for a Full Court Press

by: jeffroby

Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 00:00

The Case

The health care reform debacle is beginning to stink to high heaven, whether or not some rotted carcass labeled "reform" ever gets passed.

Obama now proudly walks in the footsteps of Lyndon Johnson and George Bush as he ships 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Hopes of seriously regulating Wall Street have been dashed to bits by the Goldman Sachs economic team Obama has put in charge of the henhouse, while Wall Street pockets the bailout money that we gave them and plans its next round of Ponzi schemes.

Working families only face more unemployment, and foreclosures, while employers exploit the hard times to crack down on the still employed, and the social safety net provided by state and local governments is ripped asunder.

At this moment, Obama's Fed nominee is touting creating jobs by gutting Social Security.

And hope is dying.

jeffroby :: for a Full Court Press
The progressive movement had had all sorts of hopes in the last presidential election.  I remember being in tears watching the solemn but joyous crowd gathered in Lincoln Park that election night.  We had won, and with a Democratic president and Congress, we would continue to fight for the hopes that had been held in check for so many years.  Yes, Obama said things that made me uneasy, but I had hope in the people who had carried him into office.  We the people would provide that extra measure of strength that our elected officials would need to see through all their promises.

Things were shaken up with the 2006 elections.  Progressives talked tough about Bush and the war and behold, Democrats got elected.  Try it again in 2008, we thought.  For one golden moment, it seemed to be working again.  America was moving left, and would continue to move left, now we could pass progressive legislation, elect more Democrats in 2010, visions of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930's dancing in our heads.  But it now looks like all that still evokes the 1930s is the misery.

Obama went Wall Street, went military-industrial complex, went with the Bush torture regime.  But hope didn't die easy.  See, we were told, Obama had this master plan, pacify the right, make the generals happy, lean over backwards for the Republicans, and then we would see the greatest piece of social legislation since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.  Health care reform.  Health care, as Obama had proclaimed during the campaign, as a human right.  Details kept out of sight, shadow-boxing over public option, Stupak kept under the radar.

Then in the week preceding the passage of the House version, the hideous truth was revealed.  Nothing until 2014, a bloody stump of a public option, mandate to force the uninsured to buy what they can't afford, no price controls.  Stupak.  Lieberman.  Maybe a commission to cut Social Security.

Public option stalwarts Howard Dean and Anthony Weiner were suddenly on board, Stupak and all, because of that bloody stump.

The blogs were ablaze.  We've been betrayed, kill this monstrosity.  No, it's great, don't be a purist.  Save abortion rights.  No, improve it later.  I've been checking some of the blogs.  Now OpenLeft's Chris Bowers has a big piece explaining why he shifted his position.  Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher is touting the bill as a victory because of its bloody stump of a public option, having once absolutely insisted that if it didn't have a ROBUST public option, it should be defeated.  Firedoglake's readers are not impressed.  Matt Yglesias touts the "Public Option Pragmatists" and praises Bowers.  His readers aren't happy.  Lots of "I'll never vote again" stuff, utter disgust, along with the regular hacks trying to convince folks that all that piss is really rain.

Some might call anything on the blogs a tempest in a teacup.  But then there is this underlying poll showing 81% of Republicans are either "definitely" or "probably" voting next year, while among Democrats 56% are either "definitely" voting or "probably" voting next year, while 40% are "not likely" to vote or will "definitely" not vote.

While the Palin legions grow and the cold shadow of Weimar creeps across the landscape, the progressive leadership is reacting to this with varying degrees of hysteria or pseudo-militancy.  Congressional Democrats must do something to inspire the base, they cry.  They must be bold.  When in fact they are cowering in their hutches.  Rallying cries go out from MoveOn and the like.  Make phone calls for the public option.  Send us money.  Call your congressman.  Send us more money.  But not a whisper that if Congressman X doesn't come through, they will face retaliation.

In a snapshot, the regular Democratic Party leadership is in a deadly state of paralysis at best, the progressive leadership is calling on the ranks to keep doing more of the same only with greater vigor, and the ranks are demoralized and beginning to drop away in disgust.

I have no hope for the Democratic Party leadership actually leading anything.  Many of them would just as well be rid of the party's base.  The base did its job in 2008, but they only complicate things now with their unrealistic expectations and childish demands.

I will concede that progressive leaders such as Bowers are well-meaning.  (Maybe I'm too easy, I had also conceded that Obama was well-meaning.)  But they have cherished relationships on the fringe of the Democratic Party core:  jobs, the tiniest bit of influence, access to congressional aides, the joy of getting onto the Rachel Maddow show, etc.  However angry or militant they might sound at any given moment, they have no willingness to make a serious threat.  No stick.

And the ranks?  Some are perfectly willing to roll over, yes I believe in, yes I uphold, etc., the Democratic Party is my team just like the New York Knicks are my team and that emotional identification is the bottom line.  Smart people can say incredibly stupid things in this mindset.

Yes, they'll target specific Democrats to punish them.  This is consistent with a completely fragmented, individualistic methodology that is completely paralyzing.  The Democratic Party is masterful at creating an endless series of either/or choices.  Lousy public option or none.  Stupak or lesser restrictions on abortion.  A nice campaign speech or not.  A campaign position or none.  Democratic Party or Republican.  Lesser or greater evil.  If this fragmented framework is accepted, then there is no way out of the trap, the current version of the La Brea tar pits.

Can't say we will hurt you, the Democratic Party, if you cave on this principle or that.

But let's look at the Stupak amendment.  Stupak didn't do this.  It wasn't passed by this Democrat and this Republican and this one and that one and gee which ONES should we go after.  The House bill containing Stupak was passed by the Democratic Party.

My concern is with those who can't keep beating their heads against a brick wall are dropping away in disgust, a disgust I share, by the way, and who would indeed be abandoning the field.  My wife and I have filled out our passport applications.  What's needed is a plan for the decent activists who've plugged away for years, who've haven't shared the joys of being a party insider.  We can't just call for nose to the grindstone, stiff upper lip, take (another) one for the team.  We need to give them something that they can do that is not contingent on the higher-ups leading it, funding it, legitimizing it.

We need to give them a stick.

Thus the Full Court Press.

The plan

The basic concept is simple and flexible.  The Committee for a Full Court Press (FCP) (I just made up the name) would agree on the following principles:

o Troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq now.
o No aid to Israel until Palestinians have full rights.
o Medicaid for all.
o No compromise on abortion rights, repeal Hyde.
o Regulate Wall Street to the max, no more bailouts.
o Tax the rich to deal with the deficit.
o Create a fund to save families from foreclosures.
o Rebuild and strengthen the social safety net, no cuts in Social Security.

The 8 points are offered as a suggestion, and would be decided upon by those initially forming the FCP based upon activist feedback.  But once approved, they would ultimately not be negotiable at the local level.

The bottom line is to have at least one FCP candidate on the primary ballot in every district.

The FCP activist would pay the required filing fee or gather required signatures or combination thereof to get on the primary ballot.  While any FCP candidate could run a full-fledged campaign with the intent to win the seat, a minimal candidate could:

o Ask the other candidates if they will actively support the FCP points and say so in writing.

o If they sign, the FCP candidate could simply endorse that candidate, or the best of those candidates (if such is the case) and campaign actively for their endorsee or not as the FCP candidate sees fit.

o If that candidate betrays the points, the FCP candidate would have the option of campaigning more aggressively.

If no other candidate supports the FCP points, the FCP candidate could minimally:

o Talk to the local press.

o Appear at candidate nights if any group sponsors them.

o Nothing in the plan precludes running a full-blast campaign to win.  It's just not contingent on that.

Tactically, that's it.  That's the plan.  This requires some money and some effort, and ballot requirements vary from state to state, but is within practical range.  The main requirement after getting on the primary ballot is a willingness to make some phone calls and show up.  If the FCP candidate wanted to do more and could do more, that would be excellent.  But not required.


... which have come up as I've tried to clarify this plan.


Obviously there would have to be some kind of national structure, and some tasks such as fundraising and ballot access expertise require activity on a national level.  Likewise, there would likely have to be state structure of some kind.

But I think it would be a serious mistake to go into detail, just as it would be a mistake to present the 8 principles as some kind of polished master list.  Rather the structure should reflect those who respond to the plan.  I envision slow but steady growth, with structure determined by participants, and changed by participants as it develops.  There is no point in building paper empires with no one in them.

On the other hand, if you gave me $1 million, I could come up with an organizational structure in an hour, and if you gave me $2 million, I'd give you three structures, quite a bargain.  But seriously, let's see who turns up first.

At this point, the FCP is me, and the task is to gather support for the central concept.  If a dozen people want to come aboard, that would take a certain level of organization, likewise 100 people would need a different one.  As would 500.  Hopefully we would need interim structures that would be quickly outgrown, to be determined by the participants at each step along the way.

