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My Santa Cruz 4 Bernie Campaign Report for UCSC Campus Organizing 2019
or
A Case Study in How the Left Cannot Work Together

If we want to change the world via local elections, it is important to put aside personal differences so we can work together to make a more just world, to create the change we want. It is in our interest to be pragmatic and to prioritize things, even, at times things one may not want to do.

I, like many, was hopeful that Bernie Sanders could become the Democratic nominee for President. I, like many, am completely disillusioned with the political process.

The following report may (or may not) provide insight, not only to my local efforts, but to organizing efforts in general.

It is a bit of a rant…

I was the Santa Cruz 4 Bernie (SC4B) University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) point person for the 2019 Bernie Campaign. As such I hired two campus organizers, A. and L. I also worked closely with H. who was hired by the No On Recall campaign to keep two Santa Cruz city councilors from being recalled from office. (These were two council members that SC4B had worked hard to elect.)

A. was organizing the Bernie campaign on campus with L when I met her. A. already had a group of people that she was working with. She was also working closely with the official Bernie-campaign point-person for campus organizers. A. was highly recommended by the national Bernie-campaign campus point-person and as well as by the leaders of the Cost Of Living for Adjustment (COLA) strike leaders.

Just before I hired A., I called E. who had been just recently hired by the official Bernie campaign to manage our county and an adjacent county. When I spoke to E. he said he did not want to work with A. for reasons that were unclear to me. After a long explanation of why he did not want to work with her, I asked him if he would give me the official Bernie campaign contacts for UCSC. He refused. He said he would not give them to me because he did not want to work with A.

Nor would E. work with A. after I hired her. He set up his own group.

I finally met some of the campus people who were working with E. The main point person for this was Es. When I finally met her, I asked her about A. She said she had never met A. but had heard negative things about her from E. From that point on I started working with Es. and the group she was working with as well as with A. and L.

A. and L. mainly did tabling in front of the different colleges, dorm storming, and voter registration. We provided them with materials. They had been trained by the national campaign and little oversight was needed.

I worked at the entrance to the UCSC campus with H., the No On Recall campus organizer. We set up our canopy and tables every morning around 7:30 am at the base of campus where the COLA strike was taking place. We would tear down around 3:30. The buses to campus were just around the corner from us. After setting up the tables we would drive around campus and poster all of the bus stops. This also included removing posters from the Recall Campaign (which was a smear campaign run by the Apartment Association among others). We only needed to poster once a week but had to make two or three extra trips a week to remove Recall posters. In the evening we would design new flyers and posters and plan for the next day. In the morning I would get the posters printed before picking up H.

While in the booth at the entrance to campus we worked on voter registration, discussed the campaign with people, handed out quarter page flyers to students getting on and off the bus, made sure that our campaign locker was well supplied for the students working with A., and managed people who came to volunteer at the booth. The last week of the campaign we offered a taxi service for students so they could vote early at the Santa Cruz County building.

Early in the campaign a meeting was called to coordinate the various voter registration efforts which included people from town, A. and L., a point person for the Adam Scow campaign, and several of the No On Recall organizers. I was invited by H. Just prior to the meeting I received a text from N. who told me not to go. I asked why and she said she could not be in a meeting with me. I told her that we needed to work together and suggested that we move forward together. (N. comes from a family of political organizers, was an active union organizer and is actively involved in the Peoples’ Democratic Club.) N. refused to work with me and did not come to the meeting. (N. and I had worked together in the past through SC4B and she continues to come to the SC4B meetings for which I am the Co-convenor. e.g. she attends monthly meetings with me.) I have absolutely no idea what the issue was for her.

Finally, there was another completely unconnected group that was working on the No On Recall campaign. They organized an art competition and exhibition in which a great number of people were involved and attended. They raised money for the No On Recall campaign and printed a number of half page postcards with images of the winning art pieces. It is my opinion even though this was a well-intended endeavor, the time and energy that was put into that effort would have been better spent working directly on the campus campaign both for the No On Recall effort and for Senator Bernie Sanders.

