Obama's Consolidation of the Party

by: Matt Stoller

Wed May 07, 2008 at 19:08

Brownsox blogs.

Over 1.25 million Indianans voted yesterday for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primary.

Over 1.1 million Indianans voted for Jill Long Thompson or Jim Schellinger in the Democratic primary for Governor of Indiana.

In 2004, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry received 969,000 votes in the state of Indiana...in the general election.

That is stunning.  The primary has been exceptionally good for party building.  Obama has created a number of significant infrastructure pieces through his campaign, displacing traditional groups the way he promised he would by signaling the end of the old politics of division and partisanship.

  1. Voter Registration:  Obama has launched a 50 state registration drive.  

    "That's why I'm so proud that today our campaign announced a massive volunteer-led voter registration drive in all 50 states to help ensure every single eligible voter takes part in this election so we can take back Washington for the American people."

    I have heard from several sources that the Obama campaign is sending out signals to donors, specifically at last weekend's Democracy Alliance convention, to stop giving to outside groups, including America Votes.  The campaign also circulated negative press reports about Women's Voices Women's Vote, implying voter suppression.

  2. Obama Organizing Fellows:  Here's Obama describing them:

    Basically what we've done is we've been attracting so much volunteer talent, so many young people who have gotten involved in the campaign, that we wanted to give a handful of them an opportunity to have some more intensive training. So we've asked them to apply for fellowships. I think they're called Obama Fellows. They will get intensive training, and they will be put on staff and will have an experience, starting in June.

    These are unpaid positions, and they will be used to do field organizing, message, and helping to "continue to build the movement".  This is pure leadership development, though it continues the class-based diminution of talent by refusing to pay, a problem outlined in Crashing the Gates.

  3. Money: MyBarackObama.com:  With 1.5 million donors, this campaign has blown away anything we've ever seen in terms of grassroots fundraising.  The technology is all centralized, so Obama knows the name, address, giving patterns, and occupation of every donor out there, as well as social networking information, like who the best raisers are.  He has bypassed Actblue, and will probably end up building in a Congressional slate feature to further party build while keeping control of the data.  

    One email from Moveon to their full list can bring in between $100k to $1M for a candidate, with $1M being the very top end of the range.  With one good email to his list, in a few months, Obama will probably be able to bring in $1-3M for a Senate candidate under attack or split that among several.  10-20% of the money going to Senate candidates this cycle might come from Barack Obama's internet operation.  Stunning.

  4. Field: MyBarackObama.com (MyBO):  MyBarackObama.com is the cornerstone of the campaign, and it will have between 10-15 million opt-in members by election day.  This group can be used for lobbying on legislation, GOTV, and donations.  It's a cross between Moveon.org and the DNC, and with the White House, it can transform progressive politics and further amplify the power of the Presidency.  As coordinated campaigns pick up, and the top of the ticket brings coattails, organizing power is going to further flow to the Obama campaign.

  5. Message and Politics: MyBarackObama.com:  Obama used youtube to push back on Reverend Wright, something he will continue to do to move beyond sound bite politics.  He has a good press shop and a way to push message out to the web.  The campaign has also, despite thousands of interviews with a huge number of outlets, refused to have Obama interact on progressive blogs.  The Fox News situation, where Obama went on Fox News and mismanaged communications, drew criticism from Moveon because taking down Fox News has been a key strategic goal of that organization; nevertheless, the group supported him because of overwhelming adulation from their membership.

    This is a far different strategy than the McCain campaign, who, though he hates blogs, talks to them, or the Clinton campaign, who invites them on her calls.  This is NOT a criticism, by the way, it's obviously worked as a strategy to centralize messaging power around the Obama shop while neutering a potentially off-message rowdy group.  That has its downsides, which I'll get into, but it is a strategy.

    I'm also told, though I can't confirm, that Obama campaign has also subtly encouraged donors to not fund groups like VoteVets and Progressive Media.  These groups fall under the 'same old Washington politics' which he wants to avoid, a partisan gunslinging contest he explicitly advocates against.  

Matt Stoller :: Obama's Consolidation of the Party
You know all that old-style Washington politics preventing real change?  As hard as it might be to handle, in a lot of ways he means that those of us who believe in partisan hard edged combat are part of an outmoded system.  It doesn't actually divide cleanly; old hand Tom Daschle is a key figure and likely to be Obama's chief of staff, and Artur Davis is likely to be his Attorney General.  These are old school Democrats, and Obama's machine is full of the Congressional wing of the party that lost out in 1992 to Clinton and his people.

This isn't a criticism; again, Obama made his bet that the country isn't into ideological combat and wants a politics of unity and hope, and he has won at internally.  In terms of the 'Iron Law of Institutions', the Obama campaign is masterful.  From top to bottom, they have destroyed their opponents within the party, stolen out from under them their base, and persuaded a whole set of individuals from blog readers to people in the pews to ignore intermediaries and believe in Barack as a pure vessel of change.  It's actually very similar to Clinton from 1994-2000, where power and money in the Democratic Party is being centralized around a key iconic figure.  He's consolidating power within the party.

Now here's the part that's unclear.  Obama has successfully remade the Democratic Party already, and shown that old partisan Washington politics is over if you are a Democrat.  Can he do that with Republicans?  By stripping power, money and responsibility from outside groups and opponents, Obama is increasing his control of the party apparatus.  He is also, however, putting everything on his own shoulders.  When the Swift Boaters come back, and they will, it's all on Obama and his movement to hit back.  He's betting that he can strip power from their base just as he stripped power from the old Washington way of doing politics within the Democratic Party.

I do not doubt that he can do this during the general election.  McCain is such a weak candidate, and the Republicans are in such disarray, that a solid White House victory, 5-7 Senate seats, and 40-50 seats in the House are clearly possible.  House Republicans are especially mean right now; insiders tell me they are going to cause problems with the war funding tactics just because they are so depressed from losing in Louisiana and Illinois.  They have no money for the House and the Senate, and a depressed base.  I'm curious about Obama's governing philosophy, as that is where the Republicans are going to make their stand in 2009.  Without traditional outside groups (and he doesn't want them involved, witness his lobbyist ban in his new administration), Obama is going to be relying on the emergent networks that come from his campaign to buttress his priorities, but since we don't actually know what they are, it's hard to figure out what his governing strategy will be.

