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View Diary: Why we need to build our movement. (52 comments)

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  •  "Don't bite this dog. Bite that dog over there." (3+ / 0-)
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    potatohead, Big Tex, 3goldens

    Look, respectfully, one problem I have with this diary is that I am a gay man who has watched while people play both ends against the middle.

    If one wants a working movement and a working coalition there has to be one little thing which is reciprocity.

    Will LGBT people who are liberal stop being liberal if certain things don't happen?  I see my LGBT friends all over this blog talking themselves hoarse about income inequality, health care, the defense budget and other things.

    This is not going to stop, no matter what happens.

    But, other than sentiment, there is little reciprocity.  And we have a leadership that is downright resistant to not only doing anything but from even giving lip service to its putative allies in the liberal movement.

    When was the last time you heard a statement like this in the press?

    Responding to pressure from liberal groups, President Obama today changed course and said x

    The problem with maintaining a mass movement isn't all those churlish "little people" against whom invective on sites like this one is routinely directed.  It's with those who maintain that people are a certain thing from brute force of conviction -- from saying that people should not trust their lying eyes.

    Want a truly effective mass movement?  Then pressure has to be directed upward to stop fighting genuine attempts to empower our leaders.

    Every time the Congress chastises, for example, groups like Move On because they said this or that, this is Democratic and liberal leadership destroying a mass movement.

    It's gotten to the point where I've concluded it is deliberate.  As a political party, anyway, our leadership has concluded it just doesn't want to be empowered by a liberal mass movement.  And so, for any such thing to be effective, such a movement would have to recognize that the enemy at the gates just isn't all one party or all one group.  It has to talk about issues first, and loyalty to parties and people second.

    "When in doubt, be ruthless" - Ferengi saying (-6.62, -6.26)

    by AndyS In Colorado on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 12:57:34 PM PST

    •  And I agree with you. (2+ / 0-)
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      3goldens, AndyS In Colorado

      It is deliberate.

      And I did not mean to marginalize DADT.  Good grief, that should have been done a while ago.

      Maybe, that part of what I was trying to express isn't very good.  Part of the dilemma is focus vs potency.  With a broad focus, there is no potency, with a more narrow one, there is.

      So the first thing that comes to mind, is we all retire, but are not all gay, for example.

      Clearly that thought sucks, because we all are people, and discrimination is always wrong.

      sorry for that, it was a rant.

      I've been to the mat on gay issues multiple times, and will again.  It's the right thing to do, because we are all just people.

      And your observation on it being deliberate is spot on.

      It is deliberate, because most of Washington is corporate, in fact, all of it is but for the progressives, who are actually "left" on economic matters.


      And so that means differentiating progressives from democrats, and forming "that team".  What I'm seeing is a general mess called "democrats" that includes "progressives", and that's just not good enough, given the economic differences.

      We can't hijack the party, as MB and others say above, if we don't differentiate ourselves from the party in ways that are meaningful.  Otherwise, the efforts are just diluted, and generally not productive.

      Another thing I've not seen ever is any media reporting from the perspective of people, framing business as the bad guy.  It is the bad guy, and very big business is causing us a lot of grief, and it owns all but the Progressives in Washington.

      (Interestingly, it appears big business doesn't care if we are gay or not, so long as it doesn't cost money)

      Good post Andy.  Very good.


      by potatohead on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 01:12:00 PM PST

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      •  Well, if you look at the gay community, it is (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades, potatohead, 3goldens


        What I would argue is that the LGBT community is one of the truly effective liberal mass movements that exist.

        It is effective because, whatever else you might say, we make shit happen.  We might not have gotten certain agenda items done, not yet, but the LGBT community will attack anyone who gets in its way.  ANYONE.  This is not about left or right it is about FOCUS.  We have a voice in the press... why do we have a voice in the press .. because we MAKE NEWS.

        One thing I would say about a liberal mass movement in general is that it is far, far too dependent on seeing certain people in a certain light and just trusting that they will do things FOR it.

        You're right .. President Obama is not going to do anything for liberals he does not have to, but where I would disagree with you is that it's somehow "not his fault".

        There is no way for a liberal mass movement to be led from the CENTER or from the right wing of the Democratic Party.

        Partly because that's not where the action is.  And partly because the moderates and centrists in the Democratic Party have substituted moderatism and centrism for corporatism which is exactly what we are fighting against.  And, thirdly, centrists and moderates just aren't suited to be the leaders of such movements.  It just doesn't work.

        As gay people, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendereds for whom LGBT rights is a defining issue (not all LGBT people are about that) -- I cannot speak for them all, but I for one just don't trust you all.  And we get shit done for ourselves.  It may not be the kind of shit you want done, and there are all manner of people on Daily Kos and elsewhere who will talk about our actions being "counterproductive" at the drop of a hat, but at least we manage to make a great noise and get heard for ourselves.

        You?  You non-gay liberals?  I know this is going to sound awful, but, no, not so much.  Heh.

