October 05, 2005
Dress For Success

A simple dress code. Would it kill us? I agree totally.

I spent quite a bit of time in Burlington with the Dean campaign in 2004, and while I admired the fact that so many of us were willing to work for little or no pay in the cold of northern Vermont in order to reverse the weakening of America, I think a dress code would have helped at least some, and maybe enormously. Any other America-strengthening project could benefit in the same way. There is a reason that persons entrusted with flying passenger planes will always wear ties, and that reason is essentially a political and vote-getting reason.

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Posted by Wayne Uff at October 05, 2005 07:17 AM
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Oh man, you drove me right out of my meditative equanimity.

I'm 71 years old and have been hearing stupid shit like this for almost all of those years.

Not only is the "appearance" of activists totally irrelevant, it is an example of ignoramus elitism at its worst. God bless us, we need more, not less activists.

I enjoy Doonesbury for the way it pokes fun at authority. I do not expect the Hamptons or whatever bubble Gary and Jane choose to luxuriate in to provide me with any interesting or relevant or even intelligent social commentary.

The proof that this is idiotic please-your-mama drivel is in the pudding. Dean did quite well in Vermont and in the rest of New England where such concerns have their origins.

I spent a miserable part of my childhood there and was forced to adhere to an idiotic dress code in my early primary school years. To see an 8 year old in a tie and jacket is to see a monkey in a clown suit.

He didn't do so very well out West where I have lived these past 60 years where we wore Levi's and t-shirts to school and where we used to say that if we saw someone with a suit and tie on he was obviously a crook. Even the bankers didn't want that stigma.

Enough spleen. Now to close my eyes, breathe deeply, and find the center of my calmness. Om Shantih Ohhh fer Crissakes.. grrrr..

Posted by: Albaz on October 5, 2005 1:53 PM

Well, they could leave off stocking caps next time around. That just looked wacky.

Posted by: Buck on October 5, 2005 2:08 PM

I agree with Matt Taibbi that the carnival-like atmosphere of recent demonstrations simply alienates progressives even further from those whose minds need changing. Not because they appear freakish or threatening, but the opposite: they are clearly a marginal subset; far from shocking they are but a lifestyle niche. "Oh, look at the Puppet Intervention Brigade. How goofy." Taibbi argues that the nation can ignore a bunch of rainbow punks, but would sit up and take notice if the left could establish a dress code:

"That's why the one thing that would have really shaken Middle America last week wasn't "creativity." It was something else: uniforms. Three hundred thousand people banging bongos and dressed like extras in an Oliver Stone movie scares no one in America. But 300,000 people in slacks and white button-down shirts, marching mute and angry in the direction of Your Town, would have instantly necessitated a new cabinet-level domestic security agency."

http://www.nypress.com/print.cfm?content_id=11002

Posted by: C.JoDI on October 5, 2005 2:58 PM

There's a reason that the Mormons are now the largest denomination in the U.S., and the fastest-growing worldwide. That reason is closely tied to the fact that when you see two Mormon missionaries biking as a pair around your town, both young men are wearing ties.

I can't possibly believe that not dressing respectfully in any way helps the anti-war movement (or any other movement caculated to end the W-led weakening of America), and I can see how it could help.

The stakes are so high, why not take this question off the table? We have absolutely no margin for error here; we need to recruit people. Strap on a friggin' tie and jacket when you represent America in public, and stop complaining.

The comment that dressing for success is a New England or northeast phenomenon is so far off base that it doesn't bear more than three words of comment: Baptist Sunday school.

Posted by: wayneuff on October 5, 2005 3:52 PM

I'm with Albaz on this, at least as far as principle goes. But as a pragmatic issue, caving to elitism on something so minor would be worth it to get better press coverage and make it more difficult for spineless centrists to dismiss protestors out of hand. That said, trying to form a dress code for protests would be like herding cats, and you'd have to give me one hell of an incentive to get more dressed up than my Trogdor!! polo shirt (that's 1 part 'I want to be comfortable' and 1 part 'I look stupid in a suit and tie').

Posted by: qubit on October 5, 2005 6:18 PM

Well, thanks Wayne, Baptist Sunday School tells me all I need to know. What the world needs is more Baptist Sunday Scholars and/or Mormons.

My dear sainted mother is dead thirty years now and even she could never have written: "not dressing respectfully" about those who came out to protest the war.

Were you there? What were you wearing?

Of course this is trivial but, goddammit (oops! excuse me any Baptist Sunday School teachers in the crowd,) as I tried gently to inhform you, such brainless crap does cause harm. Maybe you should try being more respectful of the mores of people who are not fortunate enough to be you.

Posted by: albaz on October 5, 2005 7:18 PM

At least down south, these days the biker guys are quite often the Baptists, so I think you're stereotyping that crowd.

The old line Southern Baptist crowd and the new style Fundy crowd are two different groups altogether; they quite often compete against each other.

As an aside, let me say that the Democrats do need another Billy Carter; they are still reverently holding onto those unopened Billy bBeer cans down there.

Furthermore, I think that dresssing "respectfully" won't do much good; the Republicans will just send in goons dressed as hippies for the cameras anyway.


Posted by: Buck on October 5, 2005 8:14 PM

Am I missing something? I went back to look at Monique's pictures of the march (http://www.sauvessanges.com/MYDAYINWASHINGTON.html), and the people looked like ordinary people who'd be walking around on a warm day in Washington, DC. Nothing freakish or bikerish or even Shrinerish about them. To put all these people in suits would suggest they were a multitude of congressional staffers who just popped out of Delay's office to prevent a recount somewhere, except they'd be ickily sweaty due to lack of air conditioning on the street.

Or they'd look like a briefcase brigade. Do you have them elsewhere in the country? In Philadelphia for parades, 30 or so straight-faced people, male and female, dress very properly in suits and ties and then do drill team maneuvers with a briefcase instead of a musket or flag or whatever. Hilarious--but one of those things that you'd have to see, I guess.

And there aren't nearly as many Mormons as there are Roman Catholics or Southern Baptists. There ought to be a billion or so Mormons, given that every 18-year-old owes 2 years of missionary service. There would be more of them, probably, if ordinary people weren't put off by the white shirts and skinny ties.

Posted by: Joy on October 5, 2005 11:12 PM

Let's draw back and take a breath here.

I'm not trying to offend anyone here. You wear what you want to a protest. Certainly, I don't want you to stand out like a sore thumb and feel like a dork, Albaz.

But take the Dean campaign, for instance. Without changing a jot of substance, even a loosely enforced dress code for campaign workers would have made it more difficult to paint Dean as an angry wacko. No, not impossible; just more difficult.

And Joy, you are absolutely right that Mormons are not even close to the most numerous denomination in the United States; just the fastest growing.

Still, I feel that you should dress for the job you want, and if what you want is to run the government, you should dress like you are ready to do it.

It's just like the advice a football coach gave to his players: if they were lucky enough to find themselves in the end zone with the ball, "act like you've been there before."

More later, maybe.

Posted by: wayneuff on October 6, 2005 5:19 PM

P.S.: writing off people who go to church, and dress up to do so, is equivalent to a declaration that we are not serious about saving the nation, because the numbers say we can't do it without some of them. That would be a true declaration of defeat.

Posted by: wayneuff on October 6, 2005 5:22 PM
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