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When you make a loaf of bread – you can put the flour and yeast in a bowl – but until you mix it up and knead it, stretch it, pound on it – there is no bread.

When you wash your car you can put the water and soap together, but until you take the action of putting some muscle on a shammy, pushing and scrubbing– the car will not get cleaned.

When you put a new roof on your house – you can gather all the shingles and the tools together – but unless you take the action of pounding in some tacks you won’t have a new roof.

Almost everything we do in life requires combining a multitude of ingredients, materials and actions - in order for the final product to be achieved.

More below the squiggle -

Many of you may not be aware – because it is never spoken about – that the first action/protest against the American Legislative Exchange Council started HERE on DK.  Without that protest there would have been no whistleblower – there would have been no document drop of legislation – there would have been no ALECExposed at the Center for Media and Democracy.

HERE at DK is where it all started and I think it is necessary to give credit where credit is due to the whole DK Exposing ALEC group and the many activists and activist groups that participated in the successful Cincinnati ALEC action, an action that started HERE on Daily Kos.

In 2013 I want to protest at every ALEC event across the United States – but how the event is organized will determine whether I spend my money to attend.

I participated in the ALEC Scottsdale protest and have chosen to not participate in other protests because of what I will outline below.  When I went to Scottsdale, I was expecting Cincinnati or New Orleans and what I experienced was much, much less.  

We are all aware of the destruction that ALEC “model legislation” is causing in our country.  I don’t need to reiterate the many instances.  We should all be aware of the fact that ALEC legislators across the US in the state and federal governments are sponsoring and promoting ALEC legislation.  ALEC is a national problem – that needs a national solution.

That being said – I am not one to look backward – I need to look forward.  

2013 marks the fortieth anniversary of ALEC.  
2013, marks forty years of ALEC interference in our government, that for the most part have gone unnoticed by the majority of people.

I would like 2013 to be the year that we recognize that in the battle against ALEC there have to be more and many/ varied voices that are heard and listened to, in order for the movement to progress.  I would like 2013 to be the year where we realize that there are many roles and many voices that are needed in order to stop the destruction being caused by ALEC in the USA.

Many Voices, Different Voices
(First, and up front - this is not about bashing the nonprofits.  I am only sharing what I have seen as a evolving pattern over the course of the past year.  Hoping for change)

Center for Media and Democracy
Common Cause
Color of Change
All of these are nonprofit agencies that report to a Board of Directors and rely on funders to continue their work.  While they have made significant contributions with online actions and public discourse regarding the American Legislative Exchange Council– they are restricted in their communications - by their business structure.  The politics of running/maintaining a nonprofit organization requires them to maintain a “political/public” posture that does not include actively promoting protests/direct actions.  If you look at the actions of these nonprofits over the past 18 months –they have been mainly the “face” of the discourse. And that has been their role.

These organizations provide a public media face in the fight against ALEC.  They are the “publicly acceptable” guest speakers on MSM and training sessions across the US.  The do interviews, they write articles for the MSM.  They look the part, they speak the part – for the MSM.  They inform – but they do not specifically make a call for “direct action”.  And that has been their role.

Many of the unions have chosen to not put “boots on the ground” when it comes to ALEC.  Last year at the Scottsdale protest, there were only one or two brave union members.  The meme of the unions at the Scottsdale protest was that they did not want to be associated with the anarchists that would be at the protest.  Back then, in a diary, I wrote that I thought that meme was a bunch of crap – I still believe that today.  The union contribution is at best, keyboard commandos – repeating articles and diaries on their webpages/newsletters – but not calling for the direct action by their members against ALEC .

This is the role the unions have established in regards to ALEC – to provide information to their members or be a face for the MSM.  They have chosen to make no calls for direct action to their members, which we must learn to accept.  And that is their chosen role.

The night before the Scottsdale protest was mostly a MSM and photo-op for the nonprofits, unions and politicians.  For the most part, most of the evening, the audience sat quietly and listened.  Yes, it was important as an information session – but the voice of the citizen activists were left unheard.  Yes, for some activists a press conference style information session is all they need. But for other protestors they want to crawl into the belly of the beast and really learn about that which they are protesting.  Throughout the Scottsdale process, the needs of this activist were left unmet.  The citizen activists were relegated to only “being a protestor” – which was so, so different than what had happened in Cincinnati.

In Scottsdale, while the protestors were facing water trucks, pepper spray, and police in riot gear – the nonprofits and unions were doing a press conference.  The two actions were mutually exclusive, but they were both of importance.  Both roles were necessary – both groups of people were on the news.  Both groups contributed to informing the public about ALEC.  BUT, it would be fallacious to think that the actions of either group could or should be labeled as superior to the other.  The purpose was to expose ALEC – achieved!

While the roles of the two different groups may be mutually exclusive; the end game is the same.  In that sense, the actions of the nonprofits and the union officials can not and should not dictate the activities of other activists.  We have two different styles of message that can coexist, because neither - repeat, neither - message should be considered better.  Both voices are necessary in order for the maximum amount of exposure to be achieved and 2013 is the year to recognize that a many voices/many actions approach is appropriate.  One group/concern should not control the message or the process.

