Monday, January 30, 2006

How corporate thinking can help hippies

I'm no fan of our current president. I've voted against his dumb ass every chance I've had. And I'd love to see someone else in charge. The best I can hope for, I guess, is that 2008 brings someone who sees that unilateralist foreign policy will eventually bite us in the ass.

And I have a lot of respect and admiration for people who are so passionate about these things they devote time and energy to making the world change for the better. I'm all for that.

But the SF resistance movement is misguided at best and delusional at worst.

I was in the Haight Sunday morning seeking breakfast. A rapidly rusting blue conversion van from the 80's was crawling up the street blasting out some hippie's rant against the Bush regime over a PA system. The PA transformed the torrent of thoroughly unprepared remarks into a stream of loudspeakerspeak which was as intelligible as that which we encounter in the drive-thru window. Would you like impeachment with that?

Later there were some green haired, pierced and dread-locked folk distributing "Bush step down" fliers exhorting folks to turn out for some rally in SF tomorrow night during the state of the Union Address. The announced 6 PM activity invites attendees to "drown out Bush's lies" in real time during the address. So much for the left's open minded consideration of the other side's point of view.

Some advice for the hippies:

  1. Try working within the system. We’ve got an election this year, yes? Try working in districts where there’s a chance to replace an incumbent with a more progressive alternative. This might even mean (Horror!) trying to make sure a moderate republican wins a primary instead of a bible thumping reactionary. While that may be a setback for the Green party and pro-legalization forces everywhere, it’ll make it harder for the far right to get its way. Baby steps, kids.
  2. Try changing the minds of the indifferent. I have no facts to back this up, but my bet is that the Haight neighborhood didn’t vote for W. Just a hunch. If your goal is to get a big turnout for your rally, by all means, mobilize the faithful fringe. But if your goal is to assemble a group of protesters with whom the mainstream swing voter will identify and sympathize, you need to get outside your neighborhood. When Bill & Doris Mainstream America see the dreadlocked San Francisco hippies ranting deliriously about Bush on the 6 O’clock news, they’ll give it no more heed than they do when they see hooded KKK types all upset about evolution being taught in schools.
  3. Be careful what you wish for. Bush step down? Are you nuts? You want Uncle Dick running the show? Think it through kids.

Hippies, I know you're upset, but unless you don't really want change, and merely seek some satisfaction that you agitated on TV, your actions should be guided by some kind of rational political strategy and not just your desire to vent. Who is the target customer? What is the message that will resonate with that person?