Political Memoir

Posted on February 6, 2011 by

All bloggers want to say something no one else is saying.

That’s tricky in the progressive blog world because there are so many high-end political thinkers populating the top-tier leftish sites.

I allude to – and often link to – convincing and concise pieces from Truthdig, Nation, Progressive, New Republic, Daily Beast, In These Times, American Prospect.  There’s a consistency to many of the regular writers on these sites which I appreciate but do not emulate.

My posts are filled more with doubt and uncertainty.  I use a lot of question marks.  I’ve been all over the map on the Obama presidency, my disdain – and ongoing support – for democrats and my attitude toward our republican opponents (are they demons, demagogues or a more benign reflection of the American character?).

I anguish about the persistent decline of the American Labor Movement but offer no remedies (are there any?).

In describing this site in the past, I’ve called it a “public diary”.  I now want to replace that with “political memoir.”  If I glommed it all together I’d get Public Political Memoir Diary – forget that.

If this is, in fact, a political memoir then what’s my theme and where’s my outline?

Let’s start by throwing a few ingredients into the stew:

  • Baby-boom
  • Brooklyn-born, Jewish Working-Class
  • Highly exposed to counter culture (Vermont “communitarianism”)
  • West Coast transplant
  • Career Trajectory: Journalism; Agency PR; Labor Movement (union communications etc).

Of course some of the above are conditions, the rest – presumably – choices.

But if you make a composite of these circumstances, traits and experiences, let stand in a cool, dry spot overnight, here’s what you might see in the morning:

Progressive / radical sprinkled with liberal compromises and heavily flavored by economic populism; life-style libertarian with high tolerance for socially-conservative wage earners.

(Looking for biographical “symmetry” try: – “he never forgot his working class roots,” etc, etc.)

So thank you for letting me reflect and ruminate about our country and its institutions and for putting up with my whimsical style.  Despite any additional personal details, my blog should stay pretty much the same:

Telling you where I stand combined with what I don’t know; and always changing my mind as I go.

Comments (4)


  1. Vivian Price says:

    Must say that I like your blog best when I can see you in it. Not that you’re bragging– just letting us know who you are and where you stand. It’s refreshing.

    It would be interesting to hear you mull over issues of race and gender and homophobia in the labor movement. Do you think working class folks are united around issues of immigration? What are the conflicts that we have—the elephants in the room–that would make for important dialogue so that we could build a real movement for social justice?

    As a labor educator, filmmaker and activist, I try to find spaces for these dialogues. RIght now, the film I codirected with Gilbert Gonzalez, is being screened at labor film festivals and universities. I’d like to show it, or even the five minute trailer, in union meetings. Take a look at my website, http://harvestofloneliness.com

    The film stimulates discussion of what stand the labor movement should take in reference to a new temporary worker program–for example the one in the Immigration Bill pending in congress.

    The other thing I’d like to mention here is the space of the Labor, Social and Environmental Justice Fair to be held at CSU Dominguez Hills on April 21. This is a space for unions, workers’ centers, artists, community organizations, and environmental justice groups to come and interact with each other and our campus communities–and high school students–on the campaigns of the day. Trade Tech usually has a booth, and that’s always appreciated!

    We’re having a planning meeting on Feb 17th 1-4 pm at CSUDH. Lunch will be served. Contact me if you are interested in rsvping. Our facebook page is

    I hope you all feel comfortable that I’ve kind of blogged on Lou’s blog. Maybe that’s blog success!

  2. Lou -

    all writing is masked autobiography

    you omitted one important component of your youthful past, which set you on your path to the woodlands of Vermont, namely your first immersion in nature during your three summers at Surprise Lake Camp, i know because i was there too

    - Mark

  3. John Connolly says:

    I really like Mark Braunstein’s notion that all writing is essentially autobiography, not so much because I completely agree but more that I like the style of the assertion … like Labor Lou’s questions, it makes you think.

    However, I don’t get Labor Lou’s impulse to evolve his stimulating contemporary blog into a political “Memoir”.

    Frankly, it doesn’t make much sense … mostly because of tense.

    “Memoir” strongly implies reflections on past events –often long past. Labor Lou is primarily an interactive diary of engagement with the present … a journal if you will — these days it sometimes seems a Journal of the Plague Years.

    Diaries and Journals … or political columns … rely on engaging with the facts and interpretations of current events of great moment, and clearly such interpretation relies in part on the “Memoirs” of the author’s youth, upbringing, rebellion and maturation.

    But the actual “Memoir” gets written after the events … and later in the life — in question.

    But I don’t wish to quibble, and really Lou can call his blog whatever he wants … it is his blog after all.

    In any event, what’s best about Labor Lou are the stimulating questions that his whole life experience and Talmudic sensibility elicit from the warm, loving, optimistic fatalism of a mind on loan from Tevya.

    John C

    • Lou says:

      Connolly sets me straight once again. My memoirs can wait. As for Braunstein, who witnessed my adolescent misadventures firsthand, we’ll keep that to ourselves for now.

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