Aren't you duplicating the work of other groups targeting wayward Dems?

Very good question.  Answer:  no!

Organizations like ActBlue are extremely important, and I hope the Full Court Press would dovetail with them.  However, our approach is very different.  First, it insists on adherence to a clear set of principles.

But aren't you imposing a litmus test?

Of course.  About goddamn time, too.  The Democratic Party as it now operates is an orgy of pragmatism.  Judged in terms of pragmatism, it has failed utterly unless your pragmatic goal is to attract corporate contributions.  Like it or not, litmus has been working for the Republicans in terms of moving public policy to the right, e.g., Stupak.

Wait, you were talking about ActBlue type groups!

As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, the 8 principles, while hardly comprehensive, constitute a broad agenda.  With single-issue groups, you can support abortion rights and bombing the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and Gaza, all in one unholy stew, or vice versa.  Not good enough

Additionally, other groups engage in a lot of bargaining.  Full Court Press isn't a bargain.  Don't support it, you get challenged.  Period.

They are also focused on targeting, which is part of the "completely fragmented, individualistic methodology that is completely paralyzing," as noted above.  It goes after individuals, who then plead their individual cases.  Full Court Press goes after the entire Democratic Party for its misdeeds.  It was the Democratic Party that passed the Stupak-laden House bill.  Anthony Weiner may plead, "It wasn't me, it was that nasty Mr. Stupak and I had to go along!"  Sorry, Anthony.  Sorry, Nancy.  You voted for it, you get challenged.

But what about actually winning seats?

That seems to be everyone's first thought.  But it's a mistake.  Going for a win without massive resources forces us to play their game by their rules.  Full Court Press will drive them crazy because it breaks the rules.  We are challenging the entire Democratic Party with 435 cuts.

To put it simply, if Anthony Weiner has to pay the price for what Stupak does, it gives him an incentive to try to do something about Stupak rather than simply trying to keep his own hands clean.  We are angry, we are crazy, we're not gonna take it, won't get fooled again, no more promises in the dark, no more leading role in a cage.

Don't your 8 principles open the door to all sorts petty wrangling?

They do.  Unfortunately, such is the human condition.  But the Full Court Press is for people who actually want to do something.  We have to trust that people who actually want to do something will actually do something.


So Anthony gets on our good side by signing the 8 principles.  But he doesn't act in accordance with them.  Full Court Press isn't magic.  Not a blueprint for all situations.  Evaluations have to be made.  But he's young and hopes to have a future, so I'd guess that next election he's got a Full Court Press challenger.

Ballot Access, how hard is it?

It varies by state and my small random checking should not be considered definitive, but I came up with the following:

Massachusetts needs 2,000 signatures.
New Jersey 200.
California takes $1,367 and 3,000 signatures.
Texas requires $3,125 and 500 signatures.

Some states need only signatures, or a filing fee in lieu of signatures.  200 signatures could be gathered by one person in a hard weekend.  3,000 would require some kind of campaign team, volunteer or hired.  (Hired teams have a tendency to sign up Disney characters, beware.)  Here is where national expertise and fundraising comes in.  It looks tough, but not insurmountable.  As an aside, if you ask for a contribution when someone signs, you can raise about $1/signature fairly easily.  Petitioning can be a money-maker, not a drain, if done properly.

How long will it take to get this off the ground?

While it might be possible to run some Full Court Press candidates in 2010 if we attract some eager leaders, the organization is frankly not yet born.  We have to lay groundwork, including recruitment, fundraising and ballot access  plans.  By 2012, however, we could be able to field 435 candidates.

Will such low-key races be effective?  Will anyone even notice?

Damn sure they'll notice.  Why?  We'll be like a gleaming silver needle headed towards an over-inflated balloon.  They may look smug, but their underlying weakness is the huge disparity between their shenanigans in Congress and the opinions of the Democratic base, as well as the American people.  Too many of them have gone unchallenged too long, and the thought of having to actually fight for their seats against anyone will send chills up their spines.  435 chills.  435 needles.

Where did this idea come from?

A few years ago, it was just a throw-away idea I tossed out from time to time and it met thundering silence.  I don't consider it particularly brilliant, merely stating the obvious.  Since then, I have grown increasingly disgusted with progressive leaders who are calling on politicians to do something, weary of progressive ranks calling on progressive leaders to do something, calling on other progressives to do ... wait, that was me.  I had to take responsibility for making the Full Court Press a reality or I was no better than any of them.  In that spirit, I say to angry progressives, the Full Court Press means you taking a lot of responsibility for the direction of this country.  Getting on the ballot is serious work.  You'll take flak from the smug and the comfortable and the bought.  But at this point, it's clear that nobody else is going to do it for us.

And someday, as Bob Dylan put it:

 Oh the foes will rise
 With the sleep still in their eyes
 And they'll jerk from their beds and think they're dreamin'.
 But they'll pinch themselves and squeal
 And they'll know that it's for real,
 The hour that the ship comes in.

 And they'll raise their hands,
 Sayin' we'll meet all your demands,
 But we'll shout from the bow your days are numbered.
 And like Pharaoh's tribe,
 They'll be drownded in the tide,
 And like Goliath, they'll be conquered.

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A good start, but I have some criticism (4.00 / 3)
As you know, I've come around to seeing the desirability of some version of the FCP, though not for the same reasons as you.

You say

(Q)But what about actually winning seats?

(A)That seems to be everyone's first thought.  But it's a mistake.  Going for a win without massive resources forces us to play their game by their rules.  Full Court Press will drive them crazy because it breaks the rules.  We are challenging the entire Democratic Party with 435 cuts.

The problem that I have with this is that, even if it shouldn't be people's first thought, it should be their second or third, at least for the 2012 or 2014 elections. That's the main reason why I view the FCP as valuable - because it can serve as the lowest rung for a bootstrap process of putting voters in charge of their democracy.

Giving up the constraint of trying to win seats most of the time in the near term does indeed create some creative breathing room. But, to what end? If a series of candidates in a given district, who adhere to some sort of national, progressive agenda, repeatedly fail to capture those seats, not just in 2010, but in 2012, 2014, ..., in the end the results will be mediocre, at best. Sure, some dispirited voters will be delivered from a trip to a psychiatrist because they have some purpose in which they can - for a while - invest some hope. But I would challenge you to try and figure out a pathway to get actual wins, if not in 2010 or 2012, then later.

You could say that the main problem I have with your plan, in it's current form, is that not much thought has gone into how it should scale. What do I mean by that? I mean: if you create something that grew quickly enough so that a few million dollars could be raised over the next 4-5 months, sufficient to credibly fund a serious challenge for some of the FCP candidates, a) how would those funds be disbursed  and  b) does the agenda you've listed allow these credibly funded candidates to win?

Regarding a), I have you at a bit of a disadvantage, because I've recently written an email to an old boss who owns an IT company, suggesting he create such a funding mechanism (and suggesting some sort of instant runoff vote process to narrow down the list of credibly fundable candidates), but I didn't mention it to you. Well, consider it mentioned. :-)

Just as seriously, though, I have my doubts (which I previously articulated) about whether requiring allegiance to exactly the same set of points, regardless of hometown political makeup, is an optimal strategy. Hence, b).  I don't see how a one size fits all approach can be optimal - not just in 2010, but beyond. Thus, your insistence on not being a little more flexible strikes me as partly being unrealistic, and partly over-emphasizing the emotional aspects of things. But I'd prefer a more business-like attitude. As much as I may find politicians who care more about lobbyists than the country they ostensibly serve to be infuriating or disgusting, I try to take a 'stricly civic business' attitude when it comes to questions of strategy. (Propaganda/proselytizing is another thing, entirely.) These people are not doing their jobs; ergo, they need to be FIRED. Like sharks in the water when it's time for a meal, if a bad Republican or bad Democrats falls off the boat, we are just going to chow down. The fact that people like GW Bush and Barack Obama have likable personalities or that Rahm Emmanuel is obnoxious and Dick Cheney resembled a reptile shouldn't enter into consideration,  anymore than who you hire as your brain surgeon. I'll take the guy with the steady hand and clear mind, even if he can't give a speech like Obama or even laugh at a joke - thank-you very much!

I myself spoke about avoiding despair as a reason to pursue some version of the FCP, but honestly, that was a secondary consideration. I'm more concerned about efficiency in fixing the political system. Ultimately, there are billions of lives that will be affected by who leads the US, so my emotional antipathies and other people's emotional health come second. (BTW, the efficiency factor will, IMO, be key in propagating an IVCS, but until a widely-adopted IVCS appears, we should still try to create a system that is as efficient as possible. Right?)

