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I'm still perplexed about this.  In fact, I'm dumbfounded.  I've written about it many times, over and over.  And here I go again...

I usually sign every petition-signing request I get, be it from the esteemed Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Al Franken (Important petition to stop discrimination), or from Daily Kos.  Usually there is also a request for a small $3 to $5 donation to keep things going.  I send a little money when I can...

But I scratch my head about this form of activism.  If the entire system of government is a putrid swamp of corruption, what good do these petitions do?  So okay, if any given petition is signed by 2 million people, and the petitions are submitted to The Powers That Be (sometimes with much fanfare in front of the White House), what has that accomplished?

They don't give a shit!  I'm including one of my favorite videos below to accentuate this salient point...

And so I'm providing my name, my home address, my email address when I sign these petitions, and there is usually an opt-in notice alerting to the fact that by signing the petition I agree to receive periodic updates about activism opportunities, etc.  And so I do; I get them from Obama, and from Senators, and from different progressive organizations, but it seems like the format is the same... The latest outrage de jour is highlighted (to get my progressive sensibilities stirred up), a link to the petition is provided, as well as the small donation request.

But, is that it?  Where is the activism?  And to think that there is a huge number of people right here at Daily Kos eagerly waiting to get involved in real highly-organized preemptive activism!

Example (only to illustrate the point I'm making)...

We need your help: We are putting together a team of volunteers to conduct research about influence-peddling corruption on all members of Congress.  We're asking people to identify their members of Congress (regardless of party affiliation) and conduct research on every single corporate donor, high-power individual or organization associated with them, and then help us identify patterns of pay to play arrangements.  We will then use this information to launch a relentless campaign against these politicians, exposing these relationships, informing the public about it.  We will place ads, organize protest rallies, call their offices, etc.

Target, Big Box Retailers: We're organizing a campaign against Big Box retailers to expose how they negatively affect entire communities around the country....

Labor Organizing: We are establishing a nationwide network of labor union activists with the intention targeting the worst anti-union corporations on an ongoing basis.  We need volunteer researchers to identify nationwide anti-union patterns.  Part of the campaigns will involve sending out press releases, placing ads, and organizing ongoing protest rallies against the worst corporate offenders.

Why isn't this happening?  Why isn't there an effort to plan ahead, be proactive, target corruption at a root level, put real pressure on an ongoing, nonstop, relentless manner, setup collaborative arrangements (networks) between progressive organizations?

Where is the activism?  See how organized the billionaires-funded groups are.  They march in lockstep, and they are moving their agenda forward, nonstop.  They have a vision, an agenda, a plan, a strategy.

There are a lot of very smart people on the Left.  I'm sure they could come up with a way of counteracting what the fascist billionaires are doing.

I don't understand...



Each blue dot on the map below represents a member of a growing nation-wide network of social justice and anti-corruption activists committed to finding the best way forward.  Join us in the effort!


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Comment Preferences

  •  Okay Ray (9+ / 0-)

    I just subscribed to your list.  Now rock & fire buddy!

    Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.—Greg King

    by Pinto Pony on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:27:50 PM PDT

  •  Takes every kind of activism to make stuff... (26+ / 0-)

    ...happen. Some people can only do clicktivism, some people can only give money, some people can only do research, or legal work, or humanitarian work. Some can do street politics.

    Petitions go to more than the White House. Some have an impact, make a difference. Some do not. Just like some information or protest action or boycott works in some but not all cases.

    Your projects here sound good. One thing that's always important to do is see if someone else is already doing what you're just starting to do. Duplications waste energy; alliances build movements.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:36:11 PM PDT

    •  There are people that are likable and people who (7+ / 0-)

      are not. I feel I repel people. So me going door to door might not be the best use of my talents (whatever they may be).

      Validate my parking Validate my parenting Validate my politics Validate my religion And I will be happy.

      by 88kathy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:41:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Right MB (9+ / 0-)

      I'm willing to help wherever necessary.  I have Crohn's disease that sometimes limits me from being boots on the ground.  However, I can pound hell outta the computer doing research etc.  I'm gearing up for 2014. Let's take back the house, in addition to adding new senators.  My granddaughter's future depends on it!

      Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.—Greg King

      by Pinto Pony on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:44:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think this is not really right. (9+ / 0-)
      Petitions go to more than the White House. Some have an impact, make a difference. Some do not.
      It's misleading. There has been such a proliferation of petitions that they almost never matter anymore. Everybody has got a petition. And they're often used as nothing more than marketing ploys by organizations eager to get your contact info. The truth is that petitions are, for the most part, a complete and total waste of time. You are right (probably, though I've never actually seen it happen) that some petitions make a difference. But instead of following that with "some do not", you should have said "the vast, vast majority do not".

      People always say "I couldn't think of anything else I could do to help, so I started this petition, it probably won't work but it is better than doing nothing".

      No, it's not.

      •  Try milk in your corn flakes rather than what (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pinto Pony, 3goldens, Simplify

        you're now mixing with them.

        "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

        by elwior on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:03:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There always has to be the first dickish comment (4+ / 0-)

          in every thread.  Congratulations!

