Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

So, I spent the day in Washington, D.C. As per usual, I actually had a good time down here. By not living in D.C., and only visiting for important events, I think I get the best of both worlds during my trips: a brief spurt of productive, political intensity without any of the insider, "bubble" mentality. Plus, there are lots of friends I don't see very often, sites like the Capitol that I enjoy as much as any European cathedral, and cool places to hang out that are a change of pace from my Philly routine. However, even though I had a good time, throughout the day the fact that it was my third anniversary of full-time blogging on MyDD kept thoughts of career close to the forefront of my mind. As I thought about my career and my future, and I a hung out with quite a few political professionals who varied widely in age, throughout the day it kept occurring to me that I could not imagine myself as a political professional in thirty, twenty, or really even ten years from now.

Don't get me wrong. Not only do I (usually) thoroughly enjoy being a full-time political activist, but considering my history as union organizer I actively sought out full-time employment as a political professional before blogging became my principle occupation. In fact, I don't even know what I would do besides politics right now. I certainly have no intention of returning to my previous career, academia. Once and a while, I even still have nightmares that I am teaching again. It is just that I can't conceive doing this for the rest of my life.

I think, fundamentally, the problem is that, to use a term introduced to me by MyDD commenter blueflorida, I am a "child of 2000."Blueflorida explains (emphasis in original):
This has been described before many times but to put it in the simplest (Brooks-ian)terms: there are the children of 1972, the children of 1992, and the children of 2000. The children of '72 transformed the country culturally but were inept at the nuts-and-bolts of electoral politics and were oblivious of a conservative counter-revolution happening in less-urban parts of the country. They have been stuck in the attic by the children of 1992 for about 20 years, but were let out (with conditions) by the children of 2000.

The children of 1992 have nothing but contempt for the children of 1972, holding them responsible for the catastrophic presidential defeats of '68, '72, '80, '84, and '88. They currently dominate the party leadership and they hold as articles of faith the perception that modern America is basically a center-right nation that only votes for Dems if Dems confine their progressive message to pocketbook topics and embrace a basically conservative posture on crime and national security issues.

The children of 2000 basically see the modern political environment as one of perpetual crisis engendered by conservative over-reach. It's the sense that conservatives have gone too far that fuels their outrage in general and deep frustration at the children of 1992 specifically. The feeling is very similar to a sense of betrayal, that the children of 1992 let conservatives over-reach on their watch and without really trying to stop them and never having apologized for their failure. The children of 2000's acute sense that things have to change have embraced the proud posture of the children of 1972 and allied with them generally while studiously (but perhaps not sustainably) avoiding too much of a public emphasis on comprehensive philosophy and ideology.
This feels absolutely right to me. My decision to engage in politics full-time was based heavily on the belief that we are in the midst of a political crisis brought on by conservative overreach, as defined by a series of events from 1994-2006 (Clinton impeachment, a rising corporate plutocracy, the stolen election of 2000, the invasion of Iraq, etc). In the back of my mind, I have probably always believed that once the imminent threat of that overreach has been vanquished, I can return to my "ordinary" life, whatever that may be. Once we shift a bunch of Overton windows, put a wide range of sophisticated progressive political infrastructure in place, and match it all up with a very solid Democratic trifecta not only in D.C. but also in most states around the country, the political situation will be righted, the crisis will be resolved. It might even be disingenuous to say that this is an idea that is in the back of my mind, since for a number of months I have kicked around a date by which point, if all goes well, I think this can be satisfactorily accomplished: January 20th, 2013. I have little doubt that this is nothing more than a wild fantasy, but that I would even have a date in mind by which point I would like to see my political goals accomplished goes quite a long way toward explaining why I can't see myself as a political professional for the rest of my life. Whether naïve or not, at a gut level, I think I am responding to a crisis that I believe can ultimately be solved, and which will not occupy me for the rest of my life.

I bring this up to offer not yet one more strange insight into my mind, but rather to ask MyDD readers if they consider political activism to be something they intend to engage in, at a high level, for the rest of their lives. On a broader level, do you think the recently, and greatly, increased engagement of progressives in political activism is a decade or so long phase brought on by a sense of national crisis, or a longer term, fundamental shift in American politics? In other words, is the progressive movement a temporary activist coalition catalyzed by a new wave of activism and political energy from the children of 2000, or is it instead the beginning of a long-term upswing in progressive civic engagement? Are we here to stay, or will we fizzle out?

I don't know the answer to these questions, but I thought it would be a worthy topic of conversation tonight. I look forward to reading your responses in the morning.

Tags: Activism (all tags)

Comments

74 Comments

I will stay active... but I fear...

I know that I will always be active. I fear that many will fade away, especially if we start getting things back on track in this country. I also fear that if WE do not keep an eye on the people in power, no matter what party or person, we will head right back to a repeat of the bush era.

We MUST protect our rights, Our media must be set FREE again by breaking it up and the greatest equalizer MUST Always stay neutral... The Internet!

by kevin22262 2007-04-30 08:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

Where do I fit in? I'm a child of '96.

Oh yeah, I a Montanan so I need to adjust for the fact we're ahead of the curve.

by Bob Brigham 2007-04-30 08:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I would quibble about the date somewhat, although this is PhD-quality analysis we're talking about. I consider myself more a child of 2004. I don't know about the others here, but after 2000 (and I was still in high school so maybe I was more idealistic) I was shocked and angered by what had happened and disappointed in the insideritis that caused the Gore campaign to be too scared to try, in my opinion. However, everything seemed so blatantly and obviously awful that I had full confidence that 2002 and 2004 would bring changes.

It didn't happen, again because of insideritis in my opinion. In the wake of '04 I discovered blogs and I approached politics in a more active manner. (I feel ashamed that I didn't do so in '03; maybe I could have made a tiny difference beyond my vote.)

by falsified 2007-05-01 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I've been planning this diary.

Basically this it the gist of it.

We need an FDR, not an Al Smith.

What are the political ideas that build the political coalition that puts Democrats in power for the next 30 years?

I think that the people who focus on net neutrality or the Iraq War are fundamentally myopic.  We have to win back the white working class.  And the fight isn't going to be in the South or on the Coasts.  It's going to be in the Midwest, the old industrial heartland that's been devestated by globalization.  Populism is the key.

The Republicans built their success in 1972 on establishing the economic doctrines of neo-liberalism as the political orthodoxy. The rhetoric of the market permeates everything, and even erstwhile reformers like Rubin, the Hamilton Project, and yes Barack Obama basically accept the status quo.

They aren't willing to make the case that the market is socially embedded.  Now I know that's sort of esoteric, but the gist of it is this.  The market only exists because the legal system enforces contrasts and limits liability.  Government regulation isn't an unnatural intervention into the market, the market only exists because the government guarantees contracts and limits liability.  

The argument that the market is natural and not fundamnentally the product of political interventiont to protect the interests of the wealthy.

We need a candidate who will till corporations and the wealthy that if they won't to participate in the economy, they will have to follow the rules.  And that the first purpose of those roles is to promote the general welfare.  Which is why the government should tax their profits to pay for schools and healthcare.  John Edwards has made a huge point about pursuing corporate deadbeats who don't pay taxes.  In the last 50 years the cost of government have been shifted of corporations and onto working people.  

