Author: Douglas

Caring For The Least of These: Does religion provide a way forward for Southern progressivism?

Sarah and I were in St. Louis recently for a Spring Break vacation. While we were there, we met up with a friend of mine from my days at the University of Missouri for breakfast. After some discussion about the comings and goings of our individual lives, we eventually turned to politics. He got on me for being so hardline about the need for Southern progressives to talk like they are Southern progressives, instead of relying on the sort of conservative rhetoric that has traditionally produced short-term victories at the expense of long-time movement building. At one point in our discussion, he said the following:

Friend: So let’s say you had the opportunity to go to China and build an independent trade union there. What would you tell the workers there? Why should they join your union?

Me: I would tell them that they should join the union to have a greater say in their workplace, so that they could bargain for rights and wages and benefits, etc….

Friend: Do you know why you will be unsuccessful?

Me: Because they might not be used to independent trade organizations?

Friend: No. It’s because you don’t speaking fucking Mandarin! That’s the problem with the way that you are approaching things, Douglas; you aren’t speaking the language of the people that you’re trying to organize.

I thought about that for a second and dismissed it as crap. One of the consequences of speaking out as progressives in areas that have been traditionally hostile to progressivism is that we may have to give up the short-term victories that we are used to in the South. But when we start winning, it will be on our terms. It is always better to build a sturdy foundation at a very slow pace than to build a weak foundation that will blow away at the next strong wind.

But then again….maybe my friend has a point to a limited extent. Maybe there is a way that progressives can reach Southerners with methods that regular folks can understand without diluting the potency of the message. How might we be able to do this?

Two words: The Bible.

Crowding The Space: What is my role as a self-identified male feminist?

If y’all have not heard, Beyoncé came out with a new song called Bow Down/I Been On (if you want to listen to it, Google it). The chorus of the song consists of her constantly repeating the line, “bow down (derogatory term for a woman that will not be used here)”. Well, as you can imagine, this has raised quite a stir. Some people are surprised by the tone of the song. Others actually liked and enjoyed the song. But then there are others (like me) who believe that the song flies in the face of her past statements on female empowerment and being a feminist.

But then I started thinking: what is my role in questioning Beyoncé’s feminism? Is that even something I can do? As a man who self-identifies as an ally of feminism, what is my space to comment on matters regarding a movement that I can only be attached to from the outside?

Self Care: Privilege and necessity.

self-care n. 
The care of oneself without medical, professional, or other assistance or oversight.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” -Audre Lorde

Self-care is something that I have had strong feelings about for a good while now. Being involved in progressive politics, it has been a topic that has come up around me from time to time. Every time it has come up, I have discussed my thoughts on the concept with the same general feeling:

I hate it.

Use Your Words: Why conservative rhetoric will never build a more progressive South.

I was visiting Cottonmouth, which is a fantastic progressive blog in Mississippi, when I came across this video calling for the expansion of Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA):

The ad seemed real polished, and it seemed like it would connect with many low-income and working-class voters. I say many instead of most or all because of the following passage from the same video:

They’re saying no to 9,000 new jobs and almost $1 billion of economic activity in our state, and they are leaving 200,000 of our neighbors in the cold. Working families, not freeloaders; preventing them from getting decent medical care.

I just cannot understand this.

Insects Voting for Raid/Terminix: The Curious Story of Republican Union Members and Business Unionism.

Being a union member and voting Republican is like being an insect and voting for the Raid/Terminix ticket.

This is something that my father used to always tell me when I was coming of age in politics. I never understood it either; even though I was much more conservative in my youth than I am now (though always a Democrat; I will likely cover that in a later blog post), I could never understand why members of a labor union would cast a ballot for a party that actively works to destroy them.

All Politics is Local: Why we need a stronger focus on communities and young people in Democratic organizing.

When I worked in Democratic politics, I never really thought of myself as a community organizer. Political organizing is something that is very short-term in a lot of ways: most field organizers are only in a location for three to six months at the longest, many field organizers are not indigenous to the area in which they are organizing, and the nature of political organizing is such that you discuss many issues within a campaign, and not just one or two. I always used the term “community organizer” to describe those folks that worked for non-profits or issue-based organizations like Clean Water Action or the ACLU.

Y’all, I was SO wrong.