        •  If you look at the WH petition website, you (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Free Jazz at High Noon, Lujane, FG

          have to admit that a large portion of the petitions are either incomprehensible, impossible or incredibly specific/stupid.  Potentially good stuff gets lost in the jumble of things like this:

          "Strongly urge the United States announced the property status of the Chinese officials' children in the United States"

          "We request the United States government will Lanzhou beef noodle unity and proscribe imitations by formal decree" [This one has 600 signatures]

          "Proclaim May 25, 2014 as National Geek Pride Day"

          "(May #4 of 7) Allow Americans to vote "Yes" or "No" on WHITE GENOCIDE!"

          "We request the United States government will tofu curd official taste is sweet"

          "Life Over Fashion petition to stop killing and violence over sneakers, clothes & jewelry." (This is a petition to declare that it's wrong to kill someone for their shoes).

          "Amend the definition of “enemy combatant” or “enemy” (of our nation) to include a subcategory "Unconventional Enemy.""

          "Dismiss all charges against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and release him immediately and unconditionally" (BS false flag nonsense)

          "RELEASE DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV AND DROP ALL CHARGES WITHOUT PREJUDICE BASED ON LACK OF EVIDENCE AND FALSE ACCUSATIONS" ("Without prejudice" doesn't mean what you think it means).

      •  I think Ray agrees (10+ / 0-)

        Per Ray,  "But I scratch my head about this form of activism.  If the entire system of government is a putrid swamp of corruption, what good do these petitions do?  So okay, if any given petition is signed by 2 million people, and the petitions are submitted to The Powers That Be (sometimes with much fanfare in front of the White House), what has that accomplished?"
        I've signed those same petitions and most likely will continue to do so.  However, what I gather from Ray, he's is taking it to the next level.

        Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.—Greg King

        by Pinto Pony on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:07:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If Ray and I agree on anything, that's (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chi, emelyn, CroneWit

          practically a miracle. Petitions are a waste of time, but they may actually be worse than doing nothing. When people do nothing, they remain aware of that fact, and may be more inclined to actually do something if and when they get an opportunity. But people who've signed a petitions actually think they've done something, so are going to be that much less inclined to do anything more. There is just no way that petitions should be included on a list of "activist" activities. They are the opposite of active.

          •  It is a miracle indeed. n/t (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pinto Pony, Chi
          •  I have to disagree doc2 (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            3goldens, Avila, marina, BigAlinWashSt, Lujane

            There are times when you are only physically able to "sign petitions", and if that makes some folks feel they are engaging in the system, I'm also fine with that.  I've seen people waiting for hours in line to vote.  Those same people elected President Obama to the Presidency twice.  Some are in wheelchairs, some have to carry chairs to rest.  That's what makes us, we all do our part and none of our efforts are small IMO.

            Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.—Greg King

            by Pinto Pony on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:29:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  As typical with defenses of petitions, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Chi, emelyn

              you offer no real facts demonstrating their value. Making people feel good by signing them is not an argument supporting the contention that they have value in terms of producing change. I agree with you that petitions have a value in making people feel good that they've done something. The problem for me is that I know they haven't. It's a scam - a victimless scam, but a scam nevertheless.

              •  Personally, I gave up on petitions (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Free Jazz at High Noon, Lujane, Byrnt

                after some time of diligently signing them.  I quite responding to them once I came to the conclusion that (1) they were primarily donation requests, framed as 'take action' and (2) signing one petition gained me about 3-5 new petition-senders.

                Petition senders are also remarkably persistent.  After un-subscribing multiple times from several lists, only to find another 3-4 petitions/day, I began marking them as spam.

                Here's an idea I'l like people to think about, particularly in regard to communicating with Congress:  Why does no one use postcard campaigns?  Postcards are relatively cheap, and with no envelopes and it seems to me that they will reach offices sooner than enveloped letters (due to lower poisoning risks).  For particular campaigns, it would be easy to devise suggested (short) text, or even make logos available online.

                •  Petitions are what got marijuana legalization (6+ / 0-)

                  on the state of Washington ballot and marijuana legalized (sort of).  Same with same sex marriage.  So yes, petitions do work, it depends on what kind, what issue and where at.  

                  "I'm an antiwar propagandist as accused by democrats. Not even republicans have called me that."

                  by BigAlinWashSt on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:18:47 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That's the key right there. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    CroneWit
                    So yes, petitions do work, it depends on what kind, what issue and where at.  
                    There's a big difference between petitions that have legal power—i.e., a certain percentage of registered voters putting an initiative or the recall of an elected official on the ballot—and petitions that don't.

                    For petitions with legal power, the person signing the petition knows that if enough others sign the petition, the petition will go into effect: the initiative or recall must legally be put on the ballot.

                    For those without, the person signing the petition has absolutely no guarantee that the petition will have any effect whatsoever, and thus those who are trying to get people to sign have another rhetorical task: to convince potential signers that their signature will actually make a difference. Thus far, very few petition organizers have succeeded in that task, in my opinion.

                    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                    by JamesGG on Sun May 12, 2013 at 07:30:48 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Pete Seeger always says make a river of (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Pinto Pony, CroneWit

                  postcards, and you will get heard. Just make a postcard river like he has done. I'm trying to do this for saving the post office. a small but dedicated effort and people do write and put their name and address.
                  Byrnt

                  •  Yes, POSTCARDS! (0+ / 0-)

                    I mentioned this in an earlier comment here.  And one thing I left out is -- EVERYBODY reads postcards, even the handlers at various stages.