It's time that that changes.  If companies are unwilling to pay their taxes and play by the rules their coroporate charters should be revoked.  And in order to really enforce this, maybe we need federal chartering laws for interstate corporations.  And maybe we need to move towards a shareholder model in which elected employee representives sit on works councils that advise the board of all companies with more than 100 employees.  And require that corporate managers be bound by the good faith principle, that they be required to consider the social good and not just shareholder interest.  This is a social model of the firm, it's what exists in Europe, and maybe it's time that Americans take a closer look at its advantages.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-04-30 08:43PM | 0 recs
I predict another scenario

Due to long term economic growth economic issues will fade away, along with classical economic populism. Of course it will take some time but in 20 years or less most people in this country will have more than enough not to worry about pocketbook issues.

The issues of the future are:

- Civil liberties vs "Protection", WOT and Big Brother surveillance

- Cultural issues like polygamy rights and the question of what the separation between state and church should mean.

- A libertarian technology approach vs risk management and criticism of technology. I am thinking about cloning, transhumanism, the merging of humans and robots, environmental crisis, colonisation of space to survive global annihilation due to new weapons that are worse than nuclear weapons. And so on.

The concepts of "left" and "right" will have to be redefined or face extinction.

by Populism2008 2007-05-01 01:23AM | 0 recs
Re: I predict another scenario

That's a hard thing to envision when 1% percent of the country controls 90% of the wealth and 2 billion people live on $2 a day or less.

by adamterando 2007-05-01 03:27AM | 0 recs
Re: I predict another scenario

2 billion people? In America?

20 years from now noone in America will live on less than $100 a day. Extrapolated from historical trends.

by Populism2008 2007-05-01 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: I predict another scenario

In the world, silly.

by adamterando 2007-05-03 05:26AM | 0 recs
Re: I predict another scenario

I sincerely hope that this is snark, because if you're serious, you've shown yourself to be seriously disconnected from the reality of life for most Americans.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-05-01 09:35AM | 0 recs
Read again

"20 years from now"

Missed that part?

by Populism2008 2007-05-01 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: I predict another scenario

So why in the hell do you call yourself "Populism2008" if you reject populism?

by jallen 2007-05-01 04:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I don't have an endgame.

It seems a fundamental responsibility to stand up to injustice, to side with the weak and less powerful, and to speak out against what I perceive to be growing dangers.  

Sometimes I despair. Sometimes I may not be all that 'active', but again and again I am re-energized by basic empathy and by others' persuasion. Maybe it is my natural cynicism that ensures that I am unable to see an endgame. Such an endgame would mean that the powerful are advocates for the powerless, that our democracy is secure, that the world is safe and the UN was functional, economic systems of trade and finance were just, that global warming and other important environmental problems were being addressed, that religion is no longer a hostile force to democracy, and secular democracy was no longer seen as a hostile force to religion, and the list is endless.

How can I have an endgame other than the grave? And I am in no rush to get there.

by alarabi7 2007-04-30 08:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

Good post.  You wrote that we have  "a fundamental responsibility to stand up to injustice."  Yes we do.  However, I think it is important to talk about an activism "life cycle".

I am 49, probably older than most here, I did full time progressive politics for a decade out of college.  Then financial reality hit me in the face.  I was the Executive Director of a statewide coalition working on health care issues, had a baby to support, a wife who was struggling with depression, and I could barely pay the rent.  

I retreated into family life, a divorce, a new wife, and building a business. Now that we are down to our last kid at home, and have achieved some financial security, I am starting to get involved again.  I hope to get my finances and my business to the point where I have more time for politics during the next ten years.  Back in my twenties I worked with a lot of senior activist from 60-90 years old.  I consider them roll models and hope that I can do more, not less, when I get to some type of retirement.

Life has seasons, when you are young and have fewer responsibilities, you can go for it.  In the middle you probably will need to compromise if you want to have a family. I know a few friends who have manged to combine professional polotics and family,but most have been is pretty mainstream positions rather than activist positions.  Hopefully you don't let the fire in your belly die out during these middle years, and then you can return to activism in later years.

Money is a very real issue.  My first wife and I were unable to pay our college loans off until we were in our mid thirties.  It would be nice if progressives could find a way for people to do politics without taking a vow of poverty.  It is fine to be poor when you are young, but the game changes when you have kids.  

by upper left 2007-05-01 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

upper left: any good ideas, methods or sources of information about political/candidate outreach to seniors?

by mboehm 2007-05-01 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

In Oregon we had a number of existing senior organizations. Here are few thoughts:

1) AARP has state chapters and usually a legislative committee. They tend to be very mainstream and very cautious.

2) Union Retirees: lots of unions have retiree clubs a lot of these people have a lot of experience and commitment;

3) Gray Panthers: I don't know how many of their chapters are still around, but back in the '80 into the '90, these where some of the most activist oriented seniors;

4) Many cities have senior oriented newspapers they are a good source of contacts.  Talk to the editor they may have some good contacts,

5) If you are looking to contact senior voters, rather than senior activists, many voter reg databases can be sorted by voter age.  This yeilds a list of all the senior voters in a given precinct, county etc.

Im curious what you are doing? In any case, Good Luck!

by upper left 2007-05-01 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

upper left:  Thank you for responding.  My candidate is very weak within the senior demographic (65+) and I am trying to figure out how to do something specific and targeted about it.

by mboehm 2007-05-01 04:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Political Sine Curve

Approximate ditto - same basic pattern (I'm a newly minted AARP member @ 50), different specifics.

As to Chris' basic question: is there a political mission accomplished in our future? I have very serious doubts unless and until there is 100% public financing of elections at all levels, reversal of media consolidation (whether by law or de facto by emerging technologies) and populist tax reform that substantially reduces the downward spiral of wealth consolidation.

by Joe in Wynnewood PA 2007-05-01 09:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Political Sine Curve

I like your list and your attitude.

by upper left 2007-05-01 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I see a minimum of 2 crises.

#1 - our consitutional near-meltdown.  I agree with Chris that if we play our cards right (and a lucky break or two won't hurt), America could be on the right path by 2013.

#2 - The Environmental crisis.  This is a huge issue, and given its complexity and the volume of change that needs to happen, there's no way we're going to be close to solving this one by 2013.  I hope that crisis #1 is solved by then so that we all focus on this one, but I'm not sleeping until at minimum both of these are OK.

And frankly, I doubt I'll sleep even then.  I remember the euphoria of 1992 and thinking that 12 years of Republican domination had ended and we could all relax, and look where that got us.

by Go Vegetarian 2007-04-30 08:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

On the environmental crisis.

I think that we need to be looking at interest complemtarities.

We have to go beyond oil. Making ethanol requires the building of large factories that pollute rural areas to allow the city folk to drive around in SUVS.