Conclusion

The UCSC campus vote is critical to winning our campaigns. Their vote was an important factor in winning the vote in Santa Cruz County for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and was critical in election of three progressive Santa Cruz city councilors the following year (two of which were being recalled. Our candidates would not have won the election if it were not for the UCSC vote.)

It is my opinion that if all of the above factions could have coordinated, we would have, in all likelihood, not lost the two city council seats that we lost, and would have run a much better campaign for Bernie. The vote was that close.

It would be worth considering hiring a person that specifically works to trouble shoot interpersonal problems and to proactively resolve them. An inordinate amount of energy was wasted because people were not able to resolve their personal issues.

Addendum

The last day of the campaign I became sick and spent the last several hours sleeping in my car waiting for our final tear down. H. and Ar. and myself put everything that was left from the campaign in my station wagon. Ar. piled in the back seat on top of the canopy that took op the whole of it. She sat in a scrunched up ball on the ride home. I put the last box in on H.’s lap and closed the door and drove us home.

The next day I received a text from C. asking me if I had brought his chairs back. I did not know that he wanted me to do that or that they were even his chairs.

I said, no. He texted back that if it were him he would have brought them. Implying that I had somehow been irresponsible, that I had let him down. I was shocked. This was the second time I had volunteered to work in his behalf. He did not thank me for my work in that moment, though he did weeks later. It has left me with no desire to be involved in political organizing. (This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.)

My last two cents: Folks, I am so very done. I am so very disappointed. How can people indulge themselves in the face of these enormous tasks which we have on our hands, not only at a local level, but without question on a global level? Changing the world is, in my mind, paramount and is only deterred by personal preening and posturing.

There is no more time for interpersonal differences. It seems unlikely that we will put them aside and the consequences are grim.

I am focusing on what I can do in a positive context as I move forward. Peace.

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

Please forgive the somewhat 'scrapbook' feel of the following:

Many of the people who are best at that are the people you wouldn't expect - and the secrets to making and being those people are the dead-inverse of what many people seem to believe.

I admit I can't be sure how much this has to do with your case study, but I do know that one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) albatrosses around "the left's" neck is collectivist ideology. We need to ditch Marxism (remember, Marx was the guy who left a symposium about his own beliefs only to confide in Engels "all I know is that I am not a Marxist") and not only fully reclaim The Enlightenment, but also dare to have imagination again, to rediscover the timeless truth in its latest unfamiliar appearance. Progress requires a spirit of Chaos. We've allowed ignoramuses to trap us in a fallacious yin-yang left over from 19th-Century oligarchic pretenses and the fascistic lies of the Cold War.

"Nothing great will ever be achieved without great men, and men are great only if they are determined to be so."
- Charles de Gaulle

"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise; seek what they sought."
- Matsuo Basho

"The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: 'Anyone can cook.' But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere."
- Anton Ego, Ratatouille (2007)

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

magiamma's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat
thanks for your "scrappy" comment. Smile

I think it is true that the left is far too idealistic. And more importantly not practical. I think that is why the Bernie movement was so successful in 2016. We caught everyone off-guard. Now 'they' are sussing our game out and trying to stay one step ahead often in fascistic ways.

Take good care!

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@magiamma If anything, the problem is the opposite: Trying to be "realistic" when in politics, "reality" is a trap concept - and "social science" nothing but a religion.

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

magiamma's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat
A lot of us believed that change could happen. The reality was that it could not because those with their hands on the levers of power would not let it happen. We did not know that then but most of us know it now. What came about (all the things we hoped for - healthcare for all, free education, 15$ minimum wage, etc.) was that nothing changed. There are no illusions now. More people understand this. But so far no real change has happened. And now the ptb are hip to us. That’s my reality. Not sure where to go from here. Throw sand in the gears?