                    Do you know if Pete expanded on his reasons for saying this?  A link would be cool.

        •  and when "those" petitions are targeting the wrong (9+ / 0-)

          people, it would seem to be a misdirected effort.

          for example, guantanamo - president obama tried to close it. congress prevented that from happening.

          why not swamp the members of congress that opposed the closing with petitions rather than the one person who is already on the side of the closure?

          beating up on one's friends and allies accomplishes little.

          i want to see massive attention paid to those who are actually blocking progress in this nation.

          even though all mail going to the congress gets screened, think of the impact if, on the same day, hundreds of thousands of letters went to individual republicans - the photo op of the mail delivery to boehner or cantor's office would be invaluable.

          email is invisible - petitions need to be hard printed and delivered to their targeted member of congress, imho.

          EdriesShop Is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

          by edrie on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:31:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Trayvon Martin (10+ / 0-)

        until almost a month after his death, we had never heard his name.  his parents went to Change.org and started a petition.

      •  So you think the StopRush petitions had... (10+ / 0-)

        ...no impact? The petitions regarding the freeing of  Laura Ling and Euna Lee? The defeat of Richard Pombo?

        Okay, I'm not going to flood you with more examples because it's pretty obvious that someone who thinks petitioning is just a scam isn't going to buy any evidence to the contrary.

        In my view, petitions are one portion of the political puzzle, just as are elections. Because even when we elect a majority of Democrats it doesn't change everything; in some arenas, not much of anything. But I am not hearing you say argue that elections should be abandoned as a scam.

        I'm not suggesting that you sign any petitions if you don't think they'll do any good. I'm saying that some petitions work and people who have actually seen them work—for private-sector effect or for local, state or federal government matters aren't wasting their time.

        The people who are wasting their time (and ours) are the ones who aren't doing anything because "nothing works."

        If Barack Obama decides to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, will you say that civil disobedience doesn't work?

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:13:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  MB, I agree with most of your reply. The only (11+ / 0-)

      thing I think is missing is a highly-coordinated and strategic approach.

      I know petitions are important, as they inform people about important issues, and they do put some pressure on government officials; but they are not enough.

      Also, street protests by themselves are not enough.  Organizing huge rallies against the pipeline is not enough.

      There has to be a coordinated, strategic, cohesive approach to it all.

      But most importantly, the effort has to be constant, relentless, nonstop, with short-, mid-, and long-term clear objectives.

      I've made reference to this before, but here's a great quote:

      Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.
      I'm definitely not about duplicating efforts.  I'm seeking to join in with others, form coalitions.

      But some reason, I don't see that type of highly-cohesive organizing on the Left.  I've been looking for it for a long time, but I can't seem to find it.

      •  Ray: effective activism requires honest analysis (10+ / 0-)

        of what the political situation actually is, and I think most of us don't want to go there. I know I myself only contemplate it intermittently. The political situation we're confronting is completely different than what we thought it was in 2002, when this site was founded. The difference between what we thought the situation was and what it is creates a kind of horror in me that's hard to face and hard to process and hard to work around.

        So I click through because I can do that without much effort. Is this any way to live or do activism? No. But I've got to pull myself together somehow and be able to work rather than being paralyzed by horror.

        I haven't figured out how to do that yet. There's no therapy for stuff like this.

        "When people spin this in partisan terms to obfuscate the truth, it does a real disservice to normal people not in the big club in DC. Many of them will be hurting...That is why I write."--priceman

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:20:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your comment (0+ / 0-)

          "The difference between what we thought the situation was and what it is creates a kind of horror in me that's hard to face and hard to process and hard to work around.

          So I click through because I can do that without much effort. Is this any way to live or do activism? No. But I've got to pull myself together somehow and be able to work rather than being paralyzed by horror.

          I haven't figured out how to do that yet. There's no therapy for stuff like this." ........describes my sense of horror and terror as well.

          I have been afraid to say so out loud to anyone. Thanks.
          Byrnt

          •  Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

            It's hard to talk about the monster you see, because if you do, you have to admit it exists.

            I don't like that any better than anybody else; I just don't think denial is going to get me anywhere.

            But paralysis is no good either.

            Thanks for being there, and for acknowledging my comment. That matters.

            "When people spin this in partisan terms to obfuscate the truth, it does a real disservice to normal people not in the big club in DC. Many of them will be hurting...That is why I write."--priceman

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon May 13, 2013 at 07:50:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  are you coming to nn13? if so, let's get together (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Avila, Lujane

        and talk more about this!

        EdriesShop Is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

        by edrie on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:32:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's the conundrum of the left since... (10+ / 0-)

        ...well, since the 1930s, and especially the 1970s when everything got split on issue lines, with this group of good people working for specific issue and that group working for another and not enough intersectional action being taken except sporadically.

        We have differences of opinion on the broad left about what the most important issues even are, much less what should be done about them. Some people say we have to demolish capitalism before anything else can be achieved that is worthwhile—I've heard that all my adult life. Others say that until we have gender and transgender equity, nothing else matters.