We have a large CAFO industry that pollutes rural areas and really pisses off the neighbors.  Pigshit can be tranformed into crude.  It closes the circle.  Sunshine makes corn in the field, corn makes shit in the pig, shit can be made into oil.  All this pigshit has to go someplace, now it's commonly just sprayed on fields.  Why not  match the anger of rural people at CAFO pollution with the need to move beyond oil.  Require that CAFOs treat their waste, so that there's an incentive to make biodiesel.  The pig shit has to be treated, so that means that any gain the CAFO owners can get from processing their waste into saleable biodiesel is pure profit.

It turns a waste product into a resource, and allows or urban America to drive its cars at the same time as solving an environmental problem for rural America.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-04-30 09:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

IT's worth doing, but I've heard that the entire US grain crop converted to ethanol would cover 20% of what our transportation fleet burns.  And recycled manure would be a smaller fraction still.

As I said, averting an environmental crisis is a HUGE undertaking, far beyond any quick fix.  It's going to take just about every good idea combined, and then maybe a bit on top of that.

by Go Vegetarian 2007-04-30 09:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

The estimate I've seen is 3.6 gallons a day per hog.

If  Dr. Yuanhui Zhang is correct, a typical hog would be able to produce 3.6 gallons of crude oil per day using his process. With a hundred million hogs on American farms, it takes very little math to determine that "pig oil" could make a significant dent in the energy needs of the United States. And a farmer could add up to ten dollars of profit per pig.

So 3.6 gallons per hog per day. There are something like 60,000,000 pigs in the US according to the latest Census of Agriculture. So:

3.6 X 60,000,000=216 million gallons daily.

There are about 42 gallons in a barrel.

So that's 5.14 million barrels daily.

That's about 1/4th of US oil consumption which is about 20 million barrels daily.  It's not just pigs though, it's cattle, and eventually municipal sewage.  

I'd like to see biodiesel introduced first in agriculture and transporation.  This requires minimal adjustments in the distribution system.  But is useful for framing as a national security issue.  If our farms and goods transportation run on biodiesel, the impact of oil shocks on the economy will be minimized.  

Fixing indvidual transportation is a little harder.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-05-01 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

It sounds like I'm pretty much where you're at. I don't think I'll be able to stop until our environment is truly safe, which essentially means that I'm in this for life.  My other "big issue" is same-sex marriage (and LGBT rights more generally), which also seems like something that's going to take well over a decade to really get right. And like you said (and alarabi put this well too), even if both of these become non-issues I think I'm going to feel a responsibility to continue doing what I can.  In short the problems of the world aren't going to go away in my lifetime, so I don't really see my drive to do all I can to right them going away either.

As for the movement more generally, I think a lot of people probably fall into this camp.  I also imagine that it would depend a lot on what drives each individual.  Environmental activists are here to stay because environmental problems are here to stay.  Activists who are primarily concerned about issues with more definite end points may very well have personal bowing out points as we accomplish our goals.  But generally I get the sense that the progressive movement isn't going to fizzle.  Mature, maybe, but not decline.

by B VT 2007-04-30 11:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

Well, we're of course destined to fizzle, as all things pass in time.  But with the development on online activist networking, the expansion of left-wing think tanks, and the near-endless opportunities for publishing political material provided by the blogosphere all together seem to mean that we're looking at the naissance of a movement that will last at least as long and have at least as great an impact on our country's future as the Conservative movement (which, like ours, was formed around the idea of pushing back against the other major political movement's overextension).

by Jay R 2007-04-30 08:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

Hard to say. I think that the top bloggers are here to stay. But the rest of the blogosphere, particularly the thousands who are part of communities - they're the ones who will always be changing.

As for myself, I feel that I've already began to fade from the scene somewhat. My endgame...well, I don't really have one. Just to hang around until I'm too busy to pay attention, stay informed, and keep on keepin' on.

by PsiFighter37 2007-04-30 08:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

Yeah, I'm a Child of 1932, even though I was born 33 years after that. The lessons of that era never lose relevance to me:

- That unregulated capitalism builds fortunes and destroys savings capriciously;

- That big business, left to its own devices, will prey on workers, neighbors and pretty much anybody else who gets between shareholders and ever-bigger dividends;

- That progressive taxation and vigorous government can produce a prosperous, egalitarian society that truly offers the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all citizens.

My foreign policy views are more flexible according to the demands of the era. But my view of New Deal liberalism is a constant and has been since I achieved adulthood over twenty years ago. I'll remain an activist for those values for the remainder of my days.

by southpaw chris 2007-04-30 08:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

My favorite MoveOn t-shirt says it best:

Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport

I'm a child of the '60's and I was NOT involved in any way shape or form before 2000. My attitude and belief was that politics was a game played by the elite and was nothing but a show to make the masses think we had a say in our government. I didn't believe we did.

When I saw the SCOTUS hand Jr. the presidency in 2000 I knew that I had to get involved. That even if it is a game, I had to start playing because the bullies and thugs had taken the ball and were changing the rules with no one there even trying to stop them -- or so it seemed.

The thing that really solidified it for me was when I went to hear Michael Moore speak back in 2003. I was swaying between supporting Kucinich and Dean and MM came onstage talking about this General guy. I was very interested and went home and googled Wes Clark and started reading. Next I joined the Santa Cruz for Clark group, and that was when I knew I would never turn back.

I now feel that if we the people don't stay involved, don't actively play the game, we deserve whatever we get.

The biggest challenge facing us now that we're paying attention is the media. So many of the things we have to fight for would never have happened if we had an actual "Free" press. We know so much about so many things that are just ignored by the Corporate owned and controlled press -- probably the biggest issue being our elections, now controlled by private companies forcing hackable machines down our throats.

Well, I could  go on and on but you all know the problems we face due to Corpress -- heck, that's why most of us are HERE on these blogs.

So, yeah, I'm involved and will stay involved. I will always keep a watchful eye on my congresscritters, I will keep writing to them and the media, I will stay active in my local Dem group, working on local issues and races. I will continue to bug my friends, sending them information and petitions. I will continue promoting and supporting our online investigative journalists doing the job of being the media. And when Wes Clark joins the presidential race, I will work my ass off to get him elected.

by jen 2007-04-30 09:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

Well, I forgot to include: my endgame is to play the game until my life reaches it's endgame. Even if we get to a place we can breathe a sigh of relief (and I agree it will be around 2012), the fundies and neocons are ever ready to take over and must be kept in their corner forevermore.

by jen 2007-04-30 09:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I'm just getting started.  I'm in it for the long haul.

by jallen 2007-04-30 09:07PM | 0 recs
As a former union organizer myself,

and a current academic, I can empathize with the idea that one may not want to do this full-time forever. On the other hand, I can't help suspecting that if you got out, it would be hard to find something else as comparably vital, important, and rewarding to take the place of this. For most of us, this is one of the few points of access we have to taking part in something of truly (inter?)national and historical proportions -- the kind of thing the super-privileged normally monopolize.

Our goal can't just be to solve this crisis -- it emerged from a long trend, Bush was only the straw that broke the camel's back. Don't forget what had become of the Democratic Party in the 90s (before Bush), and what would be likely to happen sooner or later if we ever just handed all of it back over to that crowd. Our goal can't just be stopping neocons, but has to be about something more positive like winning universal health care, a better labor-relations regime, etc. on the one hand, and permanently opening up the political process to at least the middle class (wider if one can), on the other.