        And you (straight liberals in general) do not have our backs.  Oh, you will say you support us, but that support is very weak and leader-bound.  This may be quintessentially liberal, but it is not liberalism, it is not the way things get done, by you.

        And LGBT people will treat with or work with anyone who will benefit US -- even including corporations.  We're past the point of seeing supposed friends with rose colored glasses because we have learned that in politics all friends are fair weather friends.

        I don't know if I was mistaken or not but what I took from your diary was "attack your enemies, don't attack your friends"  That is, even if our enemies have been helping us and even if our friends are not really so much friends at all.

        Screw that.  As I said, the mechanistics of the thing, if not the content, is not conservative versus liberal, it's about getting shit done vis-a-vis the issues that matter, or choosing not to, out of a desire not to attack "friends".

        "When in doubt, be ruthless" - Ferengi saying (-6.62, -6.26)

        by AndyS In Colorado on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 01:25:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  YES! (1+ / 0-)
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          AndyS In Colorado

          I do agree with you on that.  They do make things happen.

          I've always thought it's because they have skin in the game, literally.

          Ok, so I get where you are on that.  You sold me on that one.  The diary is wrong as it stands.  Are you arguing for gay movement as the center of mass, the core of liberal to build on?

          If so, I think I can't disagree.  If there is a "team", I'm hard pressed to find a better one, or one with more numbers, and commitment.

          Thanks for engaging me in this way.  I appreciate it.  You know, I'm not going down that road again, because you are right about it.  Every last liberal person should be saying, "we've got your back", period, because without that, what is left?

          Squabbling, that's what, which was my bitching and ranting today.


          by potatohead on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 01:31:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I just think that many people see LGBT people as (8+ / 0-)

            clients, or as pets -- where they should be seeing us as examples.

            When I attack President Obama, it's not because I hate him.  It's because I want him to do things for me and my brothers and sisters.

            And I have evolved and I would say the LGBT community itself has internally evolved and that people observing this transformation from the outside just don't understand what it is they're SEEING.

            People on this site for example attack gay people for praising the Log Cabin Republicans when they got a court decision in our favor.

            It's not because they're Republicans, it's two things -- THEY GOT SOMETHING DONE, and beyond that, they may be Republicans, but they're our LGBT brothers and sisters.

            Democratic Party tribalism just isn't gonna get you where you want to go.  So I would say three things:

            1.  Elected officials are not part of any "movement".  They're elected officials.  Praise them when they do right, attack them when they do wrong. But they're politicians.  They're NOT your friends, or your icon, or whatever.  You can idolize them once they did the right thing and they're out of office.
            1.  If one wants an effective mass movement it has to be solely about the issues and people that are involved.
            1.  As Democrats, for those who are Democrats and are on this site, being Democrats and GOTV and all the rest may be great, but it's SEPARATE.  And Party tribalism versus the things that are important to us (if one defines us as being members of this so far illusionary "liberal mass movement") has to be pushed away.  For any "movement" it's not about the PARTY or about electoral politics, it's about the things we all care about.  I'm not saying electoral politics, party and the rest doesn't have its own place .. I'm saying it's not the same thing.
            1.  If one wants to be successful, all the people involved have to feel like they're fully supported.  At all times.  Not just when they say the right things.  And no, I'm not saying we have to agree with people who are trolling or disrupting things, or pander to their quirks.  I'm saying that the PEOPLES (plural) who are components have to be able to trust such a movement.  There is no "wait in line" idea here.  Politicians would have to be subjects of this movement for good or ill -- but not members and certainly not leaders of it.  We have to have greater unity but that has to be SINCERE unity.
            1.  Since it is a liberal mass movement we're talking about, I can sum it up in four words:  PEOPLE VERSUS THE POWERFUL.

            And powerful people just cannot be trusted to always have our best interests at heart.  Sometimes they'll help us, sometimes they won't. But if they're genuinely on the side of the poor, the dispossessed, the middle class and all the rest, whatever we do will help them.  If they're not on the side of those people, it won't.  But why should such a movement even care?  People sort themselves out.

            I would put those four words: PEOPLE VERSUS THE POWERFUL on a flag if I could.  It's the defining attribute of what a successful mass movement would have to be.

            "When in doubt, be ruthless" - Ferengi saying (-6.62, -6.26)

            by AndyS In Colorado on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 01:57:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Ok, I've resolved a thing or two. (1+ / 0-)
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          AndyS In Colorado

          You know the defining issue should be the wrongness of discrimination.  it is wrong, period.

          Straight people do get to take breaks, others don't.  That's notable, and something my family experienced with our black son.  He doesn't get to take those breaks either, and that impacted me.

          I still struggle with it, because to me, I can sometimes just act.  He can't.  You guys can't, unless you GET SHIT DONE.

          Is it the same thing with women?  A similar dynamic?  Can you comment?

          Sometimes being a rather ordinary white, straight male sucks.  This is one of those times, because I think I've not experienced things in ways that can drive me to relate to what you are saying to me.

