In primary and general elections in 2012 and recall elections in 2011 and 2012, a total of 117 members and alumni of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) were voted out of office, according to research and analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), ColorOfChange, and others.
Category Archives: politics
To GOP critics of her husband Mitt and his campaign, Ann Romney said, “stop it. This is hard!”
Besides perhaps having unrealistic expectations about what can happen during a presidential campaign, do you think it’s possible that Ann has a different concept of what is “hard” in life? Driving down the highway this morning, I heard a woman caller on a radio show say, “looking through pockets for change in order to buy milk for your son is hard.”
What’s been hard in your life? What life experiences as a rural woman have been difficult? And how did you handle it? Join us on Facebook to make a list to send to Ann.
By Vivian Gorham
It is important to remember – during this latest Romney uproar – he isn’t the Party’s scapegoat; he is their standard-bearer. He is simply stating the beliefs of the Party as currently constituted. Don’t tax, don’t regulate and for God’s sake don’t help anybody is what the Party stands for and has stood for since Reagan.
The re-distribution of wealth has been negatively impacting the middle class for the past 30 years – and ultimately, these policies ruined the economy. Yet, greed – combined with apparent utter disregard for humanity – means they aren’t even attempting to examine their positions and create new policies! Instead, they are suppressing the vote. I am insulted to the point of tears that my hard-working, responsible, tax-paying children have been characterized as free-loaders by Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. And I ask again – all my sane and good Republican friends – now where do you stand? Can you honestly look yourselves in the mirror and support this type of racism, classism, and sexism; this type of America? Why? How?
Related Article from Huffington Post: A Clear Choice
By Vivian Gorham
During my years as a freeloader – I raised four children, got a college education, started a non-profit organization from which I never took a salary, volunteered at church and city government, and contributed non-compensated hours as co-owner of a small business and then a farm. Once I became a paid freeloader, I worked as a community organizer and raised over $5 million for schools, non-profits and governmental organizations – after which I earned another college degree and then freeloaded as a low-wage earner in prisons and hospitals – working with addicts, mentally ill, and terminal folks. For the past two-years, I have been freeloading as a counselor on military bases – working with soldiers and airmen and their families, who are going to and from war. Yup, they are all freeloaders, too. Guess I better stop screwing around and make some money – so I can go from worthless to worthy, eh?
By Vivian Gorham
Barack Obama learned community organizing first at his mother’s knee. Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Sotero was an anthropologist working in Asia on women and development projects during the time that the Grameen Bank came into being. In community organizing, community development, rural and urban development, and women and development circles – this is one of the most famous and most successful projects around. In fact, it was so successful that an attempt was made to utilize the model here in the United States during the days of welfare reform.
What community organizers learned during the days when Stanley Ann Dunham lived and worked in Indonesia is that without an understanding of the conditions on the ground, Westerners cannot go in country with their money and power and affect sustainable change. Designs imposed by outsiders will fall apart after they’ve gone. Or worse, large scale projects undertaken in ignorance of local conditions are likely to make conditions on the ground profoundly more dire.
Esther Boserup in her book Women’s Roles in Economic Development documented this phenomenon by demonstrating that Western agricultural projects in Africa centered around men and machines (tractors, center-pivot irrigation wells, loans) failed because men had never dominated in farming in Africa – unbeknownst to Westerners because it was unthinkable to us. In Africa, agriculture was a woman-dominated enterprise. Privileging the men in Western development schemes not only upset the eco-system, it also upset the social system. The result was not the elimination of poverty and hunger, but the increase of both as small agriculture was basically undermined and overthrown. The mechanized form of farming that was created was unsustainable and resulted in desertification of the land.
Respect for people at the community level is not only proper; it is the wisest course for intervention. And without speaking to the women, the untold, invisible side of the local story is not factored into development designs.
This one example illustrates that community organizing is infused with values – not ideology – but values.