As Mike Lux wrote earlier, it's time to get ready for Obama as the nominee.  I would amplify this and point out that it's time to get ready for a party that is being taken apart and rebuilt as the Obama movement.  It's incredibly refreshing, in a sense, for politics to be completely reimagined on top of the internet and with a strong focus on leadership development, volunteers, and outside of DC leadership disdainful of partisanship and the give and take of politics-as-usual.  It's also displacing the anti-Bush arguments of the last eight years and the political dynamic it fostered on the left.  DDay wrote about this on Digby's blog the other day.

There's certainly a danger here of relying on projected numbers instead of traditional power bases, though I don't think he'll be abandoning groups like unions and black churches, nor will any progressive movement structures abandon him. But I really think that the Obama campaign is reacting to this demonization campaign from the right by saying "OK, I'll find voters in so many nooks and crannies and make you work in so many states that you won't have a chance to make this narrative work." His response is not necessarily building a progressive electorate; that would be accomplished by plugging into the nascent progressive structures that already exist. Obama appears to want to build an electorate aligned with Obama's principles and values, and fostering greater participation in politics as a means to move the country forward and break the current polarization. Some Democrats would play on the same playing field and try to win it; Obama's building an entirely new field, one where these narratives and negative ads and the need to tailor the entire general election to 10 independent voters in the middle of Ohio won't matter anymore.

I can't say if it will totally work, but that looks to be the strategy. We've been tantalized with these kinds of efforts before; it's actually a very traditional belief that increased turnout is good for Democrats.

All I'll add is that it's time to think through the consequences of a party where there is a new chief with massive amounts of power.  I've been in the wilderness all my political life, as have most of us.  The Clintonistas haven't, and they know what it's like to be part of the inside crew.  We have a leader, and he's not a partisan and he can now end fractious intraparty fights with a word and/or a nod.  His opinion really matters in a way that even Nancy Pelosi's just did not.  He has control of the party apparatus, the grassroots, the money, and the messaging environment.  He is also, and this is fundamental, someone that millions of people believe in as a moral force.  When you disagree with Obama, you are saying to these people 'your favorite band sucks'.

Like many of us, I endorsed Obama, gave him money, and I intend to work to get him elected.  He is attempting to completely rewrite the rules of politics, and we should try to figure out what that means for where we take our meager work.  Obama is now the party leader.  And he has ensured and we have given him the mandate that when he speaks, he speaks for all of us.  I hope he's a vibrant progressive when he gets into office, and we should begin figuring out how to put ourselves in a position to help him take the country in a progressive direction.

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Wow (4.00 / 7)
In a strange sort of way, this is rather inspiring. I mean, in almost no time, the guy has managed to consolidate power totally. At the same time, he's done this in a fashion much different from traditional dictators, or even powerful political figures like Clinton; rather than taking the reigns and giving himself the power and closing the windows so no one can see what he's doing, he's opening up the windows more, and simply giving power to those who share his ideology. Yes, this is what Clinton did (empowering the DLC), but he empowered them around himself and neutered any major figures who could oppose them, while Obama is actually training them. I wish he would allow for partisans like us to be in the group, but it is still an interesting thing to watch.

Former Edwards Supporter, Obama Supporter since January 30, 2008

I agree. It's also exciting that he's bringing young people in (4.00 / 2)
to the party en masse. Marketing 101: get 'em while they're young and promulgate brand loyalty.

[ Parent ]
But if his way works.... (4.00 / 4)
Will you NEED to be a partisan.  If he neuters the republican party this way, then it achieves the same goal.  And if that goal is what you are working for, then there is obviously a place at the table.  

Reminds me of what FDR did and what I think Kennedy was trying to do.  

[ Parent ]
It ain't going to happen (3.00 / 4)
Obama cannot do what Matt and others are talking about. People in Washington are not going to just shrivel up and lose their centers of power. It's amazing to see Matt throw in the towel though.

And the Republicans won't go away. They will find money. Corporate money. Lobbyist money. Religious Winger money. Money from overseas. The problem is in America no one person can make everyone happy. And when people are not happy they will find ways to push back. And pushing back is easy. There are enough people in the heartland who will side with the Right for one reason or another. And when they do all they need is 41 solid Senate votes to stop Obama or anyone else in the WH in their tracks. Our constitution says so.

That Matt and others are becoming shrinking violets shows no sense of reality as far as I am concerned. America is not going to change. In the same way that Bush had full control for 6 years he got stopped in his tracks in 2006. All we needed was the votes from the disgruntled. And Obama will produce plenty of disgruntled people because again one man or one organization simply cannot please everyone.

I don't buy this utopia vision for a second. Just like the Kennedy's who talked about changing too much too soon in terms of stripping people of their power centers got taken out so will Obama in one way or another. Not necessarily assassination but in other ways. There are always other ways when messing with peoples power.

Lastly I'm not all that sure what Matt wrote is factual or if it is a figment of the collective imaginations of the blogosphere. I rather think it is the later and this is much to do about nothing. My God they have crowned this man KING already and crawled back to their corners wondering what the world has in store for them because Obama is going to rule EVERYTHING even the blogs! Please! No one has ever transformed America to this degree other than maybe FDR and he only could do it because America was literally on it knees.

Now there is exaggeration and then there is EXAGGERATION. All this The Boy King talk is definitely EXAGGERATION.

[ Parent ]
Holy Crap!!! (4.00 / 1)
you wrote something that was pretty well thought out and argued that was not rooted in an almost religious bias.

Well done, I actually enjoyed reading this comment and found much about it to agree with! Yes, this is partly a back handed complement, but geez, this was good, why do you have to go one with the other silly assertions so often that only the most rabid fanatical Hillary supporters would buy into.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
You liked this post? I found it incredibly frightening. (4.00 / 3)
I don't buy this utopia vision for a second. Just like the Kennedy's who talked about changing too much too soon in terms of stripping people of their power centers got taken out so will Obama in one way or another. Not necessarily assassination but in other ways. There are always other ways when messing with peoples power.

