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So, let's all just agree that mere protests don't accomplish anything

by: Eric B.

Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 07:44:14 AM EST


The Legislature convened yesterday, and to no one's surprise Jase Bolger -- the electioneering, tax cheating Jase Bolger -- was easily re-elected to the House Speakership. If you get a chance to read his speech, don't do it shortly after eating. It was the equivalent of a husband saying to his wife, "I know I slept with your sister, but what say we let bygones be bygones."

And, how did liberals/progressives/labor respond?

Wednesday morning, about 200 protesters formed a "Wall of Shame" outside the statehouse holding pictures of Republican lawmakers who voted for right to work with the word "shame" printed over their image.

"We are going to continue to do this so that people are aware that we're watching what our legislators do," said DeAndrea Foisy, 51, of Livonia, a union representative for the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Foisy was holding a picture of her representative, House Speaker Pro Tem John Walsh, R-Livonia.

Can we all just agree by now that if they didn't listen during the Lame Duck, they're not going to listen now. They aren't going to care if you hold photos or deliver cookies or make clever speeches, because they don't care.

What do they care about? Winning elections. The more time people spend standing in front of the Capitol, shouting, the less time they're spending organizing and fielding good candidates. Our good friend Joe D. actually says that down in the article, which is good since it means someone's thinking that the status quo has to change.

Eric B. :: So, let's all just agree that mere protests don't accomplish anything
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Nope (4.00 / 7)
We can keep having this argument ad naseum and I'll never agree with that.  If you don't think people can chew gum and walk at the same time, that's your opinion, but it is not mine.  And just because you have the street theater folks doing their thing doesn't mean the organizers aren't working.  These groups in a movement don't have to be one-and-the-same and often aren't.  If 200 people want to keep these stories in the media and are willing to go down to the capitol in 40-degree temps, more power to them.  I am not going to discourage this, anymore than I'm going to discourage the folks working in the backgrounds because they aren't out front and center.

You all can keep trying to drive a wedge and divide our support; I'm not going to be a party to that, not now, not ever.


More protests (4.00 / 5)
I have to agree with Middle. When you have people who want to do something and show their support for getting rid of right to work for less and voice their displeasure for those that fostered it on us you let them. I don't think it hurts to let those people we are fighting against know we are there and have not forgotten and give those who support us an avenue to join us. I was at the meeting where the walk stepped off, and it seemed like more than 200 people. Seeing the energy in that room, I can see those same people being just as fired up to knock on doors next year.

It's like the sports cliché about momentum, and I see this as keeping it moving toward 2014. I don't want people to forget how  

Communications Guru The Conservative Media http://liberalmedianot.blogspot.com


... (0.00 / 0)
So we shouldn't have any more protest because it will not sway GOP votes? Tell that to the tea party protesters in 2010 that swayed no votes but accomplished pushing dem negatives higher and acted as conduit for organizing. Nah we should tell everyone to go home next time and wait for a phone call to knock doors in a year plus.

Why was this not a good idea? Because it cost as much as a some cookies and a visit to Kinkos? Because it got us free earned media and 200 people hyped that want to actually work to help elect dems to office instead of throwing stones on a blog?


The Tea Party protests (3.00 / 2)
Protests are only useful if they can actually energize lots of people. The Tea Party protests of 2009 didn't do anything except give legitimacy to the idea that the Tea Party was a legitimate grassroots organization. 200 people aren't a lot of people. Free media doesn't do any good, because protests are now common place.

Again, do stuff that wins elections, not stuff that garners half a day's attention.

Among the Trees


[ Parent ]
really? (0.00 / 0)
Free media does not do any good? Do you have any idea how much it cost to buy tv time or put ads in statewide papers?

You can scoff at free earned media but it just shows that you might not know what your talking about.


[ Parent ]
I know full well what good free media does. I work in the media. (0.00 / 0)
The only people impressed by stories about Capitol protests are people who attended the protests or people who wanted to but had to work.

No normal person cares. No normal person is going to have his opinion changed by a free media story in which cookies were handed to lawmakers as a gimmick.

