Organizing for America and the “Enthusiasm Gap”
north america / mexico |
the left |
Wednesday October 06, 2010 18:50 by John E Jacobsen - IWW
WASHINGTON — Democrats desperately need other Democrats – to vote. – Liz Sidoti, of the Huffington Post
The 2010 Senate elections are barely a month away, and Democrats across the country are getting worried.
In a new poll released last month by Public Policy Polling, Quantifying the Enthusiasm Gap, pollsters have found that in 10 key Senate and gubernatorial races across the country, Republicans are leading by wider margins.
Although the country is more or less split in half between Republican and Democratic party supporters when all eligible voters are asked (about 43% for both, according to the latest NBC/WSJ poll), when likely voters are polled, the Republicans take a substantial lead by roughly 9 points.
“We have two ways of looking at the enthusiasm gap,” Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen said in an interview with Evan McMorris-Santoro. “Measuring whether voters are very, somewhat, or not at all excited about voting this fall, and then a step beyond that looking at how they voted for President in 2008.
“”We’re consistently finding that very excited voters are going strongly toward the GOP while somewhat and not at all excited voters are supporting Democrats.” To readers of the Trial by Fire, this should be no surprise. Obama’s administration and the Democratic Party have made good on very little of what they promised during their campaigns, and formerly hysteric supporters of these campaigns are beginning to realize that the rhetoric of change the Democrats harp on is just that – rhetoric.
After four years of Democratic Party control of the Congress, and nearly two years into Obama’s Presidency, the Democrats are beginning to lose their base’s support.Deputy National Director of Organizing for America, Obama’s re-mobolized campaign organization, Jeremy Bird, remains hopeful, however:
“The past week alone has shown clear signs the enthusiasm-gap theory made popular by the chattering class is overblown. On Tuesday, President Obama kicked off the first of five “Moving America Forward” events with a rally at the University of Wisconsin in Madison ”Dwarfing a February 2008 rally on the same campus that drew a crowd of 17,000, last week’s Madison rally brought together 26,500 people…”
He went on,
“[The crowd] cheered as the president ticked off the progress made on behalf of young voters in the past two years… And they cheered wildly as the president asked them to canvass, to phone bank, and most importantly, to vote on Nov. 2.”Geared toward young voters, the president’s speech was part of a larger organizing effort across the country, with students at more than 200 colleges hosting “watch parties” to see a live webcast of the Madison event… [college activists also] committed to vote and planned campus organizing drives for the last few days of voter registration.”
Despite this last-minute surge in support by university students, however, (and Obama’s repeated embarrassing reminders to the young crowd of just what elected officials were “in the house”), the polls are fairly clear: Democrats are not likely to convince enough of their base that this next round of voting will usher in anything better than the past four years. A recent GALLUP Poll confirms, where 47 percent of Republicans say they were very enthusiastic about voting, only 28 percent of Democrats said the same. Indeed, of the Democrats who are expected to turn out to vote, the prime motivation was simply out of “party loyalty,” according to GALLUP, and not to any particularly strong faith in candidates.
It only makes sense. The Democrats have failed time and time again to put through needed reforms for American workers.
The Dem’s have had an incredible amount of power over the past four years – a supermajority in Congress, an extremely enthusiastic base, as well as one of the most liberal Democratic presidents in memory. But for all of those electoral victories – and voters are noticing – there has been little substantial change in the quality of life for American’s; the recession just keeps rolling on.
Regardless of whether or not it was Bush’s fault to begin with, people are looking for hope.
Nearly 19% of American workers are underemployed this month, meaning they only work part-time but want to work full-time or are simply unemployed, according to the most recent study done by GALLUP. Meanwhile, consumer spending remains the lowest its been since the beginning of the economic meltdown, 30 million people remain uninsured and incapable of receiving quality healthcare, and nearly 43% of American workers complain that they are underpaid for what little work they can find.
A new way forward:
The labor movement, as well as a multitude of other NGO’s, non-profits, civil societies and left leaning advocacy groups, has been putting all of our eggs in one basket these past four years – into the Democratic Party’s basket. Its time for a new strategy.
Far from being a time to sit on our ass and watch the republicans take over congress, now should be the time we get “fired up,” in the words of Democratic Party organizers. But if not for the Democrats, then fired up for what?
