How to start your own netroots organization

by: Chris Bowers

Sun Dec 06, 2009 at 22:00


Do you think that existing Democratic and progressive organizations suck?   Do find them pathetic, ineffective, beholden to status quo power structures, and generally lacking in vision?   Do you want to start your own organization to fill the vacuum created by this suckitude?

If so, then against my better judgment as an (occasionally) professional consultant, allow me to provide you with a free, five-step guide to creating your own progressive organization.  You know, that organization that will be free of all the mistakes and errors that the pathetic, ineffective, sell-out organizations currently in existence keep repeating.

For less than $1,000 a month, you can provide yourself with all of the necessary tools to get your organization going.  In the extended entry, I explain how.

Chris Bowers :: How to start your own netroots organization
Starting your own netroots organization in five easy steps
  1. Determine a purpose.  The first step is to figure out what your organization is actually going to do.  Let's say, for example, that you intend to support federal (that is, House, Senate and President) candidates who meet your eight-point issue platform.  Good job.  Now you have a purpose.

  2. Set up your legal structure.  Once you have a purpose, you can determine what sort of legal structure your organization will need to function.  You need one of these structures, as there are a lot of laws surrounding political action, and you really don't want to run afoul of them.

    If, for example, you wish to support federal candidates who meet your eight-point issue platform, then you are probably going to need to register as a federal multi-candidate political action committee.  Doing so will allow you to directly coordinate with federal campaigns, and make independent expenditures on their behalf.

    In addition to a PAC, you may also want to form a 527 in order to run negative campaigns against opposing candidates.  This is because 527s have far fewer restrictions regarding fundraising and disclosure requirements (although they don't allow you to coordinate with--or even mention--favorable campaigns).  A 501(c)4 may also work, since you are promoting eight policy goals with an ideological bent to them.

    Figure out whatever single or multiple structures best serve your purpose.  Getting legal recognition costs a few hundred dollars, and a small amount of paperwork.  You are also going to need a bank account, a mailing address, and accounting tools to make sure you stay kosher with IRS and FEC laws.  All of that will cost you a bit more, and it is probably best to hire a lawyer to help you with this.

  3. Purchase an online toolkit.  Once you have a purpose and have become a legally-recognized organization, the next thing you will need is a toolkit that will allow you to engage in online activism.  This will include a domain name, a website, and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc).  It will also include purchasing or developing a range of online activist tools, such as the ability to:
    • Collect online donations;

    • Contact members of Congress and / or the media;

    • Building and manage an email list;

    • Send text messages;

    • Create petitions;

    • Develop your own social networking tools for your website;

    • Hold online polls of your membership;
    and more.  The toolkits can be customized depending upon your needs.  Blue State Digital and Wired for Change are two prominent companies that sell these toolkits.  

    The cheap versions of these toolkits cost a few hundred dollars a month, and the expensive ones cost a few thousand. You can also develop your own tools, but that takes a huge amount of technical know-how and hundreds (or thousands) of hours of work.

  4. Use your message to starting getting people to join your organization. Phew!  All of the annoying structural work is out of the way.   Now, its time to begin operations.

    The next step is to use your glorious message to start getting people to join your organization.  So, you need to start getting your message out there, always with an eye on convincing people to join your cause:

    • Social networking.  Using your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other accounts, create content that gets people to become a supporter, a follower, or a regular viewer.

    • Blogs.  Create content on your website that gets people coming back for more.  This can get you regular readers and, if you put a splash page on your website, allow you to collect their email addresses.

      Also, develop a network of allied bloggers who will link to your website, and help distribute your content.  Note that just emailing these bloggers with boring content, or with content unrelated to their website, will not get them to help distribute your message.  Also note that regularly telling these bloggers how much they utterly and completely suck will probably not get them to help distribute your message.

    • Allied netroots organizations.  Another good technique is to work with allied netroots organizations on a single action or long-term campaign.  If you join together in a fight, and if you give proper disclosure, then you can often share the information of the people who take part in that fight.

      Again, note that telling other organizations how, despite their good intentions, they are unbelievably wretched at what they do, will probably make them less likely to work with you.

    • Search engine optimization.  Use SEO techniques to get your website highly ranked on keyword searches relevant to the purpose of your organization.  For example, when people are looking for information on progressive candidates or progressive policies, you want your website to appear high on their searches.  This way, like-minded people will see what you are doing, and join your group.

    • Online ads.  If you have some start-up cash, you can use online advertising to attract interested parties to your your website and join your cause.  There are lots of ways that you can micro-target your online ads to reach just the type of people you are looking for.
    Producing and distributing your message like this is going to take a lot of work and practice.  You are either going to need to do it full-time yourself, or find a group of several volunteers who can collectively do the work of a full-time employee.  If you can't manage either, then I would strongly recommend at least one full-time employee.

  5. Make a difference.  Now that you have a purpose, a legal structure, the ability to engage in activism, and a lot of followers, the fifth and final step is to start making a damn difference.  

    Get the candidates you endorse to really inspire people.  Turn the candidates you oppose into major villains.  Take stances on issues other politicians ignore, but lots of people are demanding.  Raise money.  Hold House parties.  Organize big rallies.  Run hard hitting ads that go viral.  Start getting media mentions.  Flip votes in Congress.  Start winning elections.  Pass legislation.

    Whatever you do, start a fight relevant to the purpose of your organization, show people that you are engaging the type of fight they like, and demonstrate you can make progress on that fight.  Once you do that, then your members will help you generate all of the resources and new followers you need to keep operating.

Viola!  You now have a successful netroots organization.

At this point, it is likely that you will stop complaining about other netroots organizations.  This is because you will be perpetually overworked and under-resourced, and really won't have any time to do that.  Also, you like working with allies and enjoy learning from colleagues, so you don't want to burn bridges.  Perhaps most importantly, you can actually benefit from the suckitude of other organizations.  While others sell-out and remain consistently ineffective, you will be making a difference by staying true to the progressive masses.  Why would you want to give away the secrets of your success for free?  Better to not complain at all, and let your success do the talking.

Good luck.  All of my advice is given in complete seriousness.  It won't be easy--it is a crowded marketplace.  All of these steps take a lot of work, specialty knowledge, practice and time. Sometime, even then, failure is still common (I know this from personal experience).  Still, it can be done, and it is very rewarding when it works.  Even if you don't do it for your career, don't give up right away.  You will always remember the time you spent doing this work.

Update: Some of the meta comments that had shrunk to about one inch of width have been deleted in order to make this diary readable again.


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I'll ask rather than state (4.00 / 6)
Are you implying that nobody has the right to complain about how limp progressive "netroots" groups have been, unless they actually fund one of their own?

I agree. (3.20 / 5)
Chris is evidently not getting the traction for his sell out he anticipated.

[ Parent ]
complain all you want (4.00 / 5)
Complain all you want. I can't stop you from doing that, anywhere but here.

But complaining won't get you anywhere. Doing this will.


[ Parent ]
Yup Chris... (2.67 / 3)
let your success do the talking.

That would be what?


[ Parent ]
Mainly, getting your attention (4.00 / 10)
I am most proud of having you comment here.

But I am also proud of this stuff:

Those are some of the things that I am proud of.

[ Parent ]
Me too (4.00 / 2)
I consider it a tribute to OpenLeft that's it's where I would want my plan discussed.  And it has been a good discussion from which I have learned much and am encouraged to proceed.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
But Chris... (2.67 / 3)
You're rapidly dropping down my list.

I used to open Open Left because I could get Lefty Opinions I couldn't get anywhere else.

Now any compromise is good enough and there's no use complaining about my characterization because you are constantly apologizing for your sell out.

You yourself recognize how badly base disaffection is going to hurt Democrats and yet you enable and excuse it and then moan and groan that you don't get any respect any more (and if this diary does not whine that petulant attitude with every line I am a monkey's uncle which I am because we are devolving and you are leading the way).

Where are your legislative results Chris?

If we can't do Health Care what makes you think we'll be able to stop our Global Warming Suicide?

You're a dinosaur Chris, and you're not doing anything to stop the meteor.

The only reason to read Open Left now is David Sirota.


[ Parent ]
This is an ad hominem, barely-topical series of rants (4.00 / 2)
ek hornbeck is trolling here, and should be rated accordingly.


[ Parent ]
Yup, that's borderline TR. (2.67 / 3)
"you're a dinosaur" is a personal attack, and while I think we should be tolerant of some name calling, this is a very close call. Certainly not in sync with "be excellent to each other".

Not to speak of that the complaining is phony. Ed has every opportunity here to make his point be heard in comments and diaries. Not good enough? What does he want, enforce becoming a frontpage blogger? D'oh. If he doesn't like the direction of OpenLeft, he should pick up Chris' advice and start his own organisation. His complaining is really lame.


[ Parent ]
I, too, wonder what legislation Chris has written (4.00 / 2)
or co-sponsored. But I think you might find one answer to many of these questions in this diary he wrote some time ago.

I think that's probably the best way to address his shortcomings.


[ Parent ]
I woyuld bann both this poster and Singlepayer advocate for this alone. (0.00 / 1)
Why keep them here at all? To what end?

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
What is your problem? (4.00 / 1)
Criticism from the left obviously offends you a great deal, to the point where even people who have done nothing to you now get calls for banning.  What is it I did to you that you now demand my banning?

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
There is productive criticism and unproductive criticism (4.00 / 2)
If you come to me and go "you suck at golf" that is unproductive.

You come to me and say, "Your golf game needs work why don't you try to bend your elbow more on the backswing" is productive.

Criticism is vital for advancement - none of us will argue that.

But I have been reading your posts the last few days and they seem more like picking bones rather than substantive criticism.

I might not agree with what you are saying, but I believe you have the right to say it and I just wish you offered in your posts other than just criticism.


[ Parent ]
Criticism can take many forms. (4.00 / 1)
If you've been reading my posts, then you know I've been offering up legitimate criticism.  Obviously I'm not able to make it come across otherwise; my writing skills aren't as good as, say, David Sirota's.  I can only practice and hope to get better with time.  It probably doesn't help when I have to waste time responding to outright hostility, such as this thread and the entry itself have displayed.  Praise is given when it is earned.  It serves no purpose to praise people when they have not earned it.  I would like to see some indication that Mr. Bowers is learning anything from all this and is actually listening to what people are trying to tell him.  So far all I see is more of the same hostile, condescending dismissals.  Pardon me for not responding with kind words.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Fair enough (4.00 / 1)
The one downside to the written word is it is so easy to misread sentiment because words often do not convey this.

I am kind of the same way - I consider myself a person with lot's of ideas but only average ability to craft the written word.

Wish I could find it now but his search sucks - but on FiveThirtyEight.com sometime last year Nate did a good piece on the power of persuasion that is worth a read.

There is a lot to be said for learning how to be a persuasive debater online.

I do know that if you want to get into a debate with some of the better bloggers (I consider Chris one though you obviously disagree) you best come armed with facts or you will end up getting frustrated hehe.

Seriously, take what I am saying to heart - don't take anything that Chris says that you find condescending to heart - if anything just see it as raw passion. And then agree or disagree, bring your own passion, ideas, and facts to the table.

I think you will appreciate what he has to say a lot more if you stop thinking of him being this mean guy lashing out and more as someone just like the rest of us - frustrated and longing for a better, more progressive future.


[ Parent ]
SPA has been banned before (0.00 / 0)
previously used the login Michael Kwiatkowski.

[ Parent ]
Mike? (0.00 / 0)
Now that you mention this, this makes some sense...

[ Parent ]
LOL really? Is that hard info? (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
He posted the same diary here and at Corrente (4.00 / 1)
But signed it as Michael Kwiatkowski there.

[ Parent ]
Thanks. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
You don't follow DS elsewhere? n/t (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Good for you and your ego. (4.00 / 2)
No disrespect intended, but what legislative accomplishments can you take credit for helping to achieve?  So far as I can see, you haven't any.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Chris - don't feel the need to defend yourself (4.00 / 3)
You have done more for the progressive community than 95% of the people on here and as far as I am concerned, this is THE progressive web site to go to.

[ Parent ]
ANd that is why there is so much work to try and take it down by ed and SPA and their ilk. (0.00 / 0)
Bann the ilk! lol

Really.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
With all due respect, I'm not seeing much under his belt. (4.00 / 1)
Other than failing to aggressively promote progressive causes, actively promoting bad solutions to major crises, and talking down to his readers, I'm not sure what Bowers has really contributed.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
You know the old saying... (4.00 / 3)
Rome wasn't built in a day. And neither was the progressive movement.

When some of us were volunteering for Dr. Dean back in 2002 things were much different. Sometimes I have to take a step back and look at how far we have come.

Back in 2002 most politicians even democrats wanted nothing to do with the netroots. Now they come to Netroots Nation to try and get support.

Chris got mocked by the beltway back in 2006 for having the audacity to suggest the party runs someone in EVERY seat and that we would win 20+ and you know what Chris was right.

And this:


Other than failing to aggressively promote progressive causes, actively promoting bad solutions to major crises, and talking down to his readers, I'm not sure what Bowers has really contributed.

Instead of lobbing bombs off at Chris non-stop like you have for the past few days, how about some constructive SUGGESTIONS and not vague platitudes like "aggressively promote progressive causes?"

As far as talking down to readers yeah he has done that at time to time hehe - but that is not out of bad intentions or elitism or anything like that - if anything it just speaks to his passion for what he does and what he believes.

Honestly if he is so terrible and this site is so bad etc why do you even come here and post?


[ Parent ]
There's a difference between building and destroying. (4.00 / 1)
What I'm seeing here is not movement-building, but active subjugation of the progressive movement to a political organization -- and woe to any who balk at it.  I'm just not seeing honest efforts on the part of site administrators to really promote a progressive agenda.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Examples? (4.00 / 1)
If anything, raising funds to primary an establishment candidate I think would qualify one for NOT subjugating people.

He also wrote recently about how the progressive caucus within the democratic party would be stronger if the democratic party lost some of the conservadem/blue dog seats in 2010. Again, no subjugation there.

Just curious, but do you have any examples?