At the same time, it's of course totally legit, on a personal level, to have timeframes and to consider a point when one might downgrade one's time commitment. The key I think is to set up enough institutions that are self-sustaining, to open doors for new people to come on, and for those who do downgrade to do so without dropping out, but helping to find ways to keep us amateurs plugged in and active on a variety of levels short of a full-time job. This is more like how people in many other countries stay politically involved throughout their lives, and more connected to political parties and engaged publications than most non-upper-class Americans. But don't conflate the movement's life trajectory too much with our own -- this seems to have been a major weakness of the vietnam era generation (in contradistiction to the earlier New Dealers)!

by troubleshooter 2007-04-30 09:08PM | 0 recs
Re: As a former union organizer myself,

This is a good suggestion. Retire to "elder consultant" status, parachute in now and then with course corrections and good advice, but maintain firm limits and get on back to your preferred lifestyle when the limit is reached.

Many of the Class of 1972 and 1992 have dropped out completely. Their attitude is is something like, I did my part, let the younger generation deal with this crap. Permanent burnout is a real problem when you are idealistic.

Who loves politics for its own sake? I read blogs and stay current only because my country is swirling around the toilet bowl about to be flushed forever.

The people who make an entire life in national politics tend to be the power addicts, the greedy, the unnaturally ambitious, the status whores, the courtiers and court jesters. Of course there are awesome progressives who put their whole lives into it but they are a small minority.

by T Maysle 2007-04-30 09:30PM | 0 recs
Re: As a former union organizer myself,

I love politics for its own sake.

by Peter from WI 2007-05-01 06:24AM | 0 recs
Interesting question

You know, after we take back the White House and keep the Congress, The Daily Show won't be as funny anymore. :)

I do suspect that I will ease off a bit. I've been consumed by politics for six years now and I have to let up some time.

by Semblance 2007-04-30 09:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I agree 100%. I was never interested in politics until recently, not until I saw what happen when politics go terribly wrong (Bush). If we ever got thing back to normal, I would probably pursue a different career path (I'm about to get my political science BS).

Don't get me wrong, if things were fixed I would still follow politics, but if things weren't so bad I probably wouldn't be so engaged. Excellent post.

by wiretapp 2007-04-30 09:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?
      I always thought that these progressive blogs wouldn't last forever.  I don't foresee myself disengaging from activism no matter how many victories we celebrate, or defeats we endure.  That's probably because I'm a lot younger than most - I'm 20.  I have aspirations for public office, but they will take a back seat to my career as a scientist.  Until then, I'm a progressive activist.    
     Those born in 1985 and 1986 make up the most liberal birth cohort ever.  I'm a progressive and a lot of my peers agree with my positions.  I'm definitely a child of 2000.  Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is probably one of the reasons I'm so politically involved.  To put you into the psyche of a millenial, I'll explain myself.  Imagine your grow up under the Clinton presidency.  His governance is fair-minded, moderate, and competent.  I really thought that was how all presidents were.  Then George Bush came along and fucked with my generation.  He sent MY PEERS off to die in a war of vanity.  He promotes discrimination against homosexuals, but we millenials have a lot of gay friends.  College tuition is high, and no one really cares.  We HATE Bush, and everything he does.  He turned everything to shit.
by cilerder86 2007-04-30 09:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

How about the rest of the world?

by brackdurf 2007-04-30 10:04PM | 0 recs
no, i want to quit.

i want it to be over. i want to get on with life.

i am not proud of that, but it's true.

by colorless green ideas 2007-04-30 10:19PM | 0 recs
Re: no, i want to quit.

Hear, hear!! I'm quitting my political job and going to grad school. Whew. August cannot come soon enough!

by domma 2007-05-01 12:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

Can one be a "Child of ..." while actually a child? I was sort of hooked on politics in 1972, when I was 8, as Watergate hit the news, the election was everywhere, and Vietnam was still very much on everyone's mind. It was really hard to miss, and NYC was a pretty political city to grow up in at the time. Still is, I suppose.

Can't say that I've even been an activist (blogging doesn't count in my book, nor does the occasional phone call or email to my senator or rep), but I've been interested in politics ever since. So I'm guessing you will be quite active in it one way or another for the rest of your life. Maybe not in your present capacity, but certainly in some form. It's clearly in your "DNA".

by kovie 2007-04-30 10:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

Stop spamming. And go back on those meds, please.

by kovie 2007-04-30 10:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I would be a lot less politically active if...

1) there was some kind of health system that provided 100% coverage - I think the crueler tendencies of our society derive from the insecurity of our lack of a health care system

2) there was much more open government - vigorous sunshine laws, public disclosure and public comment

3) there a vigorous and free press with plenty of alternatives to the corporate press

If people weren't so afraid of getting sick and could clearly and easily see the workings of governemnt I could live with political results I found less than ideal. If people had an open system and still picked rotten leaders then I would agree that you get the government you deserve. But I don't feel people have a fair chance to make good judgements as things stand today. A lot of what I see as decay in our society comes from misrepresentation and deceipt. If people continue to prefer the lies and emotional appeals in a society where your health is secure and you have access to the truth then I wouldn't be so interested in US politics.

by joejoejoe 2007-04-30 10:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I've thought about writing a diary on this and several related thoughts, but this is why I am sort of in the Anyone But Hillary camp.  I would, of course, support her if she were the Democratic nominee, but I would rather it not be her for several reasons including because a Hillary Clinton presidency will lead to an administration filled with retread "children of 1992" who were involved in her husband's administration.  

I fear that if she were to occupy the White House, we'd merely see a more competent version of Bush-style cronyism (and let's not forget that Bill Clinton's administration was not exactly a shining model for clean and uncorrupt government).  She is the candidate who will probably rely the heaviest on the Washington establishment and members of the last Democratic administration as a pool for political appointments. (Can we agree on that?)

by Anthony de Jesus 2007-04-30 10:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

"Eternal vigilence is the price of liberty."  The loss of one activist is a loss to all of us.  

It is worth noting some societal differences.  We do not have and are not accustomed to creating structures that hold the government to account.  

In contrast, the Israeli Winograd Committee (a government created body) analyzed the government's failures in the war in Lebanon -- naming names and crditicizing scathingly.  Our commissions retreat from such analysis.  We only hope for that kind of analysis from the press, from non-profits -- and are getting it from the blogs.

by LenL 2007-04-30 11:02PM | 0 recs
Yes---Until I die

That's my endgame.  I was a child of 72...though by the time Nixon resigned the  second most liberal period in American politics was over already, and I was dimly aware of that....and the conservative counterreaction was starting and  began its domination with Reagan..

I had an activist pregame and then I took a break from the mid 70's to the late 80's.  Family raising was involved and my real world involvement was more local community stuff --- school and synagogue.  

And then George Bush got elected in 88 and I realized that the conservative era wasn't just a fluke of Ronald Reagan's personality and charm.

