- Kathleen Geier makes the case for greater progressive activism at lower levels of government - and the point applies with equal force in Canada:
(T)hose of us who want to build a more progressive America would be well-advised to pay relatively less attention to presidential races and more attention to politics at the state and local level. Here are a few reasons why:- The Washington Post updates how the U.S.' security apparatus collects and compares personal information from a number of websites to carry out online surveillance. And Timothy Ash writes that plenty of familiar IT businesses have been entirely happy to play along with state surveillance requests.
1. Because state and local races tend to have lower turnout, you get more bang for your activist buck. A relatively small but well-organized and committed group of activists can make a big difference in a low-turnout election. And because local campaigns are cheaper than national ones, your donations can be more powerful. Think about it: to whom was your marginal political dollar worth more in 2012, Barack Obama in his campaign for president, or Wendy Davis in her campaign for the Texas state senate?
2. Mass political movements with the most staying power and popular support often are enacted first at the grassroots level. Only later do they work their way up the political food chain. Case in point: the modern American conservative movement. In the 50s and 60s, conservative activists tended to focus on local issues, such as school board elections, as this and other histories of that movement document. Only after over 20 years of intense activism did the conservatives finally get their dream president, Ronald Reagan.
3. One way to ensure you’ll have strong progressive candidates for national office (the presidency and the U.S. House and Senate) is by electing strong progressive candidates at the state and local level. That’s where those national candidates are recruited from, after all.
- Meanwhile, leftdog notes that the vulture capitalists are circling SaskTel among other Saskatchewan Crowns.
- Finally, Stephanie Levitz reports on the Cons' deliberate choice to underfund Canadian culture - and it's not for lack of available projects to be funded:
Figures from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration suggest at least $5 million a year hasn't been disbursed since 2007, and the department's marquee funding program has seen nearly 40 per cent of available funds go unused.But when it came to spending seven figures to rebrand the military based purely on their own whims, the Cons couldn't burn through public money fast enough.
So the department is scaling back the amount of money it sets aside for community multiculturalism projects, despite the fact that an internal government audit suggests demand for the cash remains high and that the government itself is partly to blame for the fact it isn't being spent.
In 2010-2011, about $14 million was spent under the program to fund 140 projects and events.
But that money represented only 63 per cent of what was set aside, according to documents from the department obtained via the Access to Information Act.
That year, 751 proposals were received, with the total value of requested funds being nine times the available cash, a 2011 audit found.
Though 567 projects were considered eligible, only 39 were recommended to the minister for approval and only 25 per cent were funded.
"The approval process for projects and events was identified by many stakeholders as the single biggest impediment to the effective operation of the program," the audit said.
"The lack of transparency and lengthy timelines associated with this process made it very difficult for program staff to manage their clients or expend their budgets."