3/06/2006

Sooo.... What Next?

Let's debrief together like good hippies.Lot of great posts on corruption! Thoughtful, informative, and well done! Link is on the sidebar if you want to check out the posts and catch up. I feel like I have a doom and gloom hangover. Nothing like a week of feeling futile and defeated while reading about how much things suck! What strikes me this week though are how many bloggers have asked "What can we do though?" "What works?" "What doesn't?" Do any actions make a difference? So, not to beat a dead horse- but what can be done? I'll share some of what might help, might not... maybe a few of you could do the same. Have you come to any conclusions or ideas?(cont.)

What can be done? Well, certainly we cannot take on the polluters and the profit menace single handedly!! Of course we are limited in what we can realistically do. And certainly not all business is bad, evil, etc. Some of us have to work, and we find that giving time to 'the man' is necessary in exchange for things we need. Thats not what we are primarily talking about though. I think we can agree that we are making a distinction here between 'business' and the 'market' and those companies that knowingly cause harm and continue in many cases to do so unimpeded. THAT is what has to stop.

*First, we have to do what we are doing. Be aware, talk about it, keep shining a light on it. Second, we have to be engaged in the political process. Take an hour or two and if you have not already done so, look up your reps and elected officials. They work for you, ask them to TELL YOU where they stand on things that matter to you. I have done this many times, such as with the PATRIOT ACT. I started by calling and writing letters asking for their specific written positions. Sometimes I have asked for information to support these positions, and many have been willing to provide this information.

*Write a well written letter to the editor. Now Editors I know tell me that the best letters are specific, relevant, and clear. This means that while it is great to rant about how much an official sucks, it does nothing to promote discussion or raise awareness on an issue. Pick a figure or research a fact and be selective. For example, "X amount of children have been diagnosed with Y disease, just in the past year, according to a report by the CDC." Then connect the facts to your issue.

*Ask an Editor why they have not had coverage of certain issues, and what their explanation is. I contacted seven different papers on coverage of Darfur, and asked them specifically why they did not think this warranted coverage. One editor even ended up asking if I wanted to write an op-ed, and this is another opportunity to speak to an issue. Do not assume that they will not listen to you or care! I have been pleasantly surprised many times by the response.

*Have a get together at your home, watch a dvd like "Beyond Treason" on depleted uranium, or "Independent Media in A Time of War". Send letters, or incorporate an action.

*Contact corporations you do business with, have credit with, have investments in, and ask for their policies on certain issues. For example, ask about their corporate giving. Many companies have specific staff just in charge of gifts and 'causes' who can talk about what they support and what they give. Do they donate to museums, hospitals? Ask how you can communicate with them on their corporate practices. They will not care for the most part,but tell them anyway. For example, businesses that use fleets of trucks or cars- ask them when they plan to switch to hybrid or other technology. Some are working on it already.

*Meet with policy reps in person, and be prepared with facts and if possible a list of groups or individuals that support the intention of your meeting.

These are just some of the things I do, which is not to say that there aren't better ways. What do some of you do to take action?

25 comments:

pissed off patricia said...

One thing the Democrats should be asking and we'll borrow part of it from days gone by. Is our country better off today than it was five years ago? Even taking into account 9-11, I don't see how anyone could answer that question in a positive way.

Drew said...

I think alot of people, not only Dems are asking this of themselves. However, Republicans will always come back with the statement that Democrats have NO plan, no agenda, no ideas..ect. I don't think that's the case. I just think our ideas aren't easily acceptable. I don't think that people realize the precarious position that our country is in. Fixing things could be a real bitter pill to swallow for those who are addicted to the sugar pill placebos that the right wing has been giving them.

Here's a few of the ideas I have. Corporation and State should be treated the same as Church and State. At least on Capital Hill. The government needs to be again considered For the People, by the People. Corporate money needs to stop being funnelled into Congress from K Street. Corportate money needs to be abolished completely from election fund raising. I am completely for taxpayer funded elections. If anything is ever going to crack the two party system, this would be a great start.

Bitch said...

Tax-payor funded elections, yes with an even playing field for all candidates. But I fear we are not in a position for that to make much difference if the voting machines are already tainted with corporate control. Is it really so difficult for the Dems to see what is needed and how to say it.

I think not, and that is what is so very scary.

I will get back here! Must fly...

Kvatch said...

From a blogging perspective, perhaps raising the volume a bit. Wouldn't it be something if a thousand blogs all hit a little noticed, but important, topic all at the same time? The trick is the coordination. Ad-hoc blogswarms don't work in my opinion. No offense to DBK with his "Transparency in Voting" swarm, but there just wasn't enough volume.

Perhaps something like an Uber-Pajamas Media, but with vetting of the participants so that when the call comes down, everyone gets right to it.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know more about this thing. Ben

Enlightenment said...

1. We need to overturn Buckley V. Vallejo. Corporations are not indviduals and cannot be rsponsible in the same way invividuals are responsible for their crimes. This would be followed by strict campaign finance reform, possibly a constitutional amendment specifically stating that corporations are not individuals and not desrving of individual rights.