Now I realize that it just isn't going to end.  I was at Clinton's 92 inaugrual and thought that this election portended 16 years of good government --- Bill and then Al.  I was wrong.

So I do have another future for you to consider...
Check out the comment I made in Matt's post about Hillary Clinton.

http://www.mydd.com/comments/2007/4/30/184719/813/28#28

by debcoop 2007-04-30 11:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I am an activist in denial. I always have been.

I was a teenager during the 60s and was more concerned with the music than the politics. But Vietnam came into the foreground of my life as several of my friends and the children of several of my parents' friends died in the war. I did my part and then I went to college. I was an urban planner, constantly accused by my peers of "going native" by advocating for the rights of minorities. The stress of constantly fighting for change wore me out and I changed to the quiet, air-conditioned life of a software programmer. Since the early '80s I have been a digital technologist in one form or another, content to live my life as a middle class American. I guess that makes me a child of '72?

The 2000 election changed everything. After spending my life in pursuit of truth, art and spirituality (with mixed success) I found myself going political after the 2000 election. I have been political ever since.

The world is in crisis. The "great game" has gone global and all the chips are on the table. Everything is at risk.

I never dreamed that America could could from the place it was to the place it currently occupies in six years. It is terrifying. A small group of people without regard for anyone or anything other than their own totalitarian ideology have taken us into a place of secrecy, paranoia, fear and hate that I thought impossible. I never dreamed that America could possibly become the place it is today. Not in a million years. We are the hope of the world, right? A beacon of democracy. We're all about individual freedom, inalienable rights, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the rule of law. Right? I'll save you the litany. Just a few words: war of aggression, loss of habeas corpus, torture, coup d'etat, "free speech zones" (what the f**k is that about!?), gulag, total information awareness.

How could anyone be surprised to hear that the majority of developed nations consider us the greatest threat to stability, security and freedom in the world today.

I now believe that political awareness and involvement, activism if you will, is now central to our survival as a civilized nation. I don't think there is a foreseeable endgame at this point. Once we get our country back (and I am assuming we will get it back) we will have to undo all of the damage this illegitimate cabal has wrought. It is a different America than the America I was born into. This America requires that every citizen has the responsibility to guard, from birth to death, the freedoms this country guarantees its citizens, not from those outside America who "hate our freedoms," but from those inside our country who really do hate our freedoms and desire nothing more than to rule over us as if they were kings or gods.

by mdharold 2007-05-01 12:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I'm fifty years old, but I completely identify with the characterization of the "Children of 2000."  So this is a partition by ideology, not by age.  I used to be a Republican, back in the 80's, and was involved with some rather hairy groups, both Libertarian and Republican.  I never belonged to the Children of 72 or 92, really.  

I switched parties in '92 because I wanted health care and because the cold war was over and I thought it was time to fix our country up with the money and effort that we used to blow on the Cold War.  And I was disillusioned with the whole Milton Friedmanesque power of capitalism thing.  The performance of many of the Democrats in 2002 has made me more grudgingly furious at them than at the Republicans.  I have plenty of fury to go around.

by Dumbo 2007-05-01 02:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I'm older than you and "a child of 2000" in these terms, too, although never a Republican except to get parking tickets fixed.

Now that I got started, I suspect I will always write to newspapers, politicians, TV shows, etc., because I enjoy the opportunity to push the window a little and to become notorious to family and neighbors, and I will be a grassroots Democrat as long as I can, because Howard Dean said so and he's right (local organized Dems need at least as much of a push to the left as those on the national scene, in my experience).

by joyful alternative 2007-05-01 06:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I'm in my 50's now and have been active pretty much my whole life. I don't see an end but I'm seriously considering taking my activism to the Green Party. The failure to impeach Bush, and the decision to continue funding this war have left me in despair with respect to the Democratic Party. It just seems to be a party that lacks the spine and the will to counter the extreme right.  

by Derek G 2007-05-01 03:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

While I don't have anything planned I could see it happening.  Personally I really just do this stuff for fun.  I tend to become more passionate about programming stuff.  So if I ever write something that gets off the ground in a large way I might not have time for politics.

by sterra 2007-05-01 03:23AM | 0 recs
Not either/or but both.

Not either an ongoing progressive movement or a fizzle, but both an ongoing progressive movement and burn-out (different that fizzle) of people too intensely involved in this current incarnation of progressive energy.

The 1972 progressives were fighting cheap oil and a world where everyone one else was either industrializing or re-industrializing. Regular American people were easily and cheaply bought off. By 1992 it was all we could do to derail the Reagan juggernaut with the liberal Republican Clinton.

Many used to think that the only way change could come is via a big depression like what put FDR in. Or the corollary of when things got fascist enough then people would wake up. Well guess what? We know have enough fascism and with peak oil around the corner depression-like economic upheavals are probable. Plus globalization has down-graded much of the work in America, similar to what a depression might do.

So yea, the 1972, 1992 and 2000 theory is cute and not all that bad, but only that.

by Jeff Wegerson 2007-05-01 03:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I come to activism late in life. I imagine having more time when I retire.  [and time to spare is the critical resource for political activism: Republican policies have induced unemployment of skilled people who now help populate a lot of Operation Democracy organizing meetings with very able older workers-who-have-no-work]   I am absolutely a child of 72 except at that time I was and until recently have been apolitical, disgusted by politics.  The growing sense, starting before 2003 but emerging into my everyday awareness by then, that is was 1968 all over again.  That sinking "have we learned nothing!?" feeling has compelled me to get involved.  But even if the entire rot of neocons and plutocracy and unreformed campaign financing is purged, I suspect, my activism will shift to green causes and not simply fall silent.

by greensmile 2007-05-01 04:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

Things don't usually turn out the way that you think they will.  

9/11 changed everything for the Bush presidency; Monica provided the fuel for multiple disasters; 'Read my lips' and a squeaky voiced third party candidate; the Berlin wall; RFK; MLK; JFK;and, the Iranian hostage crisis; etc. etc.

Activists react.  Politically we forget to expect the unexpected.  There will always be injustice to react to.  The progressive battle against the arrogance and greed of capitalism will continue on forever.

by aiko 2007-05-01 04:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I think there is always going to be work to do. Consider:

1. We (progressives) have successfully gotten the Democratic Party back into relevance.

2. Next we'll push to get the party into power so that our agenda can become law. I.e., win the presidency while maintaining or increasing our working majorities.

3. There are still lots of state legislatures that aren't as Democratic or as progressive as they could be. The work at the state and local level is really just getting going.

4. While we're doing that, and afterwards, we'll push to make the national party more progressive. We have lots of short term goals. We have lots of long term goals. There will always be candidates that need to be pushed or defeated for our agenda to be adopted.

5. It's likely we'll always have a need to keep the pressure on our elected officials to represent their constituents.

6. There will always be a place for vigilance and shining light on government behavior, regardless of who's in power. The (R)'s have demonstrated rather convincingly that they can't/won't do it. If we want corruption exposed, we'll have to do it. This one doesn't go away.

