Reform Thyself!

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Robert Kuttner has a good piece in the Boston Globe today on the break-up of the AFL-CIO. There’s no real new information, but after the obligatory conceit that the split is in part about Andy Stern’s ego, Kuttner wisely compares the break-up to other understandable, if risky, efforts by progressive radicals to knock down massive and old-line liberal establishment organizations—i.e. Nader going after the Democrats, and Shellenberger and Nordhaus’ iconoclastic missive against the Washington based environmental movement.

Kuttner got me thinking about what other big players in the liberal coalition might need a retooling, and where the initiative might come from. Feminist groups? Civil Rights? Must the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of whippersnappers and burnt out bureaucrats? A Common Cause employee once told me that the average age of it members were something like 72. She (or my memory) is probably overstating the case, but the signpost seems right. When the reform organizations founded in the 60s and 70s run out of gas be replaced, or will they do something that you’d hope they’d be good at and, you know, reform for a new generation?

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