[ Parent ]
This entry is a good example. (4.00 / 1)
If I understand the situation correctly, there is a perception by many here that from the very beginning Chris was active on behalf of wrong solutions to the crises facing America -- half measures such as the public option that began watered down and proceeded to be diluted to nothing.  That's just one example.  The climate bill is another.  I've seen a lot of people voice their frustration with this only to face dismissals such as this entry, which really don't do anything to build up a movement -- in fact, it has the opposite effect.  I've also seen a lot of what can only be described as childish behavior by Mr. Bowers in response to criticism, which he appears to take far too personally for his own good.  I'm between classes, so I haven't time to look them up, but if you want, send me an e-mail and I'll gladly share them with you.  I can't promise a swift response, but I will send one.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
i appreciate the frustration that this comes from (4.00 / 6)
and have burnt my share of bridges in the past and realise now how unfair vitriolic and uncivil commentary from a commenter can be.  However, I am interested in two issues that are related to what you point to:

1) What is an appropriate way to raise constructive criticism about Open Left, not just or me, but for anyone?  By this I mean criticism that doesn't just include opinions that are within the range of what OpenLeft posters already present, but issues that go beyond that.  in other words, what are the specifics of 'be good to each other' when there are disagreements, and what is the appropriate way to resolve conflicts?

2) The model that you have laid out is primarily focused on 'looking up' - i.e. pressure people in elected office or replacing them.  This is worthwhile, but in what ways do we look sideways - e.g. building ties with non-netbased social or political organisations and 'look down' - assist and mobilise people with less power, and especially less access to the Internet and the kinds of skills it requires in terms of communication and the kinds of comfort it requires in inhabiting a space that has a social position and a structure?  For example, how do netwroots organisations network with community based organisations focused on issues rather than elections (though not mutually exclusive) etc.?  Helping us develop a model for this (your post is very helpful in this sense) would be an enormous contribution.

Thanks very much for all your hard work - I appreciate your labor and hoensty and good faith, even when I disagree.  


[ Parent ]
Not speaking for Chris (4.00 / 7)
But I would say that there is way too much complaining that activists like us are not focusing on what others want or are beholden to The Man- a topic I've been writing about tonight and will post tomorrow. More productive is to do your own activism through methods like these.


Me on Facebook
Me on Twitter


[ Parent ]
So you claim others are doing nothing? (4.00 / 2)
You have no idea what they are doing.

What Chris is advocating is giving up and calling any result a victory.

That's not actually very honest.


[ Parent ]
Enough already! (0.00 / 0)
"That's not actually very honest."
Chris has gone to great lengths to explain his reasoning. You have either not read or not understood his arguments. And to accuse Adam Bink of having "no idea what they are doing" is quite ridiculous. His point was that you can't force other activists to embrace your point of view. And that's totally correct. What do you want, establish a thought police, or what?

Concentrate on your own activism, and stop this complaining about what others are doing, pls.


[ Parent ]
They are selling out. (4.00 / 2)
There is no other term for it.

Thought police?

I have principles no matter who is in the White House.

How about you?


[ Parent ]
This is only your opinion. (4.00 / 1)
So, better mark it as such. The demanding tone of your comments, as if you are THE authority on these issues, is really annoying. Chris has provided good, rational, and verbose arguments for his stance. You don't have to like it, but at least show some tolerance and respect if other people come to different conclusions than you.  

[ Parent ]
Yup. (4.00 / 2)
It's only my opinion.

Are you new to the internets or what?

Respect for Chris?  Who appointed you his defender?  Or are you just a general suck up to power?


[ Parent ]
Well, just go on Ek, wildly swinging at everyone... (0.00 / 0)
...trying to make a point that this way of discussing things isn't helpful. This only makes you look trollish, and behaving that way is a cul de sac here.

[ Parent ]
Are you appointing yourself Troll Patrol? (4.00 / 1)
Try again, I'm a Soapblox Admin and all bans are Administrative.

[ Parent ]
Becasue of the big bucks that now sit at his feet? (4.00 / 5)
If "selling out" is the only term that applies, then your argument isn't looking very strong, because "selling out" makes no freaking sense here.

[ Parent ]
Baloney - "selling out" implies a money-driven corruption process (4.00 / 5)
The money needn't be cash under the table - it could be a career quid pro quo.

I personally had wished OpenLeft front pagers had "drawn a line in the sand" for a well-defined, robust public option. Such that, if legislation was not going to deliver that, they would urge the OpenLeft community to sink any such bill. I care more about a movement in a progressive direction, and very little about the Democrats, per se, so I suppose that is why we come to opposite conclusions.

However, before you go tossing around terms like "selling out", you should have produced some evidence for your allegation. Apparently, you have none. Chris has made a judgement that the 'sausage' legislation will be as good as can be gotten from this Congress, and that, when also considering the fate of the Democrats at election time, on balance the bill should (probably) be passed.

By not mentioning any of the positives in the bill, together with your "sell out" allegation, your posts wreak of being hit-pieces. I certainly agree with you on not supporting the bill. But you are going over the top, and IMO you should be temporarily banned.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
So you support... (4.00 / 2)
that each and every American should be forced to give 20% of their income to INSURANCE COMPANIES in return for 60% payment and another 40% coming out of the rest of their 80% income.

And I should be banned.

Wellpoint thanks you.


[ Parent ]
You didn't read my post very carefully, did you? (4.00 / 4)
"I certainly agree with you on not supporting the bill."

means

I certainly agree with you on not supporting the bill.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Bann him. (0.00 / 0)
Its not so hard.There is nothing useful intended in this posters actions here.

There is NOTHING useful intended here. It is merely "I am further left than you, so you suck." Whether ed hornbeck is a Fox News reporter, or ed only gets out of bed to hand out pamphlets at liquor stores to "comrads" - it doesn't matter.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Yup Gray. (4.00 / 2)
I am a troll because I don't kiss Chris Bowers' ass.

"Open Left"?

Not very open or left at all.

Instead a pale copy of "My Barack Obama".

Good luck with that business model.


[ Parent ]
"Instead a pale copy of "My Barack Obama"." Whuahahaha! (0.00 / 0)
Good one, Ek. What a joke.

[ Parent ]
Joke? (4.00 / 2)
Watch the traffic drop.

And of course the Democratic defeat in '10.

Don't piss off your base.


[ Parent ]
lol please please bann him lol (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Bann them for gosh sakes its annoying (4.00 / 1)
But most importantly its TIME Wasting, which is its full on purpose.

Click gone.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Again, what did I do to warrant being banned? (4.00 / 1)
Other than defending some angry commenter who quickly wore out my sympathies, what have I done that you want me banned from the site?  Your reasoning escapes me.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
That's assuming we have the resources to do that. (4.00 / 4)
We don't.  You and the others who post on the front page do.  I agree with ek hornbeck; this entry does come across as being whiny, condescending, and excuse-making for having failed to really achieve anything but one capitulation to the enemy after another after another.  If we had the resources to begin our own organization -- especially money -- don't you think we would?  But we don't, so we must rely on activist organizations such as this one to help promote a progressive agenda.  That the ones with the resources to do any such thing insist on treating us like children who can't understand the necessity of surrender is abominable -- and counterproductive to everything this site is supposed to stand for.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
do you imagine that Open Left has the resources (4.00 / 5)
to force its will on the Democratic Congress?

I'm off the bus on climate change legislation and may end up off the bus on the health care bill as well, but the attacks on Chris and this site are over the top. We don't even have 20 votes in the Senate for single-payer, and yet people like you call anyone who settles for less a sellout.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.


[ Parent ]
I'm saying Bowers has more resources than most of the rest of us do. (4.00 / 1)
Not that he has all that many himself, by his own admission, but he does still have more resources to engage in this level of activism than many of the rest of us.  He's chronically under-employed.  In that regard he's no different than millions of other Americans.  I am chronically unemployed.  I cannot get a job in this economy after two years of joblessness.  Every day brings with it the threat of homelessness, every week the threat of going hungry until that next unemployment (if your benefits haven't run out) or financial aid check (if you're a student).  I'm sorry you think Chris Bowers is under attack, but part of that is his own fault for not being honest with people and in treating even legitimate concerns as though they are mere personal attacks.  That enough people here, having watched him over the years, do think he has sold out or given up on the progressive platform to the point where he feels a need to defend himself speaks volumes.  I think there's a great deal of truth in how many view him these days, as well as how many have noticed the manner in which he deals with even the most honest and respectful critiques.  If he can't handle that, then what is he doing trying to lead any form of progressive movement?

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Start a blog (4.00 / 4)
write your essays, build a readership, and do your own activism.  I bet that you could even link it in your sig on most sites.  You'll build up a readership in under six months if you are persuasive enough.  

And then you can platform your own movement from there.  Yelling at non-electeds about what they're doing is pointless, at best.  


[ Parent ]
I have. (4.00 / 1)
And I post there as well as on other blogs, the better to share information.  Unfortunately, there's nothing more I'm able to do in terms of online activism.  I simply do not have the resources to do what Chris Bowers, Mary Scott O'Connor, or Markos Moulitsas do.  What you're ignoring is that all of these blogs took a large amount of money to build to the level of a-list (at least compared to what the rest of us have).

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Go there and write how other blogs arent as good as your blog. (4.00 / 1)
Please go now, go write that, please.
Go hurry.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
What's your hurry? (4.00 / 1)
Don't worry, you'll get to see me writing blogs soon enough.  In the meantime, why don't you go take your own advice, hmmm?

So how was your Thanksgiving?  Did you have enough to eat?  What was on the menu?

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.


[ Parent ]
Well, then, work on improving it or at least on getting hits (4.00 / 1)
Daily Kos was just some guy's journal in 2001.  Same with pretty much every other blog.  Firedoglake came out of almost nowhere to have a huge readership.  Filling a gap and building your own readership is always going to be more useful than whining that other people aren't writing what you want them to.  

The OP to this comment even tells you pretty much exactly what Chris did to get where he is at this point.  


[ Parent ]
go away. (0.00 / 1)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Why? (4.00 / 1)
Answer that question.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Because they said so. (4.00 / 2)


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
That's not a reason. (4.00 / 2)
Not a legitimate one, anyway.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Not a valid excuse (4.00 / 3)
How much power did any of the earliest bloggers have years ago when they first started writing about problems in a system? You build your own.


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[ Parent ]
Easy for you to say. (4.00 / 1)
Have you any idea how much it costs to run a blog along the lines you and Chris Bowers have described, especially when jobless?  I think you're being unduly insensitive to the people whose reading here you obviously take for granted.  The message I'm getting is that if we whose money and support makes this blog possible don't like what you've done with it, we can either start our own blogs and leave, shut up and do as we're told, or leave altogether.  That's not a good way to win or keep support.  All you're doing is alienating people -- and throwing gasoline on the fire when engaging those who get more hostile when telling the truth than you're comfortable with.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
time and quality is more important than money (4.00 / 3)
blogger sites are free, and once you have a readership, webads can cover hosting costs for anything more.  And once you have a readership beyond THAT, then building something bigger is possible.  

"I think you are wrong, here is what I think..." is a useful thing to say.  "I think you are a useless sellout, and I don't think you should have been saying anything that you have been, and you are a fool for thinking any of this" is completely unpersuasive and non-constructive.  


[ Parent ]
The bulk of my day not spent in school is spent looking for work and hitting food banks. (4.00 / 2)
I think you know that most people simply haven't the time or energy to devote to going full-on into the sort of venture being described here.  If we did, we'd all be doing it.  The only thing I have time for is to post on my blog and on others, as well as making the calls and sending off the letters to elected officials.  That's it.  Everything else is devoted to school, job search, food search.  Most days it's all I can do to keep a roof over my head.  But you seem to think otherwise, and with no legitimate reason whatsoever.  If it's that bad for me, how do you think it is for others here who have expressed concern that the outlet they have for political activism isn't doing what it can and should be doing to help galvanize and organize the left?

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Seems unlikely that those (4.00 / 13)
who take the time to tell you in great detail how much OpenLeft sucks will be particularly interested in taking your advice on how to make their own org, since you presumably followed your own advice in the creation of OpenLeft, which they clearly thinks sucks.  Thus, any org made following the same guidelines would suck as well.

Here's a better idea - they can do the exact opposite of your 5 points, and therefore assure non-suckiness!

Anti-OpenLeft Rules:
#1) Have no discernable purpose - act randomly in all things.

#2) Live outside the law - Campaign restrictions are for losers!

#3) Write your own toolset - HTML is dead easy, anyway - you only need a text editor!

#4) Use your lack of message to drive away prospective members - if they don't get what you're about, man, they never will.

#5) Make no difference what so ever - instead of participating in the political realm, complain loudly from the sidelines how much everyone else sucks.

By following this simple anti-OpenLeft guide, anybody's group can be the opposite of OpenLeft, i.e. not suck.


As Adam Bink did, you're assuming we have the resources the site owners do. (4.00 / 2)
And as I told him, we don't.  That leaves us with no other options for organizing except to voice our dissent.  What I'm getting from this diary entry and its supporters is that if we progressives aren't satisfied with what our so-called, self-appointed leaders are doing, we can start our own organization (something Bowers knows we can't do, and the knowledge of which he rubs in our face) or else leave.  I can say right now that Bowers seems intent on forcing the latter, which will make himself quite irrelevant in the Netroots.  The wise leader listens to the concerns of his people.  The foolish one alienates them.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Uhuh. Would you then pls stop abusing the resources, SPA? (0.00 / 0)
Namely, the TR feature? You gave two TRs recently without any reason! Come on, you know this isn't DKos here, we don't vote comments down that way if they aren't dire personal insults, intolerable hate speech, or trollish stuff spamming the thread...

[ Parent ]
So what explains your TRs Gray? (4.00 / 2)
Or are you just a liar?

[ Parent ]
Bann them (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
my hunch is (4.00 / 1)
they have a lot fewer "resources" than you imagine them to have.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]
Organizing is hard work, but in a democracy there is NO OTHER choice (4.00 / 1)
And if you want electoral power you organize your own. Thats all there is to it. Bernie Sanders has not spent one single hour of his glorious time merely saying "you suck."

Berine Sanders went out, and organized voters, he never even ran on the Democratic ticket, never has, the Democrats have run against him, though often they stayed out of his way. He went door to door, he listened, he spoke, he organized, then he got up the next morning, and did it again.

Bernie Sanders can say "I am further left than you" and I love it, and I'd vote for him in any election, any primary any day.

Trying to stop other progressives is not the work of progressives. That is the work of the two posters called ed and SinglePayerAdvocate.

Really if you want to criticize someone, to make the world better, go talk to the gas station attendants, ask them to find other work.


