Planning for what's next
Some friends are holding a meeting tonight to discuss how to recover from the disaster of Bush's election. One of the main things I think about is how the right wing portrays itself as the place where all the new ideas are coming from in at least two fields I know reasonably well - law and economic policy. I think it's partly true and partly a matter of better salesmanship, but I think the progressive groups are going to have to pay much more attention to developing and promoting their brands of new ideas.
Some links about this:
An article saying "Democrats look to think tanks for answer to message problem" from The Hill newspaper in Washington DC. It points out that one of the two main Democratic think tanks, the Center for National Policy, is in severe financial trouble. The other think tank, Brookings Institution, is far too centrist (I think) to become an activist arena that pushes its ideas.
I think one thing that people on the left will have to do is pony up money not just for advocacy but also for promoting new ideas. CNP might be a place for that, although I actually don't know much about them.
Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense both do more than advocacy, which I'd define as opposing some polluting action or promoting an existing concept like designating new wilderness lands, and come up with genuinely new ideas. If I were them, I'd allow people to make dedicated donations for the "think tank" components of their work. They don't, though. Maybe we should donate to them anyway.
For a broader discussion of needing progressive think tanks, here's a thought piece from Soros' Open Society Institute (pdf file).
Slightly different tack, but still relevant: showing support for gay marriage goes beyond judges is important, and there is a real chance that gay marriage will pass the California Legislature. While this may galvanize the cavemen, it takes their stupid "activist judges" argument away from them. It's a mixed bag, but I think if the choice is unclear, you might as well do the right thing. The real battle will be over the referendum that will inevitably follow passage of a gay marriage bill in California. We'll have to be ready to work and pay for the success of gay marriage through the referendum process, and it won't be easy.
Regardless of the gay marriage issue, a lot of progressive ideas will have to be fought on the state level for the next 4 years.