Ricci Levy

Activism and Change

Filed By Ricci Levy | January 11, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, messaging, recovery plan

A comment I wrote on AlterNet in response to a post about Obama's recovery plan got me started on a line of thought about how we approach advocacy and activism. I guess, since my flame-retardant garments are at the cleaners, that I should begin by saying "not all of us" and "no, I don't mean you!"

Listening to President-elect Obama the other day during his conference to announce his nominees for the security arm of our government, I was very impressed with his responses to the reporters who questioned him about his recovery plan and the reception his plan is getting on the Hill.

In keeping with his campaign and what he's told us about himself, he was quite clear. He's not wedded to his plan if there's a better one, but, with the information and resources available to him, this is the best plan as he sees it.

One of the reporters quoted an article by someone on the recovery package and Obama shot right back in his welcoming way that he and his advisers will be happy to consider any serious plan or even portion of a plan that someone wants to offer, including one from the author.

One of the easiest things in the world to do is to critique and criticize the work someone else has done. I did it when I responded to the article that was written about the plan itself. It's a lot easier to comment on what the author wrote than to sit down and do all of the work that goes into writing the article itself.

We post to each other on lists, we talk to one another over lunch or coffee, we meet at our conferences - but are we also consciously reaching outside of our comfort circle to seek solutions and partnerships? Are we so invested in being able to claim that something is ours that we're not willing to work in a truly collaborative way with others? There is a wonderful saying (I forget who said this) that it's amazing how much you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit.

If we're not happy with something the administration is doing are we only complaining to each other or are we offering opportunities to get the word to the people who can actually make a change?

I know there was little to no point in even putting this out there under the Bush debacle. But Obama has challenged us to communicate with him, with his administration. He didn't promise that he'd take our suggestions, but he has promised that we'll be heard. It's our responsibility to offer the suggestions and to keep offering them if we really believe we have a solution. Not a complaint - a solution.

None of this is meant to criticize - it's just meant to prompt thought and discussion.

As I was typing that I was reminded of a story I heard long ago and I don't remember the whole thing, but it was about someone and G-d. The person kept asking G-d to do things and the things didn't happen. When the person died and went to heaven, they confronted G-d and said they were really angry because G-d had never listened to any of their prayers. G-d responded that he had listened - and the answer had been "no".

Our world depends on us and this is our chance - this is, as Beth Zemsky declared, our "Movement Moment".

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I am researching the issue of how would the repeal of DOMA help the ECONOMY, the main designer issue of the day ? The Congressional Budget Office in 2004 stated that the net budget would be increased by $1 billion over the next ten years if same-sex couples were allowed to file taxes as a couple.
The report reads
"The potential effects on the federal budget of recognizing same-sex marriages are numerous. Marriage can affect a person's eligibility for federal benefits such as Social Security. Married couples may incur higher or lower federal tax liabilities than they would as single individuals. In all, the General Accounting Office has counted 1,138 statutory provisions--ranging from the obvious cases just mentioned to the obscure (landowners' eligibility to negotiate a surface-mine lease with the Secretary of Labor)--in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving "benefits, rights, and privileges."(1) In some cases, recognizing same-sex marriages would increase outlays and revenues; in other cases, it would have the opposite effect. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that on net, those impacts would improve the budget's bottom line to a small extent: by less than $1 billion in each of the next 10 years (CBO's usual estimating period). That result assumes that same-sex marriages are legalized in all 50 states and recognized by the federal government."

I get your point of too much talk and not enough action. Like the guy sitting at the table choking, and everyone is discussing the pros and cons of the Hiemlick maneuver. The guy dies. On the other hand, how can one move forward when the roadblocks of homophobia from elected officials are as big as Mt. Rushmore ? They don't see our issues as civil rights issues. President Elect Obama is a good listener, as was President Clinton but the movement seems to be running nowhere on a treadmill thanks largely to faith based initiatives and fundamental religious teachings.
The protest in San Diego yesterday to repeal DOMA was a great start.

"I get your point of too much talk and not enough action. Like the guy sitting at the table choking, and everyone is discussing the pros and cons of the Hiemlick maneuver. The guy dies."

That is EXACTLY how it feels. Watching lives and spirits around you die every day and no one else is screaming "HELP!". And you cannot help because you cannot move. It becomes very helpless and hopeless.

When I say "WE HATE EACH OTHER" I am acknowledging how the MOST RANDOM of random samples (Queers) may never find a UNIFIED way to fight inequality DUE to our many, many differences.

* POOR gays/RICH gays - a HUGE schism here...

* MEN/WOMEN (oye, we sexes differ and have some real "separatists" among Q's) ,

* TRANS - a whole other misunderstood group who are LIGHT YEARS behind Gays legally...



* OLD/YOUNG - Some older Q's are just thrilled they're not jailed for loving; younger are baffled when they turn 18 and realize that America does NOT include their family and children.


* NORTH/SOUTH.....oh yeah....HATE tends to STINK the same no matter WHO it's directed towards....

UNITY? I dunno. Maybe the ONE THING we will all AGREE on is how WE DO NOT DESERVE TAXATION WITHOUT EQUALITY. Maybe our wallets will FEEL equality? I'm just sayin........