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
I don't make assumptions about what other people have to work with. (4.00 / 2)
I only know what Mr. Bowers has said he has to work with, and if he's telling the truth then he doesn't have much.  So if it's that bad for him, try to imagine how much more difficult it is for those of us who have even fewer at our disposal.

What I'm seeing is a blog entry by someone who knows there is a lot of discontent with his actions and, unable to make any kind of case for himself and unwilling to even listen to people's concerns, has chosen to alienate people with something that can be boiled down to, "if you don't like this blog, go out and spend the time and money to build up your own and leave this one.  What's that?  You can't do that?  Then shut up or leave."  That's essentially what this entry is telling critics.  In the end, all it does is vindicate people who've come to the conclusion that the top-tier blogs are neither leaders for a progressive movement or allies to such.  We're on our own, leaderless.

Now, there can be an honest discussion of the left's implosion, or there can continue to be this.  Considering everything that's at stake, I don't think the owners here want to risk shooting their remaining foot by talking down to their readers.  We can, after all, make good on the invitation to go elsewhere, and where would that leave Open Left?  From where I'm sitting, it doesn't look like anywhere good.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.


[ Parent ]
Build up your own 'resources' then (4.00 / 2)
Most of it actually involves just doing a bunch of footwork, either online or in real life.  

[ Parent ]
"leaves us with no other options" (4.00 / 3)
All I can tell you is that if people aren't listening to you, or aren't adopting your strategy re single-payer, go work on it yourself. Do you have your own blog? If not, start your own and adopt the additional methods Chris lays out. If you do and no one reads it or everyone disagrees with your strategy on health care, tough shit. It is not my fault no one agrees with you or your writing sucks or whatever, and it is not Chris' or my responsibility to adopt your strategy or write more about single-payer.

And on the "you have more resources than I ever will!", stop and think how many progressive bloggers/online activists started with vast amounts of power or whatever. It was built from scratch. You can do the same.


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[ Parent ]
Yes, I have my own blog. (4.00 / 1)
And no, I don't have the money to make it what you guys have made of this one.  I am existing day to day, jobless, no way of raising the funds necessary.  Again, millions of us are in even worse economic conditions than you are.  We don't have the voice you do.  You're pretty much all the left has to fall back on, precisely because you have the resources and the rest of us don't.  If what you suggest was likely, to say nothing of possible, you'd have been left behind a long time ago.  Try not to be so condescending and insensitive to your readers.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Plleeeeeease go write on your blog. (0.00 / 0)
Please.

In the meantime......

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Already doing that. (4.00 / 1)
So how is your day so far?  Has it been a good one?

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Will you please stop harassing people? (4.00 / 2)
We get it that you want certain people to go away, including one that I would like to see banned, for a while.

The difference is, I don't go spamming up somebody else's diary. Do you think that Chris can't read?

You're having a similar negative effect on this diary as ek hornbeck

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[ Parent ]
I am not just writing to Chris (4.00 / 1)
I am stating my opinion forcfully, and openly about the need to keep openleft a working site, and saying way, and repeating it the actions we need.

I dont want Chris to have to be the only one caling or acting on this matter. Openleft matters, not just to me, not just to  readers and writers here, but to retaking America as a democracy, as a country governed by its people. I

I reserve the right to speak loudly in defense of openleft, of the need to get things done and in defense of harried good people, like Chris, who are not being defended enough by people who should know better.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
But you're not defending anything. (4.00 / 2)
You're just attacking people for no good reason.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
No good reason? Come on, Mike... (0.00 / 0)
..you're sitting in a glass house. Imho you should keep a lower profile now, and not repeat the same behabiour that brought you into trouble before. Pls accept that you don't make the rules here.

[ Parent ]
Meta, actually one user loudmouthing here has already been banned... (0.00 / 0)
...and just sneaked in through the backdoor again, under a new identity. So, HoP has a good point.

[ Parent ]
Again (4.00 / 1)
I think you have a lack of understanding of how this process works. Most bloggers, include myself and others, do not start as moneyed DC insiders with lots of connections. Digby became popular because people liked her writing, which led to good site traffic, which led to ads to support herself. Other bloggers like Atrios have smart commentary and advocacy, so they get fellowships. But Atrios started as an unknown.  People tell me they give in our bi-annual fundraiser, to send me to Maine, to buy public option ads in the WaPo, etc. because they like our ideas and writing and action. It is not money->influence, it is good ideas/smart strategy/hard work/good writing->influence->money->more influence. It is not expensive to get yourself a service to take in money. Or you can partner in a joint blog with others who share your perspective. If people like your ideas, writing and strategy, they will give. That has happened over and over in the progressive blogosphere. Institutions are not static. Nate Silver became popular in the political world only last year.


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[ Parent ]
And again... (4.00 / 1)
I think YOU have a lack of understanding where people are coming from.  How do you expect someone who is unemployed, whose biggest challenge is just trying to survive under the worst of circumstances, to suddenly come up with the resources to build up a blog along the lines of open left?  Most of us don't have and can't obtain that sort of funding. I think you know that's next to impossible for most people.  I also acknowledged that Bowers has admitted to being chronically under-employed.  If it was as difficult for him to start and maintain an organization like this with the relatively few resources he has, think how much more difficult it is for people who have no jobs and who can only get by on what they can squeak out of assistance?

I'm sensing a disconnect on your end between what most people have the resources to do and what your own socio-economic circle has the resources to do.  It's one thing for me to start a blog.  Assuming Bowers isn't being his usual condescending, dismissive self in offering up an idea of what it takes to build an organization like this (and he is, but for the sake of argument we'll pretend he isn't), it's quite another obviously to start from an even worse position financially than he has and try to build something up.  And it's been made quite clear that we'll receive no help -- no advice or emotional support -- from this or any other top-tier blog.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.


[ Parent ]
i have criticisms of openleft (4.00 / 2)
and this guide is still useful.  in politics, peopel can disagree about content but tactics and capacity building can be transferred (redistributed ;)

[ Parent ]
Interesting (4.00 / 4)
This is exactly what we're doing over at RebootNY.org.  We would love the promotion by OpenLeft about how we're taking this model and putting it into action as we speak.

Is there a contact for reboot ny? (4.00 / 1)
Anything other than signing up for the updates, which I have already done?

Thanks.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.


[ Parent ]
Brian Keeler is our point guy (4.00 / 1)
So he's a decent person to shoot a quick e-mail to.

Brian at thealbanyproject dot com.


[ Parent ]
cool! (4.00 / 4)
That's cool. But, I should say, several dozen organizations and campaigns have followed this model. I figured it out by watching others. I didn't invent it.

[ Parent ]
I realize this (4.00 / 1)
I just thought I would point out that right in our midst we have a group of netroots veterans organizing along those lines.

[ Parent ]
the point of the Full Court Press is very simple (4.00 / 5)
"You talking to me?"

Progressive groups criticize politicians, including other Democrats, advocate for progressive legislation, etc.  They are mostly good people, and that is all to the good.  What by-and-large DOESN'T get done is to punish the Democratic Party when it spits in their face.  Stupak.  Afghanistan.  Bernanke.  Being an insider, you could probably write a list a mile long.

Like a too-often-beaten dog, what progressive groups do not do is have an effective tactic for PUNISHING the Democratic Party after it repeatedly spits in their face.

Thus the modest call for a Full Court Press.  I took this step with the greatest reluctance, as I know this is most daunting.  I would hope that other larger, better-known, better-resourced groups would take this on.  If so, I would follow them eagerly.

What pushed me over the edge was recognizing the hypocrisy of calling on others to do something, just like progressive keep calling on the Democratic Party to do something, if I wasn't willing to do what I myself could to make it happen.

p.s.  Chris, thanks for the links.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


Do whatecer you want (4.00 / 3)
Just don't expect to get any help starting up from Open Left, since you just used our front page to trash us.

Good luck. I'm sure you will find that developing a lengthy list of policy point that a large number of people are willing to take collective action on will be a walk in the park. I am equally sure that attacking lots of potential allies gives you both a solid foundation for future growth, and lots of people to turn to when you run up against trouble.


[ Parent ]
If you had read the comment thread ... (4.00 / 3)
... you would note that I am urging supporters to go slow.  I'm not expecting to have any impact in 2010, but think 2012 is realistic.  

That's a very long walk in a very large park.

Some of your remarks would imply that Full Court Press is the Revolutionary Communist League International.  Such is not the case.

You would also note that I believe activists are dropping away in disgust at the latest turns in the Democratic Party, and one of my major intentions is to keep them within the Democratic Party.  Would you prefer that they LEAVE?

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
reread your front page post (4.00 / 2)
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.)

That's not something you write about somebody you hope to have a constructive relationship with. I think you don't realize how patronizingly, dismissively, sharply critical you have been. If you do realize it, why do you seem to think you can now just ignore it?

I'm mostly a lurker here, but it looks like you have some energy that could be put to good use, and that you want constructive engagement with other activists. If that is the case, and you want a constructive relationship with OpenLeft, the first thing you'll have to do is figure out why you owe Chris an apology, and then start writing the apology.

If you don't want the constructive relationship, you need to get your own website up TOMORROW so you can quit being a malevolent parasite here.


[ Parent ]
checked your profile (4.00 / 2)
Your id is 8981, mine is 414.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
Mine's bigger... (0.00 / 0)
So I guess you actually intend to be a malevolent parasite.

Start building your own infrastructure, because you'll never get any help from preexisting infrastructure.

There's no such thing as a hostile takeover of a blog.  


[ Parent ]
And yet jeff... (2.00 / 4)
has front page privileges or an anonymous sponsor and you don't.

As for constructive relationships with activists I guess we'll see how that all works out in '10 when us malevolent parasites sit on our thumbs and you craven corporatist shills lose your blue dog seats you DLC Republican-lite Democrat.

Where are your victories?

What do you think you are accomplishing by your constant capitulation?

You are a sucker.  A mark.  A wienie.

Since you will stand for anything you stand for nothing at all.  There is no cause too great to desert.

I on the other hand belong to the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party and there are some compromises I will not make because I'm not an Obamabot.


[ Parent ]
That's definitively deserving a TR. (2.67 / 3)
This kind of personal insults goes way too far. What's the effing problem with you, can't you make your points ina reasonable tone? And, even more importantly, can't you tolerate other people having a different opion than you, especially when they present good arguments for their stance?
Grrr.

[ Parent ]
What arguments? (4.00 / 3)
All you have are troll ratings.

Not a single argument.


[ Parent ]
Gray (4.00 / 2)
Your entire argument here consists of stamping your feet, whining and appealing to some authority to ban those you do not wish to tolerate.

I don't agree with alot of what ek hornbeck is saying, but being challenged by thoughts and opinions outside of my little world is kind of enlightening. Its a growth experience. I'm learning very little from your tantrums, however.

But, please note: I'm neither TRing or calling for you to be banned.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Did you read my comments at all? (4.00 / 1)
In the order I wrote them? EK went too far in his personal attacks. Syrith and I pointed this out, but instead of toning down his stuff, Hornbeck posted another comment that was even more ad hominem. And when I rightfully TRed him for that, Hornbeck went ballistic. And you blame me for calling him to task? Strange.

How do you suppose to act on such behavior? Tolerate the abusers?


[ Parent ]
The only real abuse I saw in the thread (4.00 / 2)
were those who kept trying to stop the debate (such as it was) by appealing to the authorities.

If the behavior upsets you so much, why keep banging your head on it? Ignore it and move on.

That's what I'm doing now.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
You seem to mistake id for IQ, jeff. (0.00 / 1)
Or else, what's your point?

[ Parent ]
means I've been here a long time compared to him (4.00 / 3)
for him to be telling me to leave.  By the way, oh defender of decency, isn't "malevolent parasite" a bit nasty?

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
Yes, "malevolent parasite" is a bit nasty. (0.00 / 0)
TR-worthy, sure. And I only gave MadScientist the benefit of a doubt because I am under the impression he felt personally attacked by your strange point about user-ids. Well, maybe I'm a "defender of decency", but I'm not perfect, jeff!
:-/

[ Parent ]
As a supporter of jeffroby's aims (4.00 / 4)
I also want to suggest that there is a much more constructive way of offering criticism and differing respectfully with regards to tactics.  I happen to believe FCP and OpenLeft are not mutually exclusive, and if anything, that the two can benefit from different missions and perspectives.  Also that FCP will have little base of support if its stewards don't take greater care to avoid being alienating to too many people.

Is OpenLeft perfect?  No.  But it is to my mind vastly different from Obama brand 'progressivism'.

I don't blame folks for feeling alienated by the lack of a real outlet for frustration at Obama, for feeling like we need to take a stand and make him respect us somehow.  Not just feeling it personally, but calculating that it is necessary strategically.  But trashing OpenLeft, while benefiting from the opportunity it offers (despite the fact that most agree with you in many ways, with disagreements in others) doesn't strike me as pragmatically achieving those goals.

Figuring out how to be a progressive college graduate transplant to Ohio:  http://citizenobie.wordpress.com/


[ Parent ]
"malevolent parasite"? (4.00 / 4)
I find jeffroby to be neither a "parasite", nor "malevolent". I don't want to go back over everything he's written, but as far as the quote you posted, while I could see Chris being annoyed by it, I can't see him viewing it as "malevolent".  

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[ Parent ]
Read my comments in order (4.00 / 1)
The first comment pointed out that jeffroby has a choice. He can make peace with Chris Bowers, thereby allowing the possibility of a constructive relationship and, potentially, assistance down the road as FCP gets up and running.

Or, he can continue to willfully piss off  Chris Bowers on his own blog, while simultaneously using that blog to attempt to build his own infrastructure. Attempting to build infrastructure using someone else's blog is parasitic - it's not necessarily a bad thing, and can be synergistic with the main purpose of the blog being used. But doing so while trash-talking the founder of the blog is malevolent: it exposes a desire to forcibly alter the character of the blog.

I commented on this thread to give an outsider's perspective on the discussion that has been ongoing. I'm sympathetic to jeffroby's FCP idea, and think it's worth doing. I grudgingly accept Chris Bowers's change of heart on healthcare legislation and a robust public option, and have a lot of respect for Chris for going out of his way to explain the evolution of his thought.

Mostly, I think it's a tragedy that someone with a lot of energy and a good idea is repeatedly pissing off someone who is in a position to help a tremendous amount with getting that idea off the ground. You can argue that Chris has a thin skin, but that doesn't get you anywhere: when someone is in a position to help you, you take her/his character as a given and work with it - you can't demand they change as a precondition for giving you help. I see this dynamic in life a lot, and it's always a tragedy - but sometimes a random person's comments can break the cycle and allow the parties to move into a constructive relationship. I figured my lurker's comment was worth the chance.