A growing number of workers on the left believe we should actually divorce ourselves from electoral politics altogether. They argue that in order to focus our resources on a more direct means of fixing our problems, we need to spend less time phone banking for politicians who, lets face it, never deliver on their promises, and more time on organizing with our neighbors and co-workers.
Take workers in the new Jimmy John’s Workers Union, for example. The National Labor Relations Board confirmed recently that it will be conducting a union election for 200 workers at ten Minneapolis-area Jimmy John’s on October 22.The JJ Workers Union website writes,
“According to a recent report by the US Census Bureau, a record-breaking 43.6 million Americans– 1 in 7 people– are living in poverty. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the unemployment rate at 9.6%, with 14.9 million people out of work and uncounted millions more too discouraged to look for work. Layoffs and outsourcing have decimated higher-paid jobs, particularly strongholds of unionization such as manufacturing and construction, forcing many workers to seek employment in low-wage areas of the economy once reserved for teenagers and students. For many, it feels like food service and retail are the only jobs left.
“While many workers are forced to seek employment in food service, industry wages and working conditions are widely regarded as substandard; in 2009, the median wage in the fast food industry was $8.28/hr and as of July 2010, the average workweek in fast food was only 24.3 hours. The median annual income for fast food workers is $10,462, or $871 per month. This is less than half the federal poverty line of $21,954 for a family of four, and below the federal poverty line of $ 10,830 for an individual. Jimmy John’s is below industry standards, paying most workers the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr, scheduling most workers less than 20 hours/week, and offering no benefits.
“Despite the appeal of higher wages and better benefits,” however, ”union density in the fast food industry is stuck at only 1.8%, far below the national average of 12.3%.”
In light of these circumstances, and unlike many of the larger union’s in the country, the 200 Jimmy Johns workers in Minneapolis have taken a step forward themselves to address their economic hardships, instead of waiting for a Democratic Party action that will never come.
Likewise, similar union’s have been popping up amongst Starbucks workers who also face low wages and bad scheduling, as well as tenant and workers right groups on the West coast know as “solidarity networks,” such as the growing Seattle Solidarity Network.
Following the lead of the now famous Republic Windows and Doors factory workers in Chicago two years ago, American workers are beginning to “do it themselves.”
By uniting with one another, and by taking direct action themselves, American workers are forging a new – and more effective – path, this time without the politicians.
North America / Mexico | The Left | News Report | en
Sun 21 Dec, 22:12
Hundreds arrested, beaten and tear gassed as police repress protest at Toronto G20 16:30 Tue 29 Jun 1 comments
At least 600 arrests took place at the G20 summit in Toronto as police used considerable force to break up protests. Media reports& video (below) indicate that many of the beaten were journalists covering the protest. The G20 was meeting to co-ordinate further attacks on the global working class. This is what the coded statements from the G20 about 'austerity budgets' and 'cutting deficits' will mean in practice. This despite the "risk that synchronised fiscal adjustment across several major economies could adversely impact the recovery" acknowledged in the final G20 communique. [Italiano]
[Vermont, USA] Obiturary for an Underground Newspaper 01:21 Mon 07 Dec 0 comments
Well folks, this is it: the last article of Catamount Tavern News.
Vermont elects America's first socialist senator 17:39 Thu 09 Nov 5 comments
Amidst the Democratic mid-term election victories on November 8th, an independent won the Senate race in Vermont. What is significant is that he is a self-proclaimed socialist and so the first socialist senator in US history. The previous best result in a Senate race by a socialist was in 1930 when Emil Seidel won 6% of the vote.
Marcos on the Plan for the zapatista departure 07:14 Mon 19 Sep 0 comments
zapatistas open the other campaign
No Vote Counts: Avoiding the Trappings of Democratic Socialism Nov 21 0 comments
As we engage in larger social movements, it can be easy to lose sight of our endgame and essentially function as a type of "social democrat." Here are some key reasons and methods for avoiding this, as well as countering the progressive election logic during voting season.