Among the Trees


[ Parent ]
Wow (0.00 / 0)
"or people who wanted to but had to work."

That, in itself, would be enough.

Why are you worried that people want to come protest? I would be disturbed if nobody cared enough to show up.  


[ Parent ]
too funny. (0.00 / 0)
Wait so protest do no good but they

a) earn free media
B) legitimize movements and message, like the tea party?

And you think these things are not a part of winning elections? Do you think blogs win elections?


[ Parent ]
The Tea Party wasn't a movement. (0.00 / 0)
The Tea Party protests made it look like the Tea Party was a movement. They also gave the Tea Party activists energy to create a non-existent infrastructure, an infrastructure that already exists on the Left (your labor unions).

So, yes, it's a waste of time. What wouldn't be? Doing stuff that wins elections.

Among the Trees


[ Parent ]
... (0.00 / 0)
Anyone that suggested it is a better idea not to get free media instead of getting it doesn't know what they are talking about. Half a day of earned media over time adds up.

As I said and you too: Protest = A) earned media B) legitimizes a movement and a message.

If you do not think those two things have anything to do with winning an election it is clear that you have never won an election yourself.


[ Parent ]
Free media (0.00 / 0)
Nobody cares about "free media" except people who for some reason want "free media." Fewer and fewer people pay attention to the media in the first place, and in the second place no one will remember yesterday's protests past the end of this week. And, by the end of this week, I mean Friday.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
Protests are not a waste of time (4.00 / 4)
The protests this week were an earned media tactic that's presumably part of a larger political strategy. The strategy includes keeping right to work and other controversial issues in front of the public, all of which reinforces a larger message about Republicans:  they are extremists who don't care about average folks.  This is an indispensable component for Dems to regain political power in 2014.  If it's the only tactic and there's no larger strategy it's useless and won't accomplish the goal.  For me the important questions revolve around whether Democrats will improve their fundraising and field organizing games to match what I think is an effective messaging war being waged against the right.  Protests in Lansing are part of building an organizing component but, as has been pointed out, so is locally targeted activism.

Re: diminishing news consumers. Just because only 55% of people get their news from TV and less than that from other sources is no reason to abandon protests as an earned media tactic, especially since the percentage of likely 2014 voters who are news consumers is higher.   Moreover, the 39% of people who get their news online through social media and other channels become prime targets of the protest message as well.  Repetition of the message that Republicans are out of touch, extreme and against the middle class may bore activists like us, but it's essential to moving and solidifying opinion among average voters.  


There were 200 people there (2.00 / 1)
And, it generated a handful of paragraphs deep into the story. That's not an effective "earned media tactic." That's people showing up and holding signs and no one caring.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
Agree/disagree (0.00 / 0)
Agree that it is not a waste of time to protest.

Disagree that the organizers of said protest have any coherent, long-term strategy.


[ Parent ]
I agree with Eric (4.00 / 1)
for the most part.

The massive protest the day they passed RTW was worth doing, just to show that we could mobilize a big crowd, and to get our message across. I was there.

But Eric's larger point, that this sort of thing has no effect whatsoever on the legislators, is indisputable.

Look, I'm working in the grassroots, recruiting candidates, organizing my precinct, serving as district chair, contributing money, writing letters, etc. If I want to go to a protest as well, no one should complain -- AS LONG AS I'm doing all of the above. If someone needs to make a choice between A) organizing and B) protesting, I will advise them to do (A).


... (4.00 / 1)
I would have a hard time believing that the goal of the folks protesting yesterday was to effect how legislators will vote. I think they were there because they were mad.

[ Parent ]
Fine. Be mad ... but channel it into something productive (0.00 / 0)
Have you seen how much energy and time and money is spent organizing and executing one of those protests? What's it followed up with?

More importantly, why not focus that energy and time and money back where it matters? Win races, hector the lawmakers back at townhalls where they aren't shielded by lobbyists and are in public?

Among the Trees


[ Parent ]
Umm, weren't the protests an example of "hectoring" lawmakers when they were in public? (4.00 / 2)
May not have been a town hall, but entering the Capitol surely counts as being in a public space.

