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View Diary: Democrats and silos: What to fight for? Hint—everything (200 comments)

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  •  I gave a speech years ago (6+ / 0-)

    About the siloing of issues. There is a better approach than the exclusion promoted by Lithwick and Friedman (which is really nothing more than stuffing an issue they don't personally care about into a silo):

    Remember "Red Rover, Red Rover, send Tommy right over"? Tommy gets into running position, then comes barreling across the field, aiming for the spot between the two weakest kids on your team—the spot where he thinks he can split your team apart.

    That's what politics is like. If you want to hold up against the other team, you need to create bonds and hold on tight—no matter how big a guy they send across. The team that wins is the team with the consistently strongest connections.

    One of the things that the right wing has in its favor is a well-connected network.

    The “left” has nothing comparable. As a matter of fact, the best term I can think of to describe the left is “silos.” A silo keeps every grain contained and away from the other grains in the other silos. Sometimes a few grains will spill out and mix with a few grains from another silo, but overall, the grains remain separate. As long as we remain disconnected, or only weakly connected by incidental overlap, we'll be at a disadvantage.

    It's time to open the doors, push the grains out into the yard, and start stirring. Think about this: what do you see and hear on the TV and radio? What's in the newspaper? What do you hear when you're listening in on a conversation in line at the grocery store? What you see and hear these days is the result of a strong network: the same words, carrying the same messages, everywhere you turn.
    That is the power of connection. In the great game of Red Rover, the other side is holding on tight.

    Is this connected messaging so important? Does it really matter? I say it does. In studying behavior modification, researchers discovered that it takes 7 to 10 tries for a modification message to sink in. If your message isn't heard at least 7 times, it may not stick. If your message is heard at least 10 times, it probably will stick.

    So we need a way to create a cohesive message that represents “the left.” But how do we do that when there are so many issues of great importance out there, it seems overwhelming—even hopeless? How do we pick the right one? When you look at all that's happening, it's like we’re an aging golden retriever, chasing an infinite supply of tennis balls, being thrown by a pitching machine. No matter how high we jump or how fast we run, we just can't seem to catch all the balls. We're facing an unjust war against an innocent population, the removal of human rights from women, potentially deadly global climate change, the economic race to the bottom, the destruction of social security, medicare, and public education, the return of debt slavery—these are just a few of the things we're up against, none of them trivial.

    When you look at them all, there seem to be too many to overcome. I believe that's one of the reasons why we tend to “silo.” It's much more comfortable when you're hanging out there in your silo, with all the other wheat. It's easy to get along with all the other folks who believe wheatiness is the most important thing to talk about. After all, as far as the wheat can see, wheat is where it’s at. In the wheat silo, corn is not discussed, because corn is relatively unimportant.

    But, here's the killer—each silo sends its own message to market. You don't hear any corn-related messages from the wheat or wheat-related messages from the corn. Corn news stays corny, wheat news stays wheaty. When asked about corn, the wheat scoffs. When asked about wheat, the corn is dismissive. And the overall message—the message of the farm—is lost, because there’s no consistency.

    I want to ask everyone here to step outside of your silo for a minute. Forget, for just a minute, whatever issue is most important to you. Think about one other issue that you don’t believe is as significant as the one you feel is most important.  See if you can list three ways in which that issue IS significant.

    What was the point of that exercise? Because it’s important to remember: every issue—every grain crop on our metaphorical farm—is important to the farm; every issue is significant in some way. If one crop or another fails, the whole farm loses as a result.

    OK, so what is the farm?

    It’s those groups working for government of, by, and for the people; and against government of, by, and for the privileged. It’s the groups working for a livable planet, with breathable air and safe drinking water, where climate change will not wipe out millions; and against those who would trash the earth forever in exchange for personal gain today. It’s the groups who work for the rights of other
    human beings, and against those who would oppress or subjugate others for personal benefit. In short, it is the groups who believe in people.

    In a real farm, there’s a reason to keep the grains separate—as a matter of fact, it’s crucial to keep them apart. In the great game of Red Rover we call politics, however, silo-ing creates weakness.

    We need to look at and recognize each other as vital parts of the whole operation.

    Look around this room. Every person you see is a vital part of the larger whole, no matter which issue they think is most important. We need to listen to each other. Even if you think someone else’s priorities are totally skewed, listen, because the issue of most importance to the other person has significance to us all. We must step out of our silos, reach out to one another, interlock our arms, and refuse to let go—no matter how big Tommy is, how fast he’s running, or how loudly he may growl with determination.

    Remember this: Even if our silos stand apart, our fate remains one.

    We gain strength by creating bonds. We all stand stronger when we get together and hold on tight. Even if you don’t support my particular issue, and I don’t support yours, we—you and I—must support each other.

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