        Putting together a strategic, cohesive, coordinated approach (one that isn't just a single project or single protest march) requires massive work. And gawd knows we need to engage in that work. But we can't go from where we are to coordinated, cohesive efforts across a broad range of issues in one big leap. There are intermediate steps required, one of the most important ones being to motivate people to take some kind of positive action. For some people, just writing that first two-paragraph letter to the newspaper is a big deal. For others, until there are 250 simultaneous protests against Wall Street machinations followed by a continuing mass movement to make the lives of the plutocrats miserable, it won't count as activism.

        We need both.
         

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:26:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think we need to focus on global warming (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Free Jazz at High Noon, Lujane

          it's hard to have issues when dirt napping.

          All else is a luxury IMO, and the fallout from successes in saving the planet will automatically eradicate some of our problems.

          •  And many, many people agree with you. But some... (9+ / 0-)

            ...who agree say that, first, the focus has to be on toppling the existing power structure before anything can be done about global warming because the p-t-b are resisting any change on the score. And those groups that want to go after the power structure first, are themselves split by what is meant by "topple."

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:01:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This is a major discussion in itself. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Free Jazz at High Noon

              Have you written on this?

              The power structure is going to topple anyway if we don't get ahead of the droughts and floods and warmer temps.

              We all need to eat.

              •  Reason and reality support your view (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ray Pensador

                but there are political and economic realities as well that conflict.

                The problem with placing global warming ahead of all else is that it can't be addressed without dealing with the contradicting political and economic questions. Our current economic system is based on a model of expanding, unlimited consumption driven by the unrestrained pursuit of profit above all else. Our official politics reflect and defend these values. Global warming can't be addressed without a fundamental transformation in our economics and politics.

                The RW and corporate reactionaries have understood this all too well. For the last 30 years they have worked tirelessly to render such a transformation impossible. The attacks on Global warming science as stealth socialism, the mania for deregulation and the deification of market forces are all part of a piece. The caricature of all public interest as the incursion of government tyranny is a cynical manipulation intended to insure that nothing can be done to interfere with the status quo.

                In short, we don't have the option of dodging these fundamental political and economic debates. If we do not break the power of the corporate kleptocracy, we will never effectively address Global warming, or the myriad related environmental challenges.

                The struggle against corporate despotism and for the survival of humanity in a sustainable world are one in the same.

                Nothing human is alien to me.

                by WB Reeves on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:12:48 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Where are the frameworks for effective action? (6+ / 0-)

          I may dare to ask.  

          What I hear you saying here, MB, is:  'Well, herding cats and all that, so --

          we can't go from where we are to coordinated, cohesive efforts across a broad range of issues in one big leap. There are intermediate steps required, one of the most important ones being to motivate people to take some kind of positive action.
          IMO, engaging in a myriad of unconnected 'positive actions' is , well, pissing in the wind.  Can an action be politically 'positive'  unless it is also effective -- having an effect in the real world?  And how can an action be effective unless it is part of a "coordinated, cohesive" effort "across a broad range of issues"?

          In other words, a platform.  Like a political party is supposed to have.  And the 'planks' of that platform are (to switch analogies) the issues of the 'cats' in the herd.

          And to stretch that analogy a bit further, I'll say that the issue-splintered group of 'Democrats' or 'Progressives', however wedded to their issues they may be, comprise (stick with me here!) an Itteh Bitteh Kitteh Committee that will become intensely focused when they hear the can opener.

          And what will be the sound of the can opener, the scent of the tuna?  I think it will be the kind of organizing for effective action that Ray writes about in his diaries.

          I believe that when Someone(s) Somewhere -- at dKos, in the Democratic party, in the Occupy/99% movements -- take(s) a stand and say(s):  'These are our values -- our American values -- and these values are the basis for our political actions.  We will work for effective change by doing x,y,z until these values have become part of American political life.  Here is how you can act with us . . . .' then people will act.

          People are, and have been, taking whatever actions they can for some time.  But many (like me) have become discouraged as they have come to understand that issues-centric whack-a-mole actions do not contribute to a change in the political atmosphere (even when individual battles may be won).

          •  That was a very impressive post. n/t (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CroneWit
          •  That would require everyone agree what (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CroneWit

            these values are and possibly abandon their favorite issues.

            •  Not 'abandon' issues, incorporate them (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FG

              The 'issues' become part of the 'platform'.

              The 'issues' are already, in a loose, unsatisfactory de facto way, part of the Dem political configuration.  Practical-minded, realpolitik-leaning 'issues' people know that (as a general way of speaking) voting for Dems provides the only (sometimes slim) hope that their issue will make political headway.

              Ultra-purists on an will sniff haughtily and put themselves above the fray by either not voting at all or making a protest vote for this season's cool kid.  In their own way, they are as unreachable as hardcore RightWingers.

          •  I'm all for coordinated, cohesive strategic... (6+ / 0-)

            ...action. It is essential.

            But I have been hearing this same call since my SDS days, which began 48 years ago. Numerous groups on the left have said in all that time what their values are, and consequently, some have taken action in light of those values. Several left political parties have started up in that time, though most of them croaked soon enough.

            The missing element in all those years? Critical mass.

