Young Sanders Campaign Aides Plan Anti-Trump Permanent Protest Base in Washington

Lambert here: Merry Christmas. (Yves linked to a Guardian piece on this topic yesterday, but this article provides much more detail on the organizers. Personnel is policy…). I think it’s smart to think about physical space. As long as it’s not on K Street. (And why not get ambitious and have some in state capitols?) Not sure whether the strong IdPol focus — and the horrid Clintonite “resistance” framing; Neera Tanden? Really? — is organic, or Rosenfeld’s framing; and Sanders organizers have a pretty good track record for universal appeal, and support for universal programs. We’ll see.

By Steven Rosenfeld, who covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s democracy and voting rights, campaigns and elections, and many social justice issues. Originally published on Alternet.

The organizers behind Millennials for Bernie are raising money to create an anti-Trump [and for what?] movement headquarters in Washington DC that will be a base for sustained resistance against the next president and his administration.

“This house is supposed to be a place for everybody, regardless of what happened in the general election, to come together and fight,” said Moumita Ahmed, whose organizing helped millennials become involved in Sanders’ campaign and is setting up the house. “We are going to be there to hold him accountable and delegitimize literally everything that he is doing and not let him succeed.”

“Some of the things that are going to happen in this house are workshops, people coming in and talking about big organizing,” she continued. “We’re going to have parties. We’re going to have rallies that are going to be organized there. These are just basic ideas, but we know that once this house is available that people will come in and want to do more creative forms of resistance.”

Like Sanders’ campaign, the project is seeking $27 donations and is about halfway to its initial $30,000 goal, to set up the house before Trump’s January 20 inauguration. They are calling it the District 13 House, named after the rebellious province in The Hunger Games, the dystopian book and movie series featuring a world run by oligarchs. 

“We’re going to be there to sustain resistance against this administration,” Ahmed said. “We feel that the Trump administration is totally illegitimate, because of the way that he ran his campaign, and how he won, and even though mainstream media will say things like, ‘Oh, he just said those things, but obviously now that he is in office we think that some of the things he said aren’t going to fly.’ While that might be true or might not be true, we don’t know yet—that does not matter. You do not run that kind of campaign, especially for some of us, who were on a campaign where Bernie specifically said, ‘Do not attack the other person.’ [Trump’s] entire campaign wasn’t just attacking Hillary, but literally every single ethnic group out there.”

“We have a long tradition of people involved in resistance movements, and setting up intentional spaces to work out of. It’s incredibly helpful and supportive on a number of levels,” said Nadine Bloch, a longtime Washington-based activist and training director for “I see my role as supporting the folks who will live there and will take on the daily actioneering, if you will. I am really excited to be in that role and be with the young folks who will be living in the house.”

New Challenges, New Progressive Movement

Organizers like Ahmed—talented young women of color—were among the unsung grassroots heroes of the Sanders campaign, say Becky Bond and Zack Exley, who headed the campaign’s digital outreach efforts and have detailed the experience in a new book, Rules for Revolutionaries. Months before Sanders launched his campaign, Ahmed quit her day job to help establish a technology-driven team that eventually empowered volunteers to build and manage an infrastructure that made 75 million phone calls, sent 8 million text messages and held more than 100,000 public meetings, all described in the book.

“Moumita and other volunteers are demonstrating the power of big organizing,” Bond said. “When the Bernie campaign shut down, that didn’t mean their organizing would be shut down, too. These volunteers were connected to each other via Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms that allowed them not just to communicate but organize and raise money both in social media but also in person in real life—and soon in an actual row house on Capitol Hill.”

Ahmed, 26, grew up in New York and said she’s always been politically attuned. She first got involved in campaigns when Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, but learned how to be an organizer with Zephyr Teachout’s 2014 campaign for governor in New York state, where she was deputy field director.

“When you’re an activist, you understand what’s happening. You have a lot to say about it. You’ll go to events and you’ll advocate for change,” Ahmed said. “But organizers are people who have this larger goal, even sometimes a smaller goal. They are the ones that are most of the times behind the scenes, and most of the time organizing protests or a campaign, building networks, and just holding the space or activists together. Organizers are like chess players.”

Months before Sanders formally announced his bid for president, Ahmed started organizing social media presence and meet-ups for Sanders around the country. When the campaign launched, those volunteers and organizers became its state-by-state staff. Perhaps her biggest contribution, however, was creating Millennials for Bernie, because she said no other candidate was speaking in a way that reached people age 30.

“He understood that we were living in times like the ‘60s when people were rising up and talking about racial justice issues, and taking to the streets, and going on Twitter and getting their vote heard collectively. And you had two candidates, multiple candidates totally ignoring that reality, versus Bernie who understood,” Ahmed said. “I felt that if I were to start a millennial contingent that it would work. A lot of people would be on board. And it was true. Most of Bernie’s staffers were millennials. Most of his grassroots were led by millennials. I just wanted to create something so that people know millennials are active, that we’re pursuing stuff.”  

Ahmed spent a year organizing for the campaign, which culminated in being a delegate at the Democratic National Convention. After Clinton emerged with the nomination, the group Ahmed created decided not to endorse anyone, but just work in individual ways for the rest of the campaign. She said millennials are “very pragmatic” and have “very progressive values,” and the protest house she is creating in Washington will be a reflection of that ethic as it pushes back against Trump’s agenda and policies. “We are going to be like the people’s White House,” she said. “And we are going to be right there in front of him so we stick out like a sore thumb.”  

The group doesn’t yet have a Capitol Hill residence, but they are fundraising and looking at several locations. Meanwhile, older progressive organizers in Washington are hoping that people around the U.S. will support the District 13 House, and more importantly, see that white middle-class America now finds itself in the same vulnerable boat communities of color have been in for years.  

“I actually see something interesting because I have been involved for a long time,” Nadine Bloch said. “When people might say to us, particularly let’s say white middle-class folks, might say, Oh my god, this is the worst thing ever. You or I have to respond, Well, if you’re a black person, if you’re a trans person, if you’re a black and trans person, you have been been living with the worst thing forever. It has been this bad and it will continue to be this bad unless the people who are now awake, mostly middle-class white folks who have now awakened to how bad it is or might become, actively join the struggle to overcome these problems and to change it.”

“Projects like this, where you have dedicated activists 24-7, providing leadership in what can actually make a difference in stopping the aggressive degrading of the rights and the privileges and the health and the safety that we hold dear…that is hopeful,” Bloch said. “We have to be willing to do the work and dig in.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. PlutoniumKun

    This is inspiring, but I hope they realise that opposing Trump is just one side of a two-front battle. Trump needs to be opposed when (as seems very likely) he will start to drive a very right wing pro-billionaire set of policies. But its increasingly obvious that there is an equally difficult battle to be fought against the ‘centrists’ in the Dems and elsewhere. If all the focus is on Trump, then there is the danger they just become the useful idiots of the Dem mainstream.

    1. Wyoming

      I would go so far to say that their greatest opponent and biggest danger is not Trump and the Republicans at all. It is the Democratic Party and pretty much every significant office holding Democrat and their staffs.

      Revolution starts at home. Fighting with Republicans will not accomplish much when the fifth columnists from the Democratic Party are going to sabotage every effort they make which shows promise of having an effect. They need to show their power by hamstringing targeted Democrats and thus herding the rest into line through fear. You do what we say and how we say it or we replace you. They have to own the left. No more liberal’s in name only. You are against us or you are with us.

      1. oh

        I agree. The Democrats will quietly take over this effort and then jettison it when the time comes. I’ve seen them do that in other grass roots efforts by genuinely concerned people

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I agree. I’m not seeing a positive message (which, which I will keep repeating, is a simple platform of concrete material benefits for the 80-90% of Americans who are working class.

