Breaking through the election cycle mindset

Political engagement matters

The great thing about being engaged in politics is that we know how much it matters. We know that engaged voters have the power to influence the decision-makers. Even though corporate money carries much weight with the elected ones, theoretically at least, voters are the ones who keep them in office. This power struggle between corporate money and engaged voters plays out, ultimately, in the ballot box. So, elections determine which side has been more successful in the years leading up to election day.

When voters are not engaged, corporate money dictates what happens at election time. Then it’s goodbye democracy and hello oligarchy! This is where we are in 2017, and contrary to the views of many, we’ve been here awhile.

Creating political pressure

The critical work of politics is to create the conditions in which elected officials are beholden to the voters. For Green Party members, this requires intelligent, fact-based, engagement, virtually 24/7/365, rinse and repeat.

Reality check

Winning a presidential campaign seems a far-fetched idea for Greens in the near future. But, it doesn’t matter right now. The success of our struggle to regain our democracy is not measured in the “if and when” of winning the big chunk of cheese. Success is measured in how much influence we can bring upon not only our government, but also our culture, our society, our educational institutions, and upon the process of decision-making.

On that last point, the process of decision-making is a key value of the Green Party (see Democracy 2016 in the Green Party platform.).

The necessity of becoming a party of activists

Through political activism we remain engaged all the time. We have to be a party of activists, not just uninformed election cycle participants who show up at the polls religiously because that’s all we have to do, we’ve been told, to maintain our freedom and democracy. For us, it’s an “all-in” proposition if we really intend to turn back the entrenched corporate-funded duopoly of Republicans and Democrats.

By the time election cycles roll around, our candidates should be known for what they’ve done for the causes we fight for during the previous two to four years and even before. The candidates should naturally arise from the crowd of possible contenders because of what they’ve done for the issues, and who they are in terms that relate to our core values.

Remember this

Activists have the ability to create ripples that can turn into waves of engagement. These waves can swing elections, and they often do (example: the Tea Party, ’nuff said.).

Time tasks in organizing

Most nights, I come home and prepare a quick supper for us, and then I get on with my reading and letter-writing about upcoming legislation, reading the local news that needs some local action, and then I try to leave time for some background reading to keep the coals burning. During baseball season, I take lots of time outs to check on my Texas Rangers.

But, some nights, like tonight, I simply have to sit down and get organized. I take time to follow through on commitments I’ve made to the local and state Green Party, and I think about “next steps” a lot. It’s just Organizing 101 to make time for tasks that seem a bit off-topic at times, but they are important.

  • They keep us on the path to a future we want
  • Our actions have a ripple effect, and will sometimes kick someone else into gear
  • It feels good to get all the thoughts down in writing (spreadsheets are my favorite)
  • We can sleep at night knowing that we’re doing all we can

It’s always important that our valuable time is spent on the “right” things, and we don’t get caught up in perfection. I admire beautifully done spreadsheets and formatting and such, but it’s also debilitating, so I try my best to avoid perfectionism.

But, it also just as important that great ideas that are ignited in our brains while we’re driving, sleeping, showering, or talking with other people, do not die out due to not getting it down on paper in some kind of planning apparatus.

Tonight, I spent a couple of hours putting together a legislative “Bill Watch” spreadsheet, organized by Green Party topics, so that other Legislative Committee members can team up, using shared Google documents, and make everyone’s load lighter. We are bound to get more done, and more bills will be influenced, if we can work together and not overlap each other’s efforts.

What should you FOIA? There’s a new tool to help you figure that out. – Poynter

Poynter has a new article regarding the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and how journalists, or anyone else, can get better and more streamlined access to public information.

For activists who want to drill beneath the headlines and main stream media stories, this will be invaluable resource.

It’s called the FOIA Mapper. Here’s a clip from the story on Poynter which contains a link to the Mapper.

FOIA Mapper works by offering a way for people to see what information exists, which agencies have it, what format they have it in and how to request it in a way that makes that request the most likely to be filled. You can also search the FOIA log to see what other people and news organizations are requesting.

via What should you FOIA? There’s a new tool to help you figure that out. – Poynter

Getting a head start on revolution

For people who were not political activists prior to this election, it is essential that we find organizations or causes with whom we can align so that our political revolution can build.

We cannot lie down and wait for four years to get active again. This cycle is literally killing us, the planet, the intellectual development, the social integration, and the economic parity that will provide the basis for social justice. We wait, we hope, we kick the can down the road.

We are not dependent on a candidate. A progressive candidate might make it easier, but most likely, it would make it even harder than it is now. It would give the appearance of change, but the political process of compromise and acquiring congressional votes, and influencing career politicians who are corporate whores, in some ways, may be even harder. Just look at 2008 and what happened since Obama was elected! Some gains, yes, but some compromises that will be hard to erase (ex. ACA).

We should start now, aligning ourselves with groups and causes who seek progressive change. It will require active revolutionaries. Working from the keyboard will be helpful, but working with a good pair of walking shoes will be better.

I’m making my list, and you’ll read about them in the days ahead.