          It's compelling though.  Something I can respect, and see as productive, and a growing thing with me is all about productive, vs non-productive.


          by potatohead on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 01:40:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, we have to come to each other's defense. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Meteor Blades, potatohead

            The white person who is working class and who is spit on and plowed under by the people in Washington is just as much my ally as anyone else -- if she would let me be.

            And I may not be a good example, but if you look at my posts -- I'm pretty much all one way.  Certain people may disagree, but I try to never push one group of people down at the expense of another.  You will never see me talking about immigration in the sense of keeping those surly brown people out.

            I guess what I would say in a general sense -- and I'm not pointing fingers at you personally here, just a more general finger pointing -- no you don't get to have YOUR cake at the expense of everyone else.

            What the LGBT community wants is in no sense for example hurting or inconveniencing anyone else.  The goals are not incompatible with greater freedom for everyone.  But, if we want to be successful, we cannot divide, or further the goals of people who want that division.

            I see myself as an ally of the women's rights movement and their concerns every bit as important as mine.  And, though to my distress there have been differences between African Americans and GLBT people that have been sometimes enhanced and radicalized by people who want to drive a wedge .. their equality and dignified treatment has to be every bit as important as my equality.

            We're all in this together.

            "When in doubt, be ruthless" - Ferengi saying (-6.62, -6.26)

            by AndyS In Colorado on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 02:06:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No personal offense taken. (1+ / 0-)
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              AndyS In Colorado

              I think you've seen enough of me to know it's real when I contribute here.  No worries.

              I would add that discrimination is always wrong.  My family, and I believe that absolutely.  We lose track, because most of us can take breaks, but we believe it.

              You did some good today, mostly because I'm quite sure I'm off the track on some basic stuff.  Of course, that's part of the rant, because I feel that, and I know it's wrong, and can't always see why.  Conversation can fix that, but only if we bother to have them.    

              The most powerful implication I see in our exchange, to me personally, is that it absolutely must be possible to resolve the issues, while not surrendering who we are as people.  Losing sight of that is really, really easy for some of us (like me), and harder for others, (people who suffer some discrimination because of who they are).

              Trade-offs...  Slippery things.  And so much of our media culture is about justifying those.  Jesus.

              One thing that chaps my ass, is those people who are discriminatory, take every shitty out there is so they can continue that, rather than do the work to be good humans.  Can we honestly win against that norm being as pervasive as it is, without some really ugly rebellion?


              by potatohead on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 02:16:18 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, yeah, and "people" are always gonna try to (1+ / 0-)
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                divide and conquer.

                It's what the powerful people do, the high elected officials, leaders of corporations, major media whose bread and butter is sensationalism, and bigots do.

                And not all, by a long shot, of those people are Republicans or even conservatives by the political scale.

                If they can make the gay man hate the black man, this benefits THEM.

                Similarly, in a more general sense, if they can get the human rights movements to despise the economics rights movements, this also benefits THEM.  That way, people are fragmented and working against each other.

                And I would say, it's almost reflexive.  Powerful people who can see a way to enhance their power will do this divide and conquer almost unconsciously.  You saw it when President Obama talks up business and how he and Robert Gibbs and Rahm Emmanuel were telling all of their surly liberal base to just shut the fuck up and vote for them.

                Now, I'm NOT saying that Republicans aren't even worse about that.  I'm just saying, it's something that powerful people who care about their power and wealth generally want to do in the first place, IF they want to stay at the top of the heap.

                As people we can't really afford to let ourselves get distracted by this.  We have to take off the lense of partisan purity and take another lens.  When people try to divide groups -- particularly oppressed groups -- from each other, suspicion needs to grow -- are these people helping a movement to benefit all of us, or are they trying to divide for the sake of powerful interests?

                Me, I wouldn't exclude anybody -- any human -- from participation -- but what I would do and do do is I keep an eye out for this.  To the degree people pit groups of people against other groups -- perhaps those people deserve not to be listened to so much, when they do that ... yes?

                Me, I think some of this will happen just naturally.  Things, I feel, are going to get much worse economically and that's not because of any one person or people it's because we have government that is effectively paralyzed and we have people who have been manipulated into fighting for things and issues that don't benefit them but instead benefit the powerful.  That applies both to "Tea Party" people AND even to some Democrats and liberals.

                But, ah, there are more of US than there are of them.  This is probably going to take many years.  And things are going to get really shitty in this country -- and I mean, economically.  But sooner or later  -- and no I'm not saying wait for sooner or later .. but what I am saying is to push that idea, of people standing up for other people.  The message will spread and groups will get tired of wasting energy.

                Minorities, Environmentalists, people who care about religious freedom, people who care about income inequality, the middle class, people who care about the ongoing theft from the PEOPLE in preference to those who abuse the people .. we all have common cause.  But we have to act like it if we want to pull together.

                I agree, btw -- great conversation.  Thanks.  It's hard sometimes to have a meaningful conversation on a blog, and this has been pleasant.

                "When in doubt, be ruthless" - Ferengi saying (-6.62, -6.26)

                by AndyS In Colorado on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 02:48:16 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

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