Daniel Mintz is Living Liberally

Talking Liberally Progressive Parley
by Seth Pearce, Living Liberally Blog

Part of Living Liberally's mission has been to promote engagement and collaboration among progressive organizations. To fulfill this goal we at Living Liberally have decided to feature interviews with people involved in different parts of the progressive movement. Hopefully, through these interviews, we can learn about what progressives are working on today, and get a little more in depth about what its like to be a part of the progressive movement.

Our first interviewee, Daniel Mintz, is in Research and Development at progressive powerhouse MoveOn.org Political Action. He currently lives in Brooklyn and every once in a while shows up at the Original Drinking Liberally. Enjoy!

Seth Pearce: So, what did your parents say when your organization was condemned by the US congress?
Daniel Mintz: I think, they, like a lot of people, were just blown away that with so many huge problems to tackle, the US Congress decided to spend so much time talking about a newspaper ad. Just like, whether you agreed or disagreed with the ad, what a manufactured controversy.

SP: What exactly do you do at MoveOn?
DM: Officially, I'm in charge of Research and Development, which is to say that I'm the R&D dept. (we're a pretty tiny shop). What that means in practice is that I get to have my hands in lots of cool stuff that we're trying out.

SP: Stuff John McCain would know how to use?
DM: Not so much.

SP: People think of MoveOn as this big shadowy progressive organization, running some kind of secret progressive world order- what are some specific things that MoveOn is working on right now?
DM: Ha. What are we working on right now?...Let's see...We're getting ready to run a massive get out the vote operation in the fall, hundreds of paid organizers working with tens of thousands of volunteers. We'll be essentially combining our 2004 program, Leave No Voter Behind, where people in swing states canvassed their neighbors, with our 2006 program, Call for Change, where MoveOn members across the country made more than 7 million calls to voters in key House and Senate races.

We're also working on FISA: Right now, we're asking thousands of MoveOn members to call their senators every day to tell them not to cave on the FISA "compromise".

And we're running a National Day of Action for an Oil-Free President at gas stations across the country in a few weeks. McCain is pretty darn tight with Big Oil. Many of the more than 100 lobbyists associated with his campaign are lobbyists for Big Oil. We wanted to highlight those ties and push for our next president to free himself and us of our dependence on foreign oil. So we're holding hundreds of gas station rallies where thousands of MoveOn members will show up at local gas stations to rally and call for a real, progressive solutions to the energy crisis.

Follow across the jump for more fresh Mintz.

SP: Has MoveOn ever substantially changed its direction because of member input?
DM: Constantly. One of the amazing things about technology is that it lets us really put our guiding principle, "Strong Vision, Big Ears" to work. So, for example, in 2006, we convened house parties across the country where MoveOn members came together to decide on a three-point positive agenda for MoveOn to pursue. Each house party ended up nominating three issues. Then we aggregated those and the whole membership, 3.2 million people, got the opportunity to vote and that's been our agenda since. It's a pretty neat way to set an organization's direction.

SP: What is the next step, technologically, for the progressive movement?
DM: Ha, good to see I'm only getting softballs. I think social networks are a big deal, but nobody's figured out how to organize with them that well, yet. I think adapting what progressives have learned about organizing from decades of experience in the offline world to the online world will be a big deal.

We know from organizing that everybody has different skills and talents. they bring different things to the movement, but online, because the technology helps us harness such huge numbers, our first attempts at organizing have been focused on sheer scale and have often forgotten that among those millions of people are tens of millions of unique and valuable talents.

We've done a bunch to try to bring those talents out, with things like our Obama in 30 Seconds contest, or our Support Corps which is a group of volunteers who provide all the tech support for MoveOn members but there's still a lot to do. So I don't think it's so much about the technology as about figuring out all the new stuff the technology lets us do.

SP: Why are you proud to be a liberal?
DM: I'm proud to be a liberal/progressive because I believe in doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. Conservatism seems to me the opposite of that golden rule: every person for him or herself with no regard for the effect it has on others. That's just a shitty way to live life.

SP: How do you Live Liberally?
DM: I don't know, I head over to Rudy's every so often.

SP: Ahem... How do you get your food?
DM: Oh, right! Park Slope Coop baby! and I'm selling my car, cause it's a waste to own a car in the city.

SP: For clarification, what City is that?
DM: BROOKLYN!... but the statement is valid for all 5 boroughs.

You can contribute to or sign up for MoveOn.org today.