I’ve had it in my mind to write a particular diary, for a long time, like this one will sketch out. I can’t justify taking time to write a polished diary, and don’t much care to, right now.
So, here is the skimpy version:
The US Government continues to squash the rights and economic future of its’ citizens. I have long wondered why activism, against plutocratic interests, has mostly failed during the last 35 years. There are, of course, many reasons, but I think one reason must be that the problem is daunting. We have systemic corruption, systemic rot. If you’re a medic on a battlefied, and a missile has blown up in the middle of your platoon’s formation, besides dead bodies there will be lots of men you can save. But, which ones? Do you radio for help, first, or tie a few tourniquets, first? You’ve been trained to triage, but what if 15 saveable men are groaning for help, at the same time?
Some confusion by the electorate is similarly expected, for who knows where to even begin? Thankfully for MyFDL, they have metamars!!!
Have no fear – metamars is here!
As I argued recently, it is much easier to carry out an electoral threat in a primary, than in a general election. So, certainly an early stage political organization effort, starting from a position of weakness, in a movement to reform the government, should act accordingly, by targeting in primaries. This should be one of the first thing organized (instead of being one of the last things talked about).
But, what could lie even earlier than an electoral effort, and yet still rise above typically hopeless online petitions and other token efforts?
I will argue (when I write a fuller diary), that a reasonable first step for weak populist (or progressive; or Tea Party’ish) citizens’ groups to pursue is benign verbal intimidation.
If you read the excellent basketball book “Stuff Good Players Should Know”, there is teaching about how you are supposed to use sharp elbows, and a willingness to swing them past a defender who is looking to deny you your vertical space (to which you are entitled) as you hold a rebounded basketball over your head. That means that you might hurt somebody, but we’re not talking a lethal blow…..
Also, somewhere on youtube, there is an excellent critique of AIPAC, where one of the interviewees explains how thorough is the influence of AIPAC, and how that influence is exerted. The intimidation/training methodology also involves having resolutions regarding Israel being brought to a vote.
Intimidation is used by AIPAC, and it’s used in the so-called non-contact sport of basketball.
The idea that voters can intimidate Congress probably seems laughable (and, I’m afraid, may one day prove laughable), however I don’t think we’ve degraded to the point that intimidation is not a viable option.
Credible electoral threats (duly executed, as required) are my preferred method of intimidation. Nothing much going on there, except from the Tea Parties.
Here’s the plan, Stan: Even before relatively easy, but aggressive, electoral threats are put into play, attempt to force your Congress Critter to
a) verbally commit to some principle or law, publicly, in writing and on video (posted to youtube)
b) agree to verbally re-commit 3x/year, on a fixed schedule
c) verbally condemn the Democratic Party (if your Congress Critter is a Democrat) or the Republican Party (if your Congress Critter is a Republican) for not supporting the same principle or law. (obviously, it is tacitly being assumed that your Congress critter, ever the careerist, will typically have refused to condemn his/her Party for not acting according to some principle or proposed law, even if the Congress Critter wishes they would.)
What would be the sharp elbows, sufficient to make your Congress critter risk his career in the Democratic Party, by agreeing to a), b), and c)?
I can think of only 2 things. One is shame. Since many Congress critters are shameless, this can’t be relied on, but would work great, for select individuals.
The other one is an electoral threat. Now, recall that I am assuming that organization sufficient to have a credible electoral threat, already in place (i.e., a voting bloc that will show up in a primary, and have publicly stated their determination to do so) does not exist, yet.
Well, the sharp elbows, in this case, are a coalition of activist leaders, who will amass a voting bloc (to the best of their ability.)
In Newark, NJ, there is an activist group whose members span many organizations, called People’s Organization for Progress. Newark NJ is mostly black, though it’s mostly Portuguese/Brazilian/Hispanic in the Ironbound section.
Where are so many black people? Rotting in jail for non-violent drug offences. Even if your representative is black, for careerist, tribalist reasons (“tribe”, here, referring to the Democratic Party), he or she will likely NEVER have condemned the Democratic Party for allowing this national disgrace to persist.
So, your local POP-affiliated leaders can say, “No more easy careerism. If we can’t get Congress critters from mostly black areas, no less, to speak up as we demand, OUT THEY GO!! We demand that Representative X speak out against this stupidest of all types of incarceration, and furthermore, condemn the Democratic Party for not pursuing this. Otherwise, we commit to removing them from public office.” The local POP-affiliated leaders can commit to organizing ‘interventionist’ voting blocs, with that much more vigor and determination, if they can’t get their Congress critter to do a), b) and c), above. Now, they should have been organizing punitive electoral blocs, anyway (says I).
However, a firm commitment to enroll voters into punitive voting blocs is a smaller barrier to surmount, and the local leaders – quite a few of them pastors and imams, whose credibility is that much more important to them – can set the wheels of reform in motion, humbly, but in a manner that even Goldilocks would respect.
N.B.: It goes almost without saying that a threat to create a credible, punitive voting bloc will also look to recruit suitable candidates.