            I want to be absolutely clear here. I am not counseling despair. I detest that approach because it argues for doing nothing. But I always find the idea that all-we-have-to-do-to-get-from-here-to-there-is-[insert choice here] frustrating since whatever one inserts in those brackets has been tried at one time or another.

            I've spent much of my life as an advocate-activist, combining amplified talk (via various media) with organizing. All I can say for sure based on decades of that approach is that it ain't easy to overcome both mass inertia and pushback from what we once dared to call the ruling case. And no matter what we can't stop trying to achieve both.

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Sat May 11, 2013 at 09:57:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The ruling class (not "case"). Sheesh. n/t (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CroneWit

              Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

              by Meteor Blades on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:27:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Not 'counselling despair', naming the 'stuck spot' (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Meteor Blades, Ray Pensador, willyr

              I didn't read you as 'counseling despair', MB, and I apologize if I gave that impression.  What you are doing (imo) is 'naming the stuck spot'.  (And I see that between you comment and mine, an 'issue' has inserted itself, just to remind both of us of issues-thinking's ubiquitous persistence.  Cute.)

              'If you always do what you've always done you'll always get what you've always gotten' -- a bit of wisdom from the originators of NeuroLinguistic Programming, back in the day.  NLP originated as a way of doing therapeutic intervention, and when a client/patient got to the point of repeating the 'stuck spot' verbiage, was to ask:  'What can you do differently?'  This is the question that I see Ray asking in his work.

              In NLP therapy, the response to 'What can you do differently?' is brainstorming.  So I'm going to toss out a couple of broad, not-thought-out-yet ideas.  And I'm going to focus on

              The missing element in all those years? Critical mass.
              I'm going to begin with a broad claim:  That many, many Americans, regardless of their political orientation, want Good Governance.  I'm going to posit (as a thought experiment) that 70% of Americans share similar basic notions of what Good Governance is.  

              I'm deriving this loose 70% from the fact that, in general, the Coalition of the Far Right Wing Positions comes out to between 2-%-30% in polls (unless an issue is being highly publicized, when those number sometimes go up to the 40's).  Ovefr and over again through the years, I have seen well-supported front-page reporting here on various issues, in which support for the Not-Far-Right position reaches into the 70% (often 62%-73%, with lows among the 40's).

              Why, look:  a Critical Mass.  Sharing  concepts of Good Governance at a rate of 50%-70% of All Americans, not just leftists.  Planks.  (Suggested Initial Action Step:  Survey dKos sites for this reporting for last two presidential cycles, including two-year elections and 'issues moments' like background checks.  Compile results into preliminary platform.)

              Another broad concept, and one which would make the above suggestion into an effective tool, is to build tools that would empower citizens to work toward turning these broadly-held Ideas of Good Governance into political realities.  Going into ideas about this tool-building  now would make this already-long comment way too long, and I'k like to think them through more.  But one thing would be absolutely essential, once a suggested preliminary platform has been derived from The 70% Ideas of Good Governance:

              We, as The People, must insist that the Democratic party must commit to not just a 50-state strategy, but to a 435-district strategy (if that's the right number; 437?).  The Democratic party must commit to a Good Governance platform, derived from the Will of The People (as expressed in valid polls).  The Democratic party must also commit to raising up 'Good Governance' candidates in every single congressional district, yea, even unto the god-forgotten wastes of IN-09.  And the Democratic party must commit to raising up Good Governance candidates for each and every district in every state.

              Why states?  Because ALEC.  And because of stealth-legislation (possibly non-ALEC, but strongly GOP) such the bills in 3-4 states under which food-stamp users will be required to buy only from a list of (GOP) government-approved foods.  (And here, in the states, you will find much latitude for issues-voters to) have at it.

              Why do I say 'raised up' candidates?  Because I mean exactly that.  If I were Queen (and in this thought-experiment I am), I would establish that the Democratic party raise up candidates who are NOT part of the existing political structure, not 'on the bench' as it were.  From whence would I draw candidates?  From Teachers -- especially those who fought for their union rights and lost their jobs.  From Nurses, because nurses are great.  From mid-range union folks who have exercised leadership -- not from the executive levels, but from among the leaders of workers, who do the gruntwork to keep the union going.

              What I would be asking the Democratic party to do, at the state level, is to reach way up into their soft and goopy parts, grab hard, and pull --  turning themselves inside out.  They may not be willing to do this.  But this is one place where The People can use Their Power:  The People can bring their own candidates to the party and say:  we'll vote for them.  (Action step, distributed among states & their subdivisions:  Research requirements for raising up candidates to self-declare; make procedures available online;  consider house-party (and other) venues for discussion of Good Governance, wherein suggested candidates may arise.  And oh, goody:  Petitions!)

              I'm going to sop soon, I promise, after just a few more notes, tossed out.  

              -- ALEC should be battled at the state-legislature level; this would require researching the online databases of their legislative plan, identifying which of their laws have been passed or introduced, who introduced and/or voted for them and using that information as a --yes, I'll say it -- at a litmus test for candidates.

              -- Candidates for Congress/Senate must swear/pledge to take certain actions immediately:  (1) to rescind all existing Campaign Finance laws and replace them with a Fair Campaign Finance law, under which any and all monetary donations are channeled into one general fund, which is equally distributed among candidates; (2) to overturn the Citizens United decision by amending the Constitution say that a 'person' is defined as a 'living, breathing human being'.