Am I misinterpreting this? Because to me it sounds like he is saying that Kennedy and other transformational figures sorts "got what they deserved" by being assassinated. All because they "tried to change to much too soon."

Isn't that the entire goal of our progressive netroots movement? To enact vast and fundamental change to our political, social, and media landscape?

On a side note, I think SayItLoad is enormously misinterpreting Matt's diary wrongly. I don't really feel like trying to get in his head right now to figure out why (scary place).

Lastly, I fear he is correct about his main premise. That those with a lot of central power will go through enormous measures to protect that power. But this doesn't mean its a good thing, or somethign which we should be willing to except (Obama deserved to get whacked because he was too uppity!).

I'm surprised Will cosigned this comment usually he is so much more rational.

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

[ Parent ]
Transformation (0.00 / 0)
I think after the dust settles, and the Obama Administration begins to try and GOVERN, it will find GOVERNING is much more difficult than gaming and winning Elections.  Axelrod is like Rove, excellent at finding fault lines and flow lines that draw borad-based support and build coalitions that drive their candidates on top of the wave of the moment.

But, just like Bush found out just how hard it can be to push an agenda through, Obama will hit a brick wall, rise to the level of his inexperience and inadequacies.

And I'm not convinced that he HAS a Progressive agenda at all:  He's at heart an opportunist.  This is the same Obama who was happy to go along with anti-gay zealots, the same Obama who voted to fund the Iraq war time and time again, the same Obama who voted for Cheney's Energy policy, the same Obama who stood on "principle" and against a tax on the oil companies to pay for relief at the pump.

I think Obama is going to be a weak hostage.

A hostage to whatever Cabinet he puts together, just like Bush is.  I just hope for America's sake that whoever advises him on the talent to staff his Cabinet has Progressivist, rather than special-interest genes.

But I won't hold my breath.

My prediction is an Obama Administration, especially if the Rethugs hold the Senate right to filibuster his ideas, will just crawl along, full of sound and fury but fundamentally unable to move past its base of support and build bridges and relationships.  And therefore fundamentally unable to find working solutions to America's HUGE present problems.

[ Parent ]
Agree with what is built (4.00 / 1)
But not about the "taken over totally".  As Clinton has demonstrated, he's put together this network that has about 50% of democrats opting into it.  

Which is still amazing - but it's not all him.  Of that HUGE Indiana number, 50.6 percent voted for Clinton.

What you need to remember is this... (4.00 / 3)
Rank and FIle will buy into Obama's efforts once he is the nom... and once he wins the General, our party will strengthen and grow.

Clinton's main attribute is that she was part of the only winning Democratic Effort since 1976 and the best winner since Kennedy and Johnson.  People like a winning system.  Once Obama proves his system is a winner (as it has been in the Primaries) in the general, you will see MANY MANY MANY converts.

[ Parent ]
Yep. People like winners. I think that was Edwards problem. It was to Obama's advantage that he had never faced a tough election (or lost one). (4.00 / 1)

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

[ Parent ]
but ... (4.00 / 5)
... I've donated to Obama, I'm on his list, and he's subtly encouraged me not to give someone, it's been so subtle I missed it.

same here. n/t (4.00 / 1)

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

[ Parent ]
dude! (4.00 / 1)
clearly that part of the post is in reference to major donors

Me | My Work | Future Majority

[ Parent ]
I didn't mean to imply it was false, which is why I didn't refute it. Just that I hadn't noticed. n/t (0.00 / 0)

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

[ Parent ]
To be fair, the Clinton campaign is seeking party unity too (4.00 / 2)
You got that I was being sarcastic, right?

BEGALA: We cannot win with egg heads and African-Americans. OK, that is the Dukakis Coalition, which carried ten states and gave us four years of the first George Bush.

Seriously though, I wish they would stop insulting me. Yes, I'm a latte-drinking liberal egghead, who the fuck are you? And if your party is not where I belong, then where do I belong?

good riddance to these fuck heads (4.00 / 1)

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
Begala... (4.00 / 1)
That was rich coming from Begala... a rich white TV guy who I'll bet any amount of money has drunk his fair share of Lattes or other types of coffee.

[ Parent ]
State-level action is how we help (4.00 / 10)
We need to begin educating people that it isn't over on November 5th at 12:01AM.  

By December 1st (well maybe Jan 1) we need to be building progressive majorities in the states from the city councils to the legislatures to the state-wide constitutional officers.

We need to subtly encourage people to plan on staying involved next year and to fight hard in 2010 to build progressive power in the states and to retain our congressional majorities.

Then we need to push cutting-edge policies that will be difficult to enact at the federal level.

The Progressive States Network is a great model.


State Governments are key (4.00 / 6)
and they have  the most impact on people's day to day lives.  If regular people want to be involved in politics, as activist-citizens, a great place to focus is on the state level.  

We have heard a lot about Obama's 50 state strategy to get elected, but what about governing and legislating in 50 states?  

[ Parent ]
I think that's for us to define (4.00 / 1)
or our candidates.  Progressive States Network does a nice job of trying to coordinate legislative activities across the states.  Link above.

By necessity Obama and his team will be focused at the federal level.  However, many of the folks trained and developed on his campaign could easily become key leaders and operatives at the state level.

[ Parent ]
the bitterness is palpable (4.00 / 1)
presidential office holders since Ronald Reagan have always held the overwhelming power within their power and within the country. this is just the latest iteration of that.

The sense of sour grapes is kind of annoying here because fundamentally the complaint is that Obama out organized the left technorati that had a four year jump on him. The Obama campaign is what politics looks like when political professionals "get it" and play to win. From Branding to social organizing every progressive group that wants to win in the future should be furiously studying what just went down.

Lastly unlike you suggest, the situation is not static. Obama has support from grassroots corners now because the alternatives are so unbelievably repulsive and the possibility of defeat before last night was still all too real. I think you'll find one year into the Obama administration that fealty will quickly revert to interest channels, as that with the White House secured the battle moves to winning the details on pet issues.  

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

So then... (0.00 / 0)
Back to living out The West Wing?

Me | My Work | Future Majority

[ Parent ]
I dont get the joke (0.00 / 0)
I do wish i did. I just didn't watch West Wing enough. I'm not sure i even saw a whole singular episode.  

