How squeegees can help save America, and your sanity – going beyond blogging to the choir
I find the continued lack of widespread, persistent, peaceful, effective action by activists to be dismaying, if not depressing. (Please notice that I didn’t use the adjective “massive”. I have argued for a shotgun approach to reaching the public, where the activists can be in groups as small as 2 people. Or even go it alone.) Apparently, for some of us, when thing get tough, they either throw up their hands, or else call for more of the same, or else call for a complete failure of the system – hoping that a new Dark Age will provide a fertile ground for a subsequent Aquarian Age.
One would have hoped that political blogs would be a wellspring of encouragement for wider engagement with, and education of, the “unblogged masses”, but that is not the case. E.g., I was following the unfolding Obamacare fiasco, via FDL, and knew very well about Obama’s backstabbing deal with Tauzin, as well as other related healhcare betrayals. But at job where my coworkers were discussing Obamacare, I asked people what they thought about Obama’s deal with Tauzin, and nobody even knew who Tauzin was.
Not good. FDL had essentially no effect on the level of knowledge of most Americans. It’s effects are limited to a small sliver of the American public.
Well, a recent reply (#174) to ‘mymarkx’ in Call Members of Congress and Tell Them if They Cut Social Security, You’re Done With Them has prompted my to share an additional idea for exploiting public spaces, to both educate and develop political muscle. First, my post #174:
I’m totally convinced that the half the eligible electorate who fail to understand that our ruling oligarchy governs solely for the benefit of the rich, not for the benefit of the people, and who therefore continue to vote in a system where any vote at all is a vote against their own best interests, correlate well with the lower half of the IQ bell curve. An election boycott probably is impossible in the US because those with the capacity to understand the need for it, already don’t vote, and those who vote lack the capacity to comprehend why they’re subjugating themselves to a system that will never act in their best interests
There’s undoubtedly a lot of ignorance in the population. If you google for “metamars” and “Tauzin”, you will see my complaining about how not a single coworker even knew who Tauzin was, much less knew about Tauzin’s back-stabbing deal with Obama.
The solution to ignorance is education. So here we are, on a political blog, but can you tell me what plans FDL has to turn it’s readership into agitators? FDL, superior though it may be to other progressive blogs, isn’t much better when it comes to organizing it’s readership to educate the public, at large. E.g., this blog contains a call to action, but notice that it follows a more or less common pattern – call your Congress critter.
Notice, also, that there’s no call to print out copies of the post, go to public areas, and hand them out. FDL draws less than 1 million unique visitors, per year. It’s probably under 1/3 million. In a country of 300 million, the “FDL effect” on Congress critters that Jane is encouraging, is likely to be minimal.
I’ve recently encouraged FDL bigwigs to put their heads together with the PDA, to try and develop a synergistic (and frankly, more balanced) approach to the information consumption / activism dynamic. PDA has demonstrated a capability for organizing a “ground game”. Imagine if they paid heed to successful techniques of engaging the public in public streets – as was accomplished by the very successful effort in New Brunswick, NJ, that I first read about on the PDA website!*
Now imagine, further, that a PDA – FDL partnership exploited FDL’s rich vein of diaries, as well as FDL’s membership who (so far) may be only “commenting to the choir”, to take to the public streets and sidewalks to vastly expand the public’s exposure to the truth of the corporatocracy, the truth of the corruption of the Democrats and Republicans, and of the opportunity to organize that PDA offers; and to remain informed, while online, that FDL offers?
We would be much better off, Jane’s suggestion would have a much larger reach (and thus a likelier chance at making a difference.) And that’s even given the lack of a necessary piece of democratic infrastructure, that’s currently missing: there is no candidate pipeline. (You can google my previous calls for this.) I.e., Jane is only pointing to half of an electoral solution – ceasing support for Congress critters that refuse to stand up for you. However, she can’t point to an electoral remedy that involves lots of people willing to run as Democrats in primaries – not even on a minimalist basis, as was called for in jeffroby’s currently moribundFull Court Press.
* I learned about their outreach to motorists who were stopped at red lights through some online video, which I don’t have the link to.
I’ve additionally recently written about Reaching out to the unblogged masses, including potential Republican allies (as in “allies on specific issues”). See here for links.
OK, I’ve set the stage. So, now, you are all doubtlessly breathlessly awaiting my revelation of how a squeegee can have anything to do with this. And further, how the humble squeegee can help save America, and even your sanity.
Well, the origin of this amazing idea lies with a story told by Gary Null, the founder of the explosively growing ProgressiveRadioNetwork.com. It seems that Null wanted to have some fun with a friend of his, so grabbed a few rolls of quarters, and, wait for it …… wait…. wait… A SQUEEGEE and headed for the ever car-filled streets of Manhattan. When cars would stop at red lights, they would clean the motorist’s windshield with their squeegee, just like many homeless folks used to do. Unlike the homeless, who were (understandably) generally looking for a tip, Null and friend would give a quarter TO the motorist, along with a smile.
Now, savor that thought for a moment, before I get to the punchline. Just picture yourself as the motorist. And then ask yourself, “Would I have told me family and friends about this act of not-so-random kindness, or just promptly forgotten about it?”
OK, so now for the political punchline: Activists, and non-activist blog consumers, who want to reach out to, educate, and play a role in organizing the ignorant “unblogged masses” actually live (mostly) in a target rich environment, which they consistently overlook. By thinking outside the box (and outside the blog), looking to have some fun, being just a little bold, rediscovering their love of dead trees, and even reaching for a squeegee, every so often, you too could help aggressively grow a progressive movement with political muscle.
And the person’s sanity you save may well be your own.