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Monday, July 25, 2005



Marc: I am willing to be wrong. I am willing to listen to all arguments. But for the moment, these meet-ups still strike me as self-pleasuring pep rallies with no other political effect. Tell me I'm wrong.

I'm assuming the statement is rhetorical. You ain't wrong!


On the other hand, this IS a free country and if the Democrats want to engage in mental pleasuring of themselves, why not?

Wagner James Au

Last South by Southwest, I caught the tail end of a panel about Internet-mediated political activism, and one of the panelists was someone who organized the Meet Ups for Moveon.org in his state. He said he was concerned about the echo chamber effect of their activism, and illustrated that concern with this story:

During the leadup to the Democratic primaries, this guy put forward the suggestion of having Joe Lieberman come around and meet with some of their groups. The general reaction of the members, he said, was roughly this: 10% said they'd be willing to meet with Lieberman. 10% said they weren't even willing to be in the same room with Lieberman. 80% said they'd be OK if having Lieberman come by-- only so they could tell him how wrong he was.

(When the panel was over, a thin man in his late 50s with a supreme knack for missing the point was up there berating the Moveon.org guy, quivering with rage: "But Joe Lieberman IS wrong!")

So yeah, I do get the sense that ideological onanization is the key goal of these things. (And this is the group whose leader says they "own" the Democratic Party.)

Jay Byrd

All this tells you is how Lieberman is viewed by those folks; it doesn't say anything about "echo chambers". Around here, people get baby sitters, skip movies or dinner with friends, etc. to show up at these meetings. Why would they want to meet with someone whom they see as a pompous gasbag, flip-flopping opportunist, and turncoat? They have better things to do. Around here, folks come to meet and listen to progressives running for local office or working on such things as passage of health care bills, to discuss how to be more politically effective (and yes, that includes considering Lakoff and anything else that comes along that seems promising), to plan and organize political education and outreach, and so on. And yes, they say nasty things about George Bush and Karl Rove and dream of him being impeached and so on, but most of that takes place in the social breaks before and after meetings, or at occasional gatherings like this weekend's DowningStreetMemo picnics. If you want to understand what today's grassroots activism is actually like, you might need to actually get involved in it.


The right-wingers seemed to do well, just slapping flip-flops together and chanting "flip-flop, flip-flop" and focusing on the demonic liberal...maybe leftist should take a lesson from the right-wing playbook.

Jay Byrd

Uh, NeoDude, the point here was NOT focusing on the mediocre non-liberal.

Todd Pearson

Spot on, Mr. Cooper. Pep rallies may feel good, but they don't do much to win games.


"If you want to understand what today's grassroots activism is actually like, you might need to actually get involved in it."

What he (Jay) said. Pontificate, all you want, Marc. You just gotta be there, as they say.

Tom Grey

If it sounds like a neo-religious revival, and folk act like it's a revival, and non-believers are "wrong" like it's a revival ...
you are seeing the creation of a Politically Correct new Democratic Party (neo-)religion.

You're either a believer or you're NOT welcome. And those who disagree are wrong. (and might get the sword if the Dems get power?)


>>>"You're either a believer or you're NOT welcome. And those who disagree are wrong."

Yep. If you're a Democrat but not One of the Chosen, get back. Your opinion doesn't count.


>>>"You're either a believer or you're NOT welcome. And those who disagree are wrong."

Yep. If you're a Democrat but not One of the Chosen, get back. Your opinion doesn't count. Heretic!

Jay Byrd

"You're either a believer or you're NOT welcome."

You're a bit confused; we're not discussing Bush's town hall meetings here, where you can't even get a ticket without swearing allegiance to Bush on a stack of bibles.


I agree with Marc Cooper. If I get one more request to send money to a PAC, sign my name to a pre-written letter, host a house party or engage in some other limp and punchless act of disagreement over Bush administration policies, I think I'll scream. Doing all of this is little more than communal catharsis. It does not so much as inflict a scatch on Bush, Rove or any of them for that matter.
The Republicans are everywhere. The House, Senate, Supreme Court and of course the White House. I'm reminded of that great 50's Sci-fi flick "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". This movie was about aliens that came in pods to take over the earth. Whether this allegorical tale was about communism or not is open to dispute. Suffice it to say the the right has infiltrated many places in our society.

"Doctor, will you tell these fools? I'm not crazy. Make them listen to me before it's too late. - A line from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".



There is definitely something that can be done with more punch, Cooper is totally right. It is called counter-recruitment or counter-enlistment. It is relatively easy. Forget the Democrats or the Republicans, and find people -- parents, young people -- who are even consideering enlisting in the military. And talk them out of it. It can be as easy as pointing out that our own leaders, the President and the Vice President, found nothing unpatriotic about not fighting in the war of their generation -- Vietnam. Once can also point out that both became successes, perhaps, because they were able to capture places vacated by others who did fight. I am against discouraging any enlistment ever -- but those who enlist in time of war inevitably return to lifetimes of disparagement, especially by those who supposedly "support the troops." Because young people are especially susceptible to honor, this is a very good argument -- just point to the last election. The nation was overwhelmingly amused by the trashing of Viet vets, like Kerry, because normal Americans do not trust war veterans, resent them, and will not lift a finger to help them. The Congress is really helping out on this issue by resisting at every turn fairly paying for the health care costs of GIs. If they won't pay for your treatment when your leg is blown off, that tells you all you need to know about their contempt for service. If there is no army to throw around, forget invading Iran -- we will have to withdraw from Bosnia. Which is the point -- bring American troops home.

The silent strike against the military is already depleting the volunteer army, and we can speed that process up. Impeaching Bush is pointless -- take away his soldiers, that's what hurts the bastards. The neo-cons have provided the best propaganda for this: the message, for instance, of a recent Christopher Hitchens piece was, let somebody else fight the war, I have better things to do. That was priceless. Universalize that slogan, spread it among young people, and contribute to the strike that will bring home American forces from Iraq a lot faster than the Dems in congress. Go to this link: http://www.youthandthemilitary.org/.

Ask not what your country can do for you, but get ahead while others fight, if they feel they have to. Suckers go, winners stay home. Or, to paraphrase Cheney, I had other priorities than going to Iraq. If we get this message across, we won't look like the patsy idealists Cooper so justly condemns.

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