              And here's a note for you all, as you begin organizing, whether you use my ideas or not.  You're going to need women.  In particular, you're going to need women of the ages of, say, 40 and upward.  Why?  Women in general-- because we think differently than men,  not having the y-chromosome-generated brain damages that prevents males from thinking wholisitcally.  Women 'of a certain age'?  Because we now how to get work done.  Individually, and in groups, we know how to discern multiple simultaneous critical paths and take the actions steps to get them done.  There are many other aspects of Women's Brains that will be vital if the goal is a Unified Whole composed of many parts that work together smoothly.  So you will have to work at including them.  And you will have to L.I.S.T.E.N to them, and incorporate their ideas.  (I know; I understand.  But Suck It Up.)

              Finally, in closing:  MB (if you're still reading this), there's another way dKos can support " intersectional action" for Good Governance.  In addition to reviewing past articles for the 'Good Governance Ideas', you (all) can take a look at the silo-ization of dKos' 'Groups' function (as kos said you all were planning, anyway) to see which Groups are acting (on various issues) in ways that result in effective action.  If several groups are working on aspects of one issue, they should be brought together (not 'merged', but brought together to meet & discuss online).  And any groups which have developed Effective Means for coordinated action (whatever the issue) should be asked to outline the how-tos of how they do their work.

              Okay, I'm done.  I'm not going to proofread, so my apologies for typos etc.  There are dishes to be done today, and trash to be carried out.

              And PS:  please consider this whole post to be notes scratched on the back of a paper placemat at the diner, over coffee; not a formal presentation, but a think-piece.

            •  If I may be so bold (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ray Pensador, CroneWit

              what has been missing is an overarching, unifying vision or articulated set of principles that knits together the diversity of the 99% against the relatively monolithic 1%. It was this short coming that led to the unraveling of OWS after its initial success in seizing the public imagination.

              The last time we seemed to be close to anything approaching this was in 1968. The murders of Dr. King and, to a lesser extent, RFK robbed us of that opportunity.

              In the decades since, the left has wander in the wilderness of particularism and single issue politics. The result has been fragmentation and the fetishizing of alienation as the sine qua non of the "radical" perspective. In this we have done the work of the corporate oligarchs for them.

              I  certainly don't claim to have the absolute solution for this but I think I know where to begin. We must think less in terms of the issue(s) that most concern us personally and shift to focus on broad appeals that can speak across the divisions between constituencies. That means breaking out of our social and political comfort zones and doing a great deal more listening  than lecturing.  

               

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:40:13 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Hi Ray. All good ideas. (11+ / 0-)

    I think there is work being done in these areas. I would suggest starting out by identifying them and determining how this group will use and or interact with them. In some cases it may simply be a matter of volunteering directly for them. Perhaps people can be assigned to specialize on topics and then diary findings and conduct comment "forums."

    On individual candidate, there must be op research to connect up with voting records and various interest group scores, the latter of which are available through sites like votesmart.org

    On the big boxes, most "get local" organizations in every city have resources, as do the national groups, and there are a few bibles out there. It's been a while but I've read them and would probably be most useful in this area.

    On labor, I'm wondering why this wouldn't be coordinated with the labor unions themselves. There's also some work being done to build bridges between the union and coop movements, some coops actually being unionized...

    From here on out, no one can escape the havoc wrought by the unmitigated Class, Climate and Terror Wars.

    by Words In Action on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:56:24 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for your input. I know there are a lot of (9+ / 0-)

      resources out there, and a lot of people doing great work.  We just need one little extra (but important) step, and that is finding a way to form highly cohesive nationwide networks of activists and organizations capable of acting in concert.

      That's where the big challenge is, IMHO.

      I'm working on my next newsletter which I will send tomorrow, Monday; I'll be addressing some of these issues.

      •  Are your newsletters sent privately, Ray? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador

        If so, is there a reason you're not publishing them as diaries?

        •  I've been posting them on my website. n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CroneWit
          •  Take a look at this, Ray -- (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ray Pensador

            https://annotary.com/

            I'ts like EverNote, but you can create projects/community there.  I'm not saying 'go use this', but I'm offering it for your consideration.  You have to create an account there to use it, and if you want to access Help (and other functions?) you have to create an account with a site called GetSatifsaction, too.  But participants don't have to sign in through Google, Facebook, Twitter -- which I've started to become wary of due to internet tracking ('for ads', but they gather lots of individualized info, which I find spooky.)

            IMO, your initial organizing needs to be done online, where it can be more visible, and in a venue that encourages cross-pollination.  But I can see where you might not want to form a dKos Group and post all your early discussions -- it's way too easy for a thread to get hijacked.

            And btw:  at your site, I noticed an article with a title something like 'A  Common Enemy'.  I would urge you to re-frame, along the lines of 'moving toward a common good'.  (Remember the now-well-worn story about the man 'with two wolves in him, fighting', 'which one will win', 'the one I feed'?  And what I'll call 'action fatigue' is a problem here.  People can work forever if they have hope.  Acting while adrenaline/cortisol are high -- in a state of fear and/or anger --  literally wears people out, and make the 'arena of action' into a place with negative biological consequences.  