On the upside, if you can throw together something workable quickly enough and it spreads virally, we could conceivably help retire a bad Senator or two. If he or she is a horrible sellout, at that point there will be many happy people, parents will name their newborns after you, people can dance in the street, etc., etc.. Till then, I suggest a shark-like, business-like attitude.

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No, we don't need another ActBlue (4.00 / 6)
You cut to the chase by asking, "does the agenda you've listed allow these credibly funded candidates to win?"

The point of the Press is to make a broad challenge, threaten the Dems with death by 435 cuts if they don't respond.  Already, you are giving away the principles, whatever form they may eventually take, by asking about winning.  That's how everybody currently plays the game, and it has been a  disaster.  The party elite knows how to play this game all too well.  A lost seat here and there is just part of the game.  The insurgent will be brought into line soon enough.  Without a base outside that refuses to compromise.

"credibly funded"?  You want a fund-raising machine to focus on a few races.  These exist by the dozens.  We don't need another one.

As for organizational questions, they are to be determined by the participating troops, not coming out of some DC office which controls the purse-strings.

If the chance of winning seats rears its head, great.  I'm not suggesting that it's a matter of principle to lose.  By 2014, I would think it possible.  But to gear up for that moment right now would completely jack the project out of shape.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
Actually, we need both "just in time" online voting, and 'timely' online narrowing down of funding selections amongst reform candidates (0.00 / 0)
By "just in time" online voting, I'm thinking of an IVCS, which, by holding their online elections a couple of weeks before a real-world primary or general election, can make last-minute selections within their own voting blocs, as well as last-minute alliances with other, agreeable voting blocs, to either
a) get the candidate whom they jointly most desire definitely elected or
b) realize that, for a given election, they will not have a strong enough winning influence, and so temporarily abandon the effort so as not to split a vote from the 'established' Dem (or 'established' Republican - depends on the voting bloc!) or
c) maintain their voting bloc cohesion, but try and arrange a last-minute deal with the likely winner, in return for their support in the real-world voting booth

Realizing the above will doubtless involve some sort of instant runoff process.

By "timely" online narrowing down of funding selections amongst reform candidates, I'm thinking of a rough equivalent, but the resources to be efficiently and fairly allocated aren't votes, but rather $$ + volunteer hours. The necessity for such a mechanism is, I claim, must more important in the early stage of a democratic revival, and ironically, this is where the value of a Full Court Press, of the sort that I envision, would be of most value. I've got to get back to work, so I'll skip the argument. For now I'll just say, though, that one can readily see that allocations of $$ and volunteers has to happen in the early stages of an election cycle, and not 2 weeks before a real-world vote. But the same sort of logic - the need to concentrate resources in a manner agreeable to the people supplying those resources - pertains. *

Correct me if I'm wrong, but ActBlue does not offer any sort of instant runoff voting of resources of even just $$ alone. (Never mind a more sophisticated system also incorporating volunteer hours.) So, imagine that the FCP is pursued, and all of the FCP senatorial candidates  collectively receive $20,000,000 in donations. (There must be 20 million disgusted Democrats in the US, so $1 each is not unreasonable. :-) )  If you split that $20,000,000 amongst 33 Senatorial races, you're likely to lose all of them. But if you split it amongst 2-3, you could at least grab 2 or 3 seats. Imagine if we could get 2 or 3 more Bernie Sanders elected to the Senate, every two years.

FireDogLake has just come out with their own version of the 'Full Court Press', and curiously, they have gone to the other extreme, and are only requiring conformity on a single issue.

If I was a betting man, I'd bet that 3 policy options is an optimal number in any given election. If you can get 3 additional policy options enacted into law every 2 years, you'd probably run out of them in 15 - 20 years.....

The only people having that sort of success are the corporations and banks. :-(

I quoted an email to a former boss of mine that owns an IT company, in a post at firedoglake, here. I sketched out a funding portal that supports an instant runoff process. (No reply, BTW.)

Finally, I'll note that I consider it both essential and doable to actually have people winning elections who will faithfully serve the desires of their constituency. Therefore, it looks like we'll never see eye-to-eye about what the best sort of FCP would be.

Nevertheless, I'm sure some of the OpenLeft community would enjoy reading your critique of FDL's version of the FCP. Like me, the FDL'ers are interested in winning elections.

Just for the record, though, if getting better people into office was doable, (as opposed to getting the same calibre of people, who could be more successfully pressured and cajoled with your version of the FCP) you would be for that, correct?

* Remember, jeffroby, this is how the Ghostbusters defeated the Stay-Puft Marshmellow Man : they crossed the beams. We, the people of the United States, also need to cross the beams.

What more needs to be said?


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[ Parent ]
some of your thoughts are interesting but not germane (4.00 / 1)
So, imagine that the FCP is pursued, and all of the FCP senatorial candidates  collectively receive $20,000,000 in donations

The Press is directed explicitly at congressional seats, NOT senatorial, for the simple reason that the ballot access for congressional is much more accessible to poorly funded activists.

Raising $20 million implies a much larger organization, and it will not spring up immediately, only after years of work.  At which point tactics would of course be re-evaluated.  Posing these kinds of numbers short-circuits the process, and would in fact ensure it not getting off the ground.

Regarding FireDogLake, could you give me a link and explicit directions?  I don't see what you're referencing.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
Sure (4.00 / 2)
The link is in my post, but here it is again: Link.

The Senate example I gave was just to illustrate a point, which doesn't depend on considering the Senate, in particular.

Having an IRP in place would help just a few FCP candidates have the resources needed to give them a fair shot at their race when the pot was small, quite a few when the pot was bigger still, and in the hundreds if the pot is big enough. (Of course, if the pot is just enormous, and FCP candidates can all be funded, then there's far less need for an Instant Runoff Process. At that point, the only value of an instant runoff process would be for the relatively few FCP candidates who, by statistical fluctuation, got the short end of the financial stick.)

$20 million is not a lot of money. Back in olden days, when I could afford health insurance, it was costing me about $400/month. If I had the same level of income now that I had back then, and I felt that a candidate would help cut the cost of insurance down to European levels, that would save me about $2,000 per year. So to throw $400 to a pool of decent candidates who believes in the "general welfare" clause in the constitution, is actually in my best interest even if I remain perfectly healthy. Conceivably, I could do so once, and then save $200 per month for the rest of my life.

Multiply this example by 20 million voters and you've got $8 billion dollars.

You're thinking big, jeffroby, but still not big enough!

When you do, it's actually a little depressing, because you realize how collectively stupid the American public is. A great deal of the despair you're seeing amongst the electorate was completely avoidable, but was not avoided since we still are not organized intelligently. And that's why the actions of 'Veal Pen' liberal groups, and other groups across the political spectrum, who give lip-service to some lofty ideal but are actually controlled by selfish, moneyed interests, are so contemptible. These co-opted groups act as energy and money vacuums for the efforts of honest, idealistic citizens who are trying to make the country a better place.  

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[ Parent ]
It was very interesting (4.00 / 2)
You're thinking big, jeffroby, but still not big enough!

Good point.  My focus is in getting something off the ground and thinking small is also a talent.  But good point.

My question about the Blue America plan is what kind of staying power it will have once health care is off the front pages.  That's the weakness of a single issue group.

I think there is real movement towards what we are advocating.  I ultimately don't care if it's "my" plan or not, I just want to keep it moving.

I'm actually surprised at the good response FCP is getting, convinces me of its soundness.  Getting from sentiment to actual organization is the hump.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
Ha! (0.00 / 0)
The Democrats have done such a lousy job with healthcare, I can't imagine it not being just as important to the overwhelming majority of voters in 2012 as it is in 2010*.

In any event, I'm sure that the FDL'ers will easily come up with another issue to replace healthcare, which is of wide concern.

* Well, I was shocked to read the following, yesterday. So, perphaps there's some hope for making significant cost-containment changes well before 2012.

The measure would save the federal government $19 billion over the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office -- and would save consumers billions more.

Big Pharma strongly opposes the amendment and has said it will use "hand to hand combat" to defeat it. The drug makers have a deal with the White House that their contribution to health care will not exceed $80 billion over ten years; Dorgan's bill could take them over the limit and, in any event, was specifically ruled out in negotiations with the White House.

Dorgan was not part of those talks, however, and noted that Obama, as a senator, had supported his measure, as had Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel when he was in the House. The White House, he said, had not attempted to discourage him from going forward.

"They should be sleeping well, because they have been strong supporters of exactly what we're trying to do," he said. "I hope and expect to get 60."

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[ Parent ]
Ha! (4.00 / 1)
The Democrats have done such a lousy job with healthcare, I can't imagine it not being just as important to the overwhelming majority of voters in 2012 as it is in 2010*.

In any event, I'm sure that the FDL'ers will easily come up with another issue to replace healthcare, which is of wide concern.