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
It's not really a joke (0.00 / 0)
What you describe tracks very well to how the series presents the inner workings of a Democratic White House. It's not very realistic as far as I can tell (Cookie Roberts and Peggy Noonan were consultants!) but it has the same kind of awe-shucks attitude.

Me | My Work | Future Majority

[ Parent ]
hmmm... im certainly not saying awe-shucks (0.00 / 0)
im saying movements coalesce and fragment very quickly. what to do from there is up to the activist. Matt is of the opinion that we have a new juggernaut, I think it will look quite different after a year, no matter how well this campaign was organized - which I think was exceptionally organized.  

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
gotcha (0.00 / 0)
All good. If you ever see the show, you might see why I thought it was a reference.

Me | My Work | Future Majority

[ Parent ]
I'd like to see some REAL sorces (4.00 / 2)
Beacuse frankly Matt I think the stuff about discouraging 527 donations is BS.

Obama had hoped he and McCain would be able to shut down the 527's but McCain has proven he doesn't really want to. Read Bob Bauer's blog. The Obama campaign is not going to take public financing or discourage 527 money. Instead they will attack McCain relentlessly on his hypocrisy on this issue.

The general will be hard though. Don't underestimate the Republican attack machine. The media and all the right-wing will be dead set against him and will use ever smear, every fear tactic in the book. Our job is to help him fight back and to help push him in a progressive direction if he becomes president.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

Obama sharing lists (4.00 / 5)
With one good email to his list, in a few months, Obama will probably be able to bring in $1-3M for a Senate candidate under attack or split that among several.  10-20% of the money going to Senate candidates this cycle might come from Barack Obama's internet operation.  Stunning.

I know this to be true. Obama has at least shared some of his information with the DCCC. For the first time in my life I got a call from the DCCC on a phone number I had never used to register for anything except as a donor for the Obama campaign. So this means they are already sharing lists with other Democratic organizations, which is a good sign.

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

He shared my info (4.00 / 2)
with a Democrat running to be the nominee for governer.  She won by the way.

[ Parent ]
What do you mean by "stripping power"? (4.00 / 2)
Now here's the part that's unclear.  Obama has successfully remade the Democratic Party already, and shown that old partisan Washington politics is over if you are a Democrat.  Can he do that with Republicans?  By stripping power, money and responsibility from outside groups and opponents, Obama is increasing his control of the party apparatus.  He is also, however, putting everything on his own shoulders.  When the Swift Boaters come back, and they will, it's all on Obama and his movement to hit back.  He's betting that he can strip power from their base just as he stripped power from the old Washington way of doing politics within the Democratic Party.

Am I the only one who finds the concept of "stripping power" completely unclear?

Unless you assume that the outside groups have the same fundraising lists as Obama and/or that Obama somehow has the power to overpower all these other groups, I'm not sure that a lot of these assumptions hold up.  

On the Republican side, they still have the corporate media that will shower their spots and issues with publicity regardless of how little money is actually spent on them.  

On the Democratic side, even if you assume that Obama will be elected president, it seems awfully presumptuous to assume that all the old power bases within the party will either wither away or join the Obama juggernaut.

great post (4.00 / 2)
very perceptive. Very interesting.  

great great post (4.00 / 1)
the comments on the other hand were not quite what i expected

[ Parent ]
"class-based diminution of talent" I dispute this... (4.00 / 1)
The "fellows" program is 30 hours/week, unpaid.  I know plenty of folks who work and go to school full time, or volunteer, or take care of family, etc.  I really think it comes down to commitment.  Sure, it'd be easier if they paid folks, but it's really not a prohibitive issue.

The point is ... (0.00 / 0)
paying so they stay long term .. setting up something equivalent to "wing-nut" welfare(I know it is a bad term but we do need something like that)

[ Parent ]
Yes it is, it's hugely prohibitive (4.00 / 5)
It automatically excludes any college kid or grad student who need to earn money over the summer for the upcoming school year.

Plus who pays for housing and food while you're in Chicago or out in the field?  Mommy and Daddy?  Not everyone has a mommy and daddy who can fund their kids explorations and career prep activities.  

[ Parent ]
I am a grad student, and I don't buy it (0.00 / 0)
I had jobs throughout college, and paid for college that way.  It's not that hard to get a 30-hour-per-week job to pay the rent in a shared apartment and then do this organizing work for 30 hours per week.  Working 60 hours per week isn't that bad.

[ Parent ]
I know, I've done it too (4.00 / 2)
60-80 hours a week every summer to pay for college.  Something like 28 days in a row without a day off.

But I always had one job with fixed hours like 8 - 4 and then an evening job in a resturant or something.

Organizing is a different ball of wax.  It requires some sort of flexibility on evenings and weekends - plus whatever day time training requirements are needed.  

And then if you have to relocate for 6 weeks to do the training?  Say June 1 - July 15. How do you find or keep a summer job in your home town or college community when you're hightailing it to Chicago or Cleveland or someplace for the fellowship?

[ Parent ]
housing is being donated (4.00 / 2)
along with the invitation for people to apply for the fellows program was a request for people across the country to let them know if they had a spare room for a fellow to use for 6 weeks. I gather that when they identify the locations for the training programs, they'll then arrange that housing.

So those of us who care about supporting the development of a new generation of organizers might think of offering one a room, eh?

[ Parent ]
Not necessarily prohibitive... (0.00 / 0)
But it strongly skews the distribution of the "fellows" towards the wealthy.  Just look at unpaid versus paid interns; the former are almost always whiter, younger, and wealthier than the latter.  Of course, the most dedicated and talented can make it work no matter what the background, but that doesn't change the effect of non-pay on the overall distribution of the group.

[ Parent ]
I thought that was what I was arguing...? (4.00 / 1)
All I meant was that there were always exceptions, people who no matter how poorly off could make it work.  And my point there wasn't that these people are representative of the type who generally work such unpaid jobs, but was just to head off the "I know a guy who did it" or "I was poor and did it" arguments.  I myself know many exceptional people who have done it.  My point was, that doesn't change the overall effect of limiting such positions to the wealthier.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, if I misread it (0.00 / 0)
All too often people use the I knew a poor person who only slept 2 hours a night for 20 years while raising 3 kids on a minimun wage salary and putting themselves through school

If they can do it, anyone can...

