Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Leftist Infighting Makes Me Sad

So I was just reading this (excellent and thought-provoking) op ed on Prop 8 in the LA Times, where Jasmyne Cannick gives a pretty damning indictment of the white bias in the No on 8 campaign.

I think it's one of the best op eds I've read about race and the vote in California, but then I spent all day reading about coalitional politics and kept coming across that Gloria Anzaldua quote about the queer somehow crossing racial and ethnic boundaries, and then I started thinking about what an actual progressive agenda founded on coalitional politics might look like. And I still have no idea (although I think I'm convinced that particular niche issues aren't as useful as a strategy that focuses on broader agenda items like equal opportunity programs, privacy legislation, and better funding for public services), but toying with the idea took up the better part of my afternoon. So maybe No on 8 didn't do a great or even passable job of reaching out to minority groups and building a coalition, and there are obvious reasons why marriage isn't a priority for everyone, but I do want to believe that it's possible to rally behind an issue when it's not at all relevant to your daily life, and that's where I think the tone of the op ed sat uneasily with me. I understand why people would care less, structurally, but the progressive agenda is doomed to fail unless people care about issues that have nothing to do with them but do have to do with justice, equality, and opportunity. And that includes making white, privileged people care about racial profiling and prison abolition just as much as it includes working with disenfranchised communities, because let's be honest, it probably makes sense to demand that the well-resourced, privileged groups do their part before they start asking marginalized groups to line up behind their agendas.

And this is why I transcribed one interview today. Frown.

1 comment:

Marcel said...

I 100% agree with you about getting people to "care about issues that have nothing to do with them but do have to do with justice, equality, and opportunity." I think that's the direction that organizations like the Center for Rural Affairs need to go.

It isn't enough to try to pick off votes on the Ag Committee, or to have Michael Pollan nattering on about eaters' rights in the New York Times. There has to be a way of framing rural development issues in terms of social justice, and building a coalition of folks who hail from rural communities and knowledge-economy cities and Panera-strewn exurbs. If the greatest export of rural America is its young people, then there's got to be some way to mobilize those young people even if they no longer live in rural areas.

That's why I think the Center needs to take you Rhodies out for hors d'oeuvres, just like Google did. See? It's all starting to make sense.