2. We need to show that we can still have an effect. After the 2004 elections I was so mad at some of our local merchants that I refused to do business with them. On the one hand they were social liberals, either didn't care one way or the other about church-state, women's rights, gay rights etc. But then they put up Bush-Cheney signs. I pulled money out of a local bank which had a big blue lawn sign on a heavily traveled intersection. Then I talked to friends and used our local grapevine against local businesses. We didn't announce this publically, but we very quietly refused to do business at a store or business which had a Bush-Cheney sign in sight. We're not sure, but we think we had an effect. Support our own!

3. Labor needs to become more vocal and more unified. And perhaps a little less civilized. Make of that remark what you will.

4. Remember that the Republican Contract ON America wasn't announced until two or three weeks before the election of 1994. Right now the public is sick of Bush and his comngenital imbecility, but they don't know if the left can provide an aletrnative. We need to dump the idea that you can replace something with nothing and actually find ways to express liberal policies in soundbites. And, more important, provide realistic alternatives to the failed policies of the 1920s which Bush Inc seems to think are so miraculous.

LAST OPTION: If all else fails we have to let the Republicans destroy the whole damned thing. After 1929 the Republicans were persona non grata for more than 40 years. If they think the failed policies of the past will be create an economic utopia, then we'll just wait for the whole damned thing to come crashing down on itself. It wont be easy, and it won't be pretty, but it will put the GOP back on its leash for at least four years to come. Personally I see this as the last resort. If the whole thing unravels like it did in 1929, we won't see the downtrodden American people pulling together like they did in the 1930s. It'll be an all out class war replete with bread riots and violence in the streets.

LILY BRANFORD said...

Congenital imbecility! I love that!

I also seized on this point for a moment:
"Labor needs to become more vocal and more unified. And perhaps a little less civilized. Make of that remark what you will."

There are many things people can do that are legal but verrrrry annoying, and some labor groups have had some great ideas!

I wonder if anyone has ideas about some inventive civil disobedience....

Great to see Enlightenment, y'all should check him out.

Lew Scannon said...

Cut your cable tv. Money spent on that goes to your local provider to fund propaganda networks like Fox.
Walk more often. It's good exercise, it saves resources, cuts pollution and it adds up to pennies out of the pocket of big oil, and they count every penny.
Vote! If you don't trust your electronic voting machine, request an absentee ballot, photocopy it, and turn it in on time.
Find a common ground with the enemy. Bush supporters come in two stripes, those who vote Republican and those who don't vote at all. Inform the non-voter. Enlighten the Republican. Everybody hates the corruption. that's a good place to start.
Abandon your crass materialism. You don't need that item, you just want it, determine what is essential and what is frivolous and stick to it. Less is more.
Participate. Communicate. Motivate.

Anonymous said...

What is going on with all the comments at Watergate Summer? Did you read them? What is that about? -b

Adorable Girlfriend said...

All great ideas. It would be great to see these comments repeated more often out there. So many times we complain about x and y, but when was the last time we did something about it. I think it everytime I complain about Washington but only serve on one community board. That's not enough.

Rory Shock said...

talk (notice I avoided the term preach) to those who are not in the choir and persuade one person a day to take action ... which as Lew points out can consist of not taking action ... agitate with humor whereever you are ... inform people without being didactic ... "did you hear about ..." have the best anecdotes you can ... sheeit ... legislation more often than not gets passed based on the hottest anecdote of the moment ... that's just how it works ... everyone loves a story ... even a crappy story is better than too much abstract policy chatter for the average schmo ... so try to make it into a story ... I dunno ... you guys have a lotta good ideas ... I would also have to add demonstrate to the list ...

LILY BRANFORD said...

I think you guys are right, all of these things. I'm just trying to see what we can come up with. I agree especially on the personal story issue, in the sense that it helps to share a personal connection. I have seen this erode the tension with meetings with elected officials. Sometimes that connection helps. Real people versus rhetorical policy talk.

Thanks, guys, Good ideas. And I do agree-demonstrate! Vigils, things that are visible. I know some people have mixed feelings about that, some people I know think that backfires. I haven't made up my mind about it. I think it depends on how we present ourselves. The situation.

Eli Blake said...

I understand that later this year, they plan to unveil a specific set of proposals (I was involved in a discussion on education about that, so I'm pretty sure that is accurate information). I just hope when they do that they put it on business cards and distribute it to all of us P.C.'s so we can share it.

Eli Blake said...

Another thing, with this S.D. abortion law, all those 'moderate Republican women' who rationalized that they wouldn't REALLY overturn Roe v. Wade while pulling the lever for Bush, might be dragged to the cauldron of reckoning, that yes, they are working on doing just that. Remind people about the Supreme Court situation, especially if you have a Senate race in your state.

Anonymous said...