And that attitude unfortunately permeates a large part of the progressive movement.

We haven't even discussed the probability that you'll need to own and insure a car for many of these fellowships.  

[ Parent ]
This Strikes Me As A Rather Strange Post (4.00 / 4)
Not a whole lot of evidence for some of the more grandiose claims.  Some of the projections--how much money Obama may be able to raise, for example--seem plausible, though, of course, unproven.  Others, not so much.

Like it or not, the aspiration to create a non-partisan politics is at odds with the very structure of our political institutions, from the winner-take-all single-member districts that define most of the legislative bodies in the country, to the electoral college.  Also, like it or not, where one party systems do exist, the result is invariably tyranny.

There are, of course, powerful yearnings to be free of partisan strife.  There are also powerful yearnings to eat so much ice cream that your burst.

Such yearnings can be productive--but only if they are restrained, and melded with other yearnings--such as the yearning not to explode--if nothing else, in order to eat more ice cream tomorrow.

Which is why I can't help but think that now may be a time for a particular form of madness--a form that may seem necessary, and even justified as a means for throwing off the BushCo madness, and all the madness before it that paved the way for it.  But if that counter-madness persists, then we will be in danger of replicating the folly of the Republicans over the past 30-40 years.  

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Great Consensus (4.00 / 1)
I think the real opportunity isn't so much in transcending partisanship, but in realigning it within the context of a real national consensus. I'm thinking of The Public and It's Problems here, the way in which we might be able to make something constructive out of differences via discourse.

If we can't agree on basic terms to argue over -- which is maybe an impossible pipe-dream -- it's hard to have any kind of productive politics w/o dominion.

Me | My Work | Future Majority

[ Parent ]
info (4.00 / 2)
You may not think it's well-sourced, and I'm not a full time reporter.  But I'm pretty confident that I'm correct in the analysis of power.  In terms of Obama and his politics, I agree.  It's nuts to think that partisanship is gone.  I tried to gently imply that it won't be gone for long, without saying this too stridently so that the tone would be perceived as anti-Obama.

[ Parent ]
I think your larger point was correct... (4.00 / 1)
about the enormous power that he has already consolidated and that he will probably obtain even more power within the party in the very near future. But to make light of what he has managed to accomplish would be ridiculous.

I don't think anybody, not even Obama's supporters think that "partisanship is gone." Speaking for myself, I understand that as him meaning that he will try to reach accross the aisle and grab some of the independents/Republicans who would are currently voting against their own best interest and are beginning to see how silly their party is in certain ways (stem cell research, global warming, ect). These are the ones that are up for grabs. I certainly don't interpret it to mean that Obama will be a "centrist" or anything less than a progressive (who sometimes makes compromises).

In response to Paul I don't think anybody wants to get rid of our two-party system (I'd like to add more parties). I think the main goal of this initiative should be to move the Republicans to the left, so they are not so far out in la la land. This new non-neocons will resemble our current DLCers, with a few policy differences. At the same time our Democratic party will more closely resemble the progressive movement. This I think is a reachable worthy goal.

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

[ Parent ]
I think that the "nonpartisan appeal" (4.00 / 1)
is misunderstood. No one should doubt Obama's will to elect Democrats. You're not going to see him endorse a Republican anytime soon. I think it's more like we have to get past the trench warfare posture we've had for the past several years, the siege mentality. For one thing, it's a defensive posture. And it doesn't allow us to govern effectively when competing interests don't understand the value of coalition-building.

Now, I think what Matt's describing is that Obama went outside the traditional power bases of the Democratic Party. I think this was mostly out of necessity. He was, after all, running against a Clinton. But what I think it allowed him to do was build his own movement, and that movement is now the power base of the Democratic Party.  

Further Reading

[ Parent ]
No Paul its not about selling out to Cheney (4.00 / 1)
Its about forming a coalition with a set of the sane people that were fooled by the Conservative republicans that took over that party. Dont break one single principal ever Mr. Rosenberg. But if we can explain 'harm-reduction' to a percentage of the drug concerned, to the prolife voter, if we apply our values every time, we might be able to create a centre left coalition. Maybe when you see the demographic addon to our coalition you'll understand. The healthcare-aunt, the bring-em-home couple... I dont know how to describe the voters that are choosing democrats when in previous struggles they might have been silent or independent or republican. But its happening and Obama's calling to them by name is helping.

Obama will not let Republicans in the Senate foist the tax 'holiday' on the country any more than he would let Clinton. Does that give you a border clear enough? That isnt the reaching out Obama is talking about.


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

[ Parent ]
Never Said It Was About Selling Out To Anyone (0.00 / 0)
much less an inhuman presence like Cthulu.

I hope your optomism is justified.

Me?  I'd just like to take a little less on faith.  More works, please.

Like, how's about Obama puts his foot down and sez, "FORGET Telco Amnesty!  Anyone who goes for that I'm going to cut off at the knees."???

I mean, retroactively immunizing Telco's for violating people's privacy?  How could any sort of reformer let that slide by, just as he's assuming leadership of the party?

Actions >> words.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I wish he would do what you suggested... (0.00 / 0)
but I think both of us (and others) are prejudging someone. "Obamaphiles," as some like to call them, are prejudging and making a lot of optimistic assumptions about Obama's commitment to progressivism; much of which is unproven.

At the same time the Obama skeptics are making prejudgements themselves, assuming Obama will cave in or not govern sufficiently progressively simply based on him not using the exact rhetoric you would like him to.

Only time will tell who is right about this. Obama certainly isn't as much of a progressive or lefty as myself, but I think he is a step in the right direction. The best step we have a choice of taking during at this time. Obama is missing some of the bigger picture, but so was Newton as per Paul's (quoted) analogy.  

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

[ Parent ]
Paul you are nuanced and subtle in your worries here (4.00 / 2)
So I won't be.  We both know some history.

Matt uses the word  consolidation.  There are other words like cntralization of authority, the sole arrogation of power.....by moving masses or mobs....