        If they don’t watch out, it’ll be the same debacle as the general: No reason to vote for your guy, except the other guy.

      3. Aumua

        I disagree with anyone who says “You are either with us, or you’re against us”, but I suppose that’s because.. I’m against you? Or maybe I’m just more against you than I am with you, on that particular notion.

    2. johnnygl

      Primary them all! Schumer, pelosi, the whole bunch.

      Win in 2020 and redraw those districts to wipe out those super-safe ones that are drawn to wipe out competition.

      1. Vatch

        I agree — they must be opposed in the primaries. That’s tough to do, and will take real dedication and money. The deplorable Debbie Wasserman Schultz won against Tim Canova in the 2016 primary, and the equally deplorable Chuck Schumer won reelection in 2016, so he won’t be facing a primary opponent until the 2022 election season. Pelosi, of course is vulnerable every two years.

        Please need to be willing to do more than just post comments on blogs. And lets not have any more of those comments bewailing the impossibility of overthrowing the status quo — it’s difficult, but it’s not impossible. (This paragraph isn’t directed specifically to you, JohnnyGL or PlutoniumKun. I’m just concerned that some other commenters seem to try to prevent people from taking an active role in politics, and that is just plain wrong.)

    3. Katharine

      I think opposing Trump will naturally entail telling the centrists to shape up. That is of course only a start, but it is a start.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sanders started, many moths ago, with the goal of taking over/reforming/remaking/revolutionizing the D party.

        That start is not completed yet.

        1. davidgmills

          Then he dropped right back out of it. “Our Revolution” is worthless junk. The Third Way has all the money and power and progressives are persona non grata.

          They will stick with their urban, professional, and racially diverse core and drive everyone else out of the party.

          Next Presidential election they may be down to winning 350 counties instead of 490. They don’t get it and they don’t care.

          1. different clue

            “davidgmills . . . davidgmills” . . . where have I heard that name . . .?

            Oh, that’s right. You have come here before denialing the basic fact of manmade global warming.

            I wonder if you are wet blanketrolling now.

      2. witters

        It will give them the chance to Look Forward, not Back. Absolutely Brilliant in the ‘progessives’ ususal way.

    4. jrs

      uh why fight against a party with NO federal power? (state power in a few states so maybe relevant there)

      Even if you get unanimous Dem opposition how much does it matter? Ok the Rs don’t quite have a super-majority yet I guess but it is Rs who will be passing legislation. Fighting Dems is about like fighting WWII after it’s all over. They have mouthpieces and foundations it is true, but no power.

  2. Synoia

    Better message is to be pro a set of policies:
    1. Medicare for all
    2. SS are a real retirement system
    3. Job Guarantee
    4. College for all – student debt
    5. Taxes as social and business policy
    6. No permanent standing military

    Merry Christmas to all

      1. Dirk77

        Irritated by the identity politics of the main article. That and would they have opened an office if Hillary had won? If not, I fear they don’t understand and are doomed to repeat the same mistakes of their elders.

        +1 to you and Synoia. Merry Christmas!

    1. Knifecatcher

      Waaaaay too many bullet points already, and I see that others are adding more. Not that I’m saying any of those are unimportant, but when you have a dozen goals you actually have none at all. My ideal progressive movement would hammer relentlessly on 3 major initiatives:

      – Medicare for all
      – $15 minimum wage
      – Post office banking

      All 3 provide tangible benefits to the majority of Americans, with the added bonus of poking a sharp stick in the eye of the oligarchs.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps these 2:

        – Medicare and one Single Pesion (Socia Security) for all
        – Basic Income (before retirement) for all

      2. Steeeve

        I definitely agree about keeping the list of priorities short, but I feel that these two areas are foundational and systemically corrupting, and little else is likely to be accomplished without major reforms of both…

        – MIC/”Defense” spending (mostly spent on offense, not defending the borders of the USA from invasion)
        – Campaign Finance – big money in politics

        1. Direction

          Agreed, perhaps there needs to be two lists. The “in order to form a more perfect nation” reform list in addition to the “promote the general welfare” wish list.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      This discussion sounds a lot like the discussion that produced the 12-Point Platform (which I would now revise, particularly the reforms section, with a level of effort, energy).

      I think 12 is not too many if the phrasing is simple. And one can order the 12 so that they fit together in tranches. 4 groups of 3 are easier to remember than 12 individual item.

      The question being answered, IMNSHO, is: What should universal government programs look like?

  3. floatingcopy

    9. Lifelong job education and skills-building for all unemployed and under-employed, paid for directly from corporate taxes.
    10. Universal two-year commitment to the military or a full-time volunteer public service program.

    1. johnnygl

      11. Rewilding and reforesting polluted and abandoned land.
      12. Anti-trust! More trust-busting needed!
      13. Agricultural reform to ban feedlots, fertilizers and pesticides and reorganize farms to restore and rebuild soil. And yes, this will create jobs.

    2. jrs

      “9. Lifelong job education and skills-building for all unemployed and under-employed, paid for directly from corporate taxes.”

      people don’t know what a nightmare such scenarios are, ok it sucks if you are underemployed and have no way to retrain because finances, but it also sucks big league if you have to spend your entire life working full time AND pursuing more and more formal education, forever until you die. Is any of our utopias going to care about human beings being able to BE human beings? We are so so much more than just useful labor machines forever aquiring labor market useful skills.

      Ok course a basic income guarantee or a labor market tilted for labor not capital (including government job creation sure – and sure there’s other things that can tilt it for labor – lower Social Security age, unionization etc.) would nullify this objection as the competition for jobs would lessen enough perhaps.

      “10. Universal two-year commitment to the military or a full-time volunteer public service program.”

      well this is even more self-evidently nightmarish but it hardly needs unpacking. 2 years of becoming hired killers for the imperialist murder machine. Yea I know you didn’t specify military as mandatory, I’m just saying what is being encouraged.

      1. DJG

        jrs: Agreed. Points 9 and 10 are non-starters. They will not lessen class warfare. Only a jobs policy and a commitment to full employment will. And this idea that U.S. citizens have to be drafted into some regimented public-service program isn’t helpful.

        But let’s talk about reopening the Civilian Conservation Corps, as in point 11. Now that is a genuinely good idea. And people would gladly join–without feeling regimented.

  4. Direction

    There was an interesting debate around the water cooler links on Festivus. I would like to recap and extend it here because I want to know more. First about how you, Lambert, see the take over of a single state Democratic party office breaking open a path to reform the party from within. I would like to hear what scenarios you feel are possible.

    Walden pond wrote
    “The elite control the D party (which is nothing but a criminal organization at this point). They will allow outsiders to have dog-catcher, but get uppity and run for a state position and that person will be out in an instant. The Ds are factually/legally a private club and they can select their membership and candidates in any way they choose or get a court to back them on every petty legal change they make to block outsiders. They change rules (legal contract) retroactively, they violate their own rules repeatedly and someone thinks they are going to get any farther than a few school board positions or city council is going to fail.

    Taking over the D party is similar to proposing infiltrating gangs (fully backed by the legal system) with 13 year olds to ‘save the neighborhood’.”

    I whole heartedly agree. I think it’s important that people understand that the party is not just a “machine” waiting for someone new to guide it. It is not a set of empty offices and poster printing machines with helpful local people waiting for guidance. At the top, it is much more like an exclusive country club whose membership passes down through wealthy families who think they know what’s best for the nation.

    Anyhow, if you have a strategy on how to break it, I would like to support that discussion. I would like to hear more.

