So what is to become of
But VPO and, to a lesser extent, Delta have continued to post, visitors continue to check in and leave comments, and at last glance we still had 364 subscribers. And the realization has slowly sunk in that SNTP is, in a very real sense, a shared community that transcends just the handful of writers who appear on the front page. I can’t help but feel that for Matt or I to peremptorily shut it down would be pretty autocratic. So the question that I’m asking of you as SNTP readers is what do YOU think should happen?
First, though, in that context, I’d like to share with you the underlying vision that has propelled me forward over the last 13 months. Early last fall, kid oakland introduced me to Matt Lockshin. Matt was deeply interested in activism and the CA-11 race against Richard Pombo, and I knew quite a lot about the political history of the district. We started talking regularly about the various campaigns. In early October, in a wide-ranging discussion, I asked him point-blank what he was hoping to take away from this race. Here is his answer:
I'm taking a rather long look at this campaign, and this is kind of where I'm at... If Jerry McNerney wins the primary, that's a black eye for all the people who want to co-opt the Democratic Party and make it an insiders’ game. But it doesn't belong to them, it belongs to us. People like the DLC and Ellen Tauscher have systematically separated the Democratic Party from the ideals that gave it nobility and vigor. Money might make the world go round, but there aren't enough mercenary political operatives in the world to fight the battles we need to fight. We need to take our damn party back, and this is a chance for us to stand up to the forces that be and tell them they can't push us around. Furthermore, even if McNerney doesn't win against Pombo, we (broadly speaking the grassroots volunteers) need to work to ensure that his campaign is an organizational tool. The wind should whisper in our ears, "Organize, organize, organize." I've made numerous contacts over the net in the last two weeks, and so, so many people are ready to help fight Pombo. Too often the Democratic establishment has laid down without a fight. Let us show them and the Republicans what we're made of. Let us marshal our troops and show them that there are lions among us. To do this we need to start creating the overarching connections between disparate groups of like-minded individuals that the DLC has created. We may be the underdog in some sense, but the truth is that there are a hell of a lot more people who will fight for this cause than will fight for the status quo. Maybe that's not the case in certain areas, but goddamnit this is the Bay Area and if we can't do this, nobody can.That is what we’ve tried to do here over the last year. And even though we did Say No To Pombo, our work is far from done. So where do we go from here? And is SNTP the vehicle to take us there?
To be honest, I am more interested in Jerry McNerney as a symbol and a rallying cry than a candidate. It is not that I am disinterested in his candidacy. I deeply hope that he wins. But he needs to understand that he is part of something bigger than himself and act in light of that fact. He needs to be a fighter. Regardless of his strategy, he needs to be bold and be strong. He also needs to take the initiative. I am concerned that the people he has surrounded himself with will try to play it safe and make him boring and unremarkable. In fact, I have heard from others that this is the case. Even you seem to suggest as much.
The real argument against those people is our own efficacy. If you do not want to put yourself in a position to have to kowtow to the safe and boring style of organizing, then do what you can to help McNerney in your own way. I think that the internet provides great opportunities to do this. We could create an all-volunteer rapid response group independent of the campaign. We could raise money through outreach to the netroots. I am already planning on establishing an anti-Pombo blog. There are many, many things we can do. Sure, at some level all of our efforts need to get funneled back into the campaign. But every gift you give also gives you a bit of leverage. I don't mean this in a sleazy quid pro quo way. But really, if we do something powerful and effective, both McNerney and other politicians ought to notice. And the efficacy and the power will speak much louder than anyone else.
Also, I suppose that at bottom I am motivated by a need to not watch this train-wreck unfold while I stand idly by and watch. If we try and fail, at least we can take solace in our effort. It is time -- past time -- for me to take a stand for what I believe.
We have the power to create something that is deeper and more enduring than Jerry McNerney. Howard Dean lost his bid for president but he created a tide of new activists. We can do something similar in CA-11, and lay the groundwork to turn it a hell of a lot more blue. You need to find your own way to express the passion and concern you obviously have. I will not judge the choices you make. But I hope you find a way to express your own agency in a way that is authentic and empowering.