Lew: "request an absentee ballot, photocopy it & turn it in on time". I've done that, but question what to do after? How can I be sure my vote was correctly entered & counted? As far as I know, all the election board can tell you is if they ticked your name off their registered voter list, meaning they received & counted your vote ... but NOT exactly which candidate they registered your vote for. Further, the state I voted in last election supposedly only counts absentee ballots if the election is close & the total number of absentees received would make a difference. I was told that by an election official. Any ideas? D.K.

RichM said...

There are at least 2 posts one by the NYT and the other by WAPO talking this very issue. The Dems have all kinds of issues to talk about but no strategy on how to tie it all together to win votes. NYT did a good job of showing what we are up against.

But Democratic ambitions have run up against a diminished political playing field, narrowed by partisan redistricting efforts by states that have put congressional seats out of play.

Of 435 House seats, just 32 are in races considered competitive, compared with 110 at this time in 1994, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Of those, 11 are held by Democrats and 21 by Republicans.

Unless the political environment changes to make more Republican seats vulnerable, or more Republican incumbents retire before November, Democrats will have to hold onto all 11 of their competitive seats and win 15 of the 21 Republican seats in order to take back the House.

Of all the differences between now and 1994, perhaps most notable is that 12 years ago, 69 seats held by Democrats were up for grabs at this stage of the election cycle, compared with 21 Republican seats today.

On top of the odds what is the unifying message the Democrats are going to present to the electorate that will make the difference this elections cycle? It seems we are about as much at a loss for this unifying theme at this point as is the Dem hierarchy.

All I know is the past six years have been a lot like eating a shit sandwhich without the bread and I am ready for a change of diet.

GraemeAnfinson said...

God, if the dems could just have a consistent message. great ideas everyone

Earl Bockenfeld said...

Doing a Blog-Swarm on corrupt corporations TOGETHER was a great idea. Also the joint-postings about the Downing Street Memos by the Big Brass Alliance was fine. We can freep web-based polls, blog about progressive candidates in our voting districts, and warn each other and readers about out-landish Fright-wing outrages.

Anybody else notice how Lou Dobbs always hated to read CNN polls with anti-Bush numbers, but now is grinning ear-to-ear when polls say 70-80% support blocking the port-deal. If the port deal goes down, Dobbs will deserve all/most of the credit.

Firedoglake organized an freeping of Amazon's reader comments about Kate O'Beirne's book which probably dropped it off the best-seller lists. Posts can provide easy links to congress members if we can enrage the public enough to make their feelings known.

There is a current work being done to find out which blogs are blocked and which blogs can be accessed from Iraq. If Atrios and AmericaBlog are blocked and Little Green Footballs and redstate.org is not - then we can lobby congress to get on it and fix that. Especially when we know that 70% of the soldiers want us to get out of Iraq by the end of the year.

It's late and I need to get to bed, but some of these ideas might appeal to some and other people will think of even better actions.

rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

excuse me...does anyone know where the kY story is?

as for the post, why fix anything? everything is just fine here, we are doing great. yuppers.

rah frigging rah.

i like yams.

anyone know where the kY story is?

tp said...

When I voted though It didn't work the way lew described it, there was no way to photocopy. the day of uses a different kind of ballot. IF DK is saying somebody checked off something, that is not an absentee ballot, is it? I think these are diffferent things PROVISIONAL ballot is at the poll? An absentee ballot is in advance and has to be in way before so nobody could be checking anything off there, and I don't think there is a way to confirm that kind of ballot. But it sounds like two different things.

rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

uh, if you thought that linky do was wierd just wait till later. i went through this ballot deal with pas au dela. after working the logical ground, i arrived on having all those who wish to win an elected office to have their finger pricked by those who supported them, and on election day he with the least blood wins. since it's all about winning, i figured many would kill themselves off by accident and sheer force of blind ambition. without intense observer attention, any kind of balloting is screwed. where there is a lust for power...there is an asshole willing to do anything to get power. now that dead people voting thing... that is legit in chicago, as it takes longer to bury them as they stack the dead up at precinct offices.

Frederick said...

Can't go wrong with a stockpile of bottled water and duct tape. That's my conclusion.

Enlightenment said...

RE: There are many things people can do that are legal but verrrrry annoying, and some labor groups have had some great ideas!

My point exactly. Slow downs are only one option. Hell, has anyone thought about the idea of a SECRET union? Bascially groups of employees would get together in their off time and devise legal ways to annoy customers, slow down production, and generally ruin the reputation of the corporation on a clandestine basis. Labor has to think of itself as loyal patriots fighting a fifth column, [perhaps even fascist, insurgency. The insurgency being the Corporate Right and the way it subverts privacy, the right to peacefully assemble, etc.

fosco said...

Enlightenment, I think you are on the right track with the ideas of civil disobedience and lawful organization. It reminds me of "work to the rule" where I think police officers began to actually enforce EVERY tiny rule in a particular city. They were measuring the distance from signs, giving tickets for two mph over limit, etc to make their point that while they could not strike or negelct their responsibility to the public they could make their points about the way they were being treated.

I think they also used blue flu, calling in on a certain day.

I wonder how these ideas could be applied to the bigger scale. That would be something.

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