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Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Bloglandia: Hahne Analyses Why a Progressive Campaign Failed

Remember when the entire left half of America's political scene was depressed when the vote didn't go their way? Remember when a double-digit lead in early polls turned into an embarrassing loss for a sizable section of the progressive voting demographic? Several miserable years followed until the Supreme Court made the world a little better and brighter again.

That's what happened in California from the time of Proposition 8, the officially titled "California Marriage Protection Act" (which actually destroyed marriages) in 2008 to the Supreme Court's ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. The right wing put national resources into destroying blue-state California's liberal and legal same-sex marriage law--in the land of Harvey Milk--and succeeded.

The right didn't win despite the best efforts of the left-wing opposition. As is becoming monotonously familiar, the left lost a ballot-box fight they had no business losing. What happened was, the majority of Californians--the majority that bothered to get their souls to the polls, that is--voted to "protect marriage" by destroying gay marriages. The actual majority that could have defeated Prop. 8 didn't show at the polls. It was about who got out what vote, and Prop. 8 opponents didn't.

In the aftermath of that right-wing victory and left-wing embarrassment, Bruce Hahne, a "No on 8" campaign volunteer, posted "Proposition 8 Postmortem - From A Senior Volunteer" on Daily Kos, taking apart the many ways the campaign lost its focus, ranging from an over-reliance on focus groups to a massive failure to get out the vote--what hurt the most. Among his points:

  • Failure to effectively rebut the right wing's "Homosexuals are out to get your children" and "Keep homosexuality out of our schools" talking points, whether on TV, online, or in the general election guide. (Milk could master it against the Briggs initiative in 1978 but an entire well-funded pro-gay statewide campaign couldn't figure out how in 2008.)
  • Refusal to advocate for same-sex marriage as something people want.
  • Failure to adhere to the time-honored strategy of aggressive poll-check-based get-out-the-vote strategy.
  • Absence of effective online campaigning, which in the Internet Age must include websites, Facebook, YouTube, Google, AdBombs, Twitter, Thunderclaps, and whatever the latest online trend is.

To not repeat (and repeat, and repeat) the same mistakes every time the left goes against the right, Hahne recommends future left-wing campaigns read and learn from George Lakeoff's Don't Think of an Elephant and Gene Sharpe's The Politics of Nonviolent Action. Also support pro-gay groups such as PFLAG, organize a speakers' group, start a gay-straight alliance and in general don't just let the right wing control the national conversation.

Hahne doesn't even mention all the errors the opposition to Prop. 8 made. Terry Leftgoff, a high-ranking (and gay) California Democrat with considerable campaign experience, wrote in his own blog how he was told he wasn't needed to help get out the vote--but he could help clean out a campaign office. Elsewhere there may be found stories of how Prop. 8 opponents turned down Bill Clinton's and Delores Huerta's offers to help. (I wonder if anyone suggested to them they could help clean out an office.)

Today's Hahne's analysis remains available online and in print. Wapshott Press has anthologized Hahne's blog in J Bloglandia (The Journal of Bloglandia) edited by Ginger Mayerson, for those would rather read an old-fashioned book than search (and search and search) and strain their eyes reading online.

Wapshott Press has published four issues of Bloglandia and is currently seeking submissions for a fifth one. The editor says the journal exists because "some blogs are too cool to stay in cyberspace."

Link to the Hahne's original blog post:
  https://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/12/28/677735/-Proposition-8-postmortem-from-a-senior-volunteer
Link to J. Bloglandia available from Wapshott Press:
http://wapshottpress.com/about-the-wapshott-press/j-bloglandia/
Leftgoffs' alternate analysis of the failure of the Prop. 8 opposition:
http://leftofcentergood.blogspot.com/2008/11/how-we-blew-it-californias-prop-8.html
http://bilerico.lgbtqnation.com/2008/11/how_we_blew_it_californias_prop_8_defeat.php

Portions of this review first appeared in the June 2009 issue of Blade.

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