Activists, Being Dishonest, and the US 2008 Election

One of the main problems of activists advocating for the Democrats in the 2008 US election is that it contradicts our values and will cause the public to stop trusting us.

It's morally fine for activists to advocate for a Democrat vote if you call it a "lesser evil", but when we say that the Democrats are actually "good" then we are being dishonest.

Unfortunately, as elections are often decided by several percent, to maximize their electoral effectiveness in a game where the main actors have millions of dollars, most activists spend less and less time talking about the Democrats' problems and start to focus solely on the good points.

By saying the Democrats are "good" we are presenting a strategy for progressive social change that is bound to fail. This strategy makes it harder to mobilize our supporters to put pressure on the Democrats to give us the "lesser evil" half-step goals that we need, as our supporters won't see the need for this pressure. A lot of groups have their priorities backwards and are putting more focus on getting people to vote Democrat, than putting pressure on the Democrats once they are elected.

Once the Democrats fail to more than a fraction of the half-steps they promised in their campaign, the blame will be shared with activist groups who advocated on their behalf. So now activist groups will be seen as no better than politicians. Activists already have a reputation for making lots of noise (ex. protests in the streets) and not getting anything done. Failing to achieve these half-goals after spending so much energy on mobilizing voters will further this public perception.

Trust is important. When we are advocating for positions that go up against a lifetime of disinformation (media/school system/churches/other institutions), we must be able to win people's trust or we are lost. Our information and arguments must be more reliable than that of the corporate media and other conservative institutions. The only way to ensure trust is to be truthful at all times. This includes presenting the public with a longterm strategy for progressive social change that is honest about what it will take and that does not take false shortcuts (whether these are voting for Obama or the older favorite of an armed working class uprising).