats, and proportional representation for legislatures, it would be much easier to grow Green parties from the local level upward. However, Greens don't have the power to pass those reforms, except in places like San Francisco and Minneapolis, where Greens are active enough to force the issue. As a result, usually our best way to push for electoral reform is to run for office, thus highlighting the major flaws in our current system. With 58% of Americans saying that Ds and Rs do such a poor job that more parties are needed, our demands for fair voting systems should resonate with more and more people.

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