You're treating "energy" as some sort of finite (and scarce) resource, that must be carefully preserved so we don't fail at GOTV 20-21 months from now.

In fact, the opposite is true -- any "energy" expended in visible protests will be fully recovered when this week's activists continue to engage others, which translates to more resources available for "winning races."

People do more -- work harder, donate higher, walk farther -- when they are motivated. Protests such as these can help in that regard.

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison


[ Parent ]
No... (0.00 / 0)
Lawmakers don't even enter the Capitol near where the protesters were, so they didn't have to see them, hear them, or deal with them.  It was 200 people showing up to make noise so that it could generate three paragraphs buried in a story no one's going to read.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
How? (0.00 / 0)
How are they shielded by lobbyists?  

[ Parent ]
I agree with you, Mark (0.00 / 0)
While I wouldn't completely dismiss protests as a way of helping build support for a cause, the reality is that the kinds of changes we need in Michigan will take a lot more than a protest or two.

Everyone: Mark is a great example of someone who gets involved and who makes changes in real, tangible ways. All of us need to be involved - not only on the blogs or in the streets, but in ways that actually help elect pro-worker candidates to office.

Now on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott: The Grand Rapids Press, which rarely endorses Democrats, backs Winnie Brinks


[ Parent ]
Let's say we all took your advice... (4.00 / 2)
Say no one showed up at the Capitol to visually -- by their presence and with props -- demonstrate the displeasure we all feel at the Republican overreach in last month's "Inflamed Duck" session.

The takeaway message for Republicans would NOT be "Uh oh, the Democrats have wised up and must be off organizing and fielding good candidates."

No, what they would get is "The other side can't even be bothered to protest less than a month after we kicked all their union bosses square in the nuts...they must secretly AGREE with what we've done! We've BEATEN them!"

Then they'd tell the media, who would run stories (under big headlines and/or promoted by big chyrons) parroting a Republican narrative along the lines of "MICHIGAN UNIONS ARE DEAD AS A POLITICAL PLAYER."

Is that somehow a preferable outcome?

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison


I have to say... (4.00 / 2)
I pretty much agree with Eric on this. If people want to have protests in Lansing, that's fine, but that has pretty much nothing to do with whether Dems will be able to win the governorship, AG, SoS, the legislature, or Supreme Court seats, or will be able to repeal RTW via initiative in '14.

That ability has everything to do with candidate recruitment, targeting of winnable seats, organizing at the precinct level, and money.

How is it the Dems, despite having consistent majorities at the top of the ticket in this century (except for '10), haven't elected an AG since '98, a SoS since '90, and a Senate majority since '82? And when was the last time the Dems had a majority on the Supreme Court?


That last one would be 2010... (0.00 / 0)
...When Justice Elizabeth Weaver resigned and Gov. Granholm appointed Alton Thomas Davis to the MSC.

Davis then proceeded to lose in the Republican tsunami that November, taking that short-lived 4-3 majority with him.

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison


[ Parent ]
Look at who we run.. also gerrymandering (4.00 / 3)
Look at Dem candidates. Benson for SoS was stronger than Virg at the top of the ticket. Bernero/Lawrence was the least attractive top of the ticket match in memory. All because labor wanted to slap Dillon. Snubbed Richard Bernstein who has money, intellect, experience and a great story in favor of Dave Leyton??

As for the Senate (and indeed the House), Republican-controlled gerrymandering has made it insanely hard to win. In 2012, as with the rest of the nation, more people voted for Democratic candidates, but Republicans kept the majority. If you look at the 12 members of the Senate, they are grouped specifically in urban centers, gerrymandered out of relevancy.


[ Parent ]
A 4 on the Bernstein comment (4.00 / 3)
I've had conversations in which people have said that, but this is the first time I've seen put in print that the Dems in 2010 eschewed a candidate with unlimited resources and statewide name recognition in favor of a weaker candidate on the ground that they didn't think anyone could question his toughness on crime ... which the Republicans went ahead and did anyway.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
State of the State (4.00 / 1)
Protests called for the Governor Snyder's State of the State address.  


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