I can understand wanting to take a breath and step out of political activism now and again. Life is certainly more than politics. But I expect to stay involved at least a little for a long time to come. There's always going to be more to do. The last thing I want is for us to get back in power and find ourselves with a new collection of Rostenkowski-like grubs to chase after. Let's get it right this time. And then keep it right.

by KB 2007-05-01 04:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I'm not proud of it, but I think I'm pretty much where you are, Chris.  I just can't really see myself being politically active and invested for more than another five or ten years.  It's just too exhausting.

That said, I think there's a lot that ought to be done, and most of it comes after "the crisis is resolved."  For one thing -- and I'd love to be wildly wrong about this one -- I don't think our completely broken media will have been righted by 2013, and I honestly think that's the biggest obstacle in the way of true leftist political strength in this country.

I suppose it really depends in part on how you define "the crisis", really.  And my fear is that too many people -- myself included, and it sounds like you, too, Chris -- consider "the crisis" as having started around 1994, that if we can get, say, another Clintonesque moderate and successor in the White House and hold Congress, and push back against some of the worst excesses of Republicanism, we'll be okay.  Well, that's not really true: in only a slightly broader sense, this crisis -- as I think Matt Stoller is doing a great job consistently trying to emphasize -- has been ongoing at least since the 1930s, and it's not going away any time soon.

Ultimately that's why I personally am so vigorously opposed to HRC and, to a lesser extent, Obama as presidential candidates for '08; I just don't get the sense that they'll lead or even assist a forceful progressive political realignment, but I do get the sense that, even so, a lot of leftist activists will decide that things are Good Enough and that our work is done if we can last through one or two successful terms of their presidency.  (Would Edwards or Richardson be any better in this respect?  I don't know, but they certainly seem to be sending out promising signals, and I've got to support someone.)

But, still, I don't think I can do this for much longer; whether it's five, ten or twenty years for me, I'm sure the job won't be even remotely complete when I personally give up.  I wish that weren't the case.  But as long as we work hard while we can; as long as we acknowledge that there will still be much work to be done after we quit; as long as we leave something substantial for our successors to build on, I'll feel okay about it in the end.

by greebsnarf 2007-05-01 04:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

Well,I'm a political professional who was an activist from the time I was 12 years old.  Not really a child of anything described.  Just a progressive Democrat like my parents raised me.  I hope to still be a political professional 20 years from now.

by Marylander 2007-05-01 05:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

That's what I am curious about: how many MyDDers are political professionals and for how long?

After only 4 cycles, I am done and done.

by domma 2007-05-01 12:04PM | 0 recs
AN IN-POWER ACTIVIST

I would rather be an in-power activist than an out-of-power activist.  

So, if it takes the skills of Mark Penn or Rahm Emmanuel, who both have a proven track record of helping Democrats win, then so be it!

One thing is for sure; Bob Shrum, who has had his hand in almost every losing Democratic Presidential campaign (8 by my count?) in recent history, needs to be sent to a deserted island and not allowed to come back to American shores until January 2009!

by ChicagoDude 2007-05-01 05:24AM | 0 recs
Burnout

Chris, if you can't see yourself doing this in ten years, then you actually know--whether you realize it or not-- the reason the generation of '72 you so disparage turned out the way they did (and they are basically the generation of '92 grown older).   They, too, burned out,  but it wasn't just from political activism, but years and years of grinding resistance to the Vietnam War.   After Watergate, many people simply were worn out and burned out.  This was magnified by the fact many Movement women went into the exploding Woman's movement.  Others went into environmental activism.  The laws of entropy took over.

You see, the problem is, and this is the failure of your logic in regard to the "generation of '72" and the generational tension to seem to want to foster, is the Democratic Party in the 1960s was the principle perpetrator of the Vietnam War.   Let's be clear-- it had blood on its hands, lots of it.  Several million people died in the Vietnam War, vastly more than Iraq.  At the same time there were still significant numbers of liberal Republicans-- Nixon, for instance, created the best welfare program we have-- foodstamps.  He ended most of the physical hunger that existed at the time.  He also offered to Congressional Democrats to create universal healthcare-- and was turned down.    

So the kind of sharp ideological lines we see today are a product of the Reagan/Gingrich era.   The idea that the Democrats were upholding the banner of Western Civilization against barbarism, which is basically the case today, and rightfully so, would have been laughable then.   I mean, come on!  Lyndon Johnson sent the Army out to spy on us, just like Bush has!   Those were very scary times,  too-- I know, I was there and I can attest to this from personal experience.  

What happened after the 1960s is that both parties, our entire political culture, not just the Democrats, were corrupted by the politics of television.   As many people have noted in recent years, and on this blog today, politics became a spectator sport, a passive experience.   The real challenge today (which is the problem so many of us have with the Clintons, for they don't want this)  is that politics has to again become a participatory activity (again, the Clintonites are the ones resisting this).   That is, we have to make politics a normal, natural part of life, not something special or external.  

It is also why we have to make it possible for people to make a living at this.   People have to be paid decently so they don't burnout.   Pay is also how people develop professionally, build their skills and confidence.   The top-down Clintonite model wants to sink all the money in TV and not invest in people.  This difference is why Dean For America was so important, and his election to chair the DNC.  Dean is turning that around and putting the money into people instead, and that is a revolution in political affairs.

If you look at the famous Port Huron Statement founding the Students For A Democratic Society, you will see the emphasis on Participatory Democracy as a force to transform all aspects of life.    I doubt there is a thing in it you would disagree with and not identify with.   I worked for Eugene McCarthy in 1968, when I was in high school.   I feel the movement and change we are seeing now is the final product of 37 years of work.  

So an endgame?  There is no end game.  The religious philosopher, James Carse, has written a book "Finite And Infinite Games" about just this kind of thinking.   According to Carse, and he is right,  "the purpose of the game is to keep the game going."   The kind of stability you seek is actually stasis, and dangerous because it is inherently unstable.

Chris, I really pray you have the opportunity to make a lifelong career in this that so many members of my generation was denied!   And stop thinking about things like endgames, which I would guess, is a warning sign, no matter how pumped you feel right now, that you are beginning to realize burnout will come.

by tea in the harbor 2007-05-01 05:52AM | 0 recs
How to keep on keeping on

You've said most of that better than I can -- so I'll just add a little.

I'm a child of 1968 -- and I never stopped though my activism took different forms at different times. The Democratic Party as a vehicle for preservation of democracy and human decency was pretty much off the table for us: Vietnam was the Democrats' war as much as Iraq is the Republicans.  We didn't look again at Democrats until after 2000. Wars have consequences.

Political activism took various forms at various times. Folks like me, and much younger ones as well, did stop St. Ronnie from having his Iraq in Central America and we did bash the Reps and Dixiecrats into supporting sanctions on aparthied. These things matter because they formed ties that progresives in the U.S. NEED in the contemporary global economy. We'd be even more isolated with the neocons without that history.