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

campaign, and then on the Kerry campaign, despite being a Green. The national Green party agreed with me, for what that's worth; I got literature from them that asked me to support Kerry (which I was already doing). Some Greens didn't like it, and, in retrospect, I guess I was wrong to support the Dems. But my wrongness there was strategic (i.e., the Democratic party was a lot more corrupt than I realized, and nobody was going to overthrow the current party leadership and replace it with better people; therefore nobody was ever going to change policy or move to the left). It was not interpersonal. In fact, in setting aside some very serious differences with the Dems, I was building a bridge. (I just didn't know it was a bridge to nowhere).

If I could do that, certainly people should be able to overcome personal prejudice. As you point out, it's really inexcusable to allow one's politics to be directed by personal pique.

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"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones." - Fiver

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

magiamma's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal
Dayum. I walked for Kerry too. We did what we thought was best. It was an eye opener for me in many ways. When I knew better, I did better. And now we are here. Goddess help us. Take good care.

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ovals49's picture

We need change. This is clear to everyone who makes an honest attempt to understand the trajectory of our (human) presence on the surface of this fragile orb we call Earth. What is not clear to me if it is even possible to make change happen. I personally have had very little success in persuading others to change their opinions, and even less success in changing their actions. This may have less to do with my ineptitude than the nature of change itself and the intrinsic human tendency to hold on to habitual behaviors and opinions and resist new and unfamiliar ones. As if, up til now, everything has been at least ok and anything new might spoil that and make things worse.

We don’t fear and resist change so much with our mind as with our feelings. Rational persuasions may be effective (at least temporarily) in “convincing” others but feelings are more resistant and do not succumb to a mere idea. Feelings are far more durable and persistent. If we are looking for real change, in our own self or in the larger human body, we must have the feeling part of our being on board.

In my first efforts with political organizing I almost immediately felt a disconnect in those most deeply involved between the ideas and ideals they espoused and their interpersonal behaviors. At the time I would have described it as hypocritical behavior. Today it looks to me more like trying to make change in others rather than to become it in oneself.

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“ We will move out of the capitalist model of competition and into a collaborative relationship with each other and with our ecosystem, or we will go extinct. It is that simple.” Caitlin Johnstone

magiamma's picture

@ovals49

What is not clear to me if it is even possible to make change happen.

I so wish I knew. There is so much inertia caused by greed. "Throw sand in the gears" of the machine in whatever ways we can. Why not. Great comment, thanks. Take good care.

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@ovals49 Remember how that was finally solved?

Changing the system requires a full-spectrum arsenal - and for the past 60-ish years, the good guys have actually been doing just that, with one conspicuous omission: Force.

By refusing to prepare for the contingency of dealing with Pan Satyricus humans like George "The Constitution Is Just A Goddamned Piece of Paper" W. Bush and Mike "We Lied, We Cheated, We Stole" Pompeo in the only way it is possible to deal with them, it's caused all of our other efforts to go to waste in much the same manner as a soap that kills 99% of germs but allows the remaining 1% free reign.

Good policy isn't about having eternal rules; it's about having a vision and a plan - you don't just do the same thing forever, it's all about how you go from 'what you have' to 'what you want'. Just because it was the right thing to do yesterday, doesn't necessarily mean you should do the same thing again today.

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

Never let anybody gaslight you, LM. You make remarkable sense. We don't always agree, but your points of view are rational.

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"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones." - Fiver

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal ...because people gaslight me all the time, and their lack of my permission does not seem to stop them any.

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

Lookout's picture

I personally don't see it as an answer. Biden or Trump? Neither is my thought. The system is broken...political, economic, biologic, and climatic.

Life choices are perhaps more important and meaningful at this point. The main take away from my decades in the classroom is we teach more by our actions than our words.

I appreciate your electoral efforts. We all must do what we can in the domain to which we are called. However, when you're in a hole, the best thing is to stop digging.

Peace.

Edit to add:
This is a year old, but explains my attitude about elections pretty well.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

magiamma's picture

@Lookout
Dunno. The devil you know or the one you don't?

