Any move in politics inevitably creates grumbling. There are two basic responses to Open Left from people who are finding what we're doing here annoying. One is from women who are upset that we haven't yet featured female bloggers, and took offense to the Emily's List discussion. I'll have more on that soon, but we are very aware that the balance here skews male, so far. Two is from older organizers that look at the blogroll and see 'Old Left' and 'New Left' and 'Open Left' and find my categorizations laughable and/or ignorant.
I hope both of these discussions come out into the open, much as Jill Tubman's comments served to help me understand where I went wrong on our blogroll. We can't really learn anything if people don't come forward and teach. But regardless, I also think that this space is doing something very special, which is to create some real introspection on the left as to just who we as a group are. Some have taken my designation as 'New Left' as an institution that is not open, which is not the case. Some believe that Open Left means better, which is not true either. There's lots of crappy new stuff around. Open Left, New Left, and Old Left are all left-wing, they are just built on different technologies and different institutional structures.
Anyway, all this is a way of saying that really figuring out how groups can work together is not simple, because of the level of mistrust and lack of conversation among them. But it's happening. One good example is the Sierra Club, which launched a campaign against Fox News and its poor coverage global warming. There are two significant institutional innovations going on.
One, the Sierra Club is working with Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films and Moveon at internet speed. That's unheard of for a large group like the Sierra Club, and speaks well of Carl Pope's tolerance for experimentation. Two, this campaign is an attempt by an old-new coalition to use the internet to change incentives in corporate America.
The coalition is attacking Home Depot for trying to portray itself as ecofriendly while advertising on Fox News. To provide some context, there's a lot of 'greenwashing' going on in corporate America, with companies contributing to global warming but making money by pretending not to. This is bad, and there need to be campaigns to change the incentive model to lie about being green. Any greenwashing going on is amplified by Home Depot's political work. Home Depot gave 73% of its cash to Republicans in 2006, and 87% in 2004. As a percentage, that's more money to the GOP than Walmart.
It gets worse. Home Depot recently had a huge CEO pay scandal, paying poorly performing ex-CEO Bob Nardinelli $200M for running the country into the group (Nardinelli is a massive GOP donor). The AFL-CIO has the most galling piece, from their blog.
Nardelli in particular received massive September 11 option grants, grants that were issued in the wake of the September 11 attacks when prices were at record lows.
Home Depot's board used 9/11 to rip off shareholders, and is now using the label of green to mask its political agenda. This is disgusting all around, but it shouldn't be a surprise. Companies that make money from sprawl - and Home Depot is nothing if not a profiteer of sprawl encouraging tax incentives and cheap oil - are right-wing in their very DNA. That means there's a good reason for the AFL-CIO to jump on this campaign simply to put pressure on Home Depot, though it's not clear they will.
Regardless, this is building on an important internet-driven narrative about Fox News. It's connecting the environmental movement to media discussions in the blogs, which is the first time I've ever seen it done. Effective coalitions are built by fighting together on small battles like this, so that players know and trust each other on the bigger ones.