            Mammals in general, primates in particular, feeling humans most of all, will avoid sources which trigger fear/anger 'because they make me feel bad', and they are right to do so, in terms of protecting their own well-being.  Churchill knew that.

            So, to add to your task, Ray -- work toward developing means for effective political action while generating positive neurochemical states.  Fun, huh?

  •  A lot of it is burnout. People are tired. (12+ / 0-)

    No, people are exhausted, dispirited, horrified. I agree that it's time to pick ourselves up and do something. But it's easy to click a link and not as easy to get up and do something.

    But hey, I'll join you, if you're willing to expand your analysis of Congress.  Don't just look into carrots, look into sticks.  I'd be surprised if every attempt at graft did not include a dozen perceived and implied threats--and maybe even one or two explicit threats.

    You need to look at the problem of government corruption in both ways. Otherwise the analysis will be incomplete and actions taken based on it will be far less effective.

    If it were me, I'd start by looking into the people who are supposed to be on our side. They are the largest Democratic caucus in the House. Why do they have so little power?

    "When people spin this in partisan terms to obfuscate the truth, it does a real disservice to normal people not in the big club in DC. Many of them will be hurting...That is why I write."--priceman

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:08:56 PM PDT

    •  It's because we are spinning our wheels, in a (9+ / 0-)

      sense.  We put trust on individuals and organizations whom we believe are the real thing, and we follow their leads, but often times they are too co-opted by the "establishment" and lured away (i.e., Van Jones now working for CNN).

      •  Well, the first thing is to figure out (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chi, Avila, CroneWit, Ray Pensador

        if they are the real thing/on our side.

        What I'm suggesting is that there may be a systemic problem in DC that stymies even many people who are allies, or would like to be. I'm suggesting there's more to this than the individual moral character of legislators.

        I mean, Donna Edwards has been a solid progressive, but look at this:

        Donna helps Lockheed Martin with PR

        I'm not saying that there aren't corporations and FIRE-sector baddies waving large sums of money at Congress. But I am saying that there's more pressures involved than that. My guess is that two of the biggest are threats of character assassination and economic threats to the Congressman/woman's district and/or the nation.

         We need to understand those pressures if we're going to have any electoral or legislative strategy--IOW, if we intend to create change by influencing government.

        "When people spin this in partisan terms to obfuscate the truth, it does a real disservice to normal people not in the big club in DC. Many of them will be hurting...That is why I write."--priceman

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:37:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And I'd like to get people like Jeff Connaughton (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, Avila

        who wrote Payoff, and Mike Lofgren, who wrote The Party Is Over to contribute information. First it would be good to read their books, of course, which I keep meaning to do!

        "When people spin this in partisan terms to obfuscate the truth, it does a real disservice to normal people not in the big club in DC. Many of them will be hurting...That is why I write."--priceman

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:40:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  it's also email burnout. i confess - i now delete (8+ / 0-)

      tons of political "requests" for petitions because my email inbox is flooded by many organizations with the same petition or issue.

      my gut feeling is this is driving people away from participating, in some respects.

      i open my inbox and want to just scream STOP!

      i've unsubscribed to a number of "lesser" sights and may start doing the same for the larger ones.  it is the indiscriminate nature of the "sign this" requests that is getting to me.

      i still sign those put out by the politicians - i realize this gives them "cover" in congress to say that "x" number of constituents blah blah blah ... but the rest, especially with the "send money" requests just remind me of how impoverished i am right now even if i WANT to contribute but can't.

      there's gotta be a better way... glad ray wrote the diary.

      EdriesShop Is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

      by edrie on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:36:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Then... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pinto Pony, Ray Pensador, Avila, blueoasis
    I usually sign every petition-signing request I get, be it from the esteemed Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Al Franken (Important petition to stop discrimination), or from Daily Kos.  Usually there is also a request for a small $3 to $5 donation to keep things going.  I send a little money when I can...
    ...I can only imagine how much spam your e-mail account(s) receive.

    Years ago I provided somebody on Daily Kos my e-mail address, & ever since certain people associated with Daily Kos that shall go un-named have been spamming the hell out of that specific e-mail account.

    Having said that, to state the obvious, your cause (like any effective cause) needs people (aka, activists) in the streets.

    I have no idea how you accomplish that.

    But at least you are asking the activists to come out of hibernation & get with it.

    To any Republican reading this, I request you write a diary about why Republicans are such assholes. I promise to tip & recommend such a diary.

    by wyvern on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:10:36 PM PDT

  •  I know there are some at cooper union (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    "To recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." Historian Barbara Tuchman

    by Publius2008 on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:11:53 PM PDT

  •  I see the biggest problem as agreeing on what (12+ / 0-)

    "we" want and why we have these problems.  To rid the political system of corruption?  To stop wars and imperialism?  To stop potential cuts to Social Security?  Justice for crimes committed against humanity?  
    On the one hand I like your approach, on the other I see holes.  Take the Occupy movement for example.  There was a single theme, the 99% vs 1%, but even that didn't pinpoint something that could actually be done that would solve the problem.  Take Greece, Portugal, Ireland, etc.  Continuing protests for years now and the situation for the masses continues to get worse.  Look at the Arab Spring in Egypt and Tunisia.  They got new governments but that didn't solve their problems.  
    Everyone has a different opinion on what the problems are and why, let alone what should be done about it all.   Do I want to spend my time researching what is corruptin my Congress person, who happens to be a teabagger Republican?  No I don't.  I believe the entire system is corrupted and it would make no difference.  Everyone knows the politicians are corrupted, that's why Congress has an approval rating in the teens.  Do I want to spend my time figuring out why the system is corrupted, and by who and what?   To solve the problem at the source?  Yes.  But most do not.  
    Certainly doing anything is better than nothing and I commend those who are doing something.  It depends on what problem you want to solve.    