Some of these community organizing values include:
o Listening to a broad range of people and stakeholders, beginning at the local level, including especially those who are typically not consulted.
o Needs and solutions are identified and designed by those who will live them out, rather than outsiders.
o Organizers function as facilitators and resources – providing locals with a larger picture of conditions, power alliances, networks, mentors, and financial opportunities – and then these resources are matched to local needs. All the choices, all the decisions, come out of dialogue at the local level. The organizers don’t have a say so.
o Relationship building is key. It is better to create or maintain a relationship than wage conflict and risk splitting the coalition of stakeholders or attracting a backlash from the powers that be before one is prepared for it. Therefore, the first projects are the most likely to succeed.
o The primary strategies for change include cooperation, campaign, and only as a last resort – conflict. Changes wrought as a result of conflict are the least likely to continue once the conflict is over. Change agents who win by waging conflict are likely to be quickly replaced – even if successful – by people who are less threatening to the majority of the community, and therefore the system will tend to return to the previous stasis or go backwards.
o Creating change requires a shift in the basic power structure, and therefore engenders opposition by existing power holders. One’s effectiveness is often measured in the strength of the firestorm that is created to oppose the change and maintain the status quo.
o Opportunities for change are like windows – they open up now and again when circumstances are transitioning, usually due to stress or emerging shifts in power. Community organizers need to be able to recognize and exploit these opportunities.
o Change happens. The smartest organizers will move with the tides of change; not against them.
President Obama recognized the window of opportunity that existed in this country in 2004 and articulated it at the Democratic Convention. Americans felt as though we had lost our democracy, as Republicans – controlled from the right wing of the party – imposed an ideologically driven agenda, which largely ignored the peoples’ pressing needs for health care reform and economic security.
Barack Obama continues as President to marry community organizing values and electoral politics, as he did in his campaign. He has the opposition raining vitriol on him daily. He is criticized by the right for being a socialist and from the social democrats and progressives on the left for not keeping his promises. We are so accustomed to the heavy-handed politics wielded by locked-in-step Republicans that we tend to view President Obama’s approach to power as soft, and Democrats efforts to legislate – not as evidence of dialogue among diverse constituencies – but as appeasement.
However, in spite of it all, look at what President Obama is doing. He is handling the mess left by the Wrecking Crew Gang – folks who appear not to believe in democracy any longer, but who have intentionally sought to impede the wheels of good governance by any means necessary.
Our President must figure out how to legally close Guantanamo and preserve public safety simultaneously. How we conduct ourselves with regard to international law going forward hangs in the balance, since the previous administration clearly violated international law and human rights.
Our President is allowing the legislative process on health care reform to take place in Congress – as, constitutionally, is meant to happen – stepping in now and then to tap things forward, reserving his involvement for the Conference Committee. Yet from the beginning he provided parameters for reform – the values piece that reflects the needs of the people, whom he listens to every day.
Our President is constantly gathering information and listening to a wide-range of stakeholders, including Republicans, on every issue. He refuses to shut them out, even as they refuse to support him.
President Obama’s actions may not make sense in the context of typical Washington politics, but they are certainly working and welcome abroad. His approach to the community of nations is the smartest, sanest and therefore, the safest approach – even as he prosecutes the wars he has inherited.
As evidence of the impact of this President’s values, two women sit at the table in the Situation Room with the generals – Secretary Hillary Clinton and Ambassador Susan Rice. A brilliant scholar, constitutional lawyer, and community organizer sits at the head of that table and will decide our course in two wars, while guiding economic recovery to the best of his ability. He holds the values of evolutionary peace and justice, of progress – not of the ideological left – but of the community organizer.
Ultimately, he is a practitioner intent on being the President of the people, by the people, and for all the people.
He went to Washington by mobilizing the people against the powers that be – the Republican Party, most of the Democratic Party, the main stream media and the corporations behind them. Once there, he is in the midst of those he ran against, and he cannot affect change without using the power of his office to forge relationships with those very power structures he seeks to change. Without their consent and cooperation at some level, change will not happen or will not endure. This includes banks, insurance companies, and the military.
