One thing I think we can all take away from this primary election is the pivotal role that PACs play in the selection of our leaders. Whether you consider them a conduit for corporate manipulation or an essential tool for collective bargaining, they represent a powerful element of our system, and simply cannot be dismissed or ignored.
In a recent discussion, captsfufp made some observations:
But I'm interested in other thoughts about how to built an infrastructure to support candidates who have truly progressive and outsider ideas (with the caveat that there's not necessarily anything wrong with moderate, "insider" ideas...I have more than a few of them myself sometimes!). Or it'll just be the same old song again and again.
that set me to thinking about how maybe we could not only play the game, but maybe even help the rules to evolve some.
First of all, I think we should examine the root basic function of such an organization: the collection and disbursement of money. Just as in our individual domestic lives, the collection part is by far the most difficult of these two activities, and you can use my pitiful little checkbook as "exhibit A" to prove this.
So how would you go about convincing a large number of progressives to part with their hard-earned money to support an "entity" as opposed to a specific individual or well-defined issue? Let's just assume that many of us could not do both (at least not vigorously), so these prospective donors would need to feel certain that if they chose the entity, their hopes and desires would be represented well. You can dial it down to "perceived value" if you want to look at it from a marketing standpoint.
But frankly, clever words and pleasing images ain't gonna get it with this crowd. They need to be confident in the proper application of their assistance, and they need to be involved. Which brings me to the next (and possibly much more important) trait, which is integrity.
In this day and age, where we are assaulted constantly by dubious organizations spewing unbelievable claims about their products and/or services, our natural reaction is disbelief and doubt. Trust doesn't come easy these days, which is one reason why progressives tend to shy away from generalizations and ambiguity; they are often the foes of transparency and truth, and we've learned to mistrust them.
So how do you instill trust and guarantee integrity?That part is actually simple: you involve everybody in the process, and keep them involved. So instead of an organization which is operated by a few to represent the many, you have an organization that is actually operated by the many. Maybe have a duly elected executive committee (10 people?) that can disburse small amounts to individuals or organizations to help them educate (print flyers, etc.), but all larger disbursements are voted on by all contributors or "members", if you will.
Each member gets one vote on each proposal; that's it. If you contribute $50 (or whatever) to the PAC, you are now a member with a vote. If you are an influential elected official, journalist, pundit or wag, and have also met the membership requirement, you get one vote; that's it. If you got in on the ground floor, have been instrumental in forwarding the wishes of the vast majority of members, you get one vote; that's it. If (for some strange reason) you are a bloodthirsty multi-national corporation, hell-bent on enslaving poverty-stricken children and razing the rainforests, and you contributed eleventy-million dollars to the PAC, you get one vote; that's it.
As far as the actual voting is concerned, I guess it could be handled via e-mail or a secured online system. Whatever. My point is that there is absolutely no reason why everybody can't take part in the decisions. Would you have to vote? You could and you should, because I think it would provide an unbelievable platform for education on the issues, but no, you wouldn't have to vote. For many, simply the faith in the Democratic process would suffice to keep them confident.
A note about the title of the diary and the imaginary PAC: it's just something that popped into my head. And yes, I'm very fond of the term "sustainable". It's not just an infatuation; I'm deeply in love with the word, and would marry it and raise a sustainable little fam...sorry, I went off on a totally unsustainable tangent there.
See, it's more than just an environmental term, it helps bring focus to progressive ideals about the future: Allowing a regressive tax system to be imposed or to remain in place is not sustainable; standing by while counterproductive unfunded mandates and geographic economic disparity undermine the effectiveness and fairness of our education system is not sustainable; leaving our energy policy and environmental stewardship in the hands of a small select group of people is not sustainable; allowing the free market to be the primary determinant in when and where progress is needed is not sustainable.
I could go on, but the bottom line is: the things that need to be done will not get done by themselves, and we must find the power and determination to bring about the change we so desperately need. As individual voices, we haven't a chance. Together, anything is possible.
The sole and basic source of our strength is the solidarity of workers, peasants and the intelligentsia, the solidarity of the nation, the solidarity of people who seek to live in dignity, truth, and in harmony with their conscience.