* Well, I was shocked to read the following, yesterday. So, perphaps there's some hope for making significant cost-containment changes well before 2012.

The measure would save the federal government $19 billion over the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office -- and would save consumers billions more.

Big Pharma strongly opposes the amendment and has said it will use "hand to hand combat" to defeat it. The drug makers have a deal with the White House that their contribution to health care will not exceed $80 billion over ten years; Dorgan's bill could take them over the limit and, in any event, was specifically ruled out in negotiations with the White House.

Dorgan was not part of those talks, however, and noted that Obama, as a senator, had supported his measure, as had Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel when he was in the House. The White House, he said, had not attempted to discourage him from going forward.

"They should be sleeping well, because they have been strong supporters of exactly what we're trying to do," he said. "I hope and expect to get 60."

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
You are missing two enormous issues... (4.00 / 1)
multi-national corporate control of US trade agreements and overall corporate power.  As long as they control the rules of trade our economy will continue to be gutted and our middle class catastrophically destroyed.  Also, corporate control of our political system has to be fought and defeated.

Trade should be the number 1 issue.  Corporate regulation should be the number 2 issue, or vice versa.  I do like and agree with your other issues.


Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. - FDR

I'm missing all sorts of things, but please address the tactic (4.00 / 5)
... though your feedback is appreciated.

My list of 8 principles is not designed to be a full-fledged program.  I wanted them to be kept to a minimum, and sufficient to create a small set of red lines that would however imperfectly divide the pro-corporate hacks from Democorats who are truly for the people.

Thus "regulate Wall Street" and "tax the rich" would somewhat embody the spirit you call for.

I will not get into wrangling over programmatics.  At best that would give us a longer list that would adorn the dustbin the history.

The cutting edge is the TACTIC of filing in every congressional district by 2012.  As far as the principles are concerned, they should ultimately be determined by those willing to carry out the tactic.  If you are willing to actively support that, then you will have a say in the final list of principles.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
I agree with your tactic... (4.00 / 1)
...and actually have been talking up something similar with people I know.  I think it needs to go further than the primaries though, there needs to be general election opposition to corporate Democrats from the populist progressive side.  In effect your committee should be a 3rd party that will work with progressive Democrats and against corporate Democrats.

And I think you are on the right track by keeping the issues to a minimum, but I would drop all purely social issues and focus on economic issues.

I really like the way you are thinking.


Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. - FDR

[ Parent ]
Thank you! (4.00 / 1)
I agree that "it" needs to go further.

"In effect your committee should be a 3rd party that will work with progressive Democrats and against corporate Democrats."  Very insightful.  The difference from an actual 3rd party is the focus on Democratic primaries.

I look at the overall progressive "puzzle," as it were, and I see a major piece missing.  The Press is designed to create that piece.  Nothing more.  Once in place, it would certainly be part of a broader organization and strategy.

The advantage of its very smallness, at this point, is that it can be carried out with relatively few activists and dollars, and thus would not be dependent on so-called "credible" leaders.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
I like the idea (0.00 / 0)
of a small, issue-focused progressive movement that focuses on matters of broad consensus.  My only concern with the idea is that, to some extent, you're working against the D party, the 1.5-party system, and its well-funded allies in the press and PR industry, and that by taking the party away from them, they'll jump ship to the likes of the corporate New Democrats and the party will no longer have the money or connections which apparently pass for legitimacy.

[ Parent ]
A hidden assumption? (4.00 / 1)
The assumption that needs addressing here is that the D party is, beyond talk, actually leftist.

First observe that the progress made toward the social conservative planks held dear by the base of the R party were largely symbolic as far as the elites are concerned: religious paraphernalia given a greater prominence in public life (which the elites were and are free to ignore as long as they mouth the right phrases); hurdles placed in the way of abortion such that they actually reduced access among the communities of the base while providing at most minor inconveniences for the elites; the elites typically have the means to make their immigration legal, hire bodyguards, educate their children with only the propaganda that best serves their personal interests, and so on.

Second, observe that the D party seems to defer about equally to the elites and indulging the base symbolically: the social safety net can be increased but by paying higher marginal costs to outsource it; the fight for women's justice begins in theocratic (and coincidentally resource-rich) territories in the Middle East, Asia and Africa but curiously seems to not overly perturb the armed theocrats inside the country's borders; free speech and press are useful ideals but the marketplace of ideas belongs to those who can pay for it; and so on.

So, in light of that record, is it not likely, were a sufficiently large number of anti-corporate, anti-elite candidates to prevail at the primary level despite the party organizations' favorites, that the organizational and financial support from the party for those candidates would be tepid at best?  Why would it not be, considering the danger that the party's own organizational and financial support might be transferred to more "responsive" organizations and supporting the narrative that the way to win elections is to march further and faster in favor of the elites?

[ Parent ]
You're jumping ahead too soon (4.00 / 1)
and totally overlooking the groundwork that Jeffroby, and FDL, are proposing.

Give peace a chance.

[ Parent ]
we need deficit spending (4.00 / 3)
Tax the rich to deal with the deficit.

we need to tax the rich for all kinds of good reasons but the deficit isn't one of them. we desperately need deficit spending right now to help compensate for the lost aggregate demand from a private sector that switched from massive borrowing to saving (or paying down debt, the affect on aggregate demand is the same).

neoliberal economic dogma has affected all of us (i'm including myself) and the premises on which we base our thinking. we can't have a progressive full court press without a progressive economic vision and i don't know how to do that yet because i'm still working on my own.

but here's a start: fed gov spending is not financed by either taxes or borrowing.  

You are absolutely right. (0.00 / 0)
It should be rephrased to:  tax the rich to pay for the social safety net, or something along those lines.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
Is the proposed War Tax on the rich to pay for escalation of Afghan War (4.00 / 1)
a good example of what you are talking about?

In the current climate and Congress, though, it will never happen that the rich pay for any change that doesn't benefit them directly.

Consider this exchange from a Huffington Post article last week:

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Dan Senor, a neoconservative war hawk who served as Bush's spokesman in Iraq, called proposals for taxing the rich to pay for the war a backdoor effort to derail any surge in forces. He was opposed by another Bush hand, former communications honcho Matthew Dowd -- a GOP traditionalist -- who said it was unfair to have an increase in troops without a shared social sacrifice.

DOWD: I agree with you. There is not going to be a tax. But I think this goes to a fundamental value that I think we lost, which is that we can get things for nothing. That we can go to war and not have to pay for it either by cutting the budget or doing something else. We have a war; we don't have a draft. All of these sorts of things, that we think, 'Oh, by way, we can go fight the most important war in the history of our country, but we're not going to have a draft, we're not going to pay for it, we're not going to do anything that causes anybody to sacrifice.'

Dowd's recognition of the facts is commendable, but the point is that the rich are not going to simply agree to any redistribution of wealth through taxation. It will take a lot of groundwork - replacing current members of Congress with Progressives, as you propose to do.

[ Parent ]
i think this is a good idea (4.00 / 1)
my only concern is that it mistakes an organisation for a movement.  many of these things are happening already - there are groups and individuals that have been pursuing these things all along.  another one is welcome.  but what's more needed is conversation among all of them, and democratic accountability within all of them.

my two cents.

also, i recommend moving if you feel like it's necessary to stay sane.  i don't know what it's like now, but i moved in 2006, and my only regret was not moving earlier in the bush administration rather than allowing myself to be subjected to even more years of propaganda, betrayal and lies.

Your ideas are intriguing to me (0.00 / 0)
and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

thank you (0.00 / 0)
Don't have one yet, since this whole thing is now about 2 days old.  I'll try to find ways to keep it moving.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
Filler (0.00 / 0)
is quoting a Simpsons line. I don't know if it's a compliment or not. (Probably yes.)

[ Parent ]
Wow. (4.00 / 5)
Something lefty on Open Left.

Maybe there's a little hope for this blog after all.

Fight or die!

'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but one whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.  My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light.

Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man.

I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America.

There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one.  There are persons too who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful.

It is the madness of folly to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice.  Even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war.

He is mercifully inviting you to barbarous destruction, and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see it.  I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination, I bring reason to your ears and, in language as plain as A B C, hold up truth to your eyes.

I thank God, that I fear not.  I see no real cause for fear.  I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it.

By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils-

  • a ravaged country
  • a depopulated city
  • habitations without safety
  • and slavery without hope

Our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for whose fathers we shall doubt of.

Look on this picture and weep over it!  And if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.

"No aid to Israel until Palestinians have full rights." (0.00 / 0)
Fuck that bullshit. I'd be already gone.  And many millions of others as well.

Put that piece of shit plank in your non-negotiable platform, and (0.00 / 0)
the platform itself will collapse.  And I'll do whatever I can to help make it happen.