For most of the 70s and 80s, I didn't work in politics except as a volunteer -- I worked in construction like a normal person. I'm glad to have been just a worker. Like many who've worked with their hands, I have to think hard before I trust those who never have. I also had it easy staying politically active, because, concurrent with other causes, I was part of a personally necessary social movement (queer rights) that was riding a wave toward success (as we still are). So opting out was somewhat less of an option.

By the beginning of the 90s, my body wouldn't do construction anymore, but fortunately the skills learned in construction management of getting fractious people to accomplish apparently uncoordinated tasks in an organized way fit perfectly into campaign work -- and I've caught on at the radical fringes of the political world ever since.

Looks like we may dig ourselves out of the worst of the crisis of 2000 -- because of the hard, hard work of a new generation of activists. We don't put societies back though -- we find a way forward that makes something better out of the old. Coming to terms with climate change and globalization are the current crisises of capitalism -- this society does need an FDR equivalent to give the majority of the population leadership into a new paradigm -- and a progressive movement to defend such leadership from the old ways.

And individuals need to find ways to live that don't lead to complete burnout. There are a few of us (no more than 5 percent) who will never completely go away from political engagement -- I think we are sports, oddities, and we mustn't demand the same from everyone. And I think it is healthy, even essential, that we sometimes back off for periods to keep perspective and to know how other people live. We become manipulative and arrogant when we don't.

by janinsanfran 2007-05-01 07:12AM | 0 recs
Tough to say...

I was never really interested in politics until the last few years as everything started to 'dawn' on me. Not sure if this was my growing maturity, or that the country got so bad I couldn't help but see it. Maybe a bit of both.

Before, I was never interested in politics cause I was an independent and figured both parties would screw me. I see the error of my ways now, but once things 'right' themselves, I doubt I'll be as activist I am now. I feel a sense of URGENCY with our politics today.

by LnGrrrR 2007-05-01 05:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

1) The 50 state strategy will take another 10 to 20 years to accomplish according to its most ardent advocates (Howard Dean and the DNC staff tasked with that part of its mission.

2) End of History? Phoey.

3) After the gates have been crashed, and the party machinery reinvented for a reeal 21st century democracy, there is a long, slow, and absolutely essential process of education. Not just in acedemia. The "common knowledge" we need to thrive as an ethical democracy needs to be taught. That is, indeed, a game without end.

by demondeac 2007-05-01 07:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

What about the chidren of 1960?

They saw the exhileration of the Civil Rights movmentg and the War on Poverty come crashing down in VietNam, Urban Riots, and the shootings of JFK, RFK, and MLK.

This group has been waiting a very long time to once again feel a sense of hope and optimism.

Obama will do very well among this group of progressives.

by Sam I Am 2007-05-01 07:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

The vast majority of American voters are trapped in gerrymandered electoral districts dominated by one or the other of the two major political parties.

They cannot select their candidates for office and must vote for politicians who are beholden to the wealthy individuals and large corporations who provide the lion's share of their campaign contributions.

The result is a disconnect between the people and this deformed government whose elected "representatives" refuse to pass legislation that protects the vital interests of their constituents.

With corporations largely in control of this deformed government, they are reaping huge profits at the expense of working Americans because elected officials refuse to raise the minimum wage and enforce laws prohibiting excess profits, unfair business practices and union-busting.

With their costs of living outstripping their stagnant incomes, the vast majority of the American electorate has a progressive legislative agenda, if you look at opinion polls. The problem is that they can't elect a government to implement it.

The progressive movement consists of the members of the electorate who were the earliest to recognize the trap we are in. They were the most precocious in acknowledging the necessity to become political activists to accelerate the progressive revolution against the Republican Party that is underway and everything the party stands for and has done over the past 30 years.

Most American voters will get on the progressive bandwagon politically within the the next decade. In the process, if the centrists in the Democratic Party keep acting like Republicans and retain control of the party, the electorate will probably have to invent new political parties to represent the full spectrum of the progressive agendas that will inevitably emerge throughout the country.

by Nancy Bordier 2007-05-01 07:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I've been an activist for over 30 years now, and plan to continue doing it. After 8 years of Reagan, though, I began to wonder if this was an endless task like Sisyphus rolling a rock up a hill only to have it roll back down (and crush us on the way down). I wrote a book to help me figure out if it was actually possible to create a good society someday (Inciting Democracy), and I found a way that convinced skeptical me that it was possible to create a pretty good society and we could get there in less than one hundred years with enough hope and effort (and strategic planning, skills building, and activist support).

But then the (s)election of 2000 and the way Bush exploited the 9/11 attacks made it clear that we were going to go backwards for another 5-10 years. Fortunately, this has stimulated a massive outpouring of progressive effort that has gone a long ways towards stopping Bush and beginning to move in the other direction. I'm hopeful that we can get back to at least the level of the Bill Clinton years and maybe even go much further in the next 6 years.

Still, most progressives can't maintain this level of activity for very long. Family, health concerns, and money push almost everyone to eventually become less active. Until we are able to pay more than survival wages (at least a living wage and perhaps a comfortable wage) to a large number of activists, then many people will drop out after the crisis is resolved.

This, unfortunately, has been a winning strategy for the power elite: constant pressure that eventually wears out progressive activists. This is what happened to most of the 60s generation, especially when the energy crisis and recession of 1974 made it a whole lot harder to make ends meet. They pulled back, which allowed the Reaganauts to take over.

So my advice: work like a maniac for the next 4-6 years to get progressive Democrats into power across the board. Hopefully, they will enact some legislation that will correct our current problems and make it easier for us to take the next steps (single-payer healthcare and clean-money elections would help a lot). Then stay involved as much as you can but try to move to a more sustainable level of activity that will allow you to work steadily for the next 40 years. During this longer period, focus much of your attention on teaching, mentoring, and supporting the next generation of activists. Take breaks to heal your soul, support family and friends through medical emergencies, etc., and to make money.

And note that in the next 10 years this country may very well have another major terrorist attack, a hurricane that destoys a major city, a devastating earthquake that destroys a chunk of California, some kind of epidemic disease that spreads widely, and/or a major recession. The US economy is running on credit card debt and Treasury Bill debt and so may collapse at some point. The US military is the largest and most powerful military ever to exist in the history of the world. Climate change, a devestated environment, and massive military forces pose a threat to all of humanity. So who knows how the future will turn. It likely will not be at all as we currently imagine, and we'll have to adapt and adjust to the changing terrain as we go along.

Do the best you can and keep struggling and snuggling. That's what I try to do.

by RandomNonviolence 2007-05-01 07:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I started college in fall '04, thinking that Kerry would be elected and the world would slowly go back to normal.  I was going to be a diplomat.

We know how that turned out.

I've decided to try campaigning as a career, and I doubt I'm the only one who's turned to politics as our world has gone from sideways to completely upside-down over the course of the Bush presidency.

But among those of us who aren't considering it as a career, even then the 'net makes staying in touch with activism possible and even probable.  The children of '68-'72 disappeared after their disappointments, because the party apparatus was too big to accept them, and local organizations were losing power and standing after the McGovern reforms.

The 'net gives would-be lifelong activists a framework through which to stay involved, especially through the nexus of the state-level blogs.  That's encouraging.

by paladin 2007-05-01 07:50AM | 0 recs
Will there be a realignment?

