Jonathan Smucker Profile picture
Director @popularcomms cofounder @mennoniteaction @lancstandsup @PAstandsup member @UAW2865 @DemSocialists author @hegemonyhowto soc PhD candidate @Cal
Oct 30, 2023 8 tweets 2 min read
I was part of a grassroots machine that turned out tens of thousands of unlikely PA voters for Biden 2020. He wasn't our top pick but we worked hard to defeat Trump.

Hearing now from so many of our volunteers that they cannot in good conscience vote for him again.

#CeasefireNOW It's not just votes that Biden is losing. He's losing thousands of the hardworking volunteers who roll up their sleeves and do the thankless work of knocking door after door and making phone call after phone call to persuade voters and get out the vote.
Oct 1, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
It is irresponsible journalism to refer to Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema as "moderates."

Words have meanings! They also have positive and negative associations that have an effect on readers and viewers.

Have an ed board meeting about it or whatever, but please make it stop. The labels "moderate" and "centrist" are associated with the idea of the "median voter." The implication is that "moderates" are closer to the position of most voters who are "in the middle" and alienated from the extreme poles of either political party...
Aug 15, 2021 13 tweets 2 min read
What depresses the hell out of me when listening to Democratic politicians, liberal advocacy groups, and unapologetic leftists alike, is how rarely I hear people even try to speak in popular/majoritarian language. And I'm primarily talking about spokespeople here—folks who are presumably trained or prepared to be connecting with popular or particular social bases in order to activate them or win their sympathy.
Mar 6, 2021 23 tweets 5 min read
Senator @kyrstensinema’s history and psychology is as fascinating as it is depressing. She seems motivated by a somewhat personal resentment of “the Left” and her own experience of its ineffectiveness and naval-gazing (in a particular time period)… She and I are roughly the same age. I also came of age with the same backdrop of a weak, dysfunctional Left. It often felt like we didn't have anything big enough to really accurately call a "movement"; it might sound harsh, but we had residue from when there had been a movement.
Jan 8, 2021 5 tweets 1 min read
If we want a future that is not run (/run into the ground) by literal Nazis, we will have to fight for it. There is no "back to brunch." If we want to defeat authoritarianism, we will need to do a lot better than condemning its most heinous visible acts.

We have to confront the underlying crisis of runaway inequality that has created conditions where authoritarian demagogues and movements flourish.
Dec 4, 2020 7 tweets 1 min read
Insurgent strategy must always be grounded in a sober assessment of the present balance of forces.

But it must also be grounded in a visionary imagining of how forces can favorably shift when insurgents capture the momentum.

The real trick is to hold both things at once. Don't let people who aren't accountable to an organized base set the strategy.
Nov 9, 2020 48 tweets 7 min read
The story of who was key in defeating Trump is a critical contest in framing Biden’s popular mandate.

A message strategy thread: Trump’s defeat is the result of a massive multiracial working class movement fighting back—as opposed to an intervention of elite forces, former GOP operatives, or of conservative “swing” voters.
Nov 6, 2020 16 tweets 11 min read
If you appreciate Pennsylvania delivering Trump a historic defeat, please support the people-powered grassroots organizations that made a plan to win and have been working their asses off for four years to bring it home.

Organizations (with links) in thread: Lancaster Stands Up. @lancstandsup

The original Stands Up! We started 10 days after Trump won in 2016, with an emergency community meeting of 300 Lancaster residents. We've been in the streets and on the doors for four solid years.

Donate here:
Nov 4, 2020 5 tweets 1 min read
We’ve been organizing a broad base in Pennsylvania since the 2016 election. Today we’re mobilizing our community to rally for democracy and to count every vote.