    1. Montanamaven

      I’m glad you carried this discussion over to today. People hear have heard my sad tales of woe when I decided in 2004 to stop being inattentive and to actually try “to change the party from within” that talk show hosts like Thom Hartmann and “The Nation” gang call for every 4 years. Yes, I discovered what Walden Pond wrote; that there is an “elite” control of the state parties. They are almost hereditary positions. Yes, they will get excited by a newbie like me who was articulate, worked in Hollywood, married to a rancher for conservative creeds. But then I started to challenge their positions by advocating for single payer; stronger labor stances that they all paId lip service to but didn’t really seem to care about. So no longer was I allowed to talk to the press at the DNC Convention. As I recall in 2006 or 2007 they changed a rule to make it harder to challenge Jon Tester in a primary.
      Affairs like “Campaign for America’s Future” conventions were always in D.C. And during the 2nd one I went to, I confirmed by observations that they were just big job fairs for people wanting jobs in the next administration or becoming lobbyists. That was actually what the convention in 2004 was too that I attended as a delegate. “Agriculture Salutes Tom Harking”; brought to you not by The Grange but by Monsanto and Carroll. Lavish party with handsome young men shucking tons of oysters. Ick.
      I went in naive as I suspect many well meaning millennials will do now to this “house”. But boy did I start to wake up and finally by 2009 after the failed single payer health care movement, I quit this dead donkey.

        1. James McFadden

          Build up the Green Party from the bottom. They welcome activists. Create the party infrastructure that prevents elite takeovers. Get everyone u know to join in. Will take about a decade. The only way.

            1. Code Name D

              A lot has changed in those sixteen years. When I was co-chair of DFA Wichita, the assumption was that all that was needed was to get Democrats elected to office. (The worse Democrat was better than the Best Republican, sort of thing.) Today we are coming to grips with the epiphany that the Democrats are a part of the problem.

              But I agree. The “long term game plan” is not necessary, even counterproductive. It lets you off the hook from having to show any results. The Tea Party actually landed a significant number of Congressmen in less than two years.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Christmas Rant!!! ***You’ve been warned***

      There’s a lot of contentious debate on whether to fight in the Democrat Party or build a 3rd one. The answer is both, always and constantly.

      1) Start the fight within the Party, as seen in MI. What happened there is important to expose and embarrass the local party officials. I consider the incident an encouraging sign and hope there are more like it around the country (not happy with the guy getting assaulted, of course, but if it shows ‘they are who we thought they were’, then that’s progress of a sort).

      2) If you can fight within the party and the party leadership at the state level understands the need to change and gets on board (getting on board as defined by fighting for specific policies, organizing and party building, and going against the wishes of big donors), then work with them.

      3) if the big donors and dinosaur party leaders don’t get on board, then then need to be A) removed, if possible. Or, if not possible, B) they should be isolated. If Schumer and Pelosi can’t be primary-ed out of existence (a-la Eric Cantor) then they should be stripped of leadership positions and isolated. Primary all of their allies in congress. Pelosi still got around 2/3 of the vote. Let’s get it below 1/2. We’re not starting from scratch, there’s a base of opposition to work with.

      4) Part of the contention between points 2) and 3) is protests like those seen recently protesting at Schumer’s office by BLM and Occupy folks. Again, make them come to us on policy. Life should get increasingly uncomfortable for Party leaders and members that don’t play ball. It should be clear that their current attitudes and policies are untenable and they need to get with the new program. Hassle them in their offices, at their public events. Anti-fracking protestors who harassed Cuomo over several years showed what to do. I think one of his kids joked that when they got lost on the way to an event, they could always find where they were going because the anti-fracking protestors were there waiting for them.

      People like Pelosi and Schumer will cave to public pressure, they’ve done it in the past. Pelosi said no to medicare changes when Obama wanted to put entitlement reform on the table. These people are different than ideologues who will push their agenda regardless of public opinion. They’re snakes, but they’ll play ball under pressure.

      5) Now in the case where we can’t with the fight within the party, go outside. Socialist Alternative, Working Families and other 3rd parties that are built up at the local level can threaten and do real damage. Does anyone think Seattle gets a $15/hr min. wage without Sawant and Socialist Alternative? Working Families Party demonstrated exactly what NOT to do during NY Governor election. If Cuomo won’t come to us and meet our demands, bring him down. Suck it up, deal with a Republican for a few years, if necessary. While the Republican is in charge, pressure them, too. Don’t think about the election right now….that’s short termism. Let’s think 2, 3, 4 elections out. If you’re not winning now, clear out the deadwood to win later.

      6) Now, to face up to the ‘lesser evil’ arguments regarding 5). It’s over, there’s no more ‘lesser evilism’. It’s dead. Hillary Clinton and the elite Dems killed it. They put it all on display for all to see. They were willing to crush the left (again), squash voting rights through a variety of means, and risk Trump or another whacky ‘Pied Piper’ candidate in order to get their anointed candidate put in charge. THAT should tell you EXACTLY who we’re dealing with here. They were perfectly willing to risk Trump to win, so that means if a 3rd party can get 3%-5% in a close election and play a spoiler role, then that 3rd party should DO it. Every time. Again, keep doing it until the Democrats adopt the platform of a 3rd party (which, presumably includes fight for $15, medicare for all, no wars, etc). Again, until the Dems come to us on policy, they will be opposed.

      But, but…Nader brought us Bush who brought us Iraq War! You cannot take risks like that! Must vote lesser evil!!! Oh really? Dems voted for Patriot Act, Dems voted for AUMF over and over again. Dems voted to keep funding the war, too. When Dems don’t win the Presidency they want to sit back and wait for Repubs to do awful stuff so that Dems will be back in charge as seen in 2006-8. Pelosi and Reid did NOTHING to deserve a win, they just waited it out until people voted for change again. They want to do this again. We can’t let them. Make them do their job. Make them act in opposition. Make them earn their next win, otherwise we’ll get the same group and the same policies that have just been discredited.

      7) From the article, I like Ahmed’s strategy/tactics, but the concept of attacking Trump the person, seems flawed. Remember, policy is what matters!
      Nixon passed an amendment that created the EPA. That doesn’t happen if you oppose Nixon for who he is. Also, wikipedia reveals that the Clean Water Act got passed in spite of Nixon’s veto! If Trump wants to move in the right direction, he should be praised for doing so. If he doesn’t, go around him!

      Trump is a guy that just slapped the Repub establishment silly and clearly is running at least partially out of vanity more than he wants to collect fat checks when he leaves office (like the Clintons, and probably Obama soon enough). There’s value in this, by itself, and there’s value on policy grounds, too.

      Okay, I’m done. I hope anyone who bothers to read found this enjoyable. Happy for comments. Also, to be clear, I’ve got no experience in organizing or any kind of playbook to carry this plan out. :) So, feel free to mock my credentials, because they don’t exist!

    3. Code Name D

      “Anyhow, if you have a strategy on how to break it, I would like to support that discussion. I would like to hear more.”

      I argue that you can’t. That is not to say I object to people trying mind you. I could be wrong. But trying to reform the party from the inside is not a new idea. This is practically the DNA of grassroots organizing.

      Getting in at the basement level is easy. Absurdly easy. Hell, I was one of three co-chairs for DFA Wichita. I know how easy it was. And this is by design. You get in, organize in futility, and then burn out during the by-annual campaign blitz when you realize you are canvasing for the very issues you started opposing in the first place.

      To get out of the basement requires pay-to-play. You need to raise money for the party and impress the higher-ups. Its surprisingly corporate in how its structured. The more money you raise, the faster you are able to rise through the ranks, and the more influential posts you become eligible for. And that includes running for elected office. Get getting into the primary is its own campaign to get influential party members behind you. They control the money inside the party.

      At every step, there are dead-ends that a true activist can find themselves trapped inside. Let’s say that you somehow managed to apply for an office. If you are not pre-approved, you suddenly find yourself in a primary running against the golden child (the one that has insider backing) and a dozen other true progressives. The “true progressives” end up splitting the vote, allowing the golden child to take the primary.

      Even if you somehow manage to win the primary, your legislation never gets advanced. You will be assigned to the least important committees, commensurate to how much money you raise for the party. In this environment, its remarkably hard to earn any accomplishments to take back to your constituents for re-election.

      Then there is the bubble. Once you get into office, you are surrounded by “the consensus.” Just as there is a Washington Consensus, there is also a Topeka Consensus, and even a city hall consensus. Very little information reaches you that doesn’t first pass though lobbyist filters. And these filters are sophisticated and are capable of praying on the mind of a skeptic.

      I got to see this first hand with the Holcomb Wars here in Kansas, talking with Topeka Democrats (and more than a few Republicans) who were desperate trying to hold the line against issuing the Holcomb Plant Expansion permits. The problem was that there were hundreds of think tanks posing as credible research and tech firms that cited thousands of “research papers” that attempt to dismantle the anti-Holcomb talking points. In my case, we were presented with “new technical revolutions” that made coal cleaner and more efficient. They tried to push something called “bio-reactors” where algae could convert CO2 into a kind of second stage fuel. It was total bunk of course. But these operations were slick and compelling, and even roped in some of the scientists we had working with us at the time.

      But I and my fellow activist are on the outside and have the advantage of non-traditional resources. If you are a Congressmen, all of your information comes through published papers and public hearings. And you live in this environment for years. It’s just a matter of time before activists start sounding like nut jobs and the lobbyists starts sounding reasonable.

      If THAT fails. Well you can always get thrown under the bus. This is where the Democrats support the Republican challenger in the general election.

      Keep in mind that elected office is not where the real power in the party itself resides. There is (at least in Kansas, I can’t say about other states) a two-teared system. Getting into the lower tear is easy. Probably even easier than getting into office. They are often empty posts, so all you need to do to get in is show up. This is where the lower level organizing and drudge work takes place. And while you can advance, you can never advance to a position of any real authority.

      Serious organizers are always parachuted in, often showing up with a black box of protocols and tools. Your job is just to follow orders. And tend of the campaign, the supervisor ends up leaving, taking the black box with them.

      Party leadership is filled from the ranks of sponsors, lobbyists and elected officials. In other words, those who are willing to pay for those positions. And increasingly, these posts are selected autocratically. Which means you don’t even have the right to bid for these posts – unless you want to start paying your way.

      And even if you somehow get past THAT? Well the TPTB have still even more tricks. They can create “special posts” for you, just like they did with Berny Sanders. It’s a ruse. You have no more real authority than you did before, but are position in such a way to lend the party credibility.

      This is the real function of grass roots organizing and all those dead-ends. Like a crab that disguises itself by gluing bits of coral and rocks to its shell, establishment Dems disguise themselves by creating special posts for real progressives and liberal’s intent on fighting the good fight. They can progress and gain more status and authority, but never the right kind of authority. Meanwhile, they are always handy for photo ops and heart felt interviews.

      This is the real problem with trying to reform the Democratic Party. It’s not a machine, but an organic system that has evolved over the years to make use of populism as a central part of its function. The harder activist work to try and reform the system – the more credibility they end up lending to the Democrats, and the more power they are granted to execute their pay-to-play system.

      Of course, this can’t go on forever. Activist eventually bail to look for opportunities elsewhere, are fully assimilated, or simply burn out and drop out of politics all together. And they know this. Losing to Trump is truly just a part of the cycle. And Sander’s “Our Revolution” is just another tooth in the cog design to infuse the party with badly needed credibility that was lost during the election. And Trump is a means to that end.

      Activist will fight hard to stop Trumps agenda, and may even succeed. But to what end. Getting a new wave of Democrats elected that will eventually just carry out the same agenda under the Democrats Banner?

      Now if you can think a way around this problem. I am all ears. But so far, I am not hearing even any new ideas. I am sorry, but hart felt grass roots activism is no longer sufficient. Until the old guard is removed. Change is simply not happening. And until you come up with a plan to remove the old guard, you are wasting time and resources.

      Taking over the Democrats at the state level is worth exploring. But you are flat out admitting that you can’t take on the old guard directly, but are trying to play a long term strategy to replace they through attrition or by some democratic process that simply doesn’t exist in the party.

      It also tends to fail because activist have something of a “champion” complex. We are looking for one person (like Sanders) to step up and “lead us to victory.” But there is no way any one person can do this, not without a larger support structure and resources. And once you manage to get that support structure in place and gather enough resources – you will have eventually created a new political party from scratch.

      I hate to say this. But it must be said. I thank Sanders for what he did during the Primary. But I fear “Our Revolution” will only serve to preserve the power of the establishment.

      1. jrs

        Really appreciate the posts from Code D and Montanamaven, read them several times, not because I am absolutely 100% convinced it is hopeless to take over the Ds, but they are telling us real on the ground first hand experience of aspects of politics most of us have not been so deeply involved in if at all. It is good to get some real inside scoop.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      At the 30,000 foot level, I don’t see an alternative. Many (not all) attempts to reform the Democrats have failed (FDR was not a failure, for example. Nor was Medicare under Johnson). On the other hand, all third party efforts have failed. The GP this year was a debacle from start to finish, and didn’t make their own 5% goal, very much unlike the Sanders campaign. I suppose an independent labor party is possible, but I haven’t seen any signs of it. The DSA seems to have cool people, but 10,000 members (albeit paying ones (good idea)) is not a lot in a country the size of this one.

      So I don’t see an alternative to the Dems as a terrain on which to fight. I wish there were one — I was quite supportive of emergent parties for several years at Corrente — but I don’t see one.

      And as an astute commenter pointed out the other day (paraphrasing) the Democrats still exist as an opposing force even if you try go around them with a third party. At some point, they have to be attacked directly. So why not just do that?

      For the rest it, yes, there are obstacles; there are assets that the Dems possess. I’m sure there were in 1787 and 1788, too. Eh? What I would say is that I see a common thread in the Nevada caucus debacle, the post-election FL loss (by Sanders supporters), and the post-election MI loss (by Sanders supporters). And that’s that they expect the party establishment to play by its own rules. I wish they did, but they don’t. So cultivate the press, video-tape everything, treat the establishment as the enemy it is (politely, of course).

      I don’t know the state establishments well enough. My thought, of course, was Vermont. But it might be that a midwestern state would be better. The WI and OH base must be pretty tired of the regulars screwing up.

      1. Code Name D

        Even if you are right and there is no alternative. How do you recommend we counter the pay-to-play system? I am not being condescending here, this is a real question.

        Even if taking over the Democratic Party is the only option, a third party may still be necessary to that end. Looking back through history, its far more common for the existing parties to absorb the issues of a rising third party in order to keep from being displaced. This may actually be the path of least resistance.

        We may need to form a third party – in order to reform the Democratic Party.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think you can counter pay-to-play with a Sanders-like $27 model, or even a membership model, like the UK’s Labour Party and DSA. Of course, you’ve got to fight for it, but that’s what this is all about.

          1. Code Name D

            Pay to play is not just about the money. It’s about bribing your (establishment) superiors in order to advance as well as convincing lobbyists that you can be bribed. Under the establishment, a political campaign is a money nexus where speculators go to rub elbows with influence peddlers.

            The 27 model is just about raising money – ostensibly in order to fund a political campaign. Things like radio and TV adds. But studies have shown that traditional campaigning is doesn’t actually sway voters. What moves voters are the issues, and a media campaign is only needed to get the message out regarding who you are and what your platform is.

            And while the 27 model worked for Sanders, yes I am skeptical it will work as well for down ballot races or issues. At least not without a robust organization to coordinate donation efforts.

            But if you are thinking the 27 model can be used to compete in the pay to play system. I would argue that this would not only fail, but be counterproductive, giving the establishment a huge infusion of cash as well as laundering their credibility.

            Unless…. Unless you start thinking outside the box.

            Crazy idea time. But what is we employ a bit cloak and dagger. Make use of sleeper agents or double agents. Infiltrate the inner networks while feeding information to the outside. Clearly this can’t be a grass roots actions. A dumb idea. But at this point if we aren’t throwing stupid ideas on the pile, we aren’t trying. (Or maybe it’s because I watched a few of my 007 DVDs.)

            Okay, back to the real world.

            At its heart, the pay to play system is the mechanism of corruption. It’s how corporations by off the politicians. But it’s also a section mechanism; those willing to be bought will quickly rise through the ranks while those who won’t will struggle just to remain in the system.

            One way to fight corruption is with daylight. Expose there activates and bring the law and regulators down on them. But as we saw with Clinton and the e-mail server, the system is now so corrupt that no amount of law braking will bring about any accountability. And things are becoming so corrupt that even access to officials is becoming difficult.

            I think the best way to challenge the pay to play system is through popular pressure applied at the top. We are already seeing such a battel for the DNC chair. This post is appointed autocracy, but it is possible to apply popular pressure onto the autocracy making those decisions and force their hand. They become exposed when they turn down a popular candidate that is highly qualified for a post, in favor of an unqualified campaign donor.

        2. Direction

          Agree with Code D and Lambert here. We need many ideas, but one I suggested the other day was that if a proven organizer/orator from Bernie’s campaign, a known figure, petitioned nation wide or state wide for 27 dollar pledges, piled up a promise of millions of dollars and votes, maybe then they could leverage their way into the party apparatus. Instead of burning out working their way up from the bottom.

          A third party approach is also possible, but maybe not through the Greens. Many of the disenfranchised see the Green party as elitest by association.

          When the Earth First movement finally started making headway, it was because a labor organizer realized the loggers needed to be approached as potential allies instead of enemies. The company was screwing the workers over as well as killing the ecosystem.

          We need to find common ground. We need a worker’s party and it would be great if organizers from BLM and Sanders continent could get that started.

  5. funemployed

    Sigh. We millennials might be smart about policy and pragmatic, but if this is our moonshot, we don’t know jack about how to organize a successful social movement. Protesting “Trump” is stupid. Trump is not a policy. He is a person. Is our goal to make him feel bad about himself? And he did win the election. So his administration is, in fact, “legitimate” in any meaningful sense of the word.

    I’d have slightly different lists, but I entirely agree that a pro-policy platform is an essential starting point. That said, protests basically always fail, and more often then not IMO, strengthen the opposition. When they succeed, or even make headway like NODAPL, they always share a common set of features.

    1) One very specific policy. Today, if I were in charge, I’d choose Federally funded Medicare for all. Never mind details for protesting purposes.

    2) A simple, clear message that appeals to values that most people in a body politic can agree on “Health Care is a Civil Right!”

    3) A symbol that presents a clear, binary, moral choice. Sorry people, it makes me feel icky too, but this is where we go hunting for a dying grandma or kid with cancer who can’t get medical care and make him/her our mascot (ideally, in a purely strategic realm, such person would refuse any care until it was guaranteed to all, then die at a decisive moment, thus becoming a martyr).

    4) The ability to bring different folks together to agree on ONE thing. Organized bitch sessions about Obamacare in Trump country might work here, but we’d have to throw shit at the wall and see what stuck. I know for a fact that most Trump supporters, if pressed, will say that a family should not have to choose between impoverishment and treating mom’s cancer. But protesting “Trump” is protesting them too, with the main goal of feeling like you are a better person because you know that gender is socially constructed or whatever (as if there is something magical in who you are that is the reason you got to go to a private liberal arts college, and you totally never would have been racist no matter what life circumstances you were born into).

    It’s not that I’m a single issue person, it’s just protesting lots of things at once just makes a lot of noise, and a bunch of people trying to work together with competing agendas (lack of shared vision, in corporate speak), makes all human organizations dysfunctional. Basically, I support many issues, but think mixing them all together is not a good recipe for success.

    1. JosB

      So much this.

      So much time and effort is wasted on the left by fragmentation and infighting over direction and strategy, it’s both sad and depressing. No wonder we don’t get anything of note done.

  6. Steven Greenberg

    Didn’t read the article. Seems like a misdirected effort to me. You don’t win voters by being against something. You win them by being for something. I am getting tired of the “Ain’t It Awful” game. Give me a vision to be for.

    There is something called target fixation. When you concentrate on what you want to avoid, you end up going right toward it. Concentrate on where you want to go rather than spend all your time thinking about where you don’t want to go.

    1. Reify99

      This can be demonstrated by asking someone to follow your instructions and then issuing a number of imperative sentences:
      Don’t think of blue
      Don’t think about your left earlobe
      Don’t think about what Crazyman will do with this
      Don’t think of Trump

      One has to think of those things in order to make sense of the words. Moving away from can be a powerful motivator but only toward will get you there. Sorry, clarifying the obvious again.

    2. Katharine

      This effort is not about winning voters but about blocking really bad policy changes that will hurt millions of people. Organizing for an election campaign and organizing for issue-based activism are not the same. If Barb Mikulski forty-odd years ago had just gone around the city talking about her vision of good communities and good transportation policy, a lot of Baltimore neighborhoods would have been wiped out as the city was cut apart by an ill-placed interstate. She stopped it by organizing a fight against it. More recently, Destiny Watford, still in high school at the time, was the prime mover in the successful fight against an incinerator in her Curtis Bay neighborhood in south Baltimore.

      There is a time and a place for everything. There are at least two other organizations focusing on electoral politics. This one has a different purpose.

      1. jrs

        Yes to be opposed to Trump is because they think a bunch of bad policies will come from his administration and they are likely not wrong. It doesn’t need to be about Trump the person at all, though for some deluded people it may be. Now they could broaden it to opposing Paul Ryans congress etc. since they are hardly better but … if any legistlaton is actually going to be passed a Republican congress and Trump will be working together.

        A single issue focus, say it was Medicare for all, even if it was sucessful, would have let all the other issues a Trump administration will represent slide. Ok so if Trump passes tax cuts say that further enrich the plutocrats, an ever more unequal society might even destroy Medicare for all (the rich will just buy their way out). If Trump passes even more obviously anti-environmental legistlation, the fact Medicare for all was achieved would be a goal of it’s own but would not change this. Maybe there are people enough for all movements, I don’t know.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > There is something called target fixation. When you concentrate on what you want to avoid, you end up going right toward it. Concentrate on where you want to go rather than spend all your time thinking about where you don’t want to go.

      Link on target fixation.

      Of course, you get grants for “fighting” *-ism. Not for Medicare for All. IdPol isn’t lucrative, unless you’re Neera Tanden, but fixating on that target is a living. There are academic subspecialties, credentials, all the aspirational apparatus.*

      * That’s why the DSA being a membership organization, with dues, is smart.

  7. craazyman

    Oh man. More identity politics yada yada.

    It’ll never work & for good reason. It’s a form of ideation contrary to gnostic principles and therefore to the highest spiritual values on this plane of existence.

    Sad to see hopeful inspired people get lost in that maze of misery. Trust your perceptions in the silence of your mind without looking to anybody else for affirmation. People are people. That’s what everybody who can figure things out figures out when they grow up.

    Grow up & Merry Christmas. LOL

    I’m wishing Trump well & am somewhat hopeful that — through the odd feedback loops in complex systems — the provocations of his originality will shape things in a direction even progressives will find appealing. Maybe I’ll be wrong, I admit. But I’m usually not wrong. LOL. (Although I am sometimes, no lie.)

  8. alex morfesis

    Firecracker puppies…professional trainer who isists she knows about how people of color feel..hmmm…a bunch of photos of ms nadine and her fellow associates…something about dc that tells me the demographics are not the same as iowa…does not look as she thinks there are any people of color who can train on what “she” calls “non violence”…and her “famous” black female puppet to represent and protest against the military…because the military is so black and female…seems a bit tone deaf…

    Same old same old chameleons bending to the new hot button funding to keep the lights on…

    “As the international director of the committee to make noise and get nothing done, we strive to…”

    And ms bangladeshi…her nov 27 tweet that anyone right of the democrats is a fascist…does this child have an idea what that word means, or is it something she picked up at one of the “people” conventions she attended or spoke at…

    Not looking to be hyper cynical on this of all days…but seems moumita has spent her entire adult life posing with her megaphone…and for someone who is so “out there” mekantz find much about her except her self proclaimed relevance…and for a person who claims this large network…somewhat smallish set of followers on her chyrping account

    I hope I am wrong…

    Peace on earth and goodwill to all

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think the house is a great idea, and I think a house in every state capitol would be even better. It’s the sort of thing I would expect Our Revolution to come up with. Nina Turner! Hey!

  9. mad as hell.

    The Washington police will now have to use a search warrant or a battering ram unlike Zuccotti park where night sticks and pepper spray were used. I don’t see a problem getting those. Especially after agents have infiltrated. Well at least it is a start which I hope snowballs!

  10. dcblogger

    enter the sans coullottes! I am thrilled and will try to get in contact with them. depend upon it, the American people will turn to those who demonstrate the best ability to push back against Trump. Which is why Bernie has been doing that since the election.

    1. beth

      No, I disagree. Bernie does not push back against Trump. No identity politics, no focus on personalities. Bernie pushes back against wrong-headed policies. Bernie wants policies that benefit the majority.

      Let’s pray our new president does some good that most of us do not expect. I hope he is more unpredictable than that. I may be wrong but I can hope.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      There is an enormous opportunity. Much depends on who seizes it.

      But I don’t think these are the sans culottes. I think the real sans culottes are probably meeting at an Applebees somewhere in flyover territory…

    3. diptherio

      Please ask them, as suggested above, to try to frame their message much more as one in support of common people against the denizens of “the swamp,” rather than as anti-Trump. That type of framing is far too close to the obstruct-Obama rhetoric that we got from the Repubs for the last 8 years. We don’t need to be adding to it. What our politics needs right now is not more protests, imho, it’s more cooperative/solidarity economy projects that are going to provide for people in a positive way. We need to judo-throw Trump by pushing him hard to follow through on the talking points he stole from Bernie — framing yourself as “anti-Trump” makes it hard to do that.

      As an old Indian man* is quoted as saying in the book Returning to the Teachings, “you can only move in two directions: towards harmony or away from it.” We need to be very conscientious about making everything we do an attempt to move towards harmony — which means people singing many different notes that work towards a larger whole…not everyone singing the same note.

      Anyway, I look forward to hearing a full report.

      *actually, I don’t remember if he was old or not, but it just sounds better that way, donchathink?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > We need to judo-throw Trump by pushing him hard to follow through on the talking points he stole from Bernie —


        > framing yourself as “anti-Trump” makes it hard to do that.

        That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

  11. Montanamaven

    Sounds like the Alternet crowd is up to its sheepdogging tactics again. Let’s corral young energy and co-opt it for the Democrats. Co-opting is what I call “Skunking” because it sure stinks up the joint.

    I’m with the majority here in finding this sad that these “organizers” have decided to go all negative. They are “going to hold him [Trump] accountable and delegitimize literally everything he is doing and not let him succeed.” Well, how has that worked out so far.
    New thinking and new solutions ae called for, not the same old feel good “protests” and voter drives that professional organizers love to do. If they had done any real introspection they would have come up with ways of forming new coalitions; and also realize the need to keep Schumer and Pelosi as accountable as Trump. But these are still party operatives in younger sheep’s clothing. Many are poli sci majors who want to be in politics in Washington as a vocation. See, they are the wise “behind the scenes” people that will guide the “activists” . Ugh. Same old; Same old story.
    And this smells of the same DLC Clinton gang since they are calling Trump’s victory and presidency illegitimate. Again, they don’t want to delve into why she lost. They wants jobs in D.C. And spend their energy “resisting” rather than coming up with anything remotely interesting. This is not Occupy. And I doubt they will embrace young Anarchists.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I thought about this overnight and I’m coming down where you are, with perhaps a touch more optimism.

      I do think a bias toward action is good. But I need to take a good look at this “resistance” stuff because that’s how the sheepdogging is being done (i.e., BAR got the right tactic but the wrong dog, as it were). And you are quite right that this purely negative approach simply replicates the failed tactics of the Clinton campaign. (Failed in the sense of winning, but not failed in the sense of having created a funding base of bubble dwellers, in a remarkable replication of successful conservative tactics.)

      However, we may look back in a decade and see this stuff as a tiny bubble of froth on a mighty river.

      The other thought I had was the split in the Sanders campaign, which I read was generational, as in TV spending vs. field organizing. But if the split was also idpol vs. working class programs, then Sanders and the old farts were in fact quite right to quarantine them.

      1. Montanamaven

        Isn’t it Kayfabe? or Sheldon Wolin’s “inverted totalitarianism? The operatives like Rosenfeld and these young “organizers” willrail against the Republicans and then hobknob with them after hours. They will shake their fists. They will sit in the back of committee rooms with signs. Then they will hang out in cafes and bars and feel oh so smart and oh so in the thick of things. That’s not really “action”. Action is sitting in offices and not leaving like the “Act Up” movement. Those people were literally dying. So maybe these organizers should get a whole bunch of sick people who are middle class (not poor) and who can’t afford the ACA insurance to clog the offices of these worthless scum bags called congress people. Like Occupy they should make the rich feel uncomfortable by picketing their houses like Occupy did with Lord Blankfein and Jamie Dimon.

  12. Denis Drew

    Re: How the Obama Coalition Crumbled, Leaving an Opening for Trump By NATE COHN

    Wonderful shakeout by Cohn: Trump won by trading places with Obama. O appealed to less educated whites as their protector against the Wall Street candidate (47% time) Romney. (Crackpot) Trump appealed to them with same promise versus Wall Street candidate (true enough) Hill.

    Upshot: Dems only have to get busy rebuilding labor union density at the state by progressive state level (or not so progressive; but be seen trying hard). Repubs will have no where to hide: once and for all political checkmate.

    For some beginning thoughts and angles on what and how to — see here:

    We are only asking state legislatures to make possible joining a union if you want to — without running an impassable gauntlet — no complicated policy issues at all.

  13. fosforos

    Totally unpromising that they start with the calamitous premise of the whole Sanders campaign: “a campaign where Bernie specifically said, ‘Do not attack the other person.” Sanders knew he could run a campaign that would destroy the Clinton, a proven loser on the merits, and thereby make it possible to defeat any of the GOP’s dumpster of deplorables, especially the Trumpe-l’oeil. But that would involve a political break with the whole record of the Obama administration in both domestic and foreign policy. So instead Sanders wound up saying the falsest single thing anyone said in the whole campaign–“nobody cares about those damn e-mails.”

      1. different clue

        I myself wish Sanders would have said something like . . .” the FBI is investigating this Email situation right now and I will just leave it in their good hands.” No looking mean by attacking Clinton about them . . . but also doing Clinton no undeserved favors by helping her pretend they were all just a tempest in a teapot of nothingburger stew.

  14. walt

    Youth may wish to have their bragging rights for their old age, but Trump has proven that power lies with the voters, who will be driven away to the likes of Reagan by this posturing.

    Ahmed has not learned all the lessons of the 1960s.

  15. Gaylord

    We-The-Ppl rejected Gold Sacks’s “shitty deal” Hillary, foisted on us by the Dems whose elites “assassinated” the best candidate since JFK; Repubs rejected “fool me again” Jeb in the Primary. Nasty Trump was put there to shoo-in Hill, but it backfired. Democracy? …all gone. The Wild West is back.

      1. Reify99

        True, otherwise we’re lost in celebrity.

        We need both “away from” and “toward” bullet points. The “away from” will naturally target Trump’s onerous policies and will generate lots of energy. The “toward” bullet points will also “target” the “fake news” neoliberals because their support will prove to be tepid faint praise and lots of how it can’t be done. Energy wise it will be more of a slog. They will also covertly seek to undermine progressive change. They will be called out on their crap.

  16. Billy-bob

    To the naysayers I say: just shut up and fund it–I just did. It’s an experiment and it might work.

    At least these yunguns are DOING something.

    1. hunkerdown

      That’s a rather neoliberal point of view: that some action, any action, is better than no action. Maybe if one is trying to impress people with something other than substance.

      1. Vatch

        This is a winner’s point of view: that some action, any action, is better than no action.

        Admittedly, some of the people who take an action will lose, but all of the people who take no action will lose.

  17. Jamie

    Why didn’t they set up this “permanent base” when Sanders voted for the 700 billion dollar F35 or when Obama claimed the legal right to indefinitely detain or kill anyone without judicial oversight?

    “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image,
    when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

    – Anne Lamott

  18. Elizabeth Burton

    I assume all of those who have so arrogantly dismissed the efforts of these young people are all, therefore, engaged in alternative activities that support their respective opinions of how to effect the change that is our only salvation from neo-feudalism. Otherwise, I say put up or shut up.

    Because I’m getting really sick of all the armchair quarterbacking, which to me is no different from the way the DNC elites treat anyone who isn’t a member of their club. If people who object to the goals and/or methods of the District 13 House group have useful suggestions to make, why haven’t they engaged in working to bring those suggestions to fruition. It’s also precisely the kind of ivory-tower critique that has brought us to this pass, so do keep in mind that when pointing out the sins of others, one has three other fingers pointing in the opposite direction.

    1. Jim

      Why, if one sincerely disagrees with some of the political sentiment expressed in the above article, should that genuine disagreement be dismissed as arrogance.

      Who is really being arrogant? Are your political assumptions/sentiments above being questioned?

    2. hunkerdown

      Because we’re not bourgeois, we’re not liberal, we find your Cult of Doing unnerving and desperate, and we don’t believe in empowering agents whose only qualification is their own willingness to violate the boundaries of others for whatever they project on their imaginary friend as “good”.

      How’s that for an answer? It’s even timely for the day: Stop competing. Start colluding. And mind who you collude with lest they fancy themselves more important than others.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think people should do what they’re good at. Better to write a good book* (or a blog post) then to be a poor organizer. The former is productive, the latter is not, and in fact gets in the way of good organizing. (I myself am not a good organizer, because that needs to be done in person, and I tend to lack the patience.)

      Re arrogance: Assuming, as I argue above, that actually being effective is not important to you, your demand to “put up or shut up” amounts to requiring that others signal virtue to you on terms that you define.

      Re arrogance: “Ivory tower” smacks to me of anti-intellectualism. Surely you’re not arguing that only activists are permitted to comment on activist efforts? If so, how is politics to be practiced?

      1. Vatch

        Honest critiques are valuable, but there are people who repeatedly insist that non participation is better than actively trying to effect any kind of beneficial change. Without intending it, by discouraging people from taking action, they are actually helping the oligarchic 0.01%. Or maybe a few of them actually do intend to help the 0.01% — such people might be termed “provocateurs”, even though they aren’t trying to provoke action, they want to provoke inaction.

    4. diptherio

      I assume all of those who have so arrogantly dismissed the efforts of these young people are all, therefore, engaged in alternative activities that support their respective opinions of how to effect the change that is our only salvation from neo-feudalism.

      In my case, at least, and I’m sure in many others, that would be a correct assumption. I am doing things to create a better world here and now, and men and those I work with need more hands on deck. That’s why I would rather they focus on pro-people rather than anti-Trump organizing. Fewer protests and more co-op organizing please (as an aside, immigrants and people of color ARE the worker co-op movement right now). As arrested development put it, “does shout bring about change?/I doubt it/all shout does is make you lose your voice.”

      And, for the record, among my circle we have some very different takes on these sorts of tactics and sometimes get rather heated, but we don’t ever feel the need to tell anyone to STFU, even when we disagree. We’re all trying to broaden and improve our own understandings, not trying to insist that our way is the only way to see things.

      I understand your frustration, to some extent, though. I’ve been known to make the odd insulting comment in a pique of frustration as well. cheers.

  19. ChrisAtRU

    Natural skeptic/cynic at this point … I go back to to Bernie’s first statement after the election:

    “Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media. People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids – all while the very rich become much richer.

    “To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”

    Now taken in that light, do we need a generic “anti-Trump” resistance house to “stick out like a sore thumb”?

    Or do we need something that speaks to the deeper issues around which non-squillionaire people can unite?

    I concur with those who posted above on sticking to the issues. If you stick to the issues, the face of the opposition (from within and without) doesn’t matter. It’s about getting people to realize that agents of the establishment on BOTH sides (Dem & Repub) of all various identarian flavors have betrayed us all.

    Now granted, there’s plenty of swamp left undrained to warrant being all up the new administration’s grill like freckles. But please, let’s get the focus where it should be – on what’s being done and undone. Focusing on “Trump” is a non-starter.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and FestivusForTheRestOfUs to everyone!

  20. Brad

    The best approach is direct involvement with the movement as it is. As it is, it calls itself a movement of “revolutionaries”. That alone is a big leap forward in understanding the actual political situation in the USA.

    There is no viable avenue for reform that addresses the real economic, social and environmental problems in the present political system. The political system and the ruling class that owns it has answered back, unambiguously in the forms of Clinton and Trump: NO!

    Welcome to Tsarist America. Welcome it the USA’s hidebound and impermeable State-Party system. Trumpism might possibly play out as a return to the tactics routinely used before the Postwar: Gangs of cops (Trump endorsers), vigilantes (Trump supporters), police spies (the FBI, another effective “Trump endorser”, the National Guard, friendly judges etc., used to violently attack any organized opposition to Tsarist America. Read up on American history before WW2.

    The immediate issue will be the continuing entanglements with the Democratic Party, either thru Bernie or the DSA. A “house” open to a variety of political groups beyond these is to be welcomed. There the case can be made against systematic engagement with the DP, and for the organization of working class neighborhoods with the aim of sustained strategic intervention into urban politics, where most workers live (see the experience of the Communist Party in the early 1930’s with the Unemployed Councils (in actuality, neighborhood councils), by far their most successful campaign of that period. The CP then made the mistake of abandoning this effort by no conversion to neighborhood councils when full employment returned during the war. This was part of a broader misdirection in the service of Soviet foreign policy at the time of course (Popular Front entry into the DP, then Nazi-Soviet “anti-imperialist” period, then wartime “anti-Fascist front with the DP, temporary dissolution in 1944), though the CP did do honorable work in the CIO. But the result was that it could not provide independent political leadership.

