Gary Snyder, whom I will name Poet Laureate in the last year of my second term as President when there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it, frequently uses the terms "the real work" or "the work that is to be done" when descibing the important thing in life.
A poster named Jim over at Bob Fertik's blog asked a question resonant of that phrase as part of a discussion over whether the term "Vichy" is acceptable, whether it's OK to go gunning for members of our own party, and other silly, politically correct nonsense like that. (BTW, Bob -- and Jim, for that matter -- are on the right side of those questions -- it's the people posing them, who are unsure whether they dare to eat a peach or call Joe Lieberman an accommodationist, that I'm calling silly.)
Jim asked, simply: What is the "real" work in electing progressives?
I posted a response to Jim's question over there, and am reposting it here for kicks:
My own angle of attack, on VichyDems, is Internet-enabled, DIRECT grassroots democracy.
The entrenched Democratic establishment is useless. Hell, Reid called the Alito vote as one of "conscience" and didn't even try to enforce party discipline. And the DLC crowd still has inappropriately overwhelming power; take, for example, the selection (never election!) of Bob Casey instead of Chuck Pennachio to challenge Santorum in Pennsylvania in November.
The grassroots organizations -- most notably MoveOn -- have done a great job, but since they're monolithic, they now get lumped in with all the other "special interests."
What cannot be considered a "special interest" is the spontaneous action of individuals acting as individuals, but in concert. The Alito filibuster was the beginning, in my mind: my site, which was 5 days old at the time, got 8,500 hits that day. Irrelevant, by Kos or Atrios standards, but if even 1,000 of those hits represented people who were there to download the contact information I had provided, and each of those made only 5 phone calls, that's 5,000 phone calls to senators. Enough to get their attention, and both Feinstein and Clinton -- Establishment Dems if there ever were ones -- actually changed their cloture votes in response (though Clinton denies it). And I think, based on comments and emails I received, that we generated a hell of a lot more calls than that.
So my "work" is:
1. Grow that base of people who will individually call politicians, write letters to the editor, make small campaign donations, etc. without ever hiring a lobbyist or being peggable as a "group" at all.
2. Keep up the phone calls etc. AFTER key votes, not just before: the "I know what you did last summer" approach patented by VichyDems.
3. Be foot soldiers in key, close primary races between Vichys and progressives, and then in general races between those progressives that win and their Republican opponents.
4. Most of all, stop being sissies. My God, even Kos refuses to use the word "Vichy." People think Godwin's Law is more important than winning our country back. We need to consistently, repeatedly, aggressively, loudly call spades spades. Lieberman is a Vichy and should be thrown out of the Democratic caucus!! Reid screwed up the Alito action and should be forced to apologize or face a leadership challenge by someone like Barbara Boxer!! Say it clearly and don't let anyone in the "establishment" -- even including guys like Kos, who is tremendously important and does great work but whom I fear is starting to see himself as a "player" and therefore starting to hedge his bets -- tell you what is or isn't wise or workable. Listen to good advice, examine your own motives, don't let purism drive out all practical considerations -- but then make up your own mind, and take your own action.
That's off the top of my head. Pass it on.
I hope to expand on these themes in the next day or two. Meanwhile, don't forget the MoveOn vigils tonight, and to keep making the necessary phone calls: one (scroll to the bottom for the Game Plan), two, and three.