Stuff We Don’t Need: Yet Another “Progressive” Vanity Organization

progressive-groupsSo, there’s this guy Van Jones who has been saying a lot of good things, for a while, and this week he announced the start of a new campaign called the #LoveArmy, a new initiative of his Dream Corps organization.

Sadly though, for quite some time, I have been VERY suspicious of how much ego is behind seemingly well-intentioned people like Mr. Jones.

I see it play out something like this, time and time and again:

Super smart, charismatic, articulate progressive takes a firm stance on something and gets regional and/or nationwide attention; said person gathers a team of collaborators and followers and starts their own new organization, with a spiffy new logo and website, like Van Jones’ Dream Corps; meanwhile there are already dozens, hundreds, even thousands of existing progressive organizations all over the country, many doing similar work, many of which overlap and compete with each another for donations or attention or nitpicky differences in their platform or approach.

The left/progressive wing in this country is utterly fractured, totally susceptible to and thwarted by the divide-and-conquer tactics from the masterfully manipulative right wing, but all I see is this parade of emerging leaders starting up their own vanity projects rather than building a movement that unites the existing progressive organizations.

One could argue that many if not most politicians running for office resemble this formula. Once they are in office, they are quickly assimilated into business-as-usual, without the time and/or will to build on the movement that got them elected, to make it bigger and stronger and capable of supporting an unwavering agenda of real change.

Now, to be fair, every once in a while I see a glimmer of the right idea, and here are three examples.

1. Bernie Sanders certainly met the “super smart, charismatic, articulate progressive” criteria I mention above, but in VERY different ways.

Smart as hell, for sure, but his unlikely charisma resided in his unpolished, scruffy, gesticulating appearance and demeanor, and his articulateness was not about flowery oratory or wonky policyspeak, but rather, it was his dogged consistency of message, a message of a need for a political revolution that united millions and millions of Americans around common causes, an articulation that powerfully wielded a “we” rather than “me” orientation.

The Bernie Sanders-inspired Our Revolution group says they are about continuing Bernie’s work of building this national grassroots movement, and I’m eager to see if they will reach out to all of the progressive organizations already out there, to unite them and coordinate efforts.

2. Back in June, shortly after the mainstream media declared that Hillary Clinton had clinched the Democratic Party nomination, 3,000 activists attended The People’s Summit in Chicago, a hastily thrown-together event, also aimed at taking up Bernie’s torch. Notable was the extensive list of “partners” posted on the event’s website, seen here in this post as a collection of logos that both highlights what I said above about how progressives love to start new organizations, but also seems to represent at least an attempt to bring these groups together.

3. Just today I read of a brand new effort to fight the Trump-elect proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Protect Our Care Coalition pulls together representatives from 20 different existing organizations to “pool resources and work together to ensure people in America understand the damage of repealing the ACA.”

Now THAT is stuff we need!

Headlines of the Day: The Cognitive Dissonance Of Bernie Sanders Media Coverage

headache-smileyStunning, headache-inducing dissonance in these two headlines from two liberal-leaning online publications today:

Bernie Sanders is in big trouble: You don’t have to be a neoliberal shill to see the cold, hard facts

Salon

Yes, Polling Trajectory Shows Bernie Sanders Defeating Hillary Clinton and Winning the Democratic Nomination

Huffington Post

Screw The “Bernie Sanders Can’t Win” Narrative!!!

bernieLONG before Bernie Sanders had even officially announced, on April 29, 2015, that he was running for President of the United States, it was declared that he has no real chance of winning.

Googling around for just a few minutes, I found the following, charting the course from “Long-Shot Candidate” to “No-Chance Candidate”:

  • November 15, 2013: Bernie hints that he might run.
  • November 30, 2013: Bernie included in NPR‘s list of potential “long-shot” 2016 presidential candidates.
  • March 6, 2014: Bernie says he might run for president in an interview in The Nation.
  • April 12, 2014: The Boston Globe writes, “His chances of winning the nomination would be rated as slim, at best…”
  • June 3, 2014: Even liberal Salon.com declares that a possible Sanders 2016 campaign would be a “waste of time”.
  • April 29, 2015: Bernie officially declares his candidacy.
  • April 30, 2015: Newsweek headline: “He Won’t Win, So Why Is Bernie Sanders Running?”

And, when I talk to my fellow liberals/progressives, I’m saddened to find that most of them agree that Bernie is unelectable: he’s too old, too white, too socialist, too vocally anti-big-money, etc.

Bernie is SO right in that quote above! People have given up, convinced that the political deck is stacked against them, writing off worthy candidates like Bernie, or Dennis Kucinich before him, because these candidates are labeled as “unelectable” before they are even candidates, third party candidates aren’t invited to debates and they are marginalized by claims that they will be nothing more than spoilers, billions of dollars are pumped into Republican and Democrat campaigns, making it difficult for candidates not beholden to big money to run an effective campaign, etc.

And yet, despite all the nay-saying, Bernie insists that he is a serious candidate, that he means to win, that he refuses to take money from Wall Street and corporate interests, his website prominently displays this:

bernie2

…and still he raised $3million from small donors in the first four days of his campaign!

As of today, one of those small donors is me.

Screw The “Bernie Sanders Can’t Win” Narrative!!!