Stop digging? Maybe not. Digging my bioswale. Heh. It's coming along. Just put stakes in the waddles and planted Kurapi and surrounded it with gorilla bark. Kurapi roots are 12 feet deep and it is only a ground cover. Stoked I am. Getting free rock for path in front of the swale. Woo Hoo!!! Put in a retaining wall - 16" so all my recycled garden planters can sit on top of the berm. Putting in a winter crop of brocs and chard. So I am digging it all. Take good care.

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Lookout's picture

@magiamma

...and one you'll enjoy for years.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

ggersh's picture

I totally agree. Will a general strike work to begin with? Surprisingly I haven't heard of anyone calling for that.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/09/24/throw-sand-in-the-gears-of-the-m...

Humanity will continue along its self-destructive trajectory until the masses use the power of their numbers to force real change. Humanity will not use the power of its numbers to force real change as long as it’s being successfully propagandized not to do so. The oligarchic propaganda machine is therefore the primary barrier to our transition from our self-destructive patterns into a healthy collaborative relationship with each other and with our ecosystem.

So throw sand in the gears of the machine. If enough of us throw enough sand, we can cause the whole thing to break down.

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Buy a Bible don't read it and you'll be a Catholic
Buy a Bible read only what suits you and you'll be an Evangelical
Buy a Bible read it fully, analyze it, reason it and you will be
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magiamma's picture

@ggersh

So throw sand in the gears of the machine. If enough of us throw enough sand, we can cause the whole thing to break down.

I knew I had read that somewhere. Right on. Dump trucks full. Though it looks like it might implode on it's own. Thanks so much for the Caitlin. Excellent. Take good care.

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hunger for power for the sake of having power.

It's one of the lessons I learned when I spent time in the Democratic Party for a couple of years (I was fairly involved in the local party--attended the meetings, was elected a Precinct Person and organized various campaign activities at all levels, etc.).

The DP is an exemplar for the Iron Law of Oligarchy, and it attracts individuals who would leverage the structure to advance their own ambitions. Political victory was an irrelevant detail for the vast majority of people who sought leadership roles in the organization, and the rank-and-file were just too damn busy trying to survive to act as an effective check: exactly the situation those with power desire.

I lost any respect I had for our political system at that time, and my views have only turned more negative with time.

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magiamma's picture

@BayAreaLefty

hunger for power for the sake of having power.

So it seems. It seems to be part of the human condition to be competitive or at least a part of our culture. Embedded from birth and fed with Bernays sauce from then on out. Thanks for your comment. Take good care.

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magi, I think that is the nature of the beast. Many who throw their efforts into working on political campaigns have motivations other than the common good. (It could be congenital, but I think it's mostly financial, or simply the need to curry favor with some low-life.) There is nothing we can do about that. There are always lessons learned though, even in failure (those painful lessons really stick).

Keven Zeese, an organizer who just recently passed away, said that 1 in 6 people can be counted on to be infiltrators or provocateurs. That's a hell of a lot of people. I like to concentrate on the other 5.

This video is an hour + long but there are some good bits. Edited to add that the Kevin Zeese part of the video starts at the 48 min mark.

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magiamma's picture

@randtntx
Thanks for the encouraging words. I think I am in the anger phase. I listened to a bit of Keven and will watch the rest later.

[people] working on political campaigns have motivations other than the common good

yep, definitely. The 2016 campaign happened so fast that there was not time for hierarchies to develop. That was a good part of the reason it succeeded. Things often came from the bottom up.

May it happen yet again. The world we live in depends on it. Thanks r. Take good care!

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First, thank you for your hard work.

It is so much easier to attack the people next to you than to focus your energy on more distant and powerful targets. I use the term "ice-picking" (in memory of the assassination of Trotsky by Stalin) to describe the left's tendency to attack each other. I've argued with commies who go after low-hanging fruit like bushwah "greenies" who virtue-signal rather than go after oil companies or Monsanto. (Hey, I try to be green but I'm just another prole.)

edit: I'm using the generic "you" above, not addressing you directly.

