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Comments of the Week: Hilary Rosen, the 99% Spring and the Supreme Court | The Nation

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Comments of the Week: Hilary Rosen, the 99% Spring and the Supreme Court

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Each week we post a run-down of the best of our reader comments with the hopes of highlighting some of your most valuable insights and encouraging more people to join the fray. Let us know what you think—in the comments!

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Lauren57: I have been a progressive activist for 30 years, and the Occupy movement is the most hopeful movement for social and economic change I have seen in my adult life.

I have been a "member" of MoveOn since they started and even had a house party for them back in 2005. The problem with them is that they are top down and hierarchical. Their only attempts to get their "members" to have input into their agenda was years ago when they did polling of their members as to their priorities. They also asked their members to comment on people's comments, which proved highly unwieldy when you have 5 million members potentially weighing in.

Also, they are a national organization that develops national actions that don't always relate to local conditions. For example, the first action we were asked to do after the house party was to set up tabling to get people to sign petitions to our Senators asking them to oppose the nuclear option that Republicans were threatening to use to overcome Democratic opposition to Bush's nominees. Well, here in California, our Senators are Democrats and would never have voted for this. So doing that action would have been a waste of our time. And there is no real way for members to communicate directly with the leaders of MoveOn. You have to go through your local council, who then goes to the regional director and so on up the line. Also, you are "allowed" to have your own local actions, but they never give you the email list of all the members in your area to make those local actions more effective.

Rebuild the Dream started more democratically where they had house parties and on-line voting to determine the top ten priorities. But again, these are national priorities and they must all be achieved through legislation and the electoral system. The Occupy movement is challenging the entire system by which we are governed. The idea of getting all the progressive groups out of their own silos and under one banner was a good idea by Van Jones to try to achieve the same uniformity of purpose as the Tea Party. But it is questionable as to whether that will work with progressives who tend to want to reason things out and are less likely to fall in line under some authoritative leadership than are conservatives.

But since they started last summer, they were eclipsed by the Occupy movement who, with their organic, bottom up development and the passion and dedication of the participants who have been willing to put their bodies on the line, managed to capture the public imagination and change the national dialogue in ways these liberal groups were unable to do. As to the 99% Spring, they are adopting the messaging and tactics of the more successful Occupy movement. But I have been on their national calls and another Occupier went to the trainers' training, and the fact is, they have no soul.

Unlike on an Occupy call where no one voice dominates and everyone has input, the 99% Spring call was dominated by one speaker who dictated to the listeners. We were only allowed to speak during a three-minute break out session. And even then, we had to answer a predetermined question of one idea we could think of to make the action better. At the training, they had the trainees do all sorts of silly motivational chants, etc. It is highly orchestrated and scripted and the participants are there to do someone else's bidding not to make their own decisions, much less their own revolution. They really are unable to answer questions such as, what are we supposed to do with this training once it's over or what is the end game.

So I don't worry that Occupiers would ever flock to this movement as ours is so much better. I agree with a lot of the commenters from the Occupiers that this is not a bad thing, that we can recruit their members to our movement and that they are training people for us. I personally am going to a training for those very reasons. I hope many more Occupiers will join me.
In response to Allison Kilkenny’s “Occupy Wall Street Activists Respond to the 99 Percent Spring.” April 6, 2012

BiafraMcGovern: 1. To be a "front group", you have to hide your backing - like it or not, MoveOn has been 100% transparent about their involvement, they're openly hosting the registration site, and their name is all over the site along with the 60+ other groups that are arranging this event.

2. Those 60+ groups include direct action advocacy groups that been doing this for literally several decades, in some cases going back to the 50's, without any dip into electoral campaigns: the Ruckus Society, SNCC Legacy Project, Rainforest Action Network, Code Pink, National People's Action, several others. This "conspiracy" requires you believe that MoveOn convinced the people that have been doing this much longer than anyone else on the scene to drop their entire organizing philosophy at once.

3. What exactly is the nefarious outcome to training 100,000 people in nonviolent direct action supposed to be? "Oh no, a group that isn't my favorite helped do something awesome! Let me just call them a front group, and hint this will lead to Democratic electioneering with zero actual evidence, it might get me out of having to actually engage."
In response to Allison Kilkenny’s “Occupy Wall Street Activists Respond to the 99 Percent Spring.” April 6, 2012

Mike Strong: Good for you. Seems I remember reading some years ago that the blue/pink "assignments" were originally the opposite. Not unlike the red and blue states (who changed that?) which used to have opposite meanings. Commodore Grace Murray Hopper had a special clock made that ran "counter clockwise" and hung it in her office just to remind her team (and others) that things didn't have to be one way just because they had "always" been that way.
In response to Dorothee Benz’s “Taking on the Pink Stuff: My Genderqueer Direct Action Project.” April 10, 2012

vineyardman: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg will be 80 years old on her next birthday. She will be 84 before the term of the next President is over. If she needs to be replaced, who do you want replacing her? President Obama, who already smartly appointed Sonia Sotomayer and Elena Kagan, or Mitt Romney, the severe Conservative? Antonin Scalia is only a few years younger. Same question.
In response to Gary Younge’s “What Do We See in Obama?” April 11, 2012

iamcfar: I would like to agree, but the fact is that Rosen said, "his wife has actually never worked a day in her life," which (assuming that Ms. Romney was actively involved in raising her children), does indeed imply -- contra the author's claim --that "raising children isn’t work." The substantive point stands: she doesn't know the economic struggles of most women (though, of course, neither did Eleanor Roosevelt), but claims that someone never worked a day in their life are almost never a good idea.
In response to Jessica Valenti’s “Why Hilary Rosen is Right.” April 12, 2012

Linda-in-cincy: Had Hilary added to her comment that Ann "had never worked a day in her life outside the home for minimum wage with children at home," she would have been easily understood by 99% of women in America.

Ann's comment is more troubling when she said, "I don't feel rich." How much money does it take to make you feel rich, Ann? She has more money than 99% of working women and she doesn't feel rich? I am sure she meant that she feels like most women but the truth is much harsher. She isn't like most women in America. She is very wealthy and doesn't worry about feeding her family, affording health care and providing the basic necessities for them.

Ann, you aren't like most women. That doesn't mean you have to be clueless and unsympathetic to their concerns. You could stand up for "most women" by telling your husband that corporations aren't people and poor women need Planned Parenthood to stay healthy, not just for contraception. Ann could start by showing that she shares solidarity with the women in this country, not just the rich ones, but the poor ones.
In response to Jessica Valenti’s “Why Hilary Rosen is Right.” April 12, 2012

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