Monday, July 28, 2008

A Revolution In Liberal Self-Image

I read this comment on the Eschaton blog last night. I just stopped by to mention my blog and that I had new posts up, so I didn't see all of the conversation it was part of. But there was a comment in it I wanted to respond to.

Yes, I have argued that point here and elsewhere since 2002. By and large, however, people didn't want to hear that achieving the level of change that we need, is going to require doing what the Republicans did.

That means, action (think Brooks Brothers Rebellion in Florida). That means organizing, think Religious Right, starting in the 1980's. And on, and on.

The fact that that direct action, which is what NTodd is advocating needs to be coupled with grassroots, behind the scenes organizing. It will take time, and it will take effort.

The difference between the Right and the Left in this regard, however, is that there is no money machine for the left.
It always seems to me like there are things about the way the liberal community conducts itself that keep us from having as much influence as we might, both in terms of endearing people to us more and providing a better infrastructure for our movement. I chose to respond to this part:
The difference between the Right and the Left in this regard, however, is that there is no money machine for the left.
What I think it that left-wing parents need to raise their kids to be more public-spirited and to realize that the political fight is not over. People have to stop pretending that messing around in an organic garden once a week or coming out to a protest every once in a while is somehow being connected with the community or helping the community-- people often have all this rhetoric about doing things in the community, but then the only involvement and activism they have in their community besides talking to a small group of like-minded liberals (who aren't even originally from the community and who are similarly focused on organic gardening and protests) is very little talking to anybody else, and certainly isn't anything like becoming part of the infrastructure of their community. We can't all just run away to the forests and hills and cool cities to become poets, or what have you. Kids have to be encouraged to get more involved in their communities, like by becoming teachers, doctors, public officials (judges, cops, and mayors) and lawyers. Real liberals who become things like lawyers shouldn't be made to feel like they're alone out there because so many of the lawyers, bailiffs, judges and other court personnel they meet are relatively conservative. I know we do this type of thing to a large degree already, but even an increase of a few percentage points of young liberals getting career-minded sooner and realistic sooner, without losing their values-- just practicing them in a more realistic way-- will help.

Besides just getting more influence in communities, that will also provide a lot more money, because more people will be making a salary sooner, instead of just the tips from a tip jar plus $8 per hour that they make at a cafe while supporting their hobby of reading poetry, playing the bongos or being in a punk-rock band.

I'm not saying liberal children should be brow-beaten into becoming teachers and doctors, but I'm just saying they should hear the the suggestion a little more instead of "Do whatever you want! I'm so open-minded that whatever it is, I'm fine by it!" People need to know how cool it is to get involved in ways that then to help us more in just the ways we need.

We need to change our whole culture as a movement.

Another thing we need to start looking at is cultivating and recruiting a few more black candidates. Again, I'm not saying we should run people who really aren't good enough or who don't want to be in public office-- but we should look around. It seems like at least part of the Barack phenomenon is that black people have become excited about politics like they never have before and are donating money. If we can keep that up, it will definitely help, and again, it can help in more ways than just with money.