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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

 

Knowing the difference

by Tom Sullivan

A lot of people around this lefty, but defiantly "independent" town have discovered political activism for the first time. A couple of Indivisible groups have already formed and merged. There is a large Our Revolution group as well. They are planning to attend Democratic precinct meetings in a couple of weeks. It is the same across the country.

A notice showed up the other day about a traveling road show that seems to be connected somehow with the Democratic Party. It looks to be former Obama and OFA staffers, a kind of mainstream Democrat effort to reinvent Wellstone or something.

The feeling I get from people is they want action. They are looking for when the next rally gives them an opportunity to burn Donald Trump in effigy. They want to engage. They want to do something, anything. They're just not quite sure what what that something looks like. So they march, hold meetings, etc. They want to organize phone banks. What they want to do with them outside of campaign season escapes me. But they'll figure that out if they stay with it.

The "take back the Democratic Party for the people" rhetoric from Sanders campaign vets at Our Revolution has some regular Democratic operatives wary and put off. What are we, chopped liver? When they say they aren't being defensive about it, they are being defensive about it. For me, if Bernie vets think they can do better, show us what you've got. About the time of Dean's 50 state strategy, we were the crazy, too-far-left, too "ain't from around here" insurgent Democrats the old boys thought were going to ruin just everything. Me, I want to see all that new blood: Indivisible, Revolution, whatever.

What's troublesome is just how conservative established players become about embracing new energy. Boldness, being willing to take risks and fail fades. They are forever protecting whatever it is they think they have left to protect. We play "rope-a-dope," thinking we'll win by decision, not realizing we're just getting pummeled. To win over the crowd, Democrats have to come out of the corner punching.

People jumping into activism now are looking for bold leadership. Democrats — with a few noteworthy exceptions — are too often the party of same-old leadership. Competent, yes, but not bold. (That's not a dig at Hillary Clinton; this is widespread.)

I'm reminded of the "drink the sand" scene in The American President. In the current circumstance, many Americans went to the Trump mirage and drank the sand because Trump is their idea of what leadership looks like. Democrats as a party are too invested in waiting for the other team to fail to display the kind of boldness that says leadership to Americans looking for some.

"People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference."