October 12th, 2009

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Anyone Got a Count on Yesterday's Gay Rights March?

From local traffic reports, not even as good as your average Gay Pride Day. And it was such a beautiful colorful day, too.

UPDATE: This from Adam Bink, who has been covering the march. Estimates at about 150K-200K, which is not embarrassingly low especially given low expectations. Certainly it got less overall coverage than the Tea Bagger march on DC, despite appearing to pull slightly better.

Hopefully it will have impact.
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Idiots Still Living in the Past

What is astounding to me is the "Piss on the base" mentality of these folks. It's like some juvenile "I can't hear yooooouuuuuuuuu . . . . you are stupid left-wing fringies . . . .Nyah Nyah Nyah!!!"

Which, when coupled with the flat learning curve, is really going to take a toll next November unless Obama and Axelrod and the rest of the folks who actually beat the DLC faction in the election start reigning them in.

If the "centrists" were smart, they would stress that Congress has to carry the ball and divert the attention from Obama, with hints that Obama is working behind the scenes and will put his prestige out there when the moment is ripe. Heck, it could even be true. But it would certainly mute criticism from the core of the movement toward Obama (preserving his political capital) and refocus activist energy on Congress where Pelosi would almost certainly call it for a vote where it would pass along party lines less about 20 or so Blue Dogs (Pelosi understands what this is doing for the D fund raising) and Reid would dither and finally put it up for vote where it should pass with Snow and Collins joining the Ds.

Because -- and I hate to be cynical here -- if the Democratic Party spokescritters would just suck up a little more to the base rather than trying to show them Whose Really In Charge, they could get away with a heck of a lot more nonsense, particularly on the economic front where the big money folks care. Instead, the DLC faction are busy trying to squash rebellion within the ranks and show these internet upstart who really runs things, thus enhancing the fundraising for primary challenges and undermining their own fundraising and needed squad of volunteers.

I'm not sure anything can be done to turn this around inside the Democratic Party other than a major purge. Even formation of a successful third party by the more progressive wing of the part (where "successful" means "by third party standards, similar to the way Eugene Debs came in third for the Socialists in 1932") would just wash off these guys.

Meanwhile, Obama tends to catch the crap for stuff he has nothing to do with (he can control what some moron on MSNBC says?). If these were the old days, Rove would have had the different factions in his office to enforce a truce.

Obama's strategy so far appears to be to push Congress to do the heavy lifting in coordination with his policy teams and then weigh in personally at a critical juncture. That's how he pushed the stimulus, how he is pushing healthcare, and how he will end up pushing whatever he decides on Afghanistan. While this is suitable for a government that consists of three independent branches, it does not fit the modern paradigm (to some degree embraced by Obama) that makes the business of government all about the Executive Branch and specifically the President (a defect brought about by the last 8 years of total spinelessness by Congress and in part by the fact that our media have become unbelievably simplistic and surface in coverage).

That should work on same sex marriage and the rest of the gay rights agenda, which lies primarily in Congress' bailiwick and where bills are pending. But it doesn't work if D insiders are busy with their petty little power games without any concern for what happens next year.
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More on March

This NYT analysis is not bad. It is certainly correct to observe that this represents a new generation rising up to replace an older generation of leaders who have failed to provide a suitable organizing strategy. This has replicated itself in other movements to varying degrees.

Frank is both right and wrong in his analysis that this march represents merely "emotional satisfaction" for the marchers. Generating and harnessing the enthusiasm of a new generation of activists is a sine qua non of a successful movement. But I think Adam Bink and others are right to worry that the movement is lurching without coordination or regard to anything strategic. And this is where Frank's criticism has merit. The entire movement seems to be lurching from one feel good thing to the next without any sense of strategy. This is always a challenge for a movement, especially one that is undergoing reinvention. But there appears (at least to this outsider) little analysis within the movement of what is actually effective for achieving goals, or even what those goals should be.

The difference between a movement and a mob is coordination and intent. There is no serious debate about how to prioritize goals or what strategy to use. Fight for federal changes in law? Fight to hold on to state victories like in Maine? The response of many in the "Stonewall 2.0 movement" appears to be "we can do it all." Maybe. But there is cost to trying to do it all and failing.