Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I am trying hard to stay serene. It's not easy. The tensions are mounting on the left. The pressure is building. The words are flying. Get in line people say. Do as we do, do as we say, follow the crowd, we know what is best.

I've never been a good pack animal.

On the local PeaceWorks list serve there is a lively debate going on about Maine's U.S. Senate race. I've written about it before. The incumbent Republican Susan Collins and the Democrat's Rep. Tom Allen. There is a write-in candidate Herbert Hoffman who was bounced off the ballot by the Maine Democratic party for collecting signatures the same way everyone else in Maine does. The Secretary of State put Hoffman on the ballot. The Dems challenged it in court and lost. Then they appealed to the state Supreme Court and were "successful" in kicking Hoffman off.

Because of these Democratic party shenanigans many people in the progressive community can't vote for Tom Allen, the "liberal" Democrat. So the words are flying back and forth on the list serve.

I was trying to stay out of it.....I wanted to remain peaceful and above the fray. I didn't want to get into the down and dirty of state politics. After all, I am a peacenik. But some of the emails from folks have just been so ridiculous that, well, I just could not remain in my state of orange blossom honey harmony. So I jumped in.....

Last night I wrote: "I find it hard to believe that many people in the progressive community have stood back and watched the Maine Democratic party do what Karl Rove and the Republicans have become known for - electoral dirty tricks - and not said a mumbling word. When the Republicans pull dirty tricks people get all inflamed as they well should.
But when the Dems do it people turn their heads and look the other way. What was done to Herb Hoffman is one of the worst cases of electoral fraud that I've ever witnessed.
But what is the saddest part of the deal is that people who claim to want free and fair elections have walked away from this case because they don't want to be critical of the Dems.
Many people on the right claim that people on the left are hypocritical. They say we complain about Republican electoral fraud and don't criticize it when it is done on our side. In this case they are right. I am not going to look away. I will vote for Herb Hoffman for the US Senate."

I tried to keep the tone polite but firm. Respectful but direct.

This morning a response came from one woman. She said, "and you will be throwing your vote away because any normal thinking voter will realize that Hoffman cannot possibly you will be voting FOR COLLINS AND AGAINST ALLEN...good going ...way to go...make your big point...don't try to make a change in government...just keep thinking like all the small minded talking heads....."

Now let me be so bold to analyze this response. First of all I have to say that I've lived in this community for 5 1/2 years and do not know who this woman is. She is on the list serve but never comes to events. But now that it is "election season" she uses the group's list serve to promote Democratic party candidates with PASSION. It's not the first time I've seen her respond in this debate. Some folks call people like this "trolls" I believe.

What, pray tell, is a "normal thinking voter"? A pack follower? A crowd pleaser?

Next, she didn't address my point which I think at least merits some level of acknowledgement and discussion. But loyal Dems can't, they must follow the party no matter how corrupt they have become.

The last point, about throwing my vote away. Susan Collins has more than a 10 point lead over Tom Allen. She remains very popular in the state and Allen has made no progress in his run against her. He is going to lose big. My vote ain't going to beat Allen.

Dems are frustrated and want to lash out at someone. Why not blame people like me, or Herb Hoffman, for the fact that he is going to lose? It makes life easier later on. This way the Dems don't have to reflect on the real reasons for Allen losing people who should be part of his base.....his long support for funding for the Iraq occupation.....his refusal to consider impeachment......refusal to support single-payer health care, his arrogance in general.......his refusal to stand up to his own party when they continued to enable Bush, especially during the past two years.

This same kind of discussion is going on around Obama as well. But since Obama now appears to be winning it is less intense. Daily though I get emails telling me that if Obama loses it will be people like me - independent thinkers - who will be responsible. It's a very simplistic take on politics. It's actually very presumptuous and could likely split the left badly over time if it continues.

OK, there, it's off my chest. I can try to return to my meditative state again.


Until the next email flies........


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