Obama is going to redefine liberalism and progressivism so that he is the final arbiter....and who knows what it becomes....And forget the principles the methods for doing it will be mass control.

Sorry....this is worse than even I expected.

They are going after other groups that have power they want like Women's Voices and Vote Vets.....That is scary..This is something that should be truly alarming.  These people are his and our ideological allies  not our ideological enemies,  and yet he wants to undermine and maybe destroy them..Do it my way or the highway....or we will use our mighty list to hound you to extinction.  This is the worst sign yet.

By the way Matt is wrong, the Clintons, in the 90's never had that kind of power.  If they had, they would have made sure that the health insurance players never deployed Harry and Louise....I was there when they floundered as the right went after universal health care.

What he thinks the Obama movement is aiming for is complete control.  He's admiring of the execution and he's trying to be an optimist so he wants to he thinks it's good.  I don't.

There are other names for this kind of organization...Brecht talked about it.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Here is the right wing troll line. (4.00 / 1)
This was used earlier, most notably at mydd.com. Because Obama's coalition won the primary, he has too much power. Because he has a more effective organization, he is scary. Because he has a lot of commitment from volunteers he is the equivalent of a drug. I assume the grat majoriy of the postings are from right wingers, but there are plenty of enablers there coughjeromecough.

It didnt work then, Obama won the prmary anyway. It wont work in the general either. For those enablers who promote this line, it is ugly and anti-democratic. For right -wing trolls, your inability to string together rational arguements is your foil, a Shakespearean flaw.

They are going after other groups that have power they want like Women's Voices

"Womens Vote Womens Voices" has been exposed using lies to suppress votes. There may be legal consequences for them in the future, but the exposure of their behaviour is their shame, no one elses. 'Cept debcoop of course who blantantly, but ineptly tars herself with the brush, and adds to it by suggesting

.That is scary..This is something that should be truly alarming

Because we need o be worried when anti-democratic activists are exposed?

I smell Rush Limbaugh.


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

[ Parent ]
I want an apology from you right now (4.00 / 2)
Here is the right wing troll line.

Look at my number here, at Dkos it is 4025. I have never voted for a Republican in my life.  I have been a progressive for longer that you probably have been alive.  I am a Democratic party activist and a Democratic party official.

Your response to me and your attitude to Women's Voices is just the kind of fall in line attitude that smacks of no thinking at all.  Matt and most progressive activists would not agree with you about WVWV....It has been an enormously important asset in getting disenfranchised people of all kinds to register to vote and that helps the Democratic party.


I have hdd this concern about Obama from the beginning....and you smelling Rush Limbaugh from someone with my history, my principles and my values is all the proof needed to say that my concern has a basis.


"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Here is a link to more information about the WvWv (0.00 / 0)

I'm not taking a side her, although I think a lot of this is disingenious. He shouldn't have attacked you. And the fact you have been a lifelong democrat and activist ect. doesn't make your argument any stronger. Thats a logical fallacy.

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

[ Parent ]
No - it is the fear of change (4.00 / 4)
real change - not just the bumpersticker kind.  And I think we need to be aware of it and undestand that a lot of folks do not understand what is happening and it is scary.  We can have some empathy, eh?

Also, the underlying, strong racism in our society is adding fuel to the fire "Ack!  Obama is out to enslave us".  But that can be dealt with by exposing and talking about it.  

If Clinton had capitalized on the power of organizing through the internets and  the power of free-flowing, fast information - sexism would have been the fuel to the fire "Ack! Women are taking over....run....hide"

This is effecting the blogasphere more I think.  There is some intense paranoia & conspiracy fears going on, because this change & shifting of how politics is done is scary for some people.  Especially ones who aren't immersed in what is happening via communications (facebook, myspace, digg, twitter, youtube, etc).

But remember, we need our activists who came before this change.  They have incredible information and experience.  Even though the paranoia is frustrating.......so is not understanding what is actually happening.  Instead of calling each other names we should just talk more about what is happening, and not assume everyone "gets it".

And really Clinton supporters need to understand that Obama is an incredibly intelligent, charismatic leader.  Just like Clinton is an incredibly intelligent, charismatic leader.  And it is a good thing.

Obama just saw the change coming and used it effectively to win the nomination, and probably the election.

Neither of them are hell-beasts who are out to mind control the populus (although with living under Bush for the last 8 yrs - paranoia can be expected)

[ Parent ]
Well Said, Sisterfish! (0.00 / 0)
There are very legitimate concerns here.  But paranoia is not the answer.  Better dialogue is.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
When could we start the criticism? (4.00 / 10)
I'm an Obama supporter, and have developed a real antipathy to HRC based on her campaign these last couple months.  But I have some serious reservations about Obama: his policies don't seem very progressive, and frankly I find the idea of "unity" to be off-putting.  Liberal democracies are about making your way in a world filled with difference and disagreement, and I have an instinctual resistance to cults-of-personality like Obama's.  I believe Obama is much better than Clinton, and worlds better than McCain, but it's going to really suck if we put all this effort into electing him and then he runs the country from his center-left, top-down, no-outsiders machine for 8 years.  Maybe I'm basing this too much on the low-level volunteers I know, who of course have no say in strategy or policy, but I don't want a repeat of the locked-out feeling us progressives felt during the Clinton years.  I know this is borrowing trouble right now, when he's not even the official nominee yet, but it certainly does trouble me how thoroughly he shuns the original grass-roots internet left.

If people know better though, I'd be happy to learn about all the ways he's been working with the established left off and on the internet to further our causes.

I take it as a good sign .. (0.00 / 0)
then while you support Obama .. you can be critical of him too ... it is as it should be

[ Parent ]
Sure (4.00 / 1)
I criticize everyone I support :)

[ Parent ]
Unity, Hope, and Change are all campaign rhetoric. There might be some truth to them but the point is effective marketting. n/t (0.00 / 0)

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.

[ Parent ]
not encouraging (0.00 / 0)
I must say, as a vision of the next 8 years, this is a little frightening.  I hope you're wrong about how he'll run the party.