    "I'm an antiwar propagandist as accused by democrats. Not even republicans have called me that."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:13:15 PM PDT

    •  yes and no (4+ / 0-)

      i agree with you but think other factors are at play.

      we live in an era in which many have two jobs, no leisure time, and this is just to survive another week and pay bills another month.  people who are virtually enslaved don't feel empowered.  they just feel scared and tired.  so online activism is all they can do and i wouldn't discourage signing petitions.

      to anyone who thinks signing a petition is useless, we wouldn't recognize Trayvon Martin's name had his parents not taken their cause to Change.org.

      the second barrier is faux-activism (in my signature), or people who use their Facebook status or Twitter as a way to feel good about themselves and "like" something or claim solidarity with a movement, but that's where it ends.

  •  We need a progressive political party. DK appears (11+ / 0-)

    to be committed to a gradual, progressive takeover of the Democrats coupled with marginalizing Republicans. Unfortunately, what we used to call moderate Republicans have come to dominate general political discourse and the Democratic party. They are often social progressives but remain devoted to economic conservatism.

    The financial crisis was such a tragically wasted opportunity for more fundamental structural economic reform that it is no wonder that support for the Democrats is flagging and a principal tactic I so often see employed on this site may be characterized as "yeah, but the Republicans are worse". Hardly a rallying cry to energize either those who do vote or the many millions who do not even bother.

    The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

    by Wolf10 on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:50:58 PM PDT

  •  It's Unfortunate that Catastrophe (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, Ray Pensador, MKSinSA

    is so often required for people to drop what their doing and actually put in time and effort as activists.  Things being uniformly bad doesn't do it; people get used to the "new normal" very quickly, as demonstrated by the financial crash, a spate of Occupy activity, and now what IMO is general acceptance of a crappy economy, crappy government, and resulting dry spell of activism.

    We're fighting the inertia of our current consumerist culture, of Americans concentrating on their daily routines, who are under stress, and yet are being constantly told by our corporate opinion-makers to not pay any attention to "those people" (us) in the corner, yelling about something or other.

    Regarding petitions; if you've been in any kind of a fight, then you know that you try everything.  Sometimes you swing and miss, sometimes you connect.  If it doesn't cost you much, keep swinging.  Maybe you'll eventually find an opening to do some real damage one way or another, but only if you keep in the fight.

    "After the (job losses) and (austerity) they won't be the same human beings you remember. Slaves?. . let's just say, they'll be satisfied with less" -Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, as explained by Ming the Merciless.

    by Softlanded on Sat May 11, 2013 at 04:00:19 PM PDT

  •  Ray? (5+ / 0-)

    I'll tell you.  Beaten, broken, kicked to the curb one too many times.  The smashing of Occupy, and then the heaping of victim-blaming on Occupy, almost entirely by "liberals" and "progressives". Democrats almost all, from Mumbles Menino to Jean Quan to the boss at UC-Davis.

    At the same time there is now an anger, a fire, on the real Left, that in 35 years of political life I've never seen before.  Occupy was a deep and sincere effort of the radical Left to reach out to mainstream America, until the "centrist" establishment slammed them up against a wall, kneed them to the groin, and denounced and mocked them for the beatings they took.   Not yet forgiven, never to be forgotten.  An important lesson imparted to the activists as to who is worth working with when conditions allow, and who is a permanent foe that will always inevitably seek to destroy us in service to capital.

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by ActivistGuy on Sat May 11, 2013 at 05:16:37 PM PDT

  •  Gotta do it different. It's the people like the (0+ / 0-)

    Koch brothers who wield the most money and power and control. Harass the crap out of the crooked CEOs- they are just paranoid humans and their Fears and lives are just as 'fragile' as ours.

    Supposedly there's like only 100 plus billionaires at the top. The politicians are just puppets-the politicians will stop serving them when their money dries up.

    So instead of signing petitions, Send thousands of postcards or twitters and bombard them with messages of shame etc.

    Research their home addresses and use the marvels of social media..

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones." "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    by roseeriter on Sun May 12, 2013 at 12:53:56 AM PDT

  •  I don't sign online petitions (0+ / 0-)

    I get enough SPAM already.  If I want to let someone know about an issue, I phone or send an email (that included telling Harry Reid's staff that Harry needs a backbone every month or so).

    I always lose unused minutes above my rollover limit every month, so why not spend those minutes annoying my Senator's staff, or Harry Reid's, or the White House phone answering volunteers?

    Better that than constantly unsubscribing from political spammers soliciting money so they can email more spam.
    .

    "Everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die" --- Albert King

    by HarpboyAK on Sun May 12, 2013 at 02:48:10 AM PDT

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