    Today efforts would coordinate with the Fight for $15, since these are really underemployed, and that includes those with multiple such “jobs”.

    No doubt some attempts will be made to “primary” DP politicians. Involvement in the DP implies that one believes there is a viable reform road within the system. Good luck with that. Had their chance in Obama’s first 2 years. They will learn the hard way about what a State-sponsored party system means. It means no independent political parties are allowed in the USA. Period. Understand and internalize that 100%.

    Today is a unique combination of the 1960’s AND the 1930’s. Not one or the other, but both. That makes it different than both of these. But we must take seriously the fact that we are up against the most dogmatically fanatical capitalist ruling class in history, ever. Bar none. Plan accordingly.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! :-)

  21. ewmayer

    Are they also planning a second tent to protest the corrupt neolib Dem establishment? You know, the one that robbed Bernie of the nomination and likely the presidency?

  22. Jim

    Great idea for political/social space–District 13 house

    But–“we feel the Trump administration is totally illegitimate.” The factual reality is that Trump is the totally legitimate president-elect–even Obama said so.

    One of the few remaining strengths of our political/economic architecture is the apparent ability to still allow an impersonal transfer of power from one party to another party (although I realize it is not yet Jan. 20th).

    By pressing the issue of illegitimacy you set yourself up to having the same logic used against against the new political movement you are attempting to create.

    However the real disaster in your political thinking is the following sentiment:

    “Well if your’re a black person, if your a transperson, if your black and trans person you have been living with the worst thing forever. It has been this bad and it will continue to be this bad unless the people who are now awake, mostly middle class white folks who have awakened to how bad it is or might become, actively join the struggle.”

    Why would or should your “average middle class white folk” have any real emotional or material interest in the above political sentiment?

    If your political message does not appeal, on an emotional and material level, to this, indeed, awakening working/middle class( as evidenced by the Trump victory) you will simply repeat again the ongoing catastrophe of a totally out of touch technocratic/economic/political/ and professional elite–all experts in allowing token blacks and now transpersons into their ruling circles–as long as they do not really threaten the contemporary structure of power.

    1. different clue

      This is a good point. President Trump is entirely leGITimate, however deplorable he may be. Any Millenials calling Trump “illegitimate” risk sounding like a bunch of whiny-ass Clintie Babies.

    2. jrs

      the statement is an absurd one because it has no bottom. Does a black trans person in the U.S. really have life worse than a Syrian refugee fleeing a war zone? Then maybe they have nothing to complain about. And maybe their lives are better than an white coal miner dying of black lung also. I mean if you are really playing who has it the worst in the world game.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t want to “actively join the struggle.” That’s way too much like the Democrat phrase, “fighting for.” I’d like to win. What does victory look like? Concrete material benefits.

  23. Dave

    Can you imagine the response if this was 2008 and we were hearing this organized response to BHO’s election?

    1. Vatch

      Surely Fox News, the Koch brothers, Breitbart, and the Tea Party were quite active in December of 2008!

  24. Scott

    It is dramatically correct to buy a real physical place in the city of political power from which to work for what is called Progressive Politics now. I have been suggesting such a thing myself for a good while. Good that they have a plan for raising the funds.
    There is a sort of a checklist for economics one can derive at the end of Michael Hudson’s Kiliing the Host. If I was to direct one thing to be hammered at and brought to the people it would be USPO Service Banking.
    What I see as the horror of the US Banking System is its isolated goals of individual riches for privileged people not even what one would call an elite, as elite means to me more than some greed obsessed self entitled fool otherwise nothing without toys & distraction and hardly good human company.

  25. different clue

    I hope that the Exxers, Boomers, and any not-yet-dead Silents won’t go rushing into these Millenials’ corner of realworld analog meatspace . . . moving in to Take Over and Show Them How Its Done. I hope all the ElderOlders will content themselves with being passively available for advice on blogs like this in CASE any Millenials should care to come here and read it.

    If any ElderOlders decide to enter the Meatspace World of this new Millenials effort, let them be obedient carry-outers of Millenial initiatives.

    And in that spirit, here is my passively available-izable advice. There are enough Millenials that they can form up into different action groups based on different theories. So this Resist Trump action-group can work from the Resist Trump theory. If other Millenials think the Democratic Party needs decontamination and political bio-remediation, they can form their own Action Group if they want to. (I hope some of them want to, but I will limit myself to leaving that thought here in a blog-thread as passively-offered advice. I would like to see a group called The Party’s Over! Time To Clean This Mess Up! It would be devoted to neutralizing and removing and destroying every Clintonite everywhere within the DemParty . . . starting from wherever such a group thinks it can take hold and begin the process). And yet another action-theory group can work on Building A Third Party, because if that’s what they believe in, that’s what they would work hardest and most effectively at.

    And so forth and so on.

      1. different clue

        If that is how a bunch of real people see themselves and feel themselves, then it is RealThink on their part, however IdPol it might appear. In which case, the people concerned will come to resent any intrusion of self-appointed “we know how to do it better” would-be rescuers.

        I remember reading that part of how the Occupy Folks at Zucotti became incoherent to begin with was that David Graeber and other self-actualizing Anarchismists intruded and invaded and said “no demands!” and decided to turn the whole gathering into a live-action disney-animatronic display of “This is what Anarchism looks like!”

        If such people invade movements created by others again, they will bring their strutting look-at-me pride with them, and lead such movements off the self-actualizing Buffalo Jump yet again. And will again be resented or even hated for it.

        Having read the article closer and more slowly, and seeing that some kind of professional organizers/ activators are involved in this geographically House-Against-Trump effort; I wonder what some self-organizing activolunteers without professional leadership and control from above would do with a House if they decided on their own to get one.

  26. tongorad

    Seems like a familiar formulation. To be against X (insert boogeyman here), but what are you for?
    I’m reminded of BLM leaders who are against racism, but for charter schools and standardized testing.

    1. marym


      Platform excerpt on community control of education

      -Federal funds can only go to districts that have elected school boards.
      -Place a moratorium on charter schools and school closures.
      -Increase federal funding for schools, forcing federal government to help out states and pay for a bigger chunk than they currently do.
      -Repeal the “convert-charter-close” model and offer what was the fifth option at the time, community led transformation, which was articulated as sustainable school transformation; it calls for a community-based model of school transformation.
      -End corporate backed market reformer programs such as Teach For America and the Broad Superintendents Academy.
      -Eliminate the privately backed lobby from all levels of the federal Department of Education.


  27. Sound of the Suburbs

    They should concentrate on changing the Democrat party so next time there is an alternative for change.

    Trump was Obama’s legacy:

    Obama’s hope.

    Wall Street hopes it will be bailed out at 100c in the dollar – Obama delivers
    Afro-Americans hope they won’t be thrown out onto the street – Obama doesn’t deliver

    We’ll have to try Trump hope.

    Liberals took Bernie hope off the table.

    The Democrats are the problem and gave the US Trump.

    1. different clue

      If it is true that the Clinton Campaign and the MSM colluded in a “pied piper”: strategy to uprank and upsell the perceived-to-be weakest-quality Republican nomination seekers in hopes of getting one of them nominated . . . and Trump was the pied piper that the Clintonite Democrats and the Clintonite MSM finally got nominated; then Trump is quite literally Clinton’s legacy even more than he is Obama’s legacy.

      If that really is what happened, then Trump was the “her-own-petard” upon which Clinton found herself hoist.

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