A detailed strategy for winning the war against dark money

No, not mine. I’m not that brilliant. My general strategy for coping with dark money is by reading books about it and being scared and furious.

What has scared me the most is how dark money pours into particular districts and states just before the elections, and how effective it has been in defying the polls and changing the votes.

As I look at polls today, I can predict with anxious certainty not who will win, but where the wave of dark money will be pouring in. And all I can do to soothe myself is to hope that after the last couple of major elections, voters won’t be suckers again.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.

But fortunately for our world there are people who are brilliant at peering into black holes and finding ways of navigating through them with tiny flashlights.

In 2008, I bought and read, Freedom’s Unsteady March, by Tamara Cofman Wittes. Tammy is my cousin-by-marriage and is an expert on an area of the world — the Middle East — that I lost my grip on years ago. That is, when I think “Middle East,” I throw my hands up in the air and work hard to stop thinking about it.

For me, the Middle East means religious fundamentalism and a disastrous life course for any unfortunate person born female.

But Tammy’s book showed me how a knowledgeable realist approaches the problem — no, not problem; absence — of anything resembling women’s rights, human rights in the Mid-East. It educated me about the abject failure of throwing up one’s hands. Tammy showed me real, if small, initial steps that have been taken to encourage and support the simple human rights all Mid-Eastern women should have.

It was a revelation, as well as an eye- and mind-opener. I thanked Tammy profusely for giving me hope of solutions to what I had always seen were eternally insoluble problems.

Back to dark money and elections.

A brilliant and exciting piece in today’s New York Times,”What Union Organizers Can Teach Democrats,” by Jane McAlevey, has Tammied me up all over again, has given me hope.

The subhead sums up McAlevey’s point in equating union struggles against massive corporate power with Democratic/liberal struggles against massive amounts of dark money: “Liberals are going to lose votes to billionaire-funded scare tactics, so they need to build a supermajority cushion to defeat Trump and the G.O.P.”

It’s a must read — not only because it’s practical, but because it’s inspiring.

A few excerpts:

…experienced union organizers know that in the final weeks leading up to the [union] election, union avoidance consultants will unleash a blitzkrieg to drastically reduce the numbers of pro-union voters by persuading them to vote against their interests or, even more effectively, to simply stay home on voting day. They have a name for this: “futility.”

Futility. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Voting against interests or staying home and not voting. Sounds like 2016.

Through all platforms available, [union avoidance consultants] hammer away the message that no matter whether workers show up or don’t show up to vote, nothing will ever change. Futility is a strategy. An indispensable aspect of this is to make people associate the unionization election itself with the pain and discomfort of the polarized, harsh language coming at them from all sides: The sooner the election goes away, the better they will feel. Things will return to “normal,” since they will stop fighting with friends and family, and the once-bad normal — the reason for the struggle in the first place — suddenly feels better, until their employer cuts benefits weeks after the election. Futility makes the act of voting, discussing and even thinking about the election feel bad. A persistent refrain in the fall of 2016 was “I can’t wait till this thing is over already.” Making Americans want to make the election (democracy) “just go away” is a main tactic of the futility strategy.

My bolding. Boy, does this zing. Hard.

I’m on the brink of saying a lot and what I have to say means absolutely nothing. You don’t need my exegesis. Just read the piece. It’s not long and it should get you up on your feet and out the door.

Jane McAlevey’s most recent book is, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age.



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