[ Parent ]
Somehow you misread me (4.00 / 2)
I respect Chris.  He has accomplished a lot.  His post about letting Blue Dogs bite the dust is excellent, and outside the box.  We have disagreements.

I am arguing for an idea, completely within the bounds of OpenLeft's purpose.  The one comment you quoted hardly amounts to trash-talking.  You want trash-talking, read the insanity consuming most of this thread.

And in fact, by this post, Chris has given me substantial help.  I may not be as naive as he implies, but that's neither here nor there.

I'm not demanding anything.  I like the character of this blog, have no desire to forcibly alter its character.  Part of its character is that it provides a place to discuss ideas like mine.

Read the Full Court Press thread.  It's a serious, intelligent, respectful discussion.  I wish that this thread was embodied with that spirit.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
Actually, I don't think I did (0.00 / 0)
I did read a bunch of the FCP thread - and it was very interesting. But when I read your diary on the front page I said "wow - how did this sneak onto the front page". The FCP idea is worthy of front-paging, but there's too much in the tone of what you write that is unnecessarily denigrating of what Chris has done with OpenLeft. And evidently Chris took it as such.

I know from your perspective you've just taken this big risky step personally associating your name with the success or failure of a strategy that may transform the political landscape. And you should rightly be proud of the discussion that has come out of that.

But when Chris writes:

Do whatecer you want (4.00 / 3)
Just don't expect to get any help starting up from Open Left, since you just used our front page to trash us.
Good luck. I'm sure you will find that developing a lengthy list of policy point that a large number of people are willing to take collective action on will be a walk in the park. I am equally sure that attacking lots of potential allies gives you both a solid foundation for future growth, and lots of people to turn to when you run up against trouble.

you need to take a step back and realize you're needlessly antagonizing someone who should be on your side. Maybe you've done that outside this thread - in an email exchange or some other means of communication. If so, great. But if not, you really need to acknowledge that - however much you personally think Chris should have a thicker skin, and however much you think OpenLeft should be more open than Chris allows it to be, Chris is in a position to help you tremendously while you at the moment have absolutely nothing to offer Chris.

You need to at least acknowledge that the tone you've adopted has gotten under Chris's skin, because refusing to even acknowledge that will continue to alienate him and will therefore be completely counterproductive to any future effort on your part to build infrastructure.

Recall that OpenLeft, at least at it's inception, had a "right to respond" policy. Your previous diary got pulled from the front page, but Chris in this diary pretty much called you out personally. If you play this right, you might get a new FCP diary back on the front page - just this time, run it by someone to cut down on the antagonizing tone before you post it. You'd be surprised what other people can read into your writing that you would never see in a million years - I've been in that position too many times to count.


[ Parent ]
How do you think I got on the front page to begin with? (4.00 / 1)
Yes, I've gotten under Chris's skin.  It's not personal.

Consider my intent.  A lot of people are very angry and disgusted.  It is expected that many will drop out of any activity in the coming year.  I am speaking to them.  I have a reason for them to stay.  I have a way you might make a difference.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
Are you angry because he struck a nerve? (4.00 / 3)
I noticed only one paragraph in which your name was even mentioned, and that only in the context of citing several so-called progressive Netroots leaders who have folded like horrendously bad poker players on matters of progressive policy.  Perhaps your anger has less to do with any actual "bashing" by the diarist than it does with knowing on some level that he or she is correct.  Perhaps I am wrong, and if I am I can accept that, but you're not exactly doing anything to prove otherwise are you?

I am saying this because I really and truly do think Open Left can be a force to be reckoned with.  You have achieved a great deal in terms of organizing for certain principles, but you seem too willing to throw in the towel and demand less with each passing battle.  The very idea of demanding more and actively working to punish Democrats for refusing to obey the progressive movement appears to be anathema to you.  Why?  Is this or is it not a progressive movement?  If it is, why spend so much of your time asking for less than our agenda demands and writing up diaries such as this ("it's hard work") as an excuse both to rationalize your shortcomings and bash others?  That may work to soothe your wounded ego, but it does nothing to help matters.

Is it at all possible to take a step back, think about what it is you wish to achieve with this site, and ask yourself if you've really done everything you can to make it happen?  Is it possible to ask yourself what you're doing to allies, both real and potential, in writing entries like this for the reasons you do?

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.


[ Parent ]
I think this is an excellent overview (4.00 / 4)
I have suggested to jeffroby that he create a roadmap. I think stage one in that roadmap should consist of 5 sub-stages:

1) give an overview of what the FCP is (which he's basically done, though I expect he'll be polishing it more)
2) develop a budget for minimal infrastructure, including some that you describe (I will add that, while no shortcuts should be taken with the legal stuff, I think a decent minimalist web site would consist of a blog, a forum, and perhaps a social networking plugin - one for dotnetnuke runs about $400. Email can be a big deal - I was surprised to find out that it's not as easy as cc'ing thousands of people. However, I expect that getting some custom code written, or paying for large-scale email, is not that expensive.)

For right now, there are companies that will provide a free forum, though you have to put up with cheesy advertising.

3) ask for contributors to make pledges to get the ball rolling (e.g., the one-time legal stuff), as well as sustaning donors

4) ask for people to direct friends and family to the web site

5) ask for people who will seriously consider running to tentatively submit their names, home town and state information, email and phone number.
-----------------------------

The rest of jeffroby's roadmap will doubtless be shaped, in part, by your excellent overview.

I have a key question, though: as long as no funds are collected, via any web presence that jeffroby establishes, for any purpose other than "getting the ball rolling" (setting up infrastructure), and does not involve collecting funds for or against specific candidates, is there any need to be concerned about PAC laws?

I realize you're probably not a lawyer, and thus maybe answering this question isn't a good idea.

I have a second question: Other than FDL's "Accountability Now", which seems to be an abandoned project, AFAIK there was nothing like a plan to run candidates - even minimalist ones - in every Democratic primary on some sort of unified agenda, by any group. Now there is the jeffroby plan (admittedly in a very early stage), and the new FDL plan.

Why has there not been such a plan, earlier? Any idea? My guess is simply a lack of imagination (including not having jeffroby's inspired notion of running minimalist campaigns which can still achieve a political effect via their multiplicity, even if most all result in losses at the ballot box) and/or insufficient disgust.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


why was there no plan earlier? (4.00 / 5)
There was discussion, but the main obstacle was that most activists and the majority of blog readers were not interested in the idea.  

A subsidiary barrier was that the new generation of online activists was learning and developing and bootstrapping its newly emergent models with self funding, gum and wire.  Related was the fact that these independent operators functioned under no authoritative structure.  There was ad hoc collaboration and affinity but no centralization, which was a strength in many cases.

Now, there is not so much affinity or collaboration because these different groups/entities have slightly different emphases, and one entity in particular is engaging in a very self conscious and planned strategy to obliterate and discredit all the others to gain control.  I know very well what I'm talking about on that score, and anyone who's been paying attention will know it too.


[ Parent ]
paying attention (4.00 / 1)
howdy pach. i try to pay attention and it's clear something is going down behind the scenes, but for those of us on the outside, i don't think it's so easy to know well enough to draw any definitive conclusions. just not enough data.

so, i'm trying to keep an open mind and assume good faith on everyone's part. but this a bit of what i was trying to say below, the lack of transparency (among other things) makes it hard for organizations to develop the kind of institutional trust that is imo needed for the long haul.


[ Parent ]
saw your comment below (4.00 / 1)
And I agree.  I think you're asking the right kinds of questions, and I'd encourage keeping them active.

[ Parent ]
ok, thanks (4.00 / 2)
and nice seeing your name on the screen again. been way too long.

[ Parent ]
ditto (4.00 / 1)
thanks, and cheers.

[ Parent ]
Would you please explain, further (4.00 / 1)
I'm not smart enough (or haven't been "paying attention" enough) to figure out which "one entity" you are referring to, nor what exactly "taking control" would entail.

I've known for decades that some activist groups are coopted (compliments of Gary Null, more recently Jane Hamscher's article on the 'Veal Pen'; the "left gatekeeper" funding flow is also eye-opening, and suspicious). However, you seem to be making a statement about specific activist groups which might have organized something like the FCP, earlier.

Can you point to specific groups that at least entertained the idea of an FCP?

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
hmm (4.00 / 6)
It's not really a matter of smart enough, it's just how things have developed.  It's been fast and there have been a lot of moving parts.

What I can say is I've been directly involved in the netroots and netroots organizing among the known players who emerged online for the last few years, and the idea and interest in promoting and building the kinds of things from this weekend's diary are not new.  There have always been real barriers to putting such a thing into reality, and Chris is really highlighting some of them.  I've mentioned some others.  I worked hard to build common infrastructure that would benefit everyone, but was ultimately prevented from doing so.

What I'm comfortable saying now is repeating what Chris has said:  the new entities that have established themselves as brands are businesses, and they have slightly different business models and levels of success in generating cash.  They all have different interests.  Some see themselves as part of a wider ecosystem, ranging from more established, legacy "bricks and mortar" players to new, online, grassroots groups with media platforms.  As in any business niche, some operate more ethically than others, and one perhaps may seek to become a monopoly (using any or all the means a business might undertake, open and veiled, to establish monopoly status).  I'll leave it at that.

What I can also say is that the frame of "inside versus outside" can be used as a populist smokescreen to build lists, generate donations and keep people from noticing what a given "outside" player is doing, including any potential active efforts to destroy other entities with just as much of a valid claim to outsider, non-DC, grassroots status.

A lot of people are feeling angry and frustrated with what has happened as Dems have gotten to majority status.  I never thought Obama was anything like what his fans thought he was, and I knew when I attended the Convention that it was likely to be the point at which I disliked him least.  Not that I could see anyone else in the primaries who was any better.  I'm a cynic from old!

What I see happening now is people are feeling that disappintment and frustration more widely, with reason, and some of that anger is being taken out at the wrong targets (and I think Open Left, and Chris specifically, is a wrong target).  

Some of that is driven by the perception that entities like Open Left have had and do still enjoy far more power and influence than they do, and that somehow they could have done differently.  I don't think that's a reality.  In fact, pushing for more primaries and fights against Dems always met with more reader pushback than approval for these last few years, and bloggers can't get far ahead of their audiences.  It just doesn't work.

Ok, that's enough for now.  I actually have work to do!


[ Parent ]
I think you're misreading the sentiment. (4.00 / 1)
What I'm getting from the frustration and animosities is not that the left feels frustrated that Open Left could have done more to effect needed changes, but that Open Left decided on a policy of pushing for the wrong kind of changes -- half measures where full ones were needed -- and then proceeded to push for less and less as the doors were slammed shut in hopes of getting a foot inside.  To make matters worse, legitimate perceptions that this was happening have been fed by condescending attitudes, attacks, dismissals, reprisals, and whining diatribes that boil down to "if you think you can do better, put up or shut up."  Such hostility toward the base is exactly what has driven it away from organizations in the past, and will continue to do so as long as the site administrators take their readers for granted.  The left is in desperate need of leadership, and we're not getting it.  We need some assurance that our concerns are being addressed, but all we're getting are attacks and lame excuses.

Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what I'm seeing here.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.


[ Parent ]
misreading (4.00 / 3)
Could very well be.  I have not been able to be as engaged in the nitty gritty and currents in the online communities, the way I once was.  After having been put in the position to lose my health insurance in the last few months,. I had to take a new job that requires more of my attention than my old schedule and political work allowed me to do.

That said, a couple of things.

First, this back and forth about strategy and tactics, and heated disagreement that tests peop[le's smooth edges is nothing new on blogs, so I don't see it as much of a big deal.  It happens, it's what has always made the best blogs vital.  I don't think Chris was very frosty, though I know him pretty well and I can often tell when he's running out of patience.  I don't think he's given in the measure that he's gotten, from what I can see, but YMMV.  

To me it's more interesting to see when the brew online begins to froth over the side of the cup, and over what issues, and what timing.  From my experience, there's usually more going on than the immediate, surface disagreement.  I still think the context I tried to articulate is valid:  how to be most effective in an environment where, in theory, we should be most influential, but in practice, we are about as marginalized as we have ever been, even if the contours of the box have changed a bit?

I'd suggest everyone take a step back and a deep breath, anyway.


[ Parent ]
YMMV? (4.00 / 1)
I'm afraid I'm not up on all the acronyms.  What does YMMV stand for?

At any rate, you might indeed have a point.  I guess what's happening is that tempers are up along with frustration, and therefore no one is in a mood to listen to anyone else.  It's all venting here.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.


[ Parent ]
your mileage may vary n/t (4.00 / 2)


[ Parent ]
Thanks, a little clearer (4.00 / 1)
I'll note, though, my impression is that jeffroby's basic idea has met with much more approval than disapproval, here on OpenLeft (even if his choice of issues for his plank generated a lot of dissension.) Also, given the level of despair and extreme disappointment with the Obama administration, it's inconceivable to me that lifelong-Democratic voters who are on the verge of abandoning voting, or going third party, would view jeffroby's plan as a lifeline, at least until it's been proven to not be effective.

There are dispirited voters, like bruhrabbit, in this very diary:

I don't need another organization or place to vest my energy in. Frankly, here's my reality right now: If things have not changed by the end of 2010, I am moving on with my  life and, although, it will be hard, I am going to give up my interest in politics again. When I read posts like this, it just makes my desire to focus just on my business, my family and friends seem like the best choice I can make.

I just don't understand you or others. It feels sometimes like my family has more at stake or I have more stake with say health care than some of the people leading these movements.  Most Americans are not as engaged I am. I know my friends aren't. They think this is all just a waste of time. By this, they include the phone calls and emails I sent out this summer over the public option. They expect it will not happen. Their views are starting to sink in as the correct one when I see some of the behavior I see here.  I wonder how many me are out there?

(emphasis mine)

bruhrabbit may not see any value in a "new organization", but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that all the calls I've read to "primary the @$%@#%" over the last couple of years, followed up by ..... no organization to facilitate that, on a large scale, needs proper channeling into just such an organization. (Maybe DFA is an exception; I don't know much about it. The fact that it's not usually mentioned when the calls to "primary the @$%@#%" appear suggests that it's not fulfilling such a function.) I take it as a no-brainer that the lifelong Democrats losing their partisan religion will at least give an FCP a shot before riding off into the sunset, and becoming political deadwood.

