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:
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.
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.
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.