The hell of it is, I agree ENTHUSIASTICALLY with ALL of the other points.  And I'm not even remotely alone on this.

And yes, it's not negotiable, not even a microscopic bit.

[ Parent ]
Make my day (4.00 / 1)
It would be great to have a wide open donnybrook over Israeli genocide in Gaza!  I pray you're not bluffing.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
The regional situation is more complicated than (4.00 / 1)
Israel/Palestine.  Gazans were Egyptian citizens between 1948 and 1967, after all.  The israeli aid situation is tied to the Camp David accords, which, despite their limitations, have severely limited the scope of the regional conflict in the Middle East.  

You can argue, and make a case for, an all-out internationalized ware being not significantly different than the status quo, but the fact that that is a likely short-to-medium term outcome of just unilaterally withdrawing aid to Israel is at least something that has to be considered.  

And why no talk about withdrawing the almost equal amount of military aid to the Mubarak regime in Egypt, anyway?  They're blockading Gaza, too, after all.  

[ Parent ]
Because it would overly complicate things (0.00 / 0)
I agree with your point, though.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
Yes! (4.00 / 3)
I agree - I'm sick of the belief in the Democrativ Party that Palestinians aren't real human beings and the the Israeli Army should feel free to kill as many as they want anytime they want.

[ Parent ]
You like that word, genocide, don't you? (0.00 / 0)
And you know it's a goddamnable lie, don't you?

[ Parent ]
A more measured response (4.00 / 2)
... would be to point out that the principles will be determined by those PARTICIPATING in the tactic.  If you are one of those, you will have your say.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
So you are a PEP (4.00 / 3)
progressive except for palestine (h/t Phil weiss)

Frankly, the double speak and avoidance of the I/P issue is exactly one of the things that splits and compromises the progressive movement - just as it did the democratic party establishment. How can one be progressive and support high tailing from afganistan because it's an immoral occupation and then turn around and support what israel is doing - which is taking over the west bank and turning gaza into a ghetto right before our eyes?

It's like we are all sitting here and witnessing what actually happened to the american Indians And some things are wrong - in our guts we know it's wrong - history notewithstanding. After all, there's always history - which excuses nothing in the end but is typically used to prevent future action.

I am with jeffroby on that. It should be part of the agenda because anything less would be a compromise of one's soul. I'm actually amazed at how studiously OL manages to avoid the issue. of course, I know why - because of responses like yours.

I am not putting this out for arguing about I/P here, as it is OT. Just to say I think it's an issue the avoidance of which has compromised and corrupted the democratic party. far from it being a poison, the issue needs to be confronted rather than shunted into a closet, where it does become a slow sipping poison. There'll be other times and places to debate what needs doing. But a debate within progressive ranks there must be. Or else their 'progressiveness' is doomed to be another half-hearted attempt at fixing what needs to be fixed.

[ Parent ]
Because clearly Palestinians are only 3/5 human (4.00 / 4)
Well, at least wear your authoritarian label with pride.

[ Parent ]
The only label in evidence is the one you pasted on me. (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
this is a diversion for purposes of the Full Court Press (4.00 / 1)
though a vital issue.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
just shows that the points are too broad (0.00 / 0)
If your plank about the Israeli-Palestinian shit is debated like that here, think of what happens if this thing goes mainstream.  I agree completely with the sentiments regarding the the I/P situation, but your points need to be more focused if this thing is ever gonna take off.  

o Medicaid for all.
o Regulate Wall Street to the max, no more bailouts.
o Tax the rich to deal with the deficit.
o Create a fund to save families from foreclosures.
o Rebuild and strengthen the social safety net, no cuts in Social Security.

These are great.  I agree with the other points, but they are way more contentious and will fracture whatever movement you build.  Leave abortion and Israel out of it.  My advise is to focus populist energies on policies that directly affect people.  (very few americans give a fuck about palestinians, focus on things that will directly improve their lives if you want to build a movement)

[ Parent ]
Yes, throw women under the bus. (4.00 / 4)
That tactic has worked SO WELL for the Democratic party.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Precisely (4.00 / 4)
Progressives do realize that discrimination and the oppression of one community within another is the vehicle they use to devastate things like the social safety net, or ANYTHING that we take to be the commons, right?


This is the problem with the 'avoid the culture wars' argument.  You can't create a progressive narrative while simultaneously confirming the old one that says 'my set of concerns takes precedence over yours'.  And anyone who thinks you can address poverty meaningfully while avoiding women's empowerment (education, access to sexual health options, nontraditional employment) needs to wake up immediately.

Do I accept that that's a slippery slope towards becoming narrow and irrelevant?  Perhaps.  But really, the other thing hasn't been working that well.  And let's also accept that some people will have to be pragmatists (but I don't know why citizens who are not politicians feel the need to compromise their values like politicians.  We shouldn't compromise so that their compromises are better- THAT's realistic), and other people will have to defend their communities from 'progress' that leaves them behind.

Figuring out how to be a progressive college graduate transplant to Ohio:

[ Parent ]
I'll argue about the Palestinians ... (4.00 / 2)
... but there is no compromise on abortion.  If defending that isn't in, I'm out.  I was shocked by Stupak, it embodies Democratic Party sellout, not its direct proponents, but those Dems like Weiner and Pelosi that voted for a bill that included it.

Defending abortion rights is central to what the Press is about.  If we get fewer votes, they'll be better votes.

Am I clear?

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
Don't throw things overboard just yet (4.00 / 1)
after all, there are progressives all over the spectrum. abortion is key to most, health care as well - and financial regulation. But there are issues that can't be avoided where opinions may differ. I/P is one. nafta is another. What's dangerous is to start throwing items away.

The difficult thing for progressives is to agree on everything. Some care about gay marriage a lot, some don't. some care less about foreign policy, some more. However, since your goal is to take on the lobby culture, you cannot leave some lobbies as untouchables. And where the military-industrial lobby is, Israel is. and that goes for things like new war drums for eg, Iran, which is basically a non-issue - or a limited one for the US - one that can be readily settled by new alliances. It ties in to domestic issue because an attack on Iran endangers our economy - and is a threat to world peace. so issues like this can't be ignored because foreign adventures compromise domestic agenda.

That being said, foreign policy is a tricky one. There's china too and the entire human rights question. But that's extremely complicated to deal with no matter how strongly one feels about, say, tibet. That's probably why OL stays away from this entire area.

Anyways, not to worry about me. I'm all for palestinian human rights, as well as for rights elsewhere. even in Iraq.

[ Parent ]
There is an easier way to achieve the same result (0.00 / 0)
The one thing you really need to discuss is the consequences of not agreeing to the 8 principles and those need to be real and understood by all.

For instance if there is no candidate in a Dem primary that agrees to the 8 principles what should FCPers do?  Vote for the one that agrees with most of them or vote for none of them?  To continue, what if no candidate agrees to the principles should the FCPers actually consider not voting in that race?  In essence I'm asking if FCPers should reject the idea of voting for the least bad candidate and only vote when there is a good candidate?

The real problem here is unless progressives in the Dem Party decide not to vote for an unacceptable Dem candidate then they have no power and can safely be viewed as a doormat.  Its really that simple - unless we let bad Dem Candidates loose and make sure the Dem establishment knows that we didn't vote for this or that piece of trash they have no reason to fear us.  Stated another way - are we sick enough with the Democratic Party to tell 'em to stuff the blue dogs and anybody that looks like them and withhold our votes knowing that they will loose and a Republican will win?  Are we willing to see the possible loss of the House or the Senate to finally knock it into the establishment's head that things have changed and we aren't going to play anymore?  If we aren't willing to yank our votes and support then these 8 points won't matter.  The moment they know we will yank our support we become a force that has to be dealt with and the 8 points also become irrelevant. For them to take us seriously we have to be willing to turn our backs on bad Democratic Candidates and walk away from them in a very public manner.  This is the thing that progressives have never done and until they are willing to do so why should the Dem establishment take us seriously?  We can dance around it as much as we like but we will always come back to the same point - an automatic vote equals no power a provisional vote equals power.  Its really that simple.

I often wonder what would happen if several thousand Dems voted absentee and got together publicly and voted - leaving the space blank for races with bad Dems in them, showed their ballot to someone else so it got counted as being blank and then immediately sealed it and dropped it into a mail box.  The first time a Dem member of the House or Senate lost by less votes than those blank votes from Progressives the Democratic establishment would have a collective heart attack.  My guess is one  or two of these demonstrations would do the trick.  Even the prospect of such an event happening would place the establishment into panic mode.  Right now the power structure doesn't believe they are turning off voters with their sellouts to Corporations and the right proving to them that there is a cost would shake their world.

in other words, you're asking about the general election (4.00 / 1)
The purpose of focusing only on the Democratic congressional primaries is to deliberately limit the scope of the Full Court Press.  There is a task that needs doing (cause pain for the Democratic Party without pulling angry activists OUT of the Democratic Party), and the Press would achieve it.

