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The Unemployed Organize

One near-constant facet of American politics is that policies effecting the lives of people with low incomes or other unfortunate circumstances are usually crafted with no input from them at all. Health care reform took so many decades to enact in part because the uninsured are a completely unorganized group. In general, people with low wages participate less in politics.

Annie Lowrey has a report on one of the most interesting and encouraging developments I've seen:

[Comments disparaging the unemployed] began reverberating in what might be termed the unemployed netroots — a system of highly trafficked, influential blogs and sites connecting the jobless and updating them, often in minute detail, about ins and outs of Congress’ work on unemployment issues. ...
Paladinette — the online “zealot for the unemployed” also known as LaDona King — has taken the battle over the unemployment extension as more of a call to arms. She routinely publishes phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses of lawmakers to target, rallying her thousands of online supporters to the cause. King personally calls 25 or 30 legislators’ offices a day. Sometimes, when she posts lawmakers’ numbers or picks out a particularly egregious example of a legislator blocking a vote or putting down the unemployed, her followers flood a Senate or House office with phone calls. The same goes for LayoffList. At one point, Thornton published the name and number of a House staffer working on unemployment legislation. Soon after, the staffer called and begged him to take it down, he says.

This is almost ten percent of the working-age population. It's a massive, massive group. Even modest levels of political organization could make this a potent political force.