We shall see.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
the thing is (4.00 / 2)
it's much much easier to talk about running primaries than it is to build the infrastructure that can select and recruit candidates.  Like, really, a LOT easier.

[ Parent ]
But a key part of jeffroby's FCP is that primaries can be MINIMALISTIC (4.00 / 1)
[ Parent ]
didn't miss it (4.00 / 3)
but having been part of efforts like what was described as the goal in the diary, my own perspective is that the plan lacks some reality testing, as to what actually is involved to accomplish the stated goals.  There's no way to take the organization out of organizing.  Pressure that is effective requires a lot of organization, and resources that do not currently exist, not from lack of trying from a newer generation of progressive activists.

Not saying I'm all knowing (far from it!), and not trying to piss on anyone's initiative (last thing I would want to do).  Just hoping that if anything does take off it has the benefit of the experience of others, maybe others can succeed where frankly the people I put my years into supporting and working with have not.


[ Parent ]
that's all I could ask, some reality testing (4.00 / 1)
... which requires trying it.

I've stepped out with the greatest reluctance, as I'm painfully aware of the effort and problems this will entail.

I appreciate your reservations.  My argument is that we have reached a watershed, for the reasons mentioned in "the case."  I am heartened by the support I've gotten so far and don't want to let people down.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
I would add ... (4.00 / 3)
I hope to fly under the radar for as long as possible, but if things go well, we'll have to take on many of your points.

I sense that you are ambivalent, but I thank you for your advice, however intended.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


if you're collecting donations (4.00 / 1)
you would be better off not trying to "fly under the radar" for too long.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]
Thank you (4.00 / 2)
This is helpful information for activists, even if they don't intend to start their own progressive orgs.

I realize that you are a political consultant, and should be getting paid for sharing stuff like this, so thanks. Future posts in the same informative vein would be greatly appreciated.  


Having read the back and forth (4.00 / 5)
this seems like personality driven debate.  I will stay out of that part of the exchange other than to explain how I see this from my view.

Here's my view for what it is worth (which is probably not very much): Taking what you write at face value, the real issue is reinventing the wheel. The left does not need more organizations. It does not need conservatives to lose. It does not even need a perfect storm of economic and political events to occur.  

It needs to learn what I have learned recently:  a) How to negotiate a deal; b) How reflect the roles that you have in the process (For example, I see you as the base, and I am still left wondering why it was necessary for you to voice your views about your willingness to compromise on the public option. I do not see why you feel it is your job to be reasonable.); c) How to take real risks.  The last one especially seems to be a problem- sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith that a strategy will work if there is no reason to believe it.  

I am, as of a few months ago, starting to focus on my business because I am getting to an age where I can not longer waste much more time on politics. I started off working on poverty issues and then regulations, but now, I feel- what's the point?  I came to this similar place in the last 90s. I dropped out of politics until 2004.

I have been vigorously posting for years hoping things would be better in this country. But, some part of me is giving up. I really do care, but I really cannot allow myself to care. Things that are obvious to me having come from the private sector, here and elsewhere seems like I am talking to a wall to some degree.

I don't need another organization or place to vest my energy in. Frankly, here's my reality right now: If things have not changed by the end of 2010, I am moving on with my  life and, although, it will be hard, I am going to give up my interest in politics again. When I read posts like this, it just makes my desire to focus just on my business, my family and friends seem like the best choice I can make.

I just don't understand you or others. It feels sometimes like my family has more at stake or I have more stake with say health care than some of the people leading these movements.  Most Americans are not as engaged I am. I know my friends aren't. They think this is all just a waste of time. By this, they include the phone calls and emails I sent out this summer over the public option. They expect it will not happen. Their views are starting to sink in as the correct one when I see some of the behavior I see here.  I wonder how many me are out there?

May be I am wrong. That's fine. It won't be the first or last time that I am wrong. That's the deal about taking risks like voicing my opinion.

But, it does seem like to me these policies- I mean- do they really affect you personally outside of your emotional and intellectual feelings about them?

I do not know your circumstances, and thus, as I make my decision about just focusing on my personal life- I am trying to make sense of some of the things I see posted not just here, but on other blogs. It seems too intellectual or like you are all just friends hanging out.  


fyi (4.00 / 8)
I'm an unemployed, 61-year-old diabetic with no health insurance and trying to fight off foreclosure after having my job outsourced to the Philippines.

I'm not doing this for sport.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
My sense (4.00 / 7)
is that the personal backgrounds of most liberal activists (or liberals in general) do not contain extensive experience in negotiation.

Yes, they are bad at it.  Worse, they don't realize that it is a skill that they lack.  And they either don't look for the skill in their political leaders or they don't even know what to look for.

It was always abundantly clear to me that -- regardless of his then unknown personal failings -- John Edwards was hands-down the most skilled negotiator of the major candidates in 2008.  Yes, trial lawyers try cases.  But mostly they settle them.  And they understand the art of negotiation.

When Edwards said that he wouldn't give the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies a seat at the heath care reform table, many liberals took it as a pandering, populist, campaign-trail sound bite.  In reality, it was the opening position of a shrewd negotiator.  OF COURSE, HCR would require input from all stakeholders, including insurance and pharma.  But that doesn't mean you start out by conceding anything.  You negotiate from strength and you make the other side fight just to be heard.  You let them know that your BATNA (or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) is to blow up the insurance system and impose single-payer.

If they want to come back with an even better reform package (i.e. a truly robust public option and well-regulated national exchanges) that allows them to continue to exist...okay, maybe we are talking.


[ Parent ]
My view is that of the 3 choices (4.00 / 4)
And this will piss a lot of so called liberals off- Edward was the only one to amass a fortune in the private sector. This made him more appealing to me because I understood what it took for him to do that.

Why? As you said, he is a business man who knew how to negotiate deals.  When to bluff. When to take a risk. Etc. Clinton and Obama made their careers of the public sector, and, to be blunt- it shows.  Obama, to me, has been running for this office probably since Harvard Law. I think that because, as I remember, he did not come from a school like that understood the value of hustling for you money. Liberals may crap on it, but it gives you a certain view of how to make a deal happen that politics will never give you. These public officials are not sweating a deal if it falls through. But, you sure as hell are in the early years with a business.

I think you are right about liberals. I have had this conversation too many times to not realize at this point that I come from this from a different place.

Sites like this- all the A-list blogs- really need more business people who are negotiators to explain it to them. People who understand how to achieve the bottom line.

From what I can tell, Chris really does see comments about his lack of negotiation tactical ability as a personal attack rather than a criticism meant to improve the product. That even if he thought what he said about the public option to be true, he should not have said it precisely because others could use it to say the PO is dead.  Last night, I hung out with a person with whom I want to go into business with. I have begun the sale process and the negotiation, and it requires understanding strategically what I need to say and what I should not say, but it also required taking a risk because this person does not see me in that light. Therefore, I had to seem like the part even if  the potential partner is not yet certain so that I could move on to the next meeting where I will convince them even more.  

In the last year, I have had to give up a lot of cherished assumptions about  myself. Open myself up to the fact I am ignorant over things, and nevertheless, not let that stop me. To figure shit out.  I had to be willing to learn new skill sets and address people differently. As a lawyer, I already knew how to basically do this, but not on the level of running my own business as a non-lawyer. It has been eye opening.

I think of all the sins of progressives- the unwillingness to change is the biggest.  


[ Parent ]
Most A-list blogs are businesses (4.00 / 1)
FWIW--just in case you didn't know, all large blogs are businesses, or at least operate as non-profits.

We are small businesses.  Some of them are actually quite large businesses with many employees.

And we have all changed dramatically since our inceptions.  The current version of the blogosphere would be unrecognizable only a few years ago.  The amount of original reporting, activist campaigns, website development, and social networking capabilities have remade the scene almost entirely.  It used to be just a bunch of people offering their opinions.  No more.


[ Parent ]
this has severe implications in embedding you in the very structure you are trying to critique (4.00 / 2)
it also has benefits - you probably understand, as i do, what it means to be doubletaxed for social security and medicare taxes as a proprietor - and how this impedes entrepreneurialisma nd reveals what bullshit allt he talk about supporting small businesses from the republicans for 25 years was.  And Democrats.  Same with Health care - who is going to start a small business by risking not having health insurance and risking going into huge amounts of debt?

but at what point does the progressive blogosphere recogn ise that it has a social position that informs its perspectives and that it has to take this into account?


[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 1)
I'd add two more points.  

First, if one wants something too much, he/she has already lost the negotiation.  Once a buyer commits to wanting a specific house the game is over.  Once a side wants "health care reform" too much the game is also over.  You over-pay for the house or give too much away on the "reform" bill.

Second, once one side abandons a negotiated agreement and tries to re-negotiate using the old agreement as a base it is time to grab for more (not cave).  I had this happen to me on a contact and got $300,000 more for my client.  Be prepared to get dirty looks or potential blackballs from the establishment on this one.

From personal experience on point two, do not show that you are pissed that the other side lied.  Just use the negotiated number as your starting point.  Don't even tell them what you are doing.  Just do it.

Look for weak points on the opposition and exploit them unmercifully if they do not go the ethical negotiation route.  We are doing this with Harry Reid and should do this with Landrieu and Lincoln as well.  The weak points for Ben Nelson are agricultural subsidies and the SAC base in Omaha.  Use them.  


[ Parent ]
I'm not sure how you'd define "extensive experience in negotiation" (4.00 / 1)
but Labor is still by far the biggest employer of activists on our side of things, and lots and lots of people in Labor have experience with negotiations.  Even a person in the communications department of a union gets a lot of exposure to the process and results of negotiations.

[ Parent ]
I probably am a bad negotiator (4.00 / 12)
Lots of experiences in my life have shown me to be a bad negotiator.

This all may sound overly intellectual to you, but it is the sort of work that needs to be done in order to make change happen.  This is online political organizing.  Its my life.

I do not live a wealthy lifestyle.  I turned to politics out of chronic under-employment, and this isn't a glamorous way to make a living.  Natasha recently wrote more on this.

And even apart from all that, as a professional political organizer and pundit, all of these policies absolutely have a direct impact on me.  I rise and fall based on progressives rising and falling.  I have no fall back career possibilities.  I want to start a family, but Natasha and I have tons of debt.  It is either success at this, or a very unhappy life.

Take all that for what it is worth.


[ Parent ]
Thanks for sharing some insight into your background (4.00 / 2)


[ Parent ]
My $.02 (4.00 / 6)
First, I agree with brurabbit that you seem to take what is often constructive criticism of progressive activists too personally.

Over the past 10 years, it has been fascinating to watch progressive activists, who realized that they were getting their asses handed to them on the messaging battlefield, become vastly more adept at communication.   They realized that they had a hell of a lot to learn about messaging.  About themes.  About discussing values.  About language.  About how people think and feel and form opinions.

Progressives realized that the fundamental concepts of communication are non-ideological and that they could learn from a guy like Frank Luntz even if Luntz was working against progressive goals.  

But while the Messaging Gap is closing, the Negotiation Gap isn't.  Progressives need to put away their pride, realize that this is an area that requires study and learn something about negotiation.  Just as progressives studied what the Right does well with regard to messaging and communication, they need to study how successful Right Wing issue groups successfully negotiate.

The best models are probably the NRA and the Club For Growth.  Both have been extremely successful precisely because they don't allow the fear of a liberal victory -- legislative or electoral -- to dissuade them from holding politicians' feet to the fire.  Both are more closely aligned with the GOP, but neither would ever allow a GOP politician to take their support for granted.  They would never let a GOP politician lecture them, as Rahm does to progressive groups, about punishing those who cross them on their key issues.


[ Parent ]
Too much emphasis on negotiation (4.00 / 1)
The NRA is so powerful because it is the best funded political operation in the entire country.  By a long, long way.

I don't think a better poker strategy overcomes that.

This emphasis on negotiation is all very airy, and strikes me as unprovable.  


[ Parent ]
Where do those funds go, Chris? (4.00 / 4)
It isn't that they have the funds.  Its that they are willing to use them to attack anyone --repub or democrat -- who crosses them.

[ Parent ]
Precisely. (4.00 / 1)
What Chris doesn't seem willing to acknowledge is that the far right is a movement that controls its political parties.  It has plenty of resources, yes, but as a movement, it knows that money is only as effective as the strategy by which it is employed.  The movement dominates political parties precisely because it uses its vast wealth to ensure that politicians do what the far right wants.

By contrast, the left is subservient to the Democratic Party -- and the result is that we end up being relegated to the proverbial kiddie corner, dunce cap placed firmly on heads, and told to shut up if we want to have a seat at the adult table.  We don't have much in the way of monetary resources, true, but that's not where our greatest weakness lies.  It's in our inability to use what resources we do have to make sure politicians do what we want them to.  Negotiation is what gets things done.  Compromise is merely one tool used in negotiating.  It's achieved by all parties involved giving and taking, preferably with the other side giving up more than ours.  What it is not is one side taking everything (the far right) and the other side giving everything up (everyone else).  That's capitulation, and we on the left have been far too much of that since at least 1968.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.


[ Parent ]
yeah but how do you control the party? (4.00 / 2)
you need a strategy, that takes time.  I think OpenLeft is part of that - I also think the kinds of perspectives you are articulating are a part of that too.  What appears capitulation on one side appears to be reasonable compromise on the other, and what appears to be well thought out long term strategy on one side appears to be unrealistic idealism on the other.  These are things that happen - the more important point is to retain the connections on the common poitns and build over time, imo.  The differences in tactics only change the extent of accomplishments (or regressions) and teh pace at which they move, i think.

Barring wholesale changes in the political system, which I would welcome - but then, that is exactly what I'm talking about above - how do you get there?  nuts and bolts are important.


[ Parent ]
It's in how one uses resources. (4.00 / 1)
It's about strategy and tactics.  It's also about recognizing what sort of conflict we're engaged in.  We should be approaching this from the model of Sun Tzu, which is quite appropriate considering that we are embroiled in an ideological war.  To that end, we must learn how to effectively employ the forces at our disposal.  It also means crafting and implementing strategies that will force Democrats to do as they're told.  That includes, but is by no means limited to, primaries and independent challenges.  We have to be willing to cut off conservative Democrats completely, drive them out of the party.  In politics, allowing the enemy a room in your tent only leaves the door open to infiltration, and that's exactly what has happened.  If conservatives want to be in a political party, they already have the GOP.  So let's make them go back there while we rebuild the movement and make the Democrats an extension of it.