The Press is in no way a full strategy, in no way sees itself as a substitute for the broader movement.  But it is practical, doable with limited resources, and raises the spectre of what you allude to in your last paragraph.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
From the point of view of a lefty (4.00 / 1)
the ideal situation is to throw a few conservadem types under the bus, in every general election. How many "a few" should be requires somebody smarter and more knowledgeable than me, to figure out.

As a chess player, you certainly sacrificed a pawn or a knight, here or there....

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
I couldn't agree more... (4.00 / 1)
...the strategy would have to continue into the general election...corporate so-called Democrats would realize their would be a populist progressive opposition fighting against their candidacy all the way through the general eclection.


Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. - FDR

[ Parent ]
actually, I'm asking about/ talking about both - (0.00 / 0)
The me the Press or FCP is just a way to avoid making the really hard decision of walking away from bad Dems  You wrap it nicely in 8 points that need to be agreed to and an organization but in the end it doesn't deal with the nasty issue of what to do when you face the ballot box. Unfortunately until some progressive or left leaning organization that normally votes Democratic says - "please don't vote for DEMOCRATIC Congressman X or DEMOCRATIC Senator Y because he is so bad that it would be better to have a Republican win than this monster" nothing else matters.

Again as I said - "an automatic vote equals no power a provisional vote equals power".  And, unfortunately since you seem to ignore consequences for not being a good Dem or agreeing to the 8 points the rest has no power.  Why can't you just say - there are going to situations where we will have to let a Republican win because the Democrat stinks so bad?  

I'm really sorry but you can play the game of carrot and stick without the stick!  Without the will to loose a seat to the Republicans the rest is just useless.  Its stunning that progressives can't see this.

[ Parent ]
You are absolutely right (4.00 / 1)
the Press or FCP is just a way to avoid making the really hard decision of walking away from bad Dems ...

Why can't you just say - there are going to situations where we will have to let a Republican win because the Democrat stinks so bad?

The Press, by focusing on the primaries, deliberately dodges that question.  A tactic has to be based on some sense of where people are at.  At this point, people may be ready to leave the Democratic Party, but I fear that, rather than going into a 3rd party, they will just drop away in disgust.  That would be the loss of a lot of good people.

Based on the response we see here, the Full Court Press adequately captures the moment.  Perhaps we'll meet somewhere down the road.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
I think you're missing the point. (4.00 / 1)
If I may, "For instance if there is no candidate in a Dem primary that agrees to the 8 principles what should FCPers do?"

Get your ass on the ballot is what you do!  

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
The sad fact is most folks can't run (0.00 / 0)
This is all so cute but have you ever run for office?  How many folks out there can afford to quite their job and campaign for the next year?  Have you ever tried to recruit a good candidate for office?  Have you ever found someone who would be a good candidate only to get into a fight with the local Dem Party because they told your prospective candidate that if they run they have no future in the Party.

Oh you are way cute - get real.

[ Parent ]
Sorry if I got snarky but ... (0.00 / 0)
You really have to go out and find good candidates to primary bad ones before you can know how hard this is -

[ Parent ]
difficulty varies from state to state (4.00 / 1)
and as metamars points out, all the Press asks for is getting on the ballot.  Active campaigning is optional.  The impact comes from the number of challenges, not the ferocity of any particular one.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
OTOH, you only need about 1 out of 250,000 people to be willing to run (4.00 / 2)
And, in jeffroby's plan, they can be minimalist candidates. Are you claiming that in a country of 300 million+, Democrats can't even scrounge up 1 out of 250,000??? Are all Democrats so desparately poor or burdened that they can't make a minimalist effort??

Actually, if the plan is reasonably fleshed out, I think you'd run into the opposite problem - what happens when you get 5 disgusted Dems (many who don't especially want to win, anyway, but consider their involvement as a sacrifice for the greater good) willing to run for office, essentially as protest candidates? If the local Dem incumbent is really bad, even without lots of $$, it's conceivable that a half-decent challenger could win. But without an instant runoff vote to decide who the lucky FCP'er is going to be, they would likely split the FCP vote - hopelessly. I'm guessing that the FCP candidates would tend to be agreeable amongst themselves such that 4 of the 5 would willingly drop out. But, you can't count on such a degree of cooperation.

But you're right about them having "no future in the Party" - at least until the Party fundamentally changes. That's something that people should be warned about, although anybody who was interested in a future with the Party probably already knows this.

FDL has posted requirements for being a candidate, on a state-by-state basis, here.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
clicked "here" ... (0.00 / 0)
but it didn't give me the FDL page at all.  What's the link?


Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
"here" goes to an Open Left quick hit with a link to the FDL page (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
EXACTLY what I was looking for (0.00 / 0)
thank you very much!

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
If you get 5 volunteers, (4.00 / 1)
they can decide among themselves to take turns.

"I'll run this time, if Representative X doesn't take the hint Joe runs next, then Sylvia." Five volunteers means ten years of pressure. That's a good thing.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Yes, I have. (4.00 / 1)
I served two terms as a utility commissioner. In a three-way race I got more votes than the other two candidates put together. And I have also successfully recruited candidates for local office who ran, and won.

And you're still missing the picture. The FCP is based on "death of a thousand cuts." It's guerilla warfare. It's not about finding people who are in a position to quit their jobs and campaign full-time, it's about people willing to stick their necks out and serve as protest candidates.

Are you willing to serve as a protest candidate, or would you rather bitch and whine?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
So to deal with a bad Dem - (0.00 / 0)
Ok, in essence the FCP plan is to get someone to run as a protest candidate in the general election as an Independent, Green or better yet - as a member of the Progressive Party of America.  We get the Liberal/Progressive Dems located in that District or State to vote for them as a protest action and see what happens.

I know a few State House districts in NM where we could test out this idea - we have some really bad Dems in the State House that are in very Democratic Districts which would be hard for a Republican to hold.  I can just see the face of the Gov and the State Party Chair if this happens.  Now that would be worth a few bucks!

I still believe we need a plan that withholds our votes in very public ways.  Perhaps these are 2 different tools to use in different situations.

[ Parent ]
Yes (0.00 / 0)
The Press deliberately doesn't address the general election at all.  I fear that disagreements over that would split people prematurely.

It also deliberately doesn't preclude anything you are suggesting.  I like your thinking.

As you say, "2 different tools to use in different situations."

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
My understanding (0.00 / 0)
is that they run as protest candidates in the Democratic Primary.

I'm not the author of the plan so maybe this is incorrect. But it seems like the right way to go about it because it means directly challenging the Versailles Dems for control of the party, in a water wears away stone kind of way. There are millions of us, we can do it forever.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
you've nailed it exactly (0.00 / 0)
... though I like to call it death of 435 cuts.

At this point (3 days into it), I'm trying to gather a few individuals who are interesting in actually pursuing this.  How we proceed depends on who wants to proceed, not some master plan.  I don't want to gather a core of people who then fade away from lack of what to do, and I don't want to lose people from demanding too much.

Participation depends on who participates.  You can e-mail me at if you wish.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
A good draft (0.00 / 0)
and the basic idea is exactly the kind of framework we need.

I just wonder about coupling five socioeconomic principles with three that, at least for political consumption, aren't directly economic.

If I were drawing up the principles list (or if I were a rich guy willing to fund such a movement), I'd want focus on the economics.

While the others would also be key issues to me, I'd still leave the principled demand for them in the realm of flexible tactics. The idea being all the other kinds of right policies follow from the right socioeconomic program.

So, I agree completely on the litmus test, just questioning exactly what it should be; whether your version might be a little diffuse. As you say, it's focus we lack.

Stupak (4.00 / 3)
The abortion rights principle is essential.  Because the Democrats in the House passed a health reform bill that contained Stupak, and that has to be answered.

I don't think women would trust the Press if that were omitted, and personally, I consider it fundamental.

As I've said elsewhere, the final principles will be determined by those willing to participate in the Full Court Press.  There are many organizational issues to be dealt with, and I have ideas towards a democratic activist group, but I deliberately leave it vague because the structure should reflect how it actually develops.  Still, the bottom line is, run in a congressional primary and you're got a vote.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
I would add ... (0.00 / 0)
the focus is tactical.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
The Israel plank should be left out... (0.00 / 0)
for a variety of reasons.  US support for Israel is not what ails the Progressive movement.  It serves as a distraction if you are serious in your proposal.

See my response above (4.00 / 2)

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
I did...and I still think so (4.00 / 1)
As someone else also said, it's a matter filled with complexity.  In my view, it weakens the potential base of your support because it is not directly relevant to how and fix problems here at home, where the actual dysfunction exists.  

