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Response to Empowerer (Original post)

Mon Feb 1, 2016, 08:20 PM

212. Many seem to misunderstand the difference

between activists and politicians. Politicians do the pragmatic, incremental crap they have to do to get elected. They sometimes say things they don't believe in. They build coalitions with people they don't always agree with when they need to beat a bill out of committee. They do these things because math. Democracy is a BITCH when it comes to the counting the votes part..... And it is all part of playing the game.

Activist exist to make politicians do the right thing. They try to crack the door open with some sort of political action, like Rosa Parks did, like #BLM is doing, and then force the politicians to do the right thing, by shining the light of justice on the rotten bits and creating the political will for change. Then the incremental, political part gets done, mostly behind the scenes.

Anyone who has the patience can read this transcript of LBJ and MLK strategizing about the War on Poverty and Voting Rights Act.

LBJ makes a case for hitting the poverty bills first, then do Voting Right to get the votes they need to hold the line on that.

They talk about messaging and how LBJ thinks he can make an end run around local racist politicians on voting rights without appearing to be interfering too much by using Federal postal workers instead of locally elected judges to do the actual registration.

And then this beautiful bit. THIS is the basis of the the new Democratic party. This is the part where they throw the racist Dixiecrats under the bus to build a new party, the fusion party of black and moderate white voters that can pass REAL progressive legislation:

King: And it’s very interesting, Mr. President, to notice that the only states that you didn’t carry in the South—five southern states—have less than 40 percent of the Negroes registered to vote. Very interesting to notice that and I think professors at the University of Texas, in a recent article, brought this out very clearly, so it demonstrates that it’s so important to get Negroes registered in large numbers in the South, and it would be this coalition of the Negro vote and the moderate white vote that will really make the New South.

President Johnson: That’s exactly right. I think it’s very important that we not say that we’re doing this and we’re not doing [this] just because it’s Negroes or whites, but we take the position that every person born in this country, when they reach a certain age, that he have a right to vote, just like he has a right to fight [chuckles], and that we just extend it whether it’s a Negro, or whether it’s a Mexican, or who it is.


This part about where LBJ brags about getting Civil Rights Act busted out of committee after three years is fun and emblematic of what a good, bare knuckle pol can do when they get their mind set:

President Johnson: But they’re there, and they’re ready for them to go to work, and we’re not just going to talk. If they’ll vote, I’m ready. We’ve got our recommendations, and we talked the first three years of our administration. We promised, and we held it up, and people were getting to be pretty disillusioned, I think, when I finally beat the Rules Committee and got Civil Rights out.9
King: Yeah. Yeah, I know.
President Johnson: I think that you might have . . . you might have had a lot more revolution in this country than you could handle if we had had that Civil Rights stay in that Rules Committee under Judge [Howard] Smith.


But contrast that to the public MLK. He was a brilliant, charismatic and highly principled individual, but conversations like this one CLEARLY illustrate that he knew how to play the game. He wanted revolution but had the patience and the discipline to play the game. He is strategizing here WITH a politician on how the pol will work the numbers and committees in DC and he will work the representatives in the field and do the messaging to get what they both want.

I dunno, it is clear to me that they both understand their part in the drama.

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