Chris,
I think this is another way to ask the same question will 2006 be a Successful or Failed Realignment.  Paul Rosenberg went into this greatly.  If 2008 is a losing year for Democrats, then the crisis will not be over, and we'll all continue working until it is.  

If a Progressive Democrats get elected then the crisis will wane and the movement solidified by a successful realignment that Paul Rosenberg describes.  If a Republican gets elected then it will be a temporary or "failed" re-alignment.  The worse thing for the movement would be if non-progressive democrats win.  The crisis will be over, but the movement will not solidify.  

I think that whichever Democrat wins will ultimately govern as a progressive to maintain popularity.  To understand why I believe this you have to go super-academic and accept the findings of Strauss and Howe.  In their book generations they describe the cyclical nature of American Generations.  If you believe in their research it means that not only will the political re-alignment that Paul Rosenberg describes is about to happen (if a Progressive is elected) but 2 new generations are about to take over and guide us out of our current generational crisis and into a "High".  I mention this because I don't think these 2 things are unrelated.  These 2 new generations being of course Gen X's and the Millenials.  If you want some very filling food for thought, you should read about the different Generation theories.  

by maddogg 2007-05-01 07:55AM | 0 recs
What do they think of the Children of 52?

We were born under the McCarthy Fascist regime.  Then we had to deal with The President from Valium.

Our activism was social/cultural, not political, because of those circumstances.  The Beat Movement (include Kerouac, Cassidy, Ginsberg, Corso, McClure) focused on freeing ourselves individually, not as a political movement.

We produced the critiques of The Status Seekers, The Organization Man, and a healthy labor union movement.

In short, we laid the groundwork for the Children of 62 to go political when the wedge of the 1960 election came along.

So, are we even on the radar screen of the current generation? Serious question--do we even count?

by traveler 2007-05-01 08:21AM | 0 recs
Re: What do they think of the Children of 52?
Well, judging by the responses here,...we don't count here at all.
Somehow, I'm not surprised.
Just remember, we vote in greater numbers than you do.  We contribute to political candidates more than you do.  We work for our candidates more than you do.
Guess who will have the last laugh.
Hahahahaha
by traveler 2007-05-01 11:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

Thank you so much for this, Chris.

I've been thinking about this constellation of issues pretty much non-stop since I dropped out of college in 2004 to go into politics. Since then I've organized voter registration drives, worked on a state senate campaign, went on the road with a rock and roll tour engaging young people on progressive ideas, directed a fundraising canvass, and now am organizing a nationwide educational effort on global warming. Every one of these jobs has, at some level, felt like my last political job. I'll end a six month campaign with sleep-heavy eyes and a little more liver damage than I started it with and want nothing more than an easy, normal, nine to fiver. Once I even got one, did tech support for 5 months.

I've meant to go back to school every fall. I've meant to take time off and travel. But there seems to be an inescapable gravity to this work, as if I have crossed the event horizon of some social singularity, and I always have ended up back in "the game".

Beyond the plain fact of working for what I know is right, there's something to be said for the sense of purpose, the sense of accomplishment, I suppose. More than maybe any other career path, activism offers the prospect of immediate job satisfaction. I ended the 2004 campaign having personally registered more than 1500 people to vote. The rest of the office I directed had registered more than 25,000. I could rightly take pride in making a real difrerence. There's not much else in the world quite like that feeling.

But how sustainable is it? What are our chances at normal lives? I think the answer to that question is different for each person. For me, I've come to realize that, probably largely because of my upbringing, I have grown into a man uncomfortable and uneasy in the huddled masses. I don't like cookie-cutter apartments and suburban honeycombs; I don't like cookie-cutter jobs and high-rise cubicle mazes. I define normal much differently than many people. My own, I suppose you could call it bohemianism fits pretty nicely with the romance of the activist lifestyle, and so here I am. Who knows how long this will be the only thing I can conceive of doing for a living. I only know that for now it feels like home.

by hubbird 2007-05-01 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

I've been involved since 1992 over the issue of health insurance.  I think we need public financing of campaigns so ordinary people don't have to live like monks to be activist, until then I am sure their some people in their late teens and 20s that will replace you because this crisis isn't going away until the oligarchy is a memory.

by Dameocrat 2007-05-01 09:22AM | 0 recs
I'm class of 2002

I got scared when the war was starting and not a single Dem was fighting back. Maybe this is why I'm so into Obama.

I'm pretty sure both my wife and I are lifers. We're having a blast, making decent money, learning new things every moment and working with amazing people.

I would like the 15-20h days to slow down a bit, but I'm hoping that will come as Bush exits.

by Dan Ancona 2007-05-01 10:40AM | 0 recs
Professional for now, activist forever

I plan to be a professional activist for 8 or ten years, not just till the crisis is resolved, but also until every region in the country has reached its tipping point, or until I burn out, get a stiff job and have kids -- whichever comes first.

But I fully intend to be an activist for the rest of my life, and I can see my future "stiff job" being something in the world of politics (I'd like a rich person to give me a bunch of money to ensure black radio availability wherever there is a potential market for it, or maybe just consult or something).

by msnook 2007-05-01 12:44PM | 0 recs
I'm a child of 1980.

I still remember the skit at the talent show at college where the kid is having nightmares and barely articulated fears of terrible things happening, and the mommy and daddy come and, and mommy says, "there, there, dear, we won't vote for Reagan".

But the Iran hostage crisis dragged on, and many did vote for Reagan. And we got support for torture and fascist governments in central America and elsewhere, the beginning of the elimination of real university student aid, the wink and a nod policy of encouraging illegal employment as a union busting measure, and so much more.

Heck, went teaching math in Grenada for the Peace Corp ... how much more child of 1980 can you get? First major experience overseas explaining to people that it really was by accident that Reagan rescued them from radical loonies and 24 hour curfew, shoot on sight.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-01 02:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Do You Have An Activist Endgame?

As a child of 2000 I would have to agree of your assertion that our interest in politics stems from the conservative movements overreach. I saw 2006 and see 2008 as a pivotal moment for America.  If we continue to give up our civil liberties (i.e. The USA PATRIOT ACT) for security we are going to slowly fall into a police state. You might laugh but I wouldn't, if you've seen Rudy Guiliani's comments on executive power it would make George W. Bush seem moderate. And the last I looked he is leading in most of the polls.  This is why WE must get a democrat elected into office.  And this is why my interest in politics is as it is. (it also helps that I am majoring in political science.) What really bothers me is the leadership of the left today is weak and has allowed this conservative takeover. (Although the Democratic Congress is finally beginning to show some balls) It is reassuring to see fresh new faces in the picture as opposed to the same old politics.  I guess that is why I am biased towards Hillary Clinton. I just see her as part of the old Democratic party-the so called "1992"'ers. I guess my point is yes, I do see myself 10, 20, or even 30 years from now and still deeply involved in politics.  We must be if we are to leave our children with a country that is still great, and still an example and THE standard to the rest of the world.

by SocialDem 2007-05-01 08:52PM | 0 recs

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