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January 28, 2006

David Sirota at Cal Dem Executive Board Meeting

-- by Gary Boatwright

David Sirota was the featured speaker at the 4:00 meeting. David talks a little faster than Scott Ritter and presents more of a challenge as far as taking down a literal transcription. On the other hand, David offered to respond to comments, so hopefully that will compensate for any message errors from my loose transcription.

Here goes nothing:

We have to see outselves as part of a movement, not a group of special interests. (someone) mentioned that conservatives see the Republican Party as a means to an end. It was an offhand remark, because it is so obvious. Too often progressives have seen the Democratic Party as an end in itself and not a means to an end. We've got to start making real substantive change our goal.

The Democratic Party is caught in a battle for its soul. The party permits and even congratulates those in its ranks who sell out the middle class and working Americans. Bills like bankruptcy, CAFTA, etc. When Democrats like Pelosi and Murtha say it's time to end  the Iraq war once and for all, there is always someone who will rush out and say they are not speaking for all Democrats.

The only solution is for Dems toiling in the trenches to resist the urge to focus on elections instead of real goals. We also need to focus on an overarching progressive message that will resonate throughout the country. We don't need to reinvent the wheel. It is very clear what the public wants. There is nothing new about citizens want to be able to see a doctor. Nothing new about wanting to be paid a living wage or be able to retire without being homeless. There is nothing new about Americans wanting a good education and good job prospects for their children. Americans all want to know that their representatives are not bought off and they are working to achieve these simple goals.

Let's be clear. I don't blame corporations; for pursuing the profit motive. The problem is that we have a government that has been bought. The government is supposed to make sure that corporate profits don't lower the standard of living of Americans.

The one thing corporate interests have never been able to buy is grassroots support. Ads, yes. They cannot compete with us on the ground if we invest in building a grassroots movement as all of you are doing. As you know, this is not a two or four year project. As the movement conservatives realized it takes more than a couple of election cycles and requires doing things that may be at odds with the powers that be.  

It requires a focus on elections and education. We are fighting a massive wave of conservative propaganda. The propaganda is designed to keep the population cynical, cynicism keeps down voter turnout.

Part of your work is not only to win elections, but to educate citizens about what is really going on and what they can do to change things. I've worked on campaigns in places like Montana, where we used a massive grassroots campaign to elect Brian Schweitzer and take back the state legislature.

A lot of people have asked me why I work in progressive politics, which until recently has been for people who devote their life to never win anything. Ordinary people are talking to each other about the issues they care about. We have a long way to go. War and peace should be at the center of our debate, but has been completely depoliticized, while social issues which should be depoliticized have been pushed to the center of our political dialogue.

You all have to engage in movement politics. Stop leaving it up to the class of professional election losers. Grassroot movement politics is the way ordinary citizens will take their government back. You are taking the crucial first step. Feel confident that your state and your country are looking to you for inspiration and will follow.

Q:  ?

Sirota L.A. Times Brownstein wrote that if Dems continue to argue against the lawbreaking the Dems will lose the debate. Perfect example of how the M$M ramrods political debate into a box.

In Montana the state was very eventy divided. Legislature passed a bill demanding the repeal of the Patriot Act. That is an example of how we can take issues out of the M$M and right wing box.

Have  a vision of what we are for and don't be afraid to say what we are for. With everything biased against us in terms of media coverage, many of the messages coming out of D.C. don't fit into a model that most citizens can relate to. Dems need to speak in concise ways and contrast sharply with the Republican party.  In the WaPo strategists get quoted saying they will not take a position until the time is right.  

We have to urge and force if necessary our leaders not to equivocate like that.

Q: Is the national party doing anything to reframe arguments so we can take back our message?

Sirota: I see the fundamental problem that the GOP has provided a message that gets their base, their activists and their voters that gets them to walk through fire for them. Dems hope that candidates will be charismatic enough that we will be willing to walk through fire for them.

We will not win elections if we insist on people going into battle based on star power. The prescription sit that we have to articulate a message to people who are even totally disconnected.


Posted by Gary Boatwright at January 28, 2006 6:14 PM

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Comments

He certainly articulates a lot of the problems we face right now. We must put together a grass roots movement for progressive ideals. Which means we have to define those ideals in ways that can grab not only the attention of the public but, sadly, of the Democratic party itself.

We sure are stumbling over semantics! We've got to find another word do describe what he's calling "conservative." Most of the genuine conservatives I know, and I know plenty of them across the country, are in shock about what this administration is doing. This country has been pulled so far to the right that it's now a fact that most truly conservative values sound downright progressive. These displaced real conservatives are now our natural allies, which means that, if we play it right, we could rally the vast majority of the citizens of this country. Maybe I should post about real conservative values?

Posted by: MJ at January 29, 2006 6:51 AM

I am standing up for my Constitution rights and freedom of speach ! Stand up be count ever vote count,s !It time for a change we all need to work to gether ,I want to know if you well stand up with me ?
Thire are no Dem. here help us. Just GOP !
Eddie from Cabool,Mo

Posted by: Eddie at January 29, 2006 9:41 AM

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