Thursday, March 7, 2013

Talking left

GUEST: Kat Fisher, Electoral Campaign Organizer at Citizen Action of New York, will talk about community building around education, public policy and electoral advocacy.

Kat was convincing and certainly had a lot of organizing on her plate. She was originally going to do the show in person, but had too much work. Gary and I, who have rarely had that problem, but would never miss doing a show. 

I never got around to my most pressing questions about Citizen Action. No doubt the organization advocates for good things, like workers' rights, increased minimum wage, and getting out the vote for progressive candidates. 

The only problem is that those candidates are always members of the Democratic Party. In that way, Citizen Action is like the Working Families Party. Always talking left, always voting Democratic. In fact, Kat told us that Citizen Action had formed the Working Families Party, something I was not aware of.

So what's wrong with that? Can't a group working for good also work for a political party? Or to put it another way, why wouldn't the Democratic Party fund a group that always talked left, as long as they delivered the votes on election day?

I saw this at Occupy Poughkeepsie. An older man came with what he told us was a "great idea." He wanted the group to canvas half the city, to "see who really supports social change." Occupy could certainly use this support, and the lists would be handy for major actions. 

"Anyone else get the names?" someone asked.

Only the Working Families Party. And that, he maintained, was a plus too. All the names would be typed on lists to make them easier to use. I think a few did collect names. But Occupy, for all its lack of sophistication, had little time for organizations trying to gather votes for Obama. Move On was even less respected and often hid their identity when they attended major Occupy rallies.

Citizen Action used to be different, but got sucked up in Bill Clinton's sleaze machine early in his presidency. So is Citizen Action the change we can believe in? I guess if you still believe in Obama, you might give the group a try.

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