[ Parent ]
I agree with EricD... (0.00 / 0)
You need to replace I/P with trade, jobs, offshoring and an industrial policy for America.  This is relevant to many and a concern shared by people of all stripes.  It is the promise that won MI, OH, PA, IN and many other states for smoke and mirrors Obama.   Poppy Bush lost because people wanted him focused on their problems, not the problems on the other side of the globe.  

[ Parent ]
I do appreciate that Israel is a touchier issue than most ... (0.00 / 0)
... but I assure you that I am deadly serious.  I understand that insisting on this principle could narrow the Press's base of support.  I'm not sure if you disagree with the principle, or agree with it but consider including it a tactical mistake.

Israel and its neo-con lobby are a powerful force in driving disastrous U.S. policy in the Middle East.  I think its "untouchability" is certainly one of the things that ails the progressive movement.

If an incumbent were to say, "I can't support the 8 principles because of the Israel point," that could launch a discussion of Israel that the Democratic Party would rather avoid.  Since the plan doesn't hinge on winning any races very soon, that could be a plus.

Question:  in 1976, would you have opposed raising the issue of apartheid in South Africa as divisive or distracting?  I'm not asking this rhetorically.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
There is one thing I think you are missing. (4.00 / 2)
Opponents in primaries are fine, but Chris made a point about pure and simple punishment even if it means voting for the Republican.   I wish I could remember the essay or the name of the conservative group that targets Republicans that don't toe the line and that Chris used as an example.    

Primaries cost lots of money, and we don't have the money to compete.  And even when we win, they coalesce around their cronies and are quite willing to defeat the duly elected Democrat - Lamont.  With little to no resources, we can support the Republican and take out any Democrat. It is a strategy that should be on the table.  

One more point about primary challengers.  I would like to point out how many people we funded that promised the moon and delivered squat.   This makes me (and others?) very reluctant to donate any more money to candidates.  Right now, I'll fund Kucinich, Sanders and blogs like OpenLeft and Docudharms; but other than that, I'm done

No matter what, I'm also done voting for Democrats.  While I can't prove it (apply tin foil here), I firmly believe that the bankruptcy reform bill that Democrats helped to pass was entirely too coincidental and fortuitous to the crooks that caused the meltdown.

The lying factor is, indeed, huge (4.00 / 2)
For this reason, I have recently suggested a "2 sided contract with America". The second side of the contract is the voters - they will pledge to vote against the FCP candidates in the next election if they break the contract.

(In real life, because legislation can be so complicated, it may be unclear whether a particular vote was consistent with the pledge. Hence, the need for "gurus", who will advise the voting bloc - and the FCP former candidate, now elected representative - whether or not a given piece of legislation meets the criteria of the pledge. (Another reason why the pledges need to be fleshed out, so there's little ambiguity as to their goals. E.g., if a pledge is for a "robust" public option, what does that entail? We don't want something that's called "robust", but is actually "bust"(ed).)

The need for a credible organization of guru/vote guides, which can pass judgement on legislation - a certification body, if you will - leads me to believe that Ralph Nader could become one of the most powerful people in America, even without getting elected. Regardless of what you think about his runs for office, I like to think Americans agree that he is both smart, dedicated to the public good, and relatively objective.

A cousin of mine, who used to listen to Rush Limbaugh, but dumped him in favor of Michael Savage, and is no lefty by any stretch of the imagination, still votes for Ralph Nader for president. He just doesn't trust the Dems or Repubs.

Although I haven't written about it lately, there should also be a "vouch-for network", where family and long-time friends and associates post their names, photos, and statements in support of a candidates honesty and character. If the candidate turns out to be a liar once they get into office, not just the candidate, but his/her vouch-for network will be shamed. Forever.

Any candidate who can't get his own family and a few friends to vouch for him - well, that's certainly a red flag, correct?  

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
Indeed, the Constitution needs to be amended to allow recall of Congress critters (0.00 / 0)
But that is a long-term project, not to be seriously entertained at our current state of dysfunction.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
I agree with you... (0.00 / 0)
...but I do not think we should ever vote for Republicans.  It should instead be a 3rd party we vote for that we generally agree with in principle, that is exactly what I did in 2008 after I figured out voting straight Democratic all of my life has gotten my country and myself nowhere.  I will continue to vote for non-corporate Democrats like Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, but I will no longer support a Rep. Sander Levin who has continually voted the corporate line on trade agreements.


Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. - FDR

[ Parent ]
Agreed (0.00 / 0)
With little to no resources, we can support the Republican and take out any Democrat. It is a strategy that should be on the table.

= Self-defeating.

[ Parent ]
Stabenow? She's awful. (0.00 / 0)
She voted for the bankruptcy bill, and she supports Obama's war.  She flip-flops all over the joint.  

I think the point is to punish Democrats who don't support the people, and I don't think we can do that if we get squeamish about who the big stick is.  We need to cost them big time anyway we can.  

[ Parent ]
She is better that 95% of the Democrats... (0.00 / 0)
...but then again maybe that is the problem.


Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. - FDR

[ Parent ]
Maybe so, but she really jerks my chain. (0.00 / 0)
There is no way I'll vote for her again.   Levin, er, ah, eh?  He usually votes on the right side of the issue.  Despite my rant, I might vote for him again.  

[ Parent ]
I hate to say this... (4.00 / 3)
But they're not afraid of us. After 20 years of watching the DLC types, Bill Clinton, et. al., undermine the New Deal protections and sneer at us hippie types, the only way of winning is not to push them into doing what we want, it's to simply un-elect them at every turn. We need more progressives and liberals (and not the kind who play them on TV) in the House and Senate. We need to undermine the Democratic Establishment and sadly, we have to recognize that Obama is simply not the kind of leader we voted for.

I'm going to a holiday party of a local Democratic club and I expect a lot of hand wringing and dismay and there are still many Obama apologists who'd rather focus on how it still the Republicans fault and not our leadership for the mess in Washington.

Expect 2010 to be a Republican rout and still Rahm will want more ConservaDems elected. And expect a fascist Republican government long before we get a progressive one.

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain

I know you want to talk tactics (4.00 / 1)
But if I may suggest a better way of putting together the plank:

The platform should be made up of one signature issue for every community and movement that is getting in some way fucked by false progressivism.

Here's an alternate platform:

1. Justice: Black
2. Justice: Latino
3. Justice: Asian
4. Justice: Native American
5. Justice: Pacific Islander
6. Justice: Women
7. Justice: LGBTQ(I know LGBTQ is getting an update, so whatever the others are, I think I and Q for intersex and questioning)
8. Justice: Labor
9. Justice: Environmentalists
10. Justice: Finance
11. Justice: Civil Liberties
12. Justice: Development And Engagement Not War
13. Justice: Youth
14. Justice: Old
15. Justice: Industrial Regions
16. Justice: Rural Regions
17. Justice: Inner Cities

OK, so this platform is rapidly getting too long.  But you get the idea.  We need to think VERY clearly about what are the aching needs that must be met by a resurgent progressivism.  The platform can be filled in around signature issues, but we should lead with demands that explicitly serve the communities we represent.

Figuring out how to be a progressive college graduate transplant to Ohio:

And by the way (4.00 / 3)
I'd like to formally 'enlist' in your Dumbledore's Army of progressivism (if I can be allowed this opportunity to outnerd myself).  I live in Northeast Ohio (and am soon moving to Dennis Kucinich's district, I live in Marcy Kaptur's right now- Oberlin) and while I have some points of disagreement overall I dig the strategy, it's almost the same as one I've been sitting on for a while now.

Figuring out how to be a progressive college graduate transplant to Ohio:

[ Parent ]
Great! (0.00 / 0)
I grew up in Warren, OH, myself, now live in Jersey City.  I've set up an e-mail:

What do I do with people folks like you.  This is just a few days old and in the get-out-the-word stage.  I'm convinced it's viable, but not sure how to bring people in other than setting up a "committee of correspondence."

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
OMG NEO (0.00 / 0)
The nonprofit organization that I'm currently married to, Hard Hatted Women, is expanding our programming into Warren and Lorain!

I'm originally from Inwood/Washington Heights, a neighborhood in upper Manhattan, so our migratory narratives look to be almost the opposite.

Figuring out how to be a progressive college graduate transplant to Ohio:

[ Parent ]
"Dumbledore's Army." (0.00 / 0)
Love it.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Something this complicated needs an IVCS (0.00 / 0)
Especially if we're talking about throwing something together in time for the 2010 elections.

For 2010, either K.I.S.S., or miss.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
Great special effects! (0.00 / 0)
But world-wide flooding may sweep away polling stations, so please try and do something for 2010. Needn't be polished.