I have some ideas about how we can do that, if you're interested.  Feel free to send me an e-mail and I'll gladly share.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.


[ Parent ]
yeah i agree (4.00 / 1)
i'm just saying that we might be in the 1,000 flowers bloom part rather than the weed out 700 of them and alienate the 290 others :D  long term strategizing and all that.

[ Parent ]
the far-right doesn't control Republicans ... (4.00 / 3)
... big money does. Big money controls Democrats too.

Right now, Democrats are negotiating with Wall Street, big Pharma, the health insurance industry, and other corporations to figure out the least amount of crumbs that they'll need to throw at progressives and still get re-elected in 2010.

The heroic work that Chris Bowers and Jane Hamsher have done to whip the public option have helped expose a massive fraud by the majority of our Congressman. Why weren't Democrats doing their own whip count? Why won't they go to reconciliation, or go to the nuclear option, to enact the most important piece of legislation of the past 70 years?

The answer is: They don't want to. The president doesn't want to either. So, it ain't gonna happen.

If you want to start a real movement, start a non-profit health insurance company. Or start a movement to stop using credit/debit cards.  Or start a university whose tuition won't send people into debt for the rest of their lives. Or start a third national political party.

Money runs the show, and to have a fighting chance to really change things, you have to hit the profits of the most parasitic corporations (banks, insurance companies, etc.) -- through boycotts, public awareness, changing habits or competing organizations. Bloggers have already put a huge dent in the corrupt corporate media. What's next? What else can we do besides research and report?

 


[ Parent ]
The far right does control Republicans -- and Democrats. (4.00 / 1)
Money is simply the tool they use to do it.  It seems to me that if we're going to win the ideological war, we must recognize more than simply the fact that we are engaged in one; we must also be able to distinguish the agents from the tools they use to achieve desired ends.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
i disagree (4.00 / 2)
the far right (social conservatives / religious fascists / homophobes / misogynists / etc.) does control the republican party - de facto.  That's because big money is leaving en masse for the democrats.  and no one has forced either to speak to big masses yet, which is why i always come back to the importance of building social institutions like labour unions to replace the ones that are currently communicating with potential populists (i.e. crazies).

[ Parent ]
More importantly (4.00 / 8)
where do those funds come from?

The NRA is a money laundering operation for arms dealers. They pay Congress to keep gun laws loose so they can sell guns to criminals, and then sell guns to people who are afraid of criminals. It is a bottomless pit of money. Our side has never had, and never will have, a similar source of revenue.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Then the real question is (4.00 / 1)
how to get some of that laundered money into "our" coffers.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Say what? (0.00 / 0)
That was posted too fast, or its the oddest comment  Spitball has ever made.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Not odd (4.00 / 1)
Look, the pile of $ generated by the NRA, which some claim is "laundered", is just sitting there waiting to be spent. At this time, the cash goes to the Right wing and they use it to attack the Left.

If you want to hurt the Right and get more $ for the Left, well then figure out how to take some of that NRA money away from those on the Right and get it in "our" hands where it can be used to further the goals of the Left.

The question is how?


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Are you serious? (4.00 / 2)
Is this snark?

How do "we" get NRA money? Are you really asking that?


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Yes (4.00 / 1)
Unless you'd rather let the money continue to flow exclusively to your opponents.

How? I'm not sure. But I do know that there is a massive disconnect between the Left and the gun owners. I hang with some self-defined "gun nuts" on occassion. When we talk politics we mostly agree, with regard to local school board issues, the healthcare reform issue, social issues of marriage and abortion, those kind of things. Everything goes well,  until they start talking about how the liberal Left wants to disarm them and take away the guns they use to defend their homes (1 person has actually done this) and shoot targets in their "backyard". I've made some progress by pointing out the complete illogic of their concerns. By "illogical" I mean, do you really think that Obama has the time and resources to set about disarming the US populace? Even if he thought that was a good idea, how would he go about it? Don't forget, I'm talking to people that have arsenals that their local police cannot match, nor even the county sheriff. The state police might be able to take their guns away, but force would be required. So, worrying about that happening is pretty much a waste of time.

But the idea that one cannot trust the "left" or the Democratic Party, despite agreement on most issues, because they will disarm law abiding gun ownwers is very powerful. I managed to convince a few to stop supporting the NRA - mostly by making the case that the politicians the NRA supports do not help them on most issues - but I think that a well crafted message from the "left" might be able to pull those dollars out of their pockets and into the political fight on "our" side.

The underlying point is that many folks on the "right" are very disillusioned after 8 years of Bush/Cheney and they are not entranced by Sarah Palin. Instead of simply writing these folks off and characterizing suggestions that they be courted by the Dems as "odd", it seems a better tactic to get try and get them to support and vote for "our" candidates.  


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
OK so you merely mean "talk to people who may not be with you" (4.00 / 1)
I certainly support that. The NRA however is not a barely organized club of gun collectors, it is a deeply organized right wing action centre. It is an arm of the republican party.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Well, it did (4.00 / 1)
until they stopped sending it in. Some of these folks are gun-dealers, too. I'm not familar with any gun manufacturers, however.

Sadie, I agree with your assessment of the NRA. All the more reason to try and undermine them by taking their money away.



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
But NRA money (4.00 / 4)
does not come from people like your friends. They are not the NRA, they are the useful idiots who front for it, and the money they give is peanuts.

The NRA is actually the dealers and manufacturers lobby, which profits from death, and intends to keep on doing so.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
He's serious (4.00 / 2)
Spitball is more libertarian than progressive. He doesn't see what's wrong with the NRA.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
I see it (4.00 / 1)
and I would rather try to undermine it by taking their money, than sitting back and conceding that all those funds will be used against me.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
They won't give you money (4.00 / 3)
if you try to stop their operation. That's the way it works. You can't take their money and then close the gun show loophole, for example, or do anything to save real people's lives. They won't have it.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
No thanks. (4.00 / 5)
That's what the problem was with HCR -- it was an attempt to get traditionally Republican (Big Pharma and Insurance) money into Democratic coffers. How can more of the same ever solve our problems? One Death-eater Party is enough, we don't need two.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Not talking about dealing with executives (4.00 / 1)
and political class elistists in high positions within the parties.

I'm talking about street-level politics. I should have been clearer at the outset. Its not so much trying to convince the NRA to support Dems, or progressives. Its about getting the $ from the gun owners and taking them away from the NRA. Same pile of money, going in a different direction. More precisely, its about NOT writing groups of people off as potential supporters just because one has a preconceived idea of who those people are and how they think.



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
The money that the gun owners give (4.00 / 2)
compared to the dealers and manufacturers, is nothing. A drop in the bucket. Every single "member" of the NRA could drop out over night and it would make no difference to their bottom line.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
maybe the gun-owners are too small of a financial benefit (0.00 / 0)
for you to consider tapping into, but that's your choice. Its not only about the money, anyway. Its about driving a wedge between the "members" and the organization. The lowly members may not have enough money to attract your attention, but they take their marching orders from the NRA - by and large, they vote accordingly.

I know its anecdotal, but the gun-dealer referenced in previous comments has severed ties with the NRA. He is no longer a member and no longer stocks NRA literature in his shop. Why? Basically because he has come to realize that many of the folks the NRA supported with his money simply do not represent his views on any other issue. He does not live in a vacuum. According to him, the lack of NRA literature (and signage) in his shop has been noticed by his customers. Many of whom have, so they say, joined in his boycott. A few of his competitors have responded by increasing the visibility of their support for the NRA, but others are talking about joining him. In fact, he uses your argument that the NRA is more beholden to the manufacturers and corporations than to the rank and file to demonstrate how the organization has lost touch with the members and takes them for granted.

Look, we came to this story by a very indirect path. I make no claims that this is some kind of plan designed to undermine the US gun lobby. It may come to nothing, or it may begin to break the power of the NRA. But as long as this crack in the NRA lock on the political aspirations of gun-owners appears to be spreading, I plan to push it as far as possible.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
At least you admit you have a problem. (4.00 / 1)
Your problem, and I say this with all due respect, is that you do seem to take honest criticism personally even when it is not directed solely at you.  Negotiation is the way to make things happen, but it was pointed out that one does not go into them the way the progressive base has (i.e. signaling its willingness to cave in before talks have even begun).  I don't know if it's a general aversion to conflict or if it's some form of spousal abuse syndrome -- trying to please the abuser at all costs.  Whatever it is, even you must acknowledge that it's time to start over from scratch, having learned the lessons of the whole debacle that has been the leftist movement under Obama and the Democrats.  If this site and the mission you began mean so much to you, then I suggest you re-evaluate what you intend to do with it and how best to achieve it.  Because right now, you do seem to be shooting yourself in the foot by treating progressives the way you are.  Most of us are in the same boat as you, and some of us are in even worse positions.  A lot of us have nothing left to lose, whereas you do have something to lose.  That might be the difference between you and us, but we all have something in common: a lot to gain if we (including you) pull our act together and move forward on a reformed and reinvigorated progressive movement.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
find some other non-profits (4.00 / 3)
not purely political, to invest your time and energy in. That's what I do in my non-blog life. It's rewarding.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]
Thanks- I may returning to volunteering (4.00 / 2)
on community issues. It seems my frankness in this context is not really appreciated.  

[ Parent ]
I don''t really do anything (4.00 / 1)
but negotiate all day long.

Are Progressives bad at it?  I don't really think so.

In the HCR debate I have never for a second, though, believed that the left will vote against any bill that significantly expands access.  The moral argument for halving the number of those without insurance is simply too compelling in the end.  The simple truth is that progressives are in the end bluffing, and everyone knows we are bluffing.  

I think that fact explains much about how the HCR debate has gone.  

At some point when it really matters progressives are going to have to vote no to rebut the presumption that we always bluff.  I don't know when that is going to happen, but I don't think it is going to happen on healthcare.

I believe you are a lawyer.  There are more than enough ways to use your background to help others.  In my case I have found representing the mentally ill through Legal Aid extremely rewarding.

To post or not to post?  I have gone months at a time without posting, come back, and then leave.  Do I think my posting changes the world? I don't think anything I have ever written has mattered a hill of beans to anyone.

In fact, I think the divide between the front pagers and the people who comment has grown enourmously over the last few years: particularly at DKOS.  

I post because I am interested in the World and because there have been times when people have responded in a way that has changed my perception of myself and the World.



[ Parent ]
Useful post (4.00 / 4)
even if it was motivated (as it appears to have been) by Bowers' frustration over unfair criticism.  



I think the criticism is more than fair. (4.00 / 2)
In fact, it is warranted.  But that does not mean that criticism is a bad thing, or that Chris can't learn from it.  What I'm seeing is a lot of frustration on all sides, with each group not feeling as though it is being taken seriously by the other.  I think this thread has revealed a lot of feelings on both sides of the matter.  Everyone seems to have a legitimate complaint.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (4.00 / 4)
Check out our grassroots organization. We came out of the Dean campaign and became a c(4) and PAC.  Since then, we have organized 4 national activist trainings with the DNC (in Boston, Philly, Denver, Chicago), placed 6 paid fellows on Congressional campaigns, produced an award-winning documentary, held townhalls on immigration and healthcare reform around the country and more. Our website gets 10,000 hits a month and our bloggers have been invited to appear on FOX news, CNN and other major media outlet. Not bad for an all-volunteer organization. We're at apaforprogress.org if you're interested.

Except for the part about Fox News (0.00 / 0)
well done.

[ Parent ]
what are you doing for poor people? (4.00 / 1)
I say this as an Asian Pacific American for progress...and more.

[ Parent ]
what are you doing? (0.00 / 1)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
i'm paying attention to class issues (4.00 / 1)
thanks for asking.

[ Parent ]
Look, Chris and I have disagreements over how to proceed (4.00 / 4)
Things have come to a head over the healthcare bill.  He would support whatever passes while fighting to make it as strong as possible.  I think a weak bill with Stupak-like language should be killed, and I think progressives need to have a credible THREAT to enhance their bargaining power.  I believe that the Full Court Press would strengthen Chris's position, in fact.

He's a good person and I respect him.  He doesn't suck.  I just think he is wrong about certain things, as he thinks I am wrong about certain things.

This has led to more bitterness than I expected, because we both care deeply.  We should all calm down.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


"He would support whatever passes" (1.00 / 4)
There you go.

He would give up.

And has publicly already.

Not just a coward, but a poor negotiator also.

How are you better than me Chris?  Because you have D.C. access?

And how does that make you better than any of the capitulators?


[ Parent ]
Dude, chill. (4.00 / 4)
I've supported you so far in this thread against troll-ratings that were not only unwarranted but followed up with troll comments themselves by the very person taking you to task for your words.  I feel that two wrongs don't make a right, an old adage that is as true now as it was when first it was coined.  But I'm sensing that your anger is causing you now to lash out even when it isn't necessary, against people who don't deserve it.  I know you're frustrated and I share it, believe me.  My own personal situation is much less stable than Chris Bowers' and my attachment to the cause even firmer as a result (I haven't much to lose).  But I also know when and when not to engage in hostilities.  Why don't we all take a step back and breathe a little, and approach this issue once cooler heads are present to deal with it?

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Huh? (0.00 / 0)
Take off your up rates.  I don't want them or need them.

These people are sell outs who want to transfer our money to Wellpoint.

20% of every American's income in return for 40% co-pays.

And ratings abusers who don't understand Soapblox at all.

I don't care that much about Open Left, it's already proven itself not to be so much Open or Left.

Instead it's trying to be Obama For America light.

I hope that has just as much success as it deserves.  A one cycle majority and a one term presidency.

I know way more independents who are pissed off by cowardice than are attracted by "pragmatism".  Good luck Jimmy Carter.


[ Parent ]
Would you rather they ban you? (4.00 / 2)
Make no mistake: you told the truth to people who have no interest in it and who will use any excuse they can to show you the door.  Worse, they are going out of their way to hide your comments, which if I am not mistaken means that any and all thoughtful responses will also be hidden from general view (guests and members not at a sufficient level to see hidden comments).  All that accomplishes is that ideas -- no matter what their form -- get censored.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
As a LOT of repubicans use the "censor me" argument so badly (4.00 / 2)
perhaps we should remember that a blog doesn't censor you, this is the internet remember? get a website, say it yourself. Thats all this is. You do it better.