Many voices, many actions

After the first ALEC protest in Cincinnati, we lost something very important.  We lost the voices of the many and varied people at the event.  At the first protest there were teach-ins that included varied voices, all with passion.  Those teach-ins, by citizen activists are important because they give activists the chance to listen, question, poke/prod, and clarify their thinking & their purpose.  These teach-ins help to engage people.

After Cincinnati, the dialogue and the actions against ALEC slowly moved to a more socially acceptable MSM business model. We lost the “direct action” citizen activist voice of the movement.  In my opinion, that has been a tactical error.

One of the things that has bothered me for the past fourteen months is the over-reliance on the presence and input of the nonprofits/union voices at the protests that have occurred.  The overall strategy has evolved to providing a media platform for the nonprofits and unions, while silencing the voice of the citizen activist.  The problem with creating a dependence on these groups or giving preference to the requirements of these groups is that they are there at the event - to inform/to promote – which provides a singular focus that only appeals to a limited audience.  A limited audience is not sufficient for a national problem.

In our society there is a tendency to convey deference to those who have MSM status in regards to what should be done.  Just because it happens, does not mean it is correct or should happen.  

We made the error of thinking that these groups could/should be the dominant voice.  They can’t, they need to share the voice.  We have made a tactical error in thinking that their voices and choices are more important.  They aren’t, there are many and varied voices that need to be given a platform.  The many and varied voices are unique and our voices are unfettered by business protocol.  The voice of the citizen activist needs to be heard.

The voices of the nonprofits and the union representatives are important but they should not be deemed the most important.  The inclusion of citizen activists voices– maybe at different venues of the same action is - -  appropriate and necessary.

The preferred actions of the nonprofits should not be viewed as the only type of action that can occur at the event.  There is not right or wrong when it comes to activism – there is only “different”.  Actions at any particular event should be diverse, in an effort to attract the largest number of concerned people.

Do we need them – yes.  Their discourse and information sharing are a necessary part of the process – but, should it be the dominant voice – no. Their discourse is tempered by their business model and the public’s expectations.  And that defines their role.  We should encourage the nonprofits to deal with the MSM to educate the average citizen.  But, at the same time remember that sterile dissemination of information/facts, without passion, does not necessarily inspire people who tend toward direct, boots on the ground action.

Because of that, we can not and should not limit this movement to the belief that these organizations are the overriding voice.  We should not let a business activist model preempt the voices and actions of the citizen activist.  We need the citizen activists – the ones who have fire in their belly and in their speech to be represented and vocal before, at, and after every protest/action.  No one voice should prevail.

I am advocating the inclusion of passion into the 2013 ALEC actions, the passion of the citizen activist and that has been sorely missing in the discourse and actions surrounding ALEC in the last fourteen months.

Some might say that the passion like I am talking about turns off the public – but I challenge you to show me a boots on the ground activist who doesn’t want to know that there are others who share their passion for their cause.

Some might say that the passion like I am talking about turns off the public – but I challenge you to show me a boots on the ground activist who doesn’t need inspiration.

Some might say that the passion like I am talking about turns off the public – but I challenge you to show me people who are moved to action, when there is no inspiration.

Some might say that the passion I am talking about turns off the public – I’m not taking this to the public, I’ve brought it to you – some of the most passionate people I know.

What I envision
In 2013 there has to be a place for the many and varied roles/voices in this movement.
In 2013 we will bring in the voices of passion.  We will include the voices of the people/groups that are affected/disenfranchised by ALEC legislation – not the talking heads – the people - those voices have gone unheard.
In 2013 we will bring in the voices of activists who are passionate about this issue –because they really care about it from their gut – those voices have gone unheard.
In 2013 we will bring the passionate voices back to the dialogue.

Without passion – there is little inspiration – people need inspiration to take direct action.
While reports on MSM inform – they do very little to motivate

So where does the direct action come from?

In the mid 1990’s ALEC was brought to the attention of the U.S. people through a series of articles – and nothing really happened – but the cornerstone had been laid.

In the early 2000’s ALEC was again brought to the attention of the U.S. people through a series of reports and articles – and nothing really happened – but the mortar needed to build the movement started to come together.

In 2011 a call for action against ALEC, was placed – here on the pages of DK and things truly began to happen.

     Oklahoma City
     Spring Task Force Meeting
     May 2 - 3

     40th Annual Meeting
     August 7 -9

     Washington DC
     States and Nation Summit
     December 4- 6
     With the 40th Annual Gala on December 5

What I hope for
2103 is going to be a historic year for ALEC.
My wish is that it be a historic year for ALEC activists, ALL ALEC activists – the MSM activists and the citizen activist.

Who in those cities is willing to step forward and take the many voices / varied voices approach for action?  Who is willing to build a system that encourages not only press conferences, but teach-ins?

Who in those cities is willing to develop a plan that not only includes “the information givers” for the MSM, but also includes learning options for the citizen activist voices, impassioned with resolve for change?

Who in those cities is willing to stand up and fight for the voices of the citizen activists and include them in the planning and the pre-events – and not just delegate them to the boots on the ground protest?

And - I hope to see you there!!!

Originally posted to MNDem999 on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 02:01 PM PST.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project.

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