Perhaps you could maintain simultaneous roadmaps for the 2010 election and 2012 elections. You would update the roadmaps as resources, volunteers, and candidates appeared, and as various milestones were met.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
okay, you've got me thinking (0.00 / 0)
It would depend on response and who could do what in 2010.  I'm not Napoleon commanding anything, but yes.  The tactic is called Full Court Press because its impact would come from running small races in every district.

But running a few races, if feasible, would if nothing else be a good dry run for 2012.

You wanna run?

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
I've actually thought about it (0.00 / 0)
Not being a Democrat, though, makes me a less than ideal candidate for an effort targeting Democrats. :-) Also, I'd have to see the final list. I'm sort of a calico cat, politically, so it's not clear that I could, in good faith, embrace your final list. As it stands right now, I certainly couldn't.

Let's not even talk about my voting record. (As in "Did you even vote?", not "Who did you vote for?")

Well, 1 down, 299,999,999 to go!

BTW, we're neighbors. Stop by some day, soon (but not too soon; Wed. or later), and I'll buy you a drink. I had another idea that could help you get traction and $$, which is perhaps best communicated privately.

I live in Newark, 3 minutes walk from Penn Station.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
okay (0.00 / 0)
e-mail me at and we'll set it up.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
Damn, forgot (0.00 / 0)
18. Health Activism (I think it's safe to say that constitutes its own activist community)

Figuring out how to be a progressive college graduate transplant to Ohio:

[ Parent ]
I would actually go in the opposite direction... (0.00 / 0)
...and focus all on economic issues that would inevitably help all of those groups.  The focus should be on a few core economic issues that helps everyone in a populist progressive manner.  I really think we have one major enemy and that is multi-national corporations.  They do not really care about social issues and are not patriotic or loyal to any country or political system, but they immensely care about economic issues in a way that is detrimental to the average citizen.  They will support either party, but will make sure that no wide scale or sweeping changes ever be made in our economic, corporate, and trade policies.

They like both parties to focus on social issues to distract everyone from the all important economic issues.

So really any movement that is not focused on attacking their power base in both parties, I am not really interested in, because in the long run that movement will be meaningless.


Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. - FDR

[ Parent ]
I kind of agree, BUT (4.00 / 2)
Let's not kid ourselves that focusing on economic issues without an explicit equity principle will get us anywhere.  Here's just one example, there are billions of others.

I just read a great book, When Affirmative Action was White ( which demonstrates what many of us (especially readers of Paul Rosenberg here) know: that the pillars of the American middle class (Social Security, Medicare, the GI bill, the WPA, the first housing/suburbanization, in short, the New Deal) were all created with the implicit understanding that they would build a completely segregated middle class.

Economic issues can NOT be divorced from equity, and equity cannot be divorced from race and gender.  Anything less frankly leads us down a slippery slope where 'economic issues' means economic issues for white males.  And I absolutely refuse to support anything that lacks an orientation towards racial and sexual equity.  And I'm a White guy.  What people of color/people of non-hetero-maledom are going to support something that fights for anything less than their justice?  End.  Of.  Discussion.

Figuring out how to be a progressive college graduate transplant to Ohio:

[ Parent ]
I believe in equity... (0.00 / 0)
...but it should be needs based and not race or sex based.  If it is needs based it helps those who need the help.  When preferences are race or sex based it creates all types of problems, for instance should the daughter of an African American executive who earns millions of dollars and attends the most prestigious schools be given significant preferences over and at the expense of a son of a poor working class white laborer who has attended rough working class schools.

If help is given by need it truly helps those who need it the most, and will disproportionately help the groups you mention, or any other groups who have been discriminated against.


Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. - FDR

[ Parent ]
That being said, (4.00 / 3)
I still agree.  Health care, jobs, and environment can be a uniting three-plank platform (if I remember right, health care, not immigration, is consistently polled as the highest priority issue for Latino voters), but only if we take an explicit equity perspective in their design.  Health care with Stupak?  Unacceptable.  Jobs program that leaves Blacks and Latinos in their ghetto of (disproportionate and decades-long) unemployment, and fails to address women's pay equity and occupational segregation?  Unacceptable.  Climate/energy bill that leaves Native Americans victimized by nuclear waste, Latinos victimized by agricultural pesticides, and Blacks victimized by their overwhelmingly disproportionate proximity to toxic dumps and coal plants?  Unacceptable.

We need to make clear that when we're talking about 'economic and health issues that affect us all' that 'us all' does not leave out the concerns of POCs and women.  Until we recognize that injustice does not disappear until we confront it directly, well, it's going to stick around.  That's not the change I voted for in November, and I'll be that's the case for way more people than me.

Figuring out how to be a progressive college graduate transplant to Ohio:

[ Parent ]
If by "social issues" (4.00 / 1)
you mean "gays and women are icky" then you are not getting it.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
No I mean a whole host of social issues... (0.00 / 0)
...and I probably agree with you on nearly all of them...the problem is multi-national corporations would love the working and middle class to continue to fight each other as they make and impose economic decisions.  Heck, I am sure they will manufacture even more social issues to divide the working and middle class.


Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. - FDR

[ Parent ]
Excellent point (0.00 / 0)
Grassroots campaign means locals. Platform planks should reflect Progressive universally applied principles, not clearly defined single issue campaigns.

[ Parent ]
For the record, I greatly appreciate Paul Rosenberg's promoting this post... (0.00 / 0)
... however briefly.  It was taken off front-page by Paul under orders from Chris Bowers, who thought me ill-mannered and a poor listener.

But I have learned a lot from people's participation and am extremely grateful to all of you.

Full Court Press!

"I ... learned a lot" and "am grateful for" are gracious comments (0.00 / 0)
Good for you! Having read that, I'll go ahead and add my own comments.

Perhaps your "Medicaid for all" principle is a typo. Among those long time single-payer advocates with whom I'm familiar, none call for "Medicaid for all;" some of them do recommend using the phrase "Medicare for all."

Wikipedia says:

Medicare is an entitlement program funded entirely at the federal level. It is a social insurance focusing primarily on the older population. As stated in the [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] CMS website, Medicare is a health insurance program for people age 65 or older, people under age 65 with certain disabilities, and people of all ages with end stage renal disease. The Medicare Program provides a Medicare part A which covers hospital bills, Medicare Part B which covers medical insurance coverage, and Medicare Part D which covers prescription drugs.

Medicaid is a program that is not solely funded at the federal level. States provide up to half of the funding for the Medicaid program. In some states, counties also contribute funds. Unlike the Medicare entitlement program, Medicaid is a means-tested, needs-based social welfare or social protection program rather than a social insurance program. Eligibility is determined largely by income. The main criterion for Medicaid eligibility is limited income and financial resources, a criterion which plays no role in determining Medicare coverage.

My opinion is that you are being a bit too ambitious both with the number of principles you are advancing without compromise and with your plan to essentially recruit candidates for Democratic primaries. An alternative approach would be to build a voting bloc around a single issue and double the bloc's power within the Democratic Party by having its members make a particular pledge.

I've pitched this strategy in threads at various blogs. Here is a comment I made at the Black Agenda Report. Here is one I made more recently at Corrente:

We have a two party system and I think the only avenue to empowerment for people on the Left is to take over the Democratic Party. I'll vote for any Democrat who supports single payer health care for all in any federal election. And I'll vote for any Republican, regardless of their platform, running against any Democrat who does not support single payer health care.

Instead of sitting out coming elections by staying home or voting third party, if a small percentage of core Democratic constituents publicly committed themselves to running DINOs out of office and declared a willingness to do so by voting for Republicans as a last resort, either certain backbenchers and the members of the Democratic Party leadership would undergo Road to Damascus conversions or smaller House and Senate caucuses would be scrambling to install new congressional leadership and we could look forward to supporting a worthy standard bearer in 2016. ...

The single payer position is the most useful one to rally around because, though I haven't made a systematic study, I'm thinking a high ratio of those all ready in that camp are also in one or more of the pro-labor, anti-imperialistism, pro-democratic (i.e. election reform), ecologically concerned, pro-equal rights, pro-choice camps.

Anyway, best of luck to you in your efforts. I think a lot of the leading Progbloggers spend too much time discussing matters having to do with the political process and engaging in opposition bashing rather than on developing policy positions and committing themselves to them so I am very encouraged to see your approach.


[ Parent ]
I stand corrected on the language, thanks! (0.00 / 0)
I'm no authority.

The alternative approach is being done.  I'm aware that what I suggest is ambitious.  I am deliberately trading depth (run a few to win) for width (run all at a much lower level).  It complements what you suggest.

One of your single-payer-focused candidates could endorse the Press principles and still campaign around single-payer.  That would be ideal.

I concede that there could be problems with too many principles.  But there are problems with single-issue as well.  My intent is to focus on what is NOT already being done.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]

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