Or is your purpose to censor this website with a barrage of bullshyte.

Here I have a great idea, start a website then run elections to see who runs it. Please.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
This is all over my head. I am just a voter (4.00 / 8)
interested in politics because it impacts me and mine whether I pay attention to it or not.   Two people that I appreciate alot, Chris and ek, obviously respect each other enough to bump heads, which is just one of the reasons I appreciate them both.  

Personally, I share much of what jeffroby and bruhrabbit  said.  I think little has changed for the better in the last 30 years, let alone since Dean in 2004; and I am tired of losing our quality of life at the hands of Democrats.  I don't care whether its a D or R that ships our jobs overseas, I just want it, and a big list of other things, stopped.   I, too, have a friend who keeps telling me to quit wasting my time voting because it only encourages them and gives the whole election scam a false legitimacy.  I am not quite there, however, because I am angry enough at so called Democrats that I want revenge.  I want to see a big stick come down and smack them right out of office.   I want them so worried about us (people) that they are afraid to turn their backs.  

The event that was an eye opener for me occurred during or shortly after the Lamont/Lieberman brawl.  Clinton invited bloggers to a lunch; and since they were basically lower than dirt in the eyes of the party prior to the brawl, it was obvious (to me) that party leadership decided to check out the DFHs biting at their ankles.  My take on that meeting was that he fed them, looked them up and down, and then summarily dismissed them (us) as all bark and no bite.  As it turns out, they were right.  I also wonder how this turn of events impacted how some of them handled the Presidential primary that put Obama into office.

I am particularly bitter about Obama because what he is was obvious when he was running.  If he didn't scream Elmer Gantry in the throes of his greatest con job, nobody could.  Despite his obvious deceit, some sat quietyly like a bump on a log while Obama kids and party elitists rammed him into power.  

Having said all this, I have no clue what it is like behind the scenes so I would just like to say thank you to everyone who tries while I sit here in my pajamas and bath robe, catching up on events and drinking my morning coffee before work.   What I do do is contribute to blogs like OpenLeft and Docudharma, while making sure that anyone who isn't Sanders or Kucinich never gets a dime.  I would put MoveOn and other similar organizations in the category of party loyalist and ineligible for the few bucks that I can afford to give.

My two cents for what little it is worth.



Well said (4.00 / 3)
Perhaps a fair way to sum up your post is: From a results POV, things are not getting better, but we "see through a glass, darkly".

I think a fundamental difference in viewpoint, at OpenLeft, is driven by the following, internalized orientation: Some people view politics as an unending series of battles, with our "army's" character and equiptment about as constant as that available to a general. A major piece of legislation is analogous to a specific campaign. No great fundamental changes are to be expected within a given war, in terms of how the battles are to be fought, so we should consider this analogy more appropriate for human history before industrialization and science appeared on the scene.

Others of us view politics as a poorly designed and poorly functioning way of resolving conflicts and clashing wills of a heterogeneous electorate, that needs to fundamentally change. Unfortunately, drawing an analogy is harder for our viewpoint, but I'll take a stab: (I don't know much about this history, so please forgive any inaccuracies) The Peace of Westphalia helped end religious wars in Europe, by virtue of allowing the Christian citizens of at least some of the states the right to practice their religion, even if it was not the established Christian sect.

My understanding of this is: once you removed codified religious intolerance, you removed much of the very basis of conflict and war.

Because the money corruption of the legislative process in the US isn't being rectified or bypassed, it's easily predictable that the US will continue to decay. The legislative 'battles' are the details, but they are not the cause of the decay. They merely codify the forces which are bringing about the decay.

The Progressive Bloc at least gave some hope that they would hold to some principle that didn't involve excessive compromise with other members of Congress who are more beholden to selfish, moneyed interests. That might have signaled a 'Peace of Westphalia' watershed moment. And such a turn of events is deemed by some of us as more important than a specific legislative battle, or whether the Democrats, as a whole, are seen as "being able to govern".

Alas, that moment did not arrive.

However, I like to think that OpenLeft has facilitated not just one, but two ideas that can lead to 'Peace of Westphalia' type, fundamental change (by leading to better people in Congress, that don't constantly succumb to pressures from moneyed interests): IVCS, and FCP.

If so, all the principals of OpenLeft should be proud to have provided a space for those revolutionary ideas, even if they themselves didn't embrace them, at first.



435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Totally.... (4.00 / 3)
The legislative 'battles' are the details, but they are not the cause of the decay. They merely codify the forces which are bringing about the decay.

We are not alone, and the  frustration is great .  


[ Parent ]
Thanks Chris and a question (4.00 / 5)
Wow, lots of bitterness above from commenters.

Chris,

Let me thank you for Open Left, for the Bush Dog initiative and your sincere, precise analysis.

Question-- what is your take on the Bold Progressive/Progressive Change group?
http://boldprogressives.org/ho...

If I were to start an organization I would start either one like this, or some activitist version of Lakoff's Rockridge Nation.

What if the blogs stopped raising money for canidates for a cycle, and only raised money for primaries? This seems to speak loudly and clearly. Open Left, MyDD, DKos, FDL, and many others could form a Primary Coalition.

Just my two cents.
dP



We won the Battle. Now the Real Fight for Change Begins. Join MoveOn.org and fight for progressive change.  


can we all chill? (4.00 / 4)
we have disagreements.  that's okay.  what is more necessary than agreement is graciousness in disagreement, in the ways in which we frame criticisms, and the ways in whcih we respond to them.

I am as guilty as anyone of not always living up to that, but it's a good goal for long term forward progress for people who are most affected by the 'issues' we're talking about - which are their lives.


populism rising (4.00 / 5)
Now that you have a purpose, a legal structure, the ability to engage in activism, and a lot of followers, the fifth and final step is to start making a damn difference.

i don't think most people enjoy being treated like followers where the message direction is all one way, top-down. people like to know they are really heard (and not just in the faux ways obama, for example, pretends to listen to the messages from OFA's house parties) even if they are not part of the governing structure.

but then i have strange ideas about organizing - that is if we want to promote progressive policies the first thing we have to do is figure out how to organize ourselves according to progressive principles. how can we demand democratic,  transparent and progressive government if we are unwilling to organize and govern ourselves according to these very same principles?

for example, i have no idea how decisions are made here. are decisions taken by a single person or by a group? if by an individual could notice of decisions and a brief rational be posted? or if by a group, are there things like meeting minutes, including a list of participants that could be posted on line?

.....

and for organizations that purport to do grass roots organizing, grass roots organizing is helping people help themselves to achieve their own goals.

not convincing them to help you achieve yours.



I see the bad moon rising... (4.00 / 9)
To my knowledge, I've never been troll rated here, but there is a first time for everything.  Que Sera, Sera.

I think I'm still coming to terms with how deep the hole we're in; legislatively, economically, socially.  And, I suspect, like Wile E. Coyote, we aren't yet aware that we're suspended in mid-air, and haven't yet begun the descent to the canyon floor.

I find this outrage directed at Chris and Open Left puzzling.  And, deeply discouraging.  But, perhaps, not unsurprising, if I think about it.  We believed we could make a dent.  And, we're finding we can't make much of a dent at all.  As we've probed for the places where we can exert influence, we've found that there are very few soft spots in the armor that the elite have wrapped themselves in, or the battlements they have erected around themselves.  Personally, I'm dismayed that I hadn't realized it sooner.

Health care was one of those places where it seemed we should have had a lock.  It's universally understood by broad swaths of the population, reform had broad support among the voting public, and the arguments for reform seemed ironclad - especially - when the US is compared to the rest of the world.  Then, we found that the administration was willing to cut deals with the moneyed stakeholders before the mere outlines of reform could even be conceptualized.  That we've been repeatedly forced to retrench is absolutely dispiriting but instructive.  I can't hold Chris accountable for that.  We can talk about negotiation, but it's real hard to negotiate when you haven't been issued a bidder's card.

As a voter, I've found tremendous value in Open Left.  My email inbox is deluged daily with appeals from various entities.  I am forced to be selective.  I use Open Left (and Firedog Lake) as a means to vet some of the appeals, legislative initiatives, candidate positions, and as a general clearinghouse of information from a source I've come to understand as credible.  That I'm often discouraged by what I find is, I think, reflective of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  I'm not inclined to shoot the messenger whose job it is to deliver the bad news.

This is probably TL;DR.  I am aware of the steps that it takes to initiate a netroots organization, having explored it with some other folks over a year ago.  Makes me darned glad there are places like Open Left who've already done the heavy lifting.  Not being on their board of directors I don't feel I get to wish that they'd treat me as thought I were one.  

I'm not sure what it's going to take to make a dent.  I have a feeling I'm not going to like it much when I find out.  But, I'm pretty sure I'll make that discovery here.  And, it's at least a small consolation that I will be in good company when the discovery is made.  That is worth a lot.


Totally agree (4.00 / 6)
The problem is that progressives have very little power in the system as it is currently constructed. It is hard to negotiate when the other side ignores you and the corporate media ignores or distorts everything you say (see the Fair Trade movement for a great example). It is difficult to run primary candidates against the power elite when you have little money and little access to media and your opponents have vast quantities of both (see the minimal results of the Progressive Democrats of America for example). It is difficult to garner more resources when you have little to show for all your efforts. It is difficult to change the system when you cannot force even the smallest of changes. It is also difficult to accomplish anything when every time you try to do something, your friends and colleagues flake out (often because of their own emotional or financial problems) and "friends" and enemies attack you mercilessly.

Bootstrapping ourselves up to the point where we can wield real power is extremely difficult. I am very thankful that Chris has done such a good job of creating OpenLeft and leading many very useful and powerful campaigns. I'm sad that we haven't won more, but it is not because Chris has not tried and done a very good job.

To gain real power will require massive amounts of work -- slow, slogging work to bring people around to our side, get them to donate to our campaigns, and get them to work for progressive politicians. It is easy to say that everyone else is not doing it right. It is much more difficult to figure out how to actually do it successfully. If you think you have the solution, then the obvious step is for you to implement your solution. The reason no one has done this yet is not because there are not a lot of people trying, but because it is very difficult.


[ Parent ]
what if 'real power' is the problem (4.00 / 1)
what if the goal should be a redistribution of power rather than seeking to gain power in order to pass more progressive policies?  What if the two are mutual indistinguishable options in the long run?

[ Parent ]
One needs power to redistribute power (4.00 / 2)
no?

How can one (or organized ones) redistibute what they do not have?


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
i think so? (4.00 / 2)
i don't have the mental energy right now to analyse my own conception of power :)

but i was mainly saying that 'getting power' does not imply 'redistributing power' though i think your point is valid that if you're interested in the latter, the former might be a necessary thing to pursue at the same time.  balancing practice and principle and all that.  


[ Parent ]
Few Thoughts (4.00 / 3)
Firstly, Chris' points can be shortened to "no idealism survives contact with reality".  Not defending each and every "realistic compromise", or even most of them, but it is nonetheless true.  There's a strain of thought in leftist circles that any compromise is a betrayal, a sellout, a stab in the back.

Secondly, I think a good summary of some (not Full Court Press; I'm still mulling that over) of the plans from Chris' critics can be summed up as follows:

1. Complain about progressive activists on their website
2. Don't vote in 2010
3. Ensure large Democratic losses at the local, state, and federal level
4. ???
5. Profit!

There's a serious disconnect between the goals and the methods to get there... but anyone pointing that out is a corporate, DLC shill who can be safely ignored, so it's all good.


That sopunds like it perfectly. (4.00 / 2)
It does noty matter if the posters are right-wing or left wing, the purpose is not constructive action, nor even constructive criticism, it is gumming up the works, slowing down the effort, driving people apart, making personal attacks and, the most important, putting the crazies back in office, in 2010 or 2012 at the latest.

If thats the goal, no matter the intent, they are not part of the coalition.

A coalition is a moral imperative, and ethical necessity. If you cannot, if we cannot act so as to save the democracy, and save the universes only known thin envelope of life smeared on the surface of molten rock and baked in searing deadly radiation, then we must be ashamed. Deeply ashamed.

The most powerful force on the planet right this minute is the electoral power of American citizens. Americans must, I use the word insistently, take back their country, and must spend all their time not recovering, taking back our country.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
That would be true if "compromise" means what it actually implies. (4.00 / 3)
What we're not seeing in all this talk of "compromise" is any compromise.  For that to happen, each side must give something up.  When the other side does all the taking and ours does all the giving, that's called accommodation.  We are not compromising.  We're capitulating.  That's another thing we on the left must recognize.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

[ Parent ]
Very enlightening diary and comments (4.00 / 3)
Thanks to all of you. Especially those that made this site possible.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


from Stoller's original piece on what is OpenLeft (4.00 / 3)
At OpenLeft.com, we are going to explore these new dynamics.  We don't believe the internet changes everything, or that older institutions are irrelevant.  Far from it.  We think that any institution can succeed in building the new America we see unfolding in sketches on the internet.  We see the internet and the Open Left as a sort of operating system for a new political system, where groups can plug in and form coalitions more easily and effective on the left, and we see a strong set of dynamics pulling us into this new coalition-focused direction.  We hope to host many of these groups, serving as a forum for strategic discussion of goals and tactics.

I've tried to work within this framework.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


You "parasites" are all the same! (4.00 / 1)
The Matt Stoller figleaf has been used so many times, it's worn away and no longer covers anything!
:-)

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
I totally fail to see the part where they say: (0.00 / 0)
"We want jeffroby to take over the site in order to promote his enthusiastic, yet not really worked out plans here"?
:D

[ Parent ]
Right between the lines (4.00 / 2)
Open Left as a sort of operating system for a new political system, where groups can plug in and form coalitions more easily and effective on the left, and we see a strong set of dynamics pulling us into this new coalition-focused direction.

jeffroby was trying to plug in to Open Left and form a coalition more easily than having to take the long, difficult road that Chris laid out in this diary.

Now, you can fault jeffroby for making the mistake of "attacking" Chris on the front-page of the blog that Chris helped to create, and you'd have some validity. Its a strange way to start a coalition. But I think that some of jeffroby's language was driven from his passion for the subject rather than from any desire to "take over" Open Left.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Too bad. (0.00 / 0)
He really has to be more diplomatic, not constantly insulting his own allies, if he wants to accomplish something. Right now, he is more of a nuissance than an asset, imho.

[ Parent ]
If you had read the Full Court Press comment thread ... (4.00 / 1)
... as well as this one, you would see that I have many allies and am not constantly insulting them.

Should I be nicer to Chris?  If you would like at my comments on this thread, you would not see the raving abuser that some would like to portray.

I have accomplished something.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
If you don't consider Chris and others to be allies... (0.00 / 0)
...your idea is toast. If you want this to get some traction, you need every support you can get. You can't afford to alienate people just because they're not steadfastly offensive enough for your liking.

[ Parent ]
Nuisance and asset (4.00 / 2)
Interesting assessment.

Whining that other commentors be banned is a nuisance. Developing ideas about how to move the leftwing forward and asking those in your on-line community for help is not. Even if the former is done with "please" and "thank you", while the latter is done with jabs and verbal slaps. imho.



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Like many, I'm still thinking about all this... (4.00 / 1)
I've known Chris for a while, and fought some battles alongside him. I think criticism of the work that he (and Adam and Mike, as well) is misguided, however well-meaning.

One quick thought, though: if I'm not mistaken, Jeff, your plan for FCP is to have 435-465 primary challengers? That's counting the third of the Senate that's up each cycle.

If I'm not mistaken, then your plan is deeply flawed, because it's not enough to have a primary challenger. You have to have a primary challenger that is properly funded and staffed.

To date, we've have two signal successes: Ned Lamont and Donna Edwards. Neither challenge was a paper challenge (like the ones you're proposing); both were heavily supported, and even with massive, widespread support, both were close-run things (it took two tries for Donna to win; Ned won the primary by about 4%, but lost the general, as we remember).

That's not to discourage you or anything, Jeff - merely to point out the massive scale of the task you're attempting to shoulder. If you're looking to "punish" Democrats, so be it - but guys like Nelson or Bayh aren't to be threatened by a "paper" candidate; they're only going to be attentive to a challenge that's demonstrably threatening to their chances - something that will take time, energy and effort.

As I said, I'm still thinking about this - and I'll likely have reflections on this later.  

Ad astra, per aspera // Keep calm & carry on
http://www.rafaelnoboa.com


I'm only considering the House (4.00 / 1)
So many Democratic incumbents go unchallenged, I think a large number of primary challenges would upset the party.  I remember the hysterical reaction to Chris's wanting to primary just the Blue Dogs.

The impact would be modest in 2012, I admit.  (I consider 2010 GENERALLY premature.)  But it would be impact, and would lay a deeper progressive infrastructure for 2014.

I'm painfully aware of the scale of the task.  I'm betting that there is growing popular movement that will, in the long run, put wind in our sails.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
If 465 "foot in the doors" leads to 1 lightening rod (4.00 / 1)
then that could grow to be one heck of a lighting rod.

A funding mechanism that supports an instant runoff process is (IMO) clearly advantageous, so as to make it easily manageable to convert that lightening rod into wins on election day, by efficiently matching the total $$ resources to the task at hand.

Come to think of, for 2010, a poor-man's approach to "crossing the beams" of funding could be to simply hold an online instant runoff vote, where participants have pledged that they will send their money off to the winner(s) after the vote. (As opposed to the funding portal, where votes would occur after money is already in the bank.) Steps would have to be taken to cut down the number of people "stuffing the ballot box", but there would still be much more uncertainty about how big the pot was really going to be, than if a real funding portal existed that could handle this task.

ActBlue, are you listening? Entrepreneurs?

I'm pretty sure that there are a few open source instant runoff voting projects at sourceforge.net. So, assuming that at least one of those software projects is stable, jeffroby could run an unvalidated instant runoff vote, by himself, with next to no cash outlay. (And maybe a little help from a programmer.)

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Still not following... (4.00 / 1)
@jeffroby, @metamars: am I correct in thinking that the point of FCP is to challenge Democratic incumbents?

Following that logic, why would you start in the House? The House has been the more progressive of the two chambers. If anything, it's the Senate where the malefactors have been - Nelson, Lieberman, Bayh, etc.. Those are the folks that I'd start with.

I mean, I see where you're coming from in terms of using primary challenges as a lever to accelerate change. From my vantage point, having engaged in more than one primary challenge in my short political career, there's no such thing as a "minimalistic" primary challenge. A paper candidate is going to get ignored.

You either challenge the incumbent or not. An incumbent has nothing to fear from a minimalistic candidacy.

Ad astra, per aspera // Keep calm & carry on
http://www.rafaelnoboa.com


[ Parent ]
Simple thinking (4.00 / 1)
435 primaries is the goal.  If an incumbent endorsed the Press principles, then that incumbent would not face a challenge.  If that incumbent went on to betray those principles after the election, they would face a challenge in 2 years.

Two points:

(1)  congressional primaries are a lot easier to enter than senatorial.

(2)  the House passed a health reform bill that contained Stupak.

As your signature says:  "at their asses with asparagus!"

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
First of all, the "minimalism" is on the candidate REQUIREMENT side of things (4.00 / 2)
Not on the "supply side" of things. If the candidates comes into lots of $$, thousands of volunteers, or is personally inclined to live the life of a fully committed office-seeker, even without a competitive amount of $$ and thousands of volunteers, nobody intends to stop those $$, volunteers, or candidates fulfilling their intended purposes. (OK, in jeffroby's scheme, if the non-FCP incumbent embraces all of the FCP positions, then the FCP candidate will withdraw from the race. So, there is this scenario to think about, also.)

Secondly, if there's no clear path to raising competitive amounts of $$ and volunteers, that's because there isn't any. Yet. I mean, it's basically still in the proposal stage.

But clearly, the two go together, right? I mean, if you have thousands of volunteers, you can task some of them with raising money, not to mention chipping in some smallish donation that they can handle. And if you come into money, you can just hire workers.

Additionally, if you're part of a nation-wide FCP bloc of candidates, and you win an instant runoff, "cross the beams", concentration of resources instant runoff vote, you will not only enjoy a much wider pool of (smallish) donors, you will also have access to volunteers in nearby districts. (Maybe even states.) I'm going to call these lucky, resource-sufficient FCP candidates the 'FCP-IR' candidates.

Now, here is where it gets really interesting. Although jeffroby hasn't mentioned anything about it, for the sake of argument let's say that the FCP-IR candidate, having run on a plank which includes affordable health care, does the logical thing and eschews any contributions related to the wealthcare, errr, healthcare industry. The FCP-IR candidate now has not only a position that is uncompromising and popular, he or she also has the economic clout not to feel compelled to be put in a compromising position to be competitive.

The very fact that the FCP-IR candidate is economically independent from the healthcare industry, while his/her competitor will not be, gives them a HUGE competitive propaganda advantage in their race. In fact, whatever extra TV time the healthcare $$ may have provided the FCP-IR candidate's opposition, will be lost when the candidate and his followers scream bloody murder, reminding the public what a "bloody stump" (to use jeffroby's memorable phrase) the Democrats made of healthcare reform legislation.

Take a deep breath, boys and girls. If you can, sit down.

Properly and aggressively propagandized, the healthcare $$ going to the FCP-IR opposition will come to be viewed as a KISS OF DEATH for that candidate. Blood money, essentially, that no right-thinking person would vote for, IF THEY HAD A VIABLE OPTION.

I could write a lot more, but I simply have to do some real-world work. (Unpaid, but relevant.) The only thing I'll add right now is that Gary Null interviewed Ralph Nader about 2 weeks ago, about his new book, "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us". It turns out that both Null and Nader know people who are rich or well-to-do, but feel powerless to rescue society. I got the impression that some of these well-intentioned rich folks would be happy to part with some of their money (of which they'll not take a single penny with them when they die) for non-selfish political purposes, provided that they had some confidence that it would achieve it's goal.

Creating an efficient way to put non-corrupted candidates into office could well meet with enthusiasm from ethical rich people, who are no more eager to see millions of people starve and become homeless due to uncontrolled global warming than you or I am. Nor are they happy or indifferent that struggling middle class people lose their financial solvency due to rapacious insurance companies, or that poor people are homeless and hungry.

Indeed, my own mother used to work for a charity foundation, and would be sent around to pick up checks from big-hearted, wealthy donors, of jaw-dropping amounts of money. Seeing what a mess the Democrats made of healthcare, I like to think that none of those donors would be so dumb as to contribute $$ to the Democratic party, with the thought that it would help bring about cost-efficient healthcare.

Give them a more honorable and trustworthy alternative, though, and I think many would jump at the chance.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Meta (0.00 / 0)
I'm starting to get a better picture of your thinking.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
Now there's a scary thought! (0.00 / 0)
If you get a complete picture, let me know!

I've actually thought through a lot of this before, but I'm also riffing on your key idea, as we go along.

It's probably more fun that way, anyway.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
I wish the two of you the best of luck... (0.00 / 0)
I'm having a hard time seeing what your formula for success is.

@metamars: You assume that taking a public stand against the "wealthcare" industry will provide your candidate with a "huge propaganda advantage", and that whatever financial contributions the "wealthcare" industry makes will be outweighed by the candidate and your organization "screaming bloody murder" about the Democrats' health care reform package. Furthermore, you go on to say that "properly and aggressively propagandized", "wealthcare" contributions will be a "kiss of death".

@jeffroby: 1)the requirements for filing for candidacy are the same for either office. You file a statement of candidacy and a statement of organization with the FEC. Your statement is a fallacy, though a common one. Either way, a primary candidate faces huge odds against an incumbent. Voters have a funny way of liking their own Member, even as they rail against the institution.

2) The House passed a health care reform bill. The fact that it contained an amendment that the two of us find odious is less a mark against the House chamber and more a mark against various pro-choice groups who suffered from a lack of organizational capability and vision and who failed to organize effectively against an amendment that many people saw coming.

@both: Again, I wish you luck, even though I fail to see what your opening for success is. The "fact" that Nader and Null know unnamed rich "donors" that are conveniently just dying to donate to people and organizations, and feel powerless, but only if those people and organizations are efficient is ludicrous - and I'm being kind.

In my experience having been involved with multiple organizations approaching rich donors, invariably these donors are only interested in donating to projects that they are personally staked in. Taking their money invariably means taking their direction - and often in ways that I suspect the two of you would be violently opposed to. There's no such thing as a donor who'll let you take their money and run with it, winsome and fancy free; in other words, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Here's the beautiful thing about your project, and I say this with all kindness: FCP cannot fail; it can only be failed.

What I mean is that if your primary candidate versus say, Mike Ross in Arkansas loses by a wide margin, it must have been because he or she did not properly propagandize and paint Ross as a tool of the "wealthcare" industry; not because she lacked the tools and resources to campaign, and Ross' constituents like him and voted for him. If a donor refuses to see things the same way you do, it's because they're a sellout, not because they have a valid interest in seeing their ROI maximized.

Again, best of luck. I really do hope you succeed, but given my experience over the last five years in progressive politics, I'm not optimistic.

Ad astra, per aspera // Keep calm & carry on
http://www.rafaelnoboa.com


[ Parent ]
Perhaps you are mistaken (0.00 / 0)
the requirements for filing for candidacy are the same for either office. You file a statement of candidacy and a statement of organization with the FEC. Your statement is a fallacy, though a common one.

Sample of primary requirements per FDL's tabulation:

NY
Congress :  1,250
Senate :  15,000

NJ
Congress :  200
Senate :  1,000

OH
Congress :  $85 or 50 signatures
Senate :  $150 or 1,000 signatures

NH
Congress :  $50 or 100 signatures
Senate: :  $100 or 200 signatures

Or as John Lovitz said in A League of Our Own, "That would be more."

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
The point of mentioning rich, idealistic donors was not to suggest that they will be typical (0.00 / 0)
In fact, I expect them to be atypical. However, just because you never ran into any, Null, Nader, and I (indirectly, through my mother) all know that they exist. Whether they choose to donate to a democratic revival, selflessly, remains to be seen.

Likewise, whether 20 million lifelong Democrats, who are nevertheless disgusted with the Democratic party, step up to the plate and donate 1 measely dollar, and thus generate a pot which can make 10 House races competitive, remains to be seen.

FCP candidates who do get funded (i.e., the 'FCP-IR' would be fools not to use those funds to point out that their opponents have received donations from the heartless healthcare industry, whose greed is literally killing the constituents whom they seek to represent. If Mike Ross or anybody else who considers himself a lock thinks that they can coast on their pre-existing popularity, against an FCP-IR candidate who isn't all chummy with the people that are happy to kill and bankrupt him with their greed, all I can say is "good luck with that".

If the FCP-IR candidate loses, we can look to analyze ease such loss, on a case-by-case basis. There is no need to pretend that we a) expect the cause of the loss to be the same, across the board b) we really have any clue at all as to why an FCP-IR candidate, who we know nothing at all about, at this stage, except for the fact that they will embrace the FCP plank will lose a particular race.

My "KISS OF DEATH" sentence may have been stated with rhetorical chutzpah, but the basic point is, I believe, valid.

The best way to find out if it is valid is to put the plan into action, not pre-judge it as a failed strategy. Americans may be jaded by the whole process of bought and paid for politicking in America, but I really can't see the jadedness surviving a strong encounter with viable options that represent them, and who has sufficient $$ to campaign with.

Many can't afford to remain jaded, such as the unemployed jeffroby, or the prinicpal of docudharma who is flat broke, or the homeless who the police kindly allow to congregate in the train station late at night  here where I live (it's getting cold out), or other Americans by the tens of millions. You know perfectly well that Obama inspired by his message of change.

Can they really afford not to vote for real change, even if it comes in a less charismatic package?

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Someone really needs to learn how it's done (0.00 / 0)
I'm not here to defend Chris, Jeff, or anyone else.  I believe their old enough to do so themselves.

This is also the first - and likely only - time I'll ever find a reason to comment on something here, so I have no standing upon which to mount such a defense (if I was so inclined).

That said, if anyone is really interested in starting a third party capable of "forcing" the Democratic Party more towards actually solving problems, you might not want to start with the House or the Senate.

You might want to start by building an organization in all 50 states like the Republicans did in the 1850's (minus about 20+ states), picking off truly progressive Democrats in the same manner as the Republicans built their coalition from the Whigs, Abolitionists, Anti-Masons, etc. to use as ready-made candidates (many of whom already held elective offices).

I believe it was Chris who first made such a suggestion (a really long time ago), and while I also find myself tiring of ALL constant attempts to sell failure regardless of which quarter it eminates, starting from the ground up is probably a really good idea.


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