It is completely naïve for the left to imagine that changing these systems can happen with a stroke of the pen by one man. Similarly, it is folly for those who operate by wielding hard power to assume this man won’t out think them, out organize them or out last them.
There is a new President and a new theory – not only of change – but of power in this country. Those of us who elected him need to stand by him now more than ever. Ultimately, he is on our side, and we are his base of power. We have his back. It is far too early to give up.
By Jane Lane
The commentators I saw on cable television yesterday who were interviewed about the 89-year-old who shot and killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum went to great lengths to distinguish between true conservatives and “the fringe.” A couple of them even gratuitously added that there are radical fringe elements on the left as well as the right, for example, environmental terrorists. This sort of disclaimer thinking does nothing to address the problem of violence in our society – of the numbers of people who go out shooting, whether it’s a public place or in their home.
The discussion is always about the motive, as if this is purely an individual issue, outside of the context of society, and not a symptom of things that may be wrong in society itself. One of the discussions was in response to the standard question of “what made him snap,” ignoring all of the evidence that this was a man who had been consumed with racial hatred and bitterness all of his life.
One commentator mentioned economic pressures. This is nothing but pulling out the same old line of thought that is standard in the news articles including domestic violence homicides when a man kills his wife (and sometimes children) and then kills himself. What was the motive? What made him snap? Were there economic pressures?
Nothing is going to change as long as the people driving these discussions and reporting them are using the same old dialog interminably cut and pasted into the next article, and the next discussion, and the next cable TV show.
There is a climate of hatred and anger in this country. People who act out their anger do it with violence. The Bush administration fostered fear and hatred of people who were “others” – whether they were the 9-11 terrorists or anyone being scapegoated for them.
The reality created by that administration relied on citizens continuing to be afraid, angry, and vindictive. Now we have an administration that wants to build bridges between people by finding common ground. But the GOP strategy is to be the “Party of No.”
In order to be the Party of No, there must be an opposite party (in this case, the Party of “Yes We Can.”) This party of opposition strategy wasn’t devised since Obama was elected to be president; it is from the old bag of tricks from the 1930s.
What happens when your strategy is to oppose everything the “other side” does? You spend time attacking the people, not the policy. You don’t have to promote positive policy, you just object and obfuscate and obstruct so that the other party can’t get anything done. You don’t limit your attacks to the message, you attack the messenger.
How do you attack people? By reinforcing the very worst in us – our desire to be around people who are like us, and to be afraid of and avoid people who are different. Reinforcing narrow group think, you point out all of the things that make the other side different – their race, their ethnic background, their religion, their beliefs, their culture, their language, their sex, their sexual preference, their lifestyle, their politics, their socio-economic status. All of the things that define them – as opposed to “us” – become not just the things that make people different that we should tolerate in others, but sins, errors, mistakes, wrong, and bad. For example, there is no sympathy for people in poverty – it must be their own fault they’re poor.
We can be intellectually lazy. We don’t have to be open to new ideas. We can reinforce the fences that we felt like building. We can build a wall between our country and theirs. We can make them go home unless they begin talking the way we talk.
We are absolved of any responsibility for others. We are not our brothers’ keeper. We shouldn’t have to spend tax money to help take care of “them” whether that means that we don’t ourselves get access to health care, or mental health programs, or good public schools, or continuing education, or substance abuse programs, or prenatal care, or even bridges that don’t collapse under our cars. We aren’t responsible.
And “they” don’t need rights. Why should people accused of being terrorists be entitled to lawyers, and trials, and courts, and decent prisons? Or not to be tortured? As long as “my group” is strong and right, there is no danger of me being picked up off the streets of America and thrown into a prison or a prison camp without being provided any rights. As long as I know I’m part of the right group, I don’t care if I lose my individual freedom to privacy – who would want to listen in on my phone calls? Or search my home or computer?
So if I don’t need these rights, neither does anyone else.
