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Friday: The Way Forward- Imitation

Question: Who is this man and what does he have to do with us?  Answer:  nothing and everything.

His name is Ralph Reed and he is the director of the Christian Coalition, one of the most powerful voting blocs in the country.  You want to know why stem cell research has been set back by eight long years?  Reed.  Faith based initiatives?  Reed.  Delay of approval of Plan B?  Reed, Reed, Reed. Oh, sure, there were some dirty, rotten, underhanded conning of Indian tribes in there that sort of tarnished his halo.  But there is no question that the Christian Coalition has been one of the most effective advocacy groups in the nation since it was founded by Pat Robertson in 1988.  Robertson’s 700 Club makes a killing by convincing fundagelical Christians to send in mucho dinero in order to keep the blastocyst sacred, Darwin unmentionable in science class and Republicans in office for what seems like forever.

Now, I’m not saying that we want to become double high authoritarians running a billion dollar industry that feeds off of fear of the end of the world as we know it.  But to paraphrase Ross Perot, if you can’t beat your competitors, copy them.  There is a successful model in the Christian Coalition that we should look at carefully to determine what kind of organization we need to be if we want to promote more moderate to left of center Democratic values that will benefit working people of all educational backgrounds.

Democracy For America (gag!) also has some online organizing tools and traveling training camps for activists.  It’s probably working with a lot less cash than the Christian Coalition but it can be just as effective in organizing events.

Now, what do these groups have that we haven’t got?  Not a whole lot, really.  We’ve got people, LOTS of them actually.  One of the latest polls of voters on election day suggests that Hillary Clinton would have beaten John McCain by a much bigger margin than Obama did.  So, there are a lot of potential voters out there of a Clinton/FDR Democratic persuasion who are interested in the same things we are: equality, social justice, fiscal responsibility, sustainability, privacy, peace through diplomacy and reward for *work*, not free market capitalism on speed. So, how do we turn this gourp of people into an effective voting bloc?  Infrastructure.

The Christian Coalition and DFA infrastructures have some of these elements:

  • An administrative branch to develop and maintain infrastructure
  • A lobbying branch to address issues with legislators
  • A PR branch to develop media, press releases, talking points
  • A fundraising branch to, well, raise money
  • A technology branch that harnesses the power of the internet to develop databases and link people
  • A community branch that creates groups from like minded people and then motivates them to action through communication and event planning.
  • A common purpose.

None of this is outside our abilities to construct.  But we have to have a willingness to do it in a concerted way.  Four dozen PUMA groups having their own conferences is a waste of time and energy.  Joining together under one umbrella group that includes groups outside of PUMA makes us a more powerful force.  We could also liaison with organizations who wish to remain independent such as The New Agenda so we don’t duplicate efforts.  An umbrella group does not mean that there will be a top down organization.  Rather, like the Jesus Movement of the 1st and 2nd centuries, cells of people in many thousands of locations could develop based on their own georgraphic or socio-economic conditions but be united in the goals in common.  We are already seeing this in the number of PUMA groups springing up and the nature of those groups are quite diverse.

The element that I see that is missing from the Christian Coalition and DFA is the commitment to community service.  So, one might imagine that our organization would have a Rotary Club branch or something along the lines of a Greek fraternity/sorority, minus the hazing.

So, what is the way forward?  Well, if there is enough interest, there needs to be a conference of sorts to pull all of these elements together and determine the legal entity that we need to be.  Online conferencing is completely doable these days.  There’s no need for everyone to meet in a big room.  It can be done through Scype or Second Life.  The question is, are we ready for this step?

It’s up to you.


DFA conscripted to work for Obama- Update

This is just wrong.

Two days ago, I got a call from Democracy for America (DFA) for a pledge of support. They wanted $120.00. When I joined DFA two years ago, it was in the service of helping Democrats take back congress and I worked for Linda Stender. Back then, DFA wasn’t in anyone’s pocket. We were all on the same side- againt the Republicans.

But this appeal to sign a petition to influence the Superdelegates is an outrage. First of all, the reason superdelegates exist is so that wildfire movements don’t end up nominating someone who supported by a bunch of overzealous maniacs in caucus states but not the faithful Democrats in the big states. You’d think that the Big D states should have a big influence but if they don’t, through some quirk of dumb planning or a party leader putting his thumb on the scales with all of his might, then the superdelegates step in to moderate the situation. That’s why they should be left alone. It’s one thing for a candidate to petition them for support but to insist that they give up their moderating power because the wildfire movement doesn’t like the role they play, that’s just wrong. If they vote in favor of the biggest most populated states, they have served their purpose.

Second, DFA is supposed to be a group dedicated to getting out the vote and this petition clearly shows that they are trying to GOTV for Obama. I expect them to be neutral and just a resource center for anyone who wants to work for any candidate. For Jim Dean to put the organization in the service of one candidate at the expense of another is an embarrassment and an outrage. Is it DFA who is behind all of the recent caucus stuff? Are they the ones getting the Obamaphiles to turn out and intimidate the regular Democratic voters?

It looks like the Dean brothers are putting all of their efforts to overturning the will of the Biggest D states in NY, NJ, CA, FL, MI, AZ and it has to stop. There’s People Powered Politics and then there’s Mob Rule. When the Unholy Alliance between the GOTV arm of the DNC is put into service to overturn the will of the people in our most densely populated states and they do by riding the relentlessly misogynistic bleatings of the media, they have become the Establishment that they purport to hate. There is nothing about Hillary Clinton that would make her a bad Democratic president. There is no reason to want to squash her candidacy except that the Deans and their friends want to be the kingmakers, over the dead bodies, if necessary. of the Democrats who have supported the party for years.

There are a couple things we can do about this. One, send letters to your state party chairman protesting the tipping of the scales. Two, register at DFA and shore up the Clinton GOTV efforts (if they exist) or create some in OH, WI and TX. Three, spread the word in every blog you can that the Deans are out of control. And finally, DON’T COBTRIBUTE TO DFA UNTIL THEY REMOVE THE SUPERDELEGATE PETITION. And by this, I don’t mean whenever the petition period ends. I mean, they have to take it down and retract the whole damn thing.

Update: We’ve had a comment from Ilya Sheyman of DFA. Oooo, that was quick. We must have struck a nerve. I’ll repeat what I told her in the comments. When DFA has a similar petition asking that the Florida delegation be seated, NOW, and that Michigan have a do-ever mail in primary instead of a caucus. we’ll call it even. Until then, DFA is using its GOTV power on behalf of Obama in order to stifle the superdelegates and they are misrepresenting the role of the superdelegates hoping no one will notice. I advise anyone who is a Hillary supporter to think carefully before they respond to a DFA fundraising drive since these funds appear to be directed to assisting Obama’s campaign at Hillary’s expense.

Very sad. I used to identify with these people but they’re not my peeps anymore if they are jumping on this bandwagon and expect all the rest of us in the reality based community to join them without question. That shit’s gotta stop.