This is a great 4 part video interview with Jeff Cohen, a media critic and lecturer, founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, where he is an associate professor of journalism. Cohen founded the media watch group FAIR in 1986. It is a great discussion, short, and really addresses what I believe are our core problems and what to do. I urge you to watch this–Well worth the minutes!
Part 1 Swing voters are not ideological, if Obama doesn’t deliver real change they will vote against him HERE (7 minutes)
When you hear the term “swing voter” in our society, you’ve got think working-class, middle-class whites, because, you know, rich people, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, they know who they’re for. Poor people, people of color, they know who they’re for: they’re for Democrats. Religious fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists, they’re for the Republicans. But there’s this middle group that is—they’re called swing voters or independents. They’re given a lot of names. One thing we have to understand about this group is the stagnant wages, stagnant income for decades, even though now there’s two wage earners in so many families, which changed since the 1970s. So in this backdrop, you have these elections that are constantly about throwing the bums out. And this class that I’m talking about, of largely working-class whites, lower-middle-class whites, they’re not heavily ideological. There’s no one less ideological than a swing voter, by definition. And they see themselves as beleaguered, no one’s talking to them, and they just go. You know, so Obama was the agent of change in 2008, and in Massachusetts these independent voters—and there’s more independents than Democrats in Massachusetts—they went with Obama.
JAY: You campaign about fighting corporations. You campaign with this populist message for—you campaign from the left, but if the party’s actually controlled from the right, you’ll never going to be able to deliver on the campaign promise.
COHEN: It’s always fake left, go right.
Part 2 Corporate plans took Democrats to the right and Republicans to the far right HERE (11 minutes)
Part 3 The struggle within the Democratic Party, starting from the Viet Nam War HERE ( 10 minutes)
Part 4 Far right Republicans are dangerous, but also need to fight corporatists in Democratic PartyHERE (9 minutes)
With all this corporate/party circle jerking going on, it’s amazing anyone has any time to actually screw us over.
😡 Holding. Back. Even. More. Graphic. Response. (think “Orgazmo”)
Javaz– you should listen to Part 4 particularly. It makes a strong case for internet activism.
Cher, I wish that I could, but we’re on dial-up.
Javaz, sorry, I forgot! But there are transcripts on each page, if you’re so inclined.
I think the key lesson of Part 4 is NOT merely internet activism, but rather we should take over the Democratic Party. From my brief experience (less than 10 years), it’s not that hard to do. First, go to a few county Democratic functions. You will probably find that the Democratic Executive Committee is BEGGING for folks to represent their districts, so volunteer! Yep, become a politician!
It might also help if you spent a little time trolling the halls of your state legislature, perhaps as a volunteer lobbyest for some socially responsible group. This takes more time, since it will require your becoming informed on the issue you choose and being helpful to the legislators, and it well take a few years before they will trust you. Nevertheless, you will ALWAYS be welcome in the offices of the representatives of your county, for a start, and your issue will resonate with at least a few of the Progressive politicians that you will discover (so you can help them out as well). This will give you some idea what you are up against, but will also teach you where to attack and how to negotiate. It will also (sadly) reveal more than a few enviro. groups that succumb to corporate ideas and others who use progressive angst for fundraising and are not interested in substantive change.
I can say that our Democratic Executive Committee is in the hands of Progressives. Unfortunately, our Democratic U.S. Congressman (as a “Blue Dog”) ignores us at present, but we are at least in a position to back more progressive candidates in local elections, and I think we have a good shot at the County Mayor (top executive position) this fall.
All that said, it isn’t a cakewalk. It requires getting down and dirty, not just talk. It requires hundreds of hours of unpaid duty. If you value democracy, though, isn’t it worth the effort?
Daedalus– I’d do it in a heartbeat, but that requires independent wealth– or at least being able to support oneself w/o a salary. I can’t do that! But I am certain what you’ve said is all true. I honestly could see doing that, and that it is the way. I DO believe it is worth it!
Hey, you have a full-time job HERE! I was hoping to stimulate some of our other correspondents. I’m retired on SS and a small pension, and my little house has no mortgage, so I guess that makes me “independently wealthy”. The lobbying part takes several days a week, which is hard for working folk. I did it for a few years, and it was actually fun, but it did get expensive driving to the state capital, buying lunch and parking.
The County Executive Committee part only takes a few hours a month (a bit more at election time), and this is the truly important part of the effort. The lobbying only provides a bit more education. Since I’m almost officially poor, I don’t contribute much in dollars to the Party, but I DO concentrate my efforts and donations at the local (county) level.
Oh, I know Daedalus! We are on speaker phone after all. 😉
And I understand about the money–one needn’t be wealthy, just need to live. I just want you to know I value your experience and knowledge. I think you are spot on about how real change works– slogging, slow and endless.
Thanks for the tips, I just might go do it. Good info Daedalus
Daed – you’re absolutely right. I’m a full time lobbyist for a massively socially responsible group, and I mobilize our grassroots members. Raising their voices gives me clout – without them, I’m nothing. But it does not take hours per week unless you do it full time by choice.
Because I am full time, and because of my position, I can’t work the party. BUT that is a huge way to begin. Remember back in the 80s the Christian Coalition did this – there were trainings nationwide, then they infiltrated school boards, etc. all with a mind to control them. We “outed” most of them, but that’s how they got in and got enough clout to choose Bush.
The difference with us is we don’t have a 10-point agenda; we see governance as a broad, democratic PROCESS that, gulp, even includes them. (Teeth gritting noises here.) But we need to take pointers from the ways they did business – move from the city to county to state levels then on to the national. We need to be building progressive coalitions, helping pick candidates, helping run elections. It will be more important than EVER if corporate money is indeed unleashed.
I’ve said it before (YES! We KNOW, say all here on the Planet) that the one thing that can offset money is constituents. Legislators MUST pay attention to voters. My folks have turned six CA Blue Dogs, alone and in coalition, and we have seen the power of the people. We must do this.
That is where building a relationship with the district office of any elected official at any level is essential. Personally I target state officials (it’s my job), but Congress is equally important.
We CAN turn the outcomes of 2010 by also building relationships with other groups, seeking out community meetings, and being heard. We took BACK many of the town hall meetings in CA by sending clergy in, and they calmed the storm and actually got people paying attention to one another. We also did MORE work getting conservative Dems to hear the wants of people, not just the yelling of tea bag people.
So you don’t have to do this 24/7 just because some of us do. What we each can do is what we each should do – however much, whenever we can. Phone calls, visits, invitations to legislators to come to OUR groups, getting to know the staff and being a human being first and always, that all matters. Once a week, once a month – whatever works for anyone.
And for those with more time – get involved with the party! Your voice can change the world. If the religious right could do it – certainly those of us with KNOWLEDGE should be able to do the same!!!