And my group is right – therefore, we represent the “real, true Americans.”
This was the campaign message of Sarah Palin – appealing to the people who are entrenched in group think and who do not know how their lives are diminished by their xenophobic fear and hatred of everyone else. And who do not recognize that while they proclaim that they are the true patriots and protectors of our country’s foundation, the Constitution, they are the ones undermining it every time they can’t see why they need the rights established in it.
They harp about their ”freedoms” without even the most minimal understanding of what those are — except, perhaps, for a misconstrued understanding of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
And as long as there is also a group mindset on the part of the media that reinforces that violence is an individual abberation, and not a systemic problem, nothing will change. If we can’t see the connection between what we sow and what we reap, nothing will change.
By Jane Lane
A question I posed to the Feminist Advisory Board 4 Obama group.
Twitter has been a great place to visit where I can meet other feminists, but I wouldn’t want to have to communicate in 140 character messages all the time!
I need to talk about the importance of place. And practice. And sustenance for feminists no matter where we are located geographically.
I have a quiet farmhouse to live in where I can do the practice part MadamaAmbi mentioned. It happens to be in a very “red” part of what was a “red state.” We few Democrats and feminists were tolerated in
our sparesely populated part of the state during all of the terrible years of the Bush administration and our senator was Marilyn “get a gun and stop gay marriages” Musgrave.
Then, in the last election, our state turned Blue! Hurrah! And a woman Democrat ousted Musgrave.
But the right wingnutty political perspective that is the majority in this area has no intention of settling in and accepting these changes — they’ve become completely unhinged. The state senator representing this area (with his “God-given, Bill of Rights protected right” — as he tweeted — to have guns) and a large
group of other anti-government, private property, protectors of the patriarchy are lining up already to see who is going to unseat our Senator in two years, and are up at the state capitol today engaged in a “tea party” and are talking about the 10th Amendment movement.
So instead of it being easier to live in this environment since the election, it is getting harder. I went to the cafe the other morning to have breakfast and there was a racist Obama cartoon on the bulletin board, so I tore it down and left. I’ve enountered anti-Obama remarks from the bank teller who was waiting on me, at the lumber yard, and at the hospital in a community meeting.
We thought we were moving into a more tolerant world, but are finding ourselves in the middle of the blowback.
So. How much of having a “quiet place to write” (or to have a spiritual life, or a sense of self and center from which to be an activist, or fill in the blank _______) is PLACE and how much is PRACTICE?
Is there a critical mass of wingnuttiness that gathers in a geographical area beyond which a hard core, solid feminist trying to live a quiet but activist life can no longer practice without having to move to a new place?
It is dry out here in rural feminist land. It is arid. It is a hostile environment. I have been online since 1995 building safe virtual places where we can try to nourish each other in our long distance relationships. But we are still not bridging that gap between rural women and feminists, or even rural feminists and feminists.
I’m turning to this new list with an unorthodox request for nourishment and new ideas about how to connect the marginalized rural feminists with the rest of the movement. And, for personal support.
Because one of the big differences that I see between feminism and the tough individualistic type of rural woman we have out here (or the self-promoting Sarah Palin, for example) is that we understand that the personal is political, we do not live in isolation, and we help pull each other up rather than leave each other to fend with our own bootstraps because we are part of a caring movement.
Can we live isolated in hostile places and still maintain our practice?
Is there a way to hold our banners up while keeping our heads down in what feels like permanent hunting season?
Can we build bridges between feminists and rural women that nourish them where they are?
Is there the perfect coffee shop bookstore feminist space somewhere just waiting for us to leave our windy spaces and move into the neighborhood?
Feminist Peace Network says there are not enough women involved in creating the solution to a problem created by men. Read the whole post.
To the male powers that be who royally effed up the economy: go pour your own damned coffee, bring us a cup while you’re at it and sit down, shut up and listen. We’ve got a whole lot more experience cleaning messes up than you do and you’ve got a wad of ’splaining to do.