This week I was talking to someone who had been involved in organizing on the gun violence issue. I’d heard there’s supposed to be a day of action on gun violence next week but didn’t know the specifics, but my friend had switched to working on healthcare because Gov. Haslam is getting squishy about expanding Medicaid in Tennessee. And then someone else who had been working on gun stuff is now getting involved in a different state issue, as well.
I’m thinking this is a problem for progressives. It’s not just that organizers are switching focus — all of these issues are really important. But I think ultimately hopping from issue to issue keeps us from ever really accomplishing anything on any one issue. And sometimes I wonder if that’s not the point, if Republicans aren’t intentionally deluging the left with crisis after crisis so we can’t effectively tackle any one thing.
I know back in my organizing days I felt constantly pulled in a dozen different directions as this or that issue suddenly demanded attention. And I know my e-mail box is constantly deluged with demands for attention to write a letter on this or sign a petition on that or show up at this rally or that fundraiser. It’s all over the map. I just wish we could focus on one damn thing for a while until we make some solid strides before we’re all asked to move on to the next one. And yes, I know how whiney that sounds. I don’t mean it that way … or hell, maybe I do.
With all of the good news about same-sex marriage barriers falling lately, lots of people are asking “how the gays did it.” It occurs to me that a big thing in their favor was they pretty much had that one issue to focus on. I’m not saying that GLBT people don’t also care about the environment or immigration or worker’s rights, but there’s an organizational structure in place via groups like the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD which is able to advocate for equality without getting scattered into that other stuff. They really organized around pushing for marriage equality and have stuck with it. And actually now that I think about it, immigration seems to have the same kind of organizational infrastructure.
It also feels like activist groups such as Credo, MoveOn and OFA are such big umbrellas, it’s easy for those using these organizational tools to feel scattered. I might get two or three e-mails a day from MoveOn about different issues. I wish these groups would just pick ONE, already.
I dunno, I’m just sort of think-blogging (thlonking? blinking?) out loud. Maybe this is just me. Maybe I’m just feeling like there’s too much work and not enough workers. I mean, does anyone else think this is a feature, not a bug? That Republicans intentionally throw so much crap at us at once because they know we can’t take it all on? That they know the best way to discourage activists is to give them the feeling of futility that comes when you’re hit on all sides?
Maybe we need a new strategy. Or maybe I just need a nap.