My patience for this kind of bullshit from national organizations that are not accountable to a base has run out. We held actions in cities and towns all across Pennsylvania. They were disciplined with strategic popular messaging, tight visuals, and joyous crowds. Our actions generated good media coverage and helped shape the story.
Oct 22, 2020 13 tweets 3 min read
Honest thread. I find myself being more snarky and sarcastic the past few weeks. And I realize it's because it's hard to hold the heaviness of this moment. We're in a very serious situation as a nation—a crossroads with huge stakes. I am both hopeful and terrified to think about the range of possibilities for what might transpire over the next two or more weeks in our country. No one knows what will happen. But we know that we can't be passive. No one is coming to save us. It's on people like us to step up.
Oct 22, 2020 5 tweets 1 min read
I want Joe Biden to be the kind of President who hands this back to Amtrak and says, “Ok good start, now give me a proposal with twice as many lines built in half the time.” “How we gonna pay for it? C’mon man, we’re gonna make Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk pay their fucking taxes.”
Oct 21, 2020 4 tweets 1 min read
What if from now on we called it crapitalism? You know, like a rebrand. Capitalism... sounds so lofty. But Crapitalism? Yuck! Nobody wants it! Get that shit outta here it stinky. Just one letter folks.
Aug 19, 2020 4 tweets 1 min read
The US Green Party is completely unserious about winning or building working-class political power and should not be encouraged by serious leftists. Don't @ me I understand the appeal for people who, like me, are deeply disillusioned—if we ever harbored illusions—with the Democratic Party in its current state. I voted Green in the past. More thoughts:
May 30, 2020 4 tweets 1 min read
There are moments when all the organizing experience in the world doesn't matter much. There are moments that are much bigger than the organizations we've labored to build. There are moments when people who have never been involved pour into the streets, seemingly from nowhere. I always remember something my mentor Max Elbaum told me (not an exact quote here, but this is the gist of it):

If you can fully control the political force that you're helping to unleash, then it is far too small.
May 16, 2020 13 tweets 3 min read
It’s tempting to cling to a narrative about the formidable power & consolidation of the Establishment, the bias of the punditry, the stacking of the deck—because it’s all true.

But the truth is the Sanders campaign came within reach—within the ground gained or lost by maneuver. The lessons to be gleaned from Bernie 2020 have very little to do with the power, consolidation, and shittiness of the Dem Party’s old guard. We already knew that, there’s little more to learn.

The big lessons pertain to our own ability and capacity to persuade and to maneuver.
Feb 29, 2020 13 tweets 3 min read
"Activism" is a relatively new word. Its rise in usage corresponded with the rise of neoliberalism and its ethos of individualism. Activism tends to be an activity of individual self-selectors, usually from the top 10-20% of the economic spectrum.

Activism ≠ organizing. Image The lesson is never “The forces we’re up against are just too powerful.”

Facing tough odds against formidably powerful opponents is the nature of insurgent struggle.

It is the duty of insurgent leaders to study the terrain and learn how to win.
Jan 16, 2020 5 tweets 3 min read
Friends, it is a true and obvious fact that only one candidate will become the nominee. Eventually one of these candidates will have to drop out of the race.

When that happens, we want that candidate and their base of supporters to support the other.… We especially need the delegates of the candidate who concedes to consolidate behind the other. We want it to be obvious to everyone that they will do so when the time comes.

Souring each's camp on the other candidate is not a smart move, if we're serious about winning.
Jan 6, 2020 16 tweets 3 min read
Excited to knock some more doors in Iowa today. #Bernie2020 #NotMeUs Been finding that some of the electability arguments I made in this article are working quite well at the door...…
Dec 8, 2019 16 tweets 3 min read
Would be great if people's thinking about political insurgency and political unity were a little more complex... Calls for unity most often mean unity under the hegemony of those calling for unity.
Oct 4, 2019 5 tweets 1 min read
There is a mistaken idea in some pockets of the Left that you shift the Overton Window by saying things that sound extreme to most people.

You shift the Overton Window by framing bold demands as popular demands; by framing your values and agenda as common sense. There's nothing inherently progressive about insurgency and nothing inherently reactionary about hegemony.

Insurgent politics can be rightwing or leftwing.

Elites can be hegemonic, but so can workers.

It depends on the agenda of those at the helm & the agenda of the mutineers.
Aug 12, 2019 10 tweets 3 min read
The old guard of the Democratic Party seems to have no grasp of the monumental historical opportunity they have with @BernieSanders, who is uniquely positioned to bring tens of millions of disaffected voters and young low-propensity voters out to vote in 2020. @BernieSanders Bernie's has shown an unparalleled ability to engage with disaffected voters, to win over persuadable conservative voters, and to organize an enormous base of dedicated volunteers and small donors. These are exactly the ingredients we need to defeat Trump.