Power to the People, Not Politicians! Nov 05 0 comments
Campaigns teach by more than what is in their written programs. Even if the campaign was more explicitly radical, functionally it is teaching people that social change comes about through electing better politicians. The campaign has all the features of a mainstream election effort – adoration of a single personality, exaggeration of his “leadership”, meaningless pledges to “get results for you”. This is an elitist approach that reinforces the passivity of people by making someone else the “leader” who gets things done, instead of arguing for all of us to take control over our own lives. The activists and community members who have dived into the Ty Moore campaign are not prioritizing organizing one-on-ones to plan direct actions at work, at school, or in their neighborhoods, or discussing and debating how to replace the racist police with community militias or how narrow gender-roles stifle our humanity or how to build rank & file power against the union bureaucracy. They are rallying around “our guy” and training people to fundraise and to get out the vote. This is the main lesson that participants in the campaign are gaining: How to participate in this unjust system.
From Theory to Practice, Taking a Critical Look at Leninism Mar 17 0 comments
This is a piece we’re sharing originally posted to Machete 408 by Adam Weaver. It is a review/summation piece is being released in conjunction with a forthcoming piece by Scott Nappolas which presents an extensive discussion of Lenin’s concept of democratic centralism.
Democratic Centralism in Practice and Idea: A critical evaluation Mar 17 0 comments
The terrain is changing beneath our feet. Since the collapse of the majority of the “official communist” regimes, the world has witnessed both events and ideas that have undermined the former dominant thinking within the left. The Zapatistas, Argentina in 2001, South Korean workers movements, Oaxaca in 2006, the struggles around anti-globalization, and Greece’s series of insurrectionary moments have increasingly presented challenges to traditional left answers to movements and organization. In previous eras Marxist-Leninism was the nexus which all currents by default had to respond to either in agreement or critique. Today, increasingly anarchist practices and theory have come to play this role.
As a member of an anarchist political organization, a friend once told me I in fact was practicing democratic centralism. This was perplexing, because the group had no resembling structures, practices, or the associated behaviors of democratic centralism. However, I was told that since we debated, came to common decisions, and acted on that collective democracy, we were in fact democratic centralist. This kind of productive confusion led to questions about the concept, and why the target of democratic centralism has shifted. This move, the shifting conceptual territory of core concepts of a certain orthodoxy, comes up repeatedly not only with democratic centralism, but also surrounding ideas like crisis, dialectics, the State, and class. The resulting cognitive dissonance caused me to investigate attempts at reinvigorating the concept of democratic centralism (democratic centralist revisionism), and understand truly what it is, where it came from, and how it has been practiced.
Can Campaign Finance Reform Save Us? Feb 22 0 comments
Will "getting the money out of politics" really "get the money out of politics"?
May Day In Vermont-Put People and The Planet First! Apr 30 Vermont Sierra Club 0 comments
On May Day, 2012, march as a Popular Front in Montpelier, Vermont in support of:
*Healthcare as a Human Right!
*The Right To Safe Local Farm Food!
*Justice For Migrant Farm Workers!
*The Right For Vermont Workers To Organize!
*The Right of Vermont's Daycare Providers To Organize!
*The Right To A Livable Wage!
*Save Our Post Offices!
*Abenaki/Native American Tribal Forests!
*Renewable Energy Now!
*Justice For Those Impacted By Hurricane Irene!
*Freedon and Unity!
*A People's Democray!
[Vermont, USA] Stop The Press! Dec 07 2 comments
The Montpelier based Catamount Tavern News, Vermont’s only union affiliated newspaper, has decided to shutdown the presses
EZLN reveal details of new strategy Jul 19 EZLN 0 comments
The EZLN has announced the end of the Red Alert due to the end of the consulta and the announcement of the Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona. This set of communiques includes the re-opening of the Caracoles and details of the "Sixth Committee" which is to meet with people or organizations who do not participate in elections to form 'the other campaign'. Meetings will then be held in Chiapas of various sectors with the aim of issuing a common statement agreed by all on September 16.
Upping the Anti editorial statement Apr 18 Upping the Anti 0 comments
Editoral statement of new Candian publication called 'Upping the Anti' published by the Autonomy & Solidarity website which "is an on-line network for anti-capitalists who believe that revolutionary transformation will come from workers and oppressed people self-organizing from below and not from the top down organizing of any state, party or union bureaucracy"