The alphabet agencies have learned how to drive wedges into cracks, both by misinformation and by exploiting real weaknesses. A classic example was the rift between black feminists and the patriarchal Black Panther leadership in the 70s, which turned out to be a covert government campaign. I'm writing from memory which is weak; I invite caucers to correct or amplify this.

We need to be aware that highly-paid behavioral experts are constantly designing ways to increase strife among the opponents of the ruling class.

Coalition-building is tough.

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

magiamma's picture

@pindar's revenge

"ice-picking" (in memory of the assassination of Trotsky by Stalin)

boy howdy, ain't that the truth. Such a waste of time. And, yes, there are a LOT of wedges being driven at this time. We saw that in spades in the recent Recall campaign of our city councilors. Lies and smears work. Infiltrators detract. I guess my concern is the lack of time we have left. It is what it is. May we turn this Titanic around. So mode it be. Take good care.

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@magiamma
Ironically, ol' Trotsky himself went way bloody deep into wedging, with the suppression of the Kronstadt sailors - many of them the very people who enabled the October Revolution. After many died in the Kronstadt fighting, Lenin wound up adopting some of their demands in his newer economic policy, iirc. The thing is, that revolution occurred in the midst of the Great War: gas, and trench warfare, and life was cheap all around. Followed shortly by the worst pandemic ever.

Yeah, there are provocateurs aplenty, but even many well-meaning people can be influenced by well-designed wedge ideas released into the wild by thinktankers and spook shops.

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

magiamma's picture

@pindar's revenge
Hmmm. No worries. Apparently it’s still cheap. /snark. Only now it’s not only the pandemic that is taking lives. It’s also the rush to keep the economy going as well as the blatant lack of leadership in handling it. It didn’t have to be this way.

S/he who controls the message wins.

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@magiamma
/snark

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

Basically down to the local level. Most of the C99 folks have passion about politics. Finding a way to work that energy into a positive change is an antidote to the ultimate frustration of witnessing little change.

Phone banking, donating and canvassing for our rep in the statehouse this cycle. A very good shot at upending the damn perpetual strangled grip the good old boy network holds.

For change and progress in whatever realm you can find.

Peace

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@QMS

a long time ago. They won around a thousand local seats during Obomber's time, giving them many State govs and redistricting.

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

magiamma's picture

@QMS
the little engine that could. Turn those elections around. Gotta happen. Thank you for all the work you are doing. Take good care.

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Granma's picture

For change are what makes Bernie's campaigns remarkable. Despite the best efforts of tptb, he was having much success. They had to use quite blatant cheating and vote rigging to stop him. Whatever you think of him, whatever criticisms you have, that fact remains. None of their usual tricks worked to stop his campaign either in 2016 or 2020.

There is a lesson for us in that. Instead of criticizing him for what he did or didn't do, it would make more sense to think about what he did that worked so well.

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magiamma's picture

@Granma
You are so right. We scared the shit out of the establishment. And we almost got Bernie on the ballot. The Bernie movement changed the conversation. It educated people about the ptb and the lack of support for the 99%. They control the media for the most part so that is one place we need to focus, imho. One of many. Lies and more damn lies are the modus operandi now. And it is working to a great extent. We have to out fox them yet again. Gotta happen. Thanks for your comment. Take good care.

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enhydra lutris's picture

for my wife aboit 1/2 hour north. Didn't sleep well anyway, so not too coherent. Also running a thumb drive o/s.

To my way of thinking, the only reason not to work with somebodyis if they are untrustworthy/dishonest/mole-provocateur/etc. If you have good grounds for suspecting somebody to be a bad actor, you need to be open about it and why and what the reasons/evidence are. "just because" and "I'm not telling" is unhelpful.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

magiamma's picture

@enhydra lutris
Get some rest. heh. hoping your computer stuff sorts itself out. Good point, but folks are so reactive to who knows what/anything and everything. Take good care.

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