Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ok, I'll get to finding my voice

So, I made this blog one night a long time a go from a simple name that I thought was catchy. Then I made the mistake of linking to it in the comment section of a blog I frequent. They linked to it, and I know they must be tired of me taking up space on their comment page, so now I figure it's time to find my purpose for writing a blog.

The tagline for this blog is "bridging democracy divides one post at a time." In the political time and place we find ourselves in, with a Doppler effect of (mis)information, distraction, bias and corporate branding noise screaming towards us, there's gotta' be a place for someone to focus us in on what's important.

I think another pundit is possible. One that is not beholden to corporate sponsorship, that asks the right questions and one that offers solutions. And I think I'm that pundit.

See, there's this historic race going on. Remember? It was historic. The two front runners of the front running party were confronting head on old, dominant narratives - like that only white men can be president. But somewhere folks got off track. We lost track of our goals. Our real problems. And, most importantly, who's responsible for solving our problems.

Race, class and gender disparities - what I call *democracy divides* exist. These disparities aren't about personal prejudice - that "we can't get along." They're not about individual "racists." These divides don't result from anecdotes about "race relations" or individual experiences of prejudice. They come from bad public policy. These divides are institutional. Structural.

The question is about how we bridge these divides, and support solutions inline with the needs, values and interests of poor, working and middle class families.

Bridging these divides starts with corrective solutions to disparities and democracy divides of race, class, gender and know, progress.

Yet the vision of everyone with equal access to democracy, opportunity and economic and social justice will only be realized with big ideas, sacrifice and commitment.

Come back for analysis, punditry for the people, stories that confront dominant narratives and conventional wisdom in the service of justice, updates about all the stuff I'm all up in...and more, I'm sure.

As American as Apple Pie

Fighting over crumbs.

Monday, April 28, 2008

YouTube Of the Week: Incarcerex

Effin Brilliant. From the Drug Policy Alliance.

Coming to a Gas Station near you: $4 per Gallon

Some say it could hit $7 in the next four years.

But yes, folks. I paid 4 bucks a gallon for the first time yesterday. It hurt. But it's only going to get worse, and maybe it'll get us off our addiction to oil - and all that comes with it.

A side note: I was "texting" my friends, whining about paying $4 per gallon... One of them reported from the US/Mexico border that Border Patrol, Police and other "officials" don't seem to be feeling a crunch yet.

"They're the only ones out driving around all day," my source said.

The rest of us? Some are resorting to prayer.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Debunking Conventional Wisdom: Volume 2

You know the story:

Obama's grassroots movement.

Hillary underestimated it...

The media failed to see it coming...

It's a "new" kind of politics.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Obama tapped into movements that already existed with strategic communications, and a politicized generation coming of age during a time of war, economic crisis and historic inequality and environmental catastrophe. It's not a new analysis. Hillary didn't underestimate it and the media didn't fail to see it, they didn't even know they were out there.

Talk about being out of touch.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Top 5 (Okay, 6) Reasons for “Supervoters” Why the Clinton “Big State” Strategy and Argument is a House of Cards

1.) It lost the last two elections.

2.) When Bill Clinton, in South Carolina, pushed the double-speak of “Obama-can’t-win-but-they-would-make-a-dream-ticket” line, he reasoned it would be because of what he implied was Obama’s “urban” draw. Yes. That same old map – with Hillary taking what would be, according to conventional wisdom, Republican territory in a general election. As if Clinton will really compete there. Anyone seen her “negatives” amongst Democrats, let alone Republicans?

3.) This is further undercut by Obama’s wins in those “small states.” You know, where there are a lot of those “white” working class voters that Clinton says are her “base.” Am I missing something here? I don’t think there’s any reason to doubt Obama is going continue to bring new voters to the polls and pad the popular vote – state by state. (“There are not blue states and red states…there are the United States…blah, blah, blah.”)

4.) Clinton’s latest double-speak where behind closed doors she continues to say Obama can’t win, but when pushed said that not only does Clinton think Obama can beat McCain, but she also said she’ll do “anything” she can to make sure a Democrat takes the Whitehouse following November’s election. That would make the “Big State” strategy moot anyway, right? I mean, since she’ll bring it home for the Dems anyway?

5.) The reason Obama’s message has resonated with large chunks of the electorate is because it transcends the micro-poll messaging and targeting that leads to a divided electorate – currently playing itself out with the Clinton “Big State” (and 50% + 1, slash and burn, kitchen sink) strategy in exit polling, showing the same old divides of class, race, gender, religion, region, etc., etc., etc.

6.) Playing devil’s advocate (you know, “we’re only toughening Obama up for the general when the Republican attack machine really comes after whoever’s the nominee”) still makes you an advocate for, um, the devil. Uh, did I mention Clinton’s negatives?
In the end, what Obama has bet on is that changing the electoral map can transcend what a friend of mine calls the “tyranny of the six percent” (you know – so many agree with you and so many disagree with you and you go after the rest) that leads to micro-poll messaging and targeting and 50 % + 1 tactical elections (oh yeah, and two-party corporate control of the electoral system – oops did I say that?) where solutions and progress get lost in the margins of the “undecideds” and special interests.

This race is down to a debate about strategy. Obama's team has shown throughout the primary campaign that it is clearly better at strategy, and Clinton's house of cards is showing that Obama's strategy is clearly better for the general election.

Karlos Gauna Schmieder is a media and communications strategist from Albuquerque, NM, currently living in the Bay Area. The views expressed here are his own, and do not reflect the views of the organizations he has worked for or currently works for -- they're non-profits, folks...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Dubunking Conventional Wisdom: Volume 1

The Democratic Primary is now only about personality


It's not about race or gender, either. Nor is it about minor policy disagreements. To be real, the general won't be about minor or even major policy disagreements either. Status quo is still the goal. For both parties. They are the very definition of status quo. But that aside...

It's about strategy.

Clinton Strategy:

Big states. Democratic strongholds. Micro polls.
Country's Mood: Angry, center-right.

Obama Strategy:

All states. Every voter. Big message.
Country's mood: Hopeful, center-left.