[ Parent ]
Read Booman's stuff on Obama (0.00 / 0)
starting with this: Understanding Victory

He sums up Obama very nicely:

Make no mistake. Obama is a multiracial child of Hawaii, an academic/urban/liberal, with a background in community activism. This guy has knocked doors in the inner city, just as many of us have done. He knows our concerns in his bones. And he's our nominee.

Booman's been very prescient on this whole race.  One of his key points has been to focus on who the candidates are bringing with them to the halls of power.  If you look at it that way, its very clear that Obama is a significant change from the triangulation of the past.


[ Parent ]
Identity versus policy (4.00 / 1)
I love his identity; when I read the long article about his mother in the New York Times a couple months ago I was like Wow, this guy actually shares my urban multicultural quasi-hippy background.  Booman's argument is that we should judge him according to his background -- which indicates his true preferences and how he will seek to govern -- rather than on what we've seen recently, how he has "had to compensate by running on a fairly centrist platform."  But I'm not complaining that he hasn't "paid due deference to the blogosphere gatekeepers" -- I'm not a gatekeeper, for one thing.  I'm just worry that, if he finds centrism and top-down grass-roots organization (if that isn't a contradiction) necessary now, how do I know he won't find it necessary when President?  

[ Parent ]
It's more than just identity (0.00 / 0)
It's the advisers and where Obama gets his advice.  Having Bill Bradley and Gary Hart in his kitchen cabinet or even in appointed positons is worth the price of admission alone.

Look for Samantha Powers to return after Obama's elected.  

Lots of voices we haven't fully heard in the party during the Clinton dominance.  While I'm certain I'll be wishing for the Obama administration to push more progressive legislation, I think we will finally see a break with the past in our politics.

It'll be tough and there will be a backlash, but we'll get there.  

[ Parent ]
So to return to my original non-rhetorical question... (0.00 / 0)
I agree having all these people on board is a good sign.  Given that I'm just asking this as a healthy skeptic, and not as an attack, my question is: when do we start seeing this left-wing policy?  Obviously not before he's elected, right?  Right after that?  Or does he have to spend time building D-R coalitions after taking office?  By year 3, first-term presidents usually have to start heading center-ward again to prepare for the next election.  So should I wait for year 2 to start complaining if, for some reason, the promised progressivism continues to remain merely a promise?

[ Parent ]
I would love (4.00 / 3)
to see John Edwards as Atty. General. His campaign was so strong on holding the corporations accountable for their collective screwing of everyone except the ultra-rich, it'd be nice to have someone actually on the people's side playing sheriff for once. Or, at least, the possibility of that.

I really hope Obama's non-partisan-mania doesn't preclude him from looking at Edwards, especially if it's for AG.

[ Parent ]
Agreed (0.00 / 0)
There are a LOT of us who'd like to see that.  I don't think it will happen.  He didn't come out supporting Obama when he had the chance, so I think Obama will appoint others.

[ Parent ]
if it only comes down to personal loyalty (4.00 / 1)
then my opinion of Obama will go way down. It's not that he has to choose Edwards for a top Cabinet post or VP or this former Edwards supporter is walking, but if he fills AG with someone like Daschle just because he was around from the beginning...

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
AG more important than VP (4.00 / 1)
ignoring the transformation Cheney has put on the VP office for a second, would people consider the AG post more important that the VP post?

the president dieing is a singular extreme case, so I mean just in terms of day in day out who ends up influencing the country more?

i too would really like to see Edwards in the AG slot. Since Hillary seems to have decided to fight to the bitter end maybe Edwards could still negotiate for AG with an endorsement.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
OK -is this too wildly abstract? (0.00 / 0)
If Edwards becomes Atty General his job will be to enforce the laws already written on the sly wily corporations.

The problem with that is its time to change the rules. They run things, they shouldnt. Time for new rules, not traffic tickets.

Someone tell John Edwards he isn't highway patrol, he's Thom Jefferson.


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

[ Parent ]
thanks for the link (0.00 / 0)
that was a good article.

[ Parent ]
Tom Daschle is the icing on the cake (4.00 / 2)
When I found out he supported Obama and that Obama highly prized his advice, I knew that was the final confirmation about why I wouldn't support him.

I just finished reading dibgy on Timmeh and how in 2008,  he declared last night that the Democratic nomination was over just like in 2000 he declaed with his math that George Bush was the president.  

And on Jan. 21st the Senate Minority leader, Daschle,  goes on MTP and says that Gore really won....Timmeh's eyebrows knitted together, he glared and roared at Tom Daschle " Are you saying George Bush is not legitimate"  Daschle gulped and swallowed and immediately backed down..."Of course not, of course not"  and never another word passed his lip to challenge George Bush.  The way he dealt with the Senate caucus was also to never really challenge George Bush...Even when he became Majority Leader because Jeffords left the Republican party, he caved when he should have stood for something.  Even though he could have taken control he let Trent Lott schedule the Bush tax cut vote which Bush won.  Daschle could have derailed it and yet his idea of comity was to let George Bush have his biggest domestic victory ever.....

If those are the kind of people...oh did I mention that Daschle voted for the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.. that tells us something.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Locked-out (4.00 / 3)
That's been the perception I've gotten as well, directly and indirectly. The Obama campaign, like the Cylons, seems to have a plan. None of us have a damn clue what it is though, and the worst possibility isn't that their plan is authoritarian in nature -- an effective authoritarian leftist would at least get some things done -- it's that there really isn't a plan, and all this opacity is just a front to hide the lack of coherent vision for governance.

Time will tell. Hopefully they'll open up. Doesn't feel likely, but there's always hope.

Me | My Work | Future Majority

[ Parent ]
As an Obama supporter (0.00 / 0)
I'm a bit insulted you compare Obama to the bad guys on Battlestar Galactica.

[ Parent ]
Yeah... (0.00 / 0)
There's a lot of moral grey area on that show, but they still slaughtered billions of people - so, maybe not the best comparison.  

Further Reading

[ Parent ]
wow (4.00 / 1)
Wow. This is where we're really at? You seriously think I'm saying Obama wants to destroy humanity? You don't think it might just be a tongue-in-cheek pop culture reference? :)

Me | My Work | Future Majority

[ Parent ]
Hey... (0.00 / 0)
It's better than the right-wing blog that said Hillary was Laura Roslin and Obama was Gaius Baltar. They were actually serious about that comparison. And that was before Baltar became the leader of a messianic cult.

