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Domini [in SOCIAL INVESTMENTS’ The Way You Invest Matters’ Visit www.domini,cotri or Calf us at 1-800-530-5321 The Domini Social Equity Fund and the Domini Social Bond Fund are subject to market risks and are not insured. You may lose money. The Domini Social Bond Fund’s community development investments may be unrated and carry greater risks than the Fund’s other investments. The Domini Social Bond Fund currently holds a large percentage of its portfolio in mortgage-backed securities. During periods of falling interest rates these securities may prepay the principal due, which may lower the Fund’s return by causing it to reinvest at lower interest rates. DSIL I candidates. Here in Texas and around the country we all listened to the D.C.centric consultants who advised that we should steer clear of any message involving national security or the likely invasion of Iraq and focus instead on jobs and the economy. The advice seemed rational. Polls said so. It turned out to be completely disconnected from the lives of Americans. We didn’t know it because we no longer lived the lives of everyday Americans. We had taffeta pillows over our ears. We were wiped out in 2002, and we very likely let George Bush keep the White House in 2004 because our deafness in 2002 let Bush proceed uncontested with his soldier’s masquerade and his immoral war. Amy Sullivan recommends in Washington Monthly that Democrats “fire the consultants?’ She’s got a point. \(I hope it’s obvious that my critique focuses on not all, but on a certain kind of consultant, one who’s happy to trade conviction and principle for money and sultants with another is not the solution. The solution is to be found in the streets, where real-world politicians can come face-to-face with real-world human tragedy and human hope. I am not suggesting that we scrap public opinion surveys and carefully drawn, effective messages. I am suggesting that we adopt practices better suited to who we are. We can’t get by without experienced and seasoned political minds. But they are going to have to come down and live in the streets with us. In their book, The Hammer: Tom DeLay, God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress, Lou Dubose and Jan Reid give a brief account of the history of Sugar Land, one of Texas’ fastest growing little cities. They write, “Sugar Land had been an ordinary little town with a spindly water tower jutting up through coastal haze; suddenly its subdivisions became the manifestation of the enormous changes driving Texasand a harbinger of the nation’s politics.” The town was once home to a slave-based plantation economy. The Emancipation Proclamation decimated its labor retention policy, so its entrepreneurs turned to prison labor. Prison work gangs sang songs like “Ain’t No More Cane On the Brazos” as they toiled in the fields. Sugar Land and places like it come up often in the conversations of Texas political professionals. In many ways these suburbs run the state. Their residents have more money and they vote more regularly than rural and inner city Texans. The suburbs are the natural habitat of the right wing, but they are also the home of the suburban swing voter, who will sometimes vote for a Democrat. Sugar Land will soon have a new, master-planned community built upon old plantation/prison land that incorporates the abandoned Central prison unit into its “Village Center?’ It’s an homage to a gated community within a gated community. It will be built by Newland Communities, the sometime partner of David Weekley, a key financier of the Republican ascendancy in Texas. To reemerge as a force in Texas politics, Democrats need to begin with the advice of the prison work song and hold up our own heads. We need powerful, person-to-person grassroots initiatives that engage our fellow citizens in the struggle. We need to stop depending exclusively on beautifully crafted winning messages to come fluttering down from the courtiers on the roof. Republicans built a powerful grassroots network through churches and local clubs while we Democrats were dismantling our New Deal-era political machines in the name of reform. The grassroots rebellion has begun. It is fueled by the Internet and the extrem ist agendas of the Republicans in charge that have begun to frighten even moderates. Dan Balz, political writer for The Washington Post, wrote a lengthy analysis of Democrats’ new grassroots energy cratic “party strategists” are said to be worried that the rising grassroots force threatens to take the party “even further to the left.” Left of what? In his entire analysis there’s not a word about policy, though there’s a vague reference to national security as an issue. I don’t know yet what the winning message will be. But I know where it is to be found, and it’s not in the pockets of the courtiers. It’s in the hopes of those who believe democracy means something more than a lucrative appointment at court. Glenn W. Smith, a longtime Democratic consultant and activist, is the author of The Politics of Deceit. Smith directs DriveDemocracy.org and the Texas Progress Council. He is coordinating the Break the Silence national campaign for progressive religious groups. APRIL 29, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17
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