Further Reading

[ Parent ]
Well, You Never Can Trust Wingers With Speculative Fiction (0.00 / 0)
They make such a hash of reality, but they're actually worse with speculative fiction.

Christian conservative Buffy fans freaking out over Willow coming out as a lesbian.

What were they thinking watching Buffy in the first place?

Knitting.  That's what they should stick to. And if they never want to pearl left after knitting right, well, nobody gets hurt but the sweater.

Or shawl.  Whatever.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Come to think of it... (4.00 / 1)
Doesn't John McCain bear a striking resemblance to Col. Tigh?

You know what that means, right? John McCain is a Cylon!

Further Reading

[ Parent ]
Not so bad (0.00 / 0)
If nothing else, Brother Cavil would be a much better Chief of Staff than Tom Daschle.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Obama's movement is a mixed blessing (4.00 / 4)
Matt, this was an excellent post. One of your best in a while.

It is refreshing to see someone build a new, parallel power structure so as to allow as to elect a Democrat who is tied to the old party machinery.

Overall I, like several of the commenters above, find this refreshing. But your post also brings out the single biggest limitation of Obama's machine: it will not outlast Obama. The guy is so utterly unique in so many ways that his "Movement" really is tied to him.

People like to throw around the "Cult of Personality" insult, but that's just a way of saying that an awful lot of people are quite taken with this one utterly unique guy -- and I see nothing wrong with that. When you find somebody who is so right for the times (and many of us think he is, Paul Rosenberg, even though we're partisans), then hell yeah you should ride that horse all the way to the finish line.

But in 8 years, what happens then? Will Obama's coalition be transferrable to anyone else? To say that that would be tricky is an understatement. That's why his VP is actually so crucial -- not to win the 2008 election (he's got at least a 70% chance of that, maybe more), but to give the movement somewhere to go. And to be honest, I don't see any of the VP possibilities as ones who could take a coalition like that and keep it going, except maybe John Edwards (who is not going to be the running mate anyway).

So while this should, by all rights, be the start of another long era of liberal Democratic dominance in government, I wonder if in 8 years we'll be right back where we started. I think the best way to forestall that is to work AGGRESSIVELY on the tenor of the American media over the next 8 years.

That's why I think we need a VP who might not (4.00 / 1)
try to win in '16.

Obama can essentially decide who the next president will be after that and make it someone young who shares his message. There will be someone like that by then and Obama can groom them. It needs to be someone who represents his new coalition and preferably a women.

Who could that be? Possibly Donna Edwards but I think it will be someone we still don't know of.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
optimistic view (4.00 / 2)
Obama (and Clinton) have widened the possibilities tremendously. At least now we can look at ALL Democrats as potential leaders - whether they are black, hispanic, women, etc.  I find this encouraging, because an infusion of diverse leaderships styles and backgrounds could be a huge gain for the Democratic Party...and ups the odds to find someone equally charismatic.

the question is whether Obama will help the next generation or fight them every step of the way.  Another infuriating question that won't be answered until we get down and dirty into his Presidency.

and I totally agree with taking on the MSM, this election madness is giving us an opening and we should run with it.

[ Parent ]
That's a nice way to look at it (4.00 / 1)
But I don't see it that way.  Strong presideents can coexist with other power structures. It is  negative that they are going after them....it's one thing for organiztions to die a natural death...the times change,,,,the issue has been met and solved, another organization supersedes you...

If what Matt is describing, esp re Women's Voices (women, voting, enfranchisement) and VoteVets and the Progressive majority then it's telling you another story.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
VoteVets (0.00 / 0)
I don't understand why that organization would be targeted.  They are filling a void that is both strongly needed and good to be associated with.  Personally, I think they're one of the  best and I strongly support them.

So much consolidation of power, and trying to cut off independent advocate groups -- makes me really uneasy.

[ Parent ]
Reading the tea leaves... (0.00 / 0)

My biggest problem with these people has always been that they don't really want to share information, or open up. They are consciously opaque, choosing the path of the cypher.

It's effective, but ultimately there's no role for me to play there other than as a general supporter and voter, and it makes me worry about what they'll actually do when in power. We have no way of knowing how or what agenda will actually be pursued.

Me | My Work | Future Majority

my.barackobama.com (0.00 / 0)
Just wanted to note that I have my own page on this site; I have had it since January, I donate regularly, small amount per month and I make phone calls and look for events.  I am the "regular white woman over 60" who is not a HRC supporter and the one that the pollsters can't seem to find.  There are many of us.

The One Problem with Obama. . . (0.00 / 0)
His rapid response team sucks - that's probably not their fault, exactly, because the campaign message relies on Obama more than anyone else.  The most ironic part about his using Deval Patrick's words is that no other campaign relied more heavily on the candidate crafting a message more than Obama's.

That said, Obama grab Clinton's rapid response team as soon as possible.  Having seen it in action against Obama. . .it really is an impressive machine.

maybe its ok (0.00 / 0)
One of the interesting things with Obama is you can't believe just how long it takes him to respond to things. But generally when he does is pretty thoughtful and impressive. During the silent time you sit there going COME ON MAN!!! but then later you're like, wow, ok that worked out pretty well. And maybe having someone force that kind of patience and waiting on us would not be so bad in our high speed immediate gratification snarky culture.

who knows?

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
The problem is. . . (0.00 / 0)
That the campaign waits for Obama.  He needs someone who knows his mind, and responds as Obama would.  

[ Parent ]
Wow... (4.00 / 4)

We are the same age.  I have been reading you for about 3 years (or since you first became a FPer on MyDD.  Sometimes I agree with you, sometimes I don't.  But I have always respected your writing and think you do a hell of a job.

Hands Down... to me anyway... I think this is one of the best things you have ever written and may be the BEST.

Great Job on this!  This should be cross posted on MyDD, Kos and all the Left Blogs as well as Obama's site.  Its THAT fucking good.

Interesting post (0.00 / 0)
Of course, all this will only be true IF Obama is elected President--and that's far from certain. But it's something  definitely worth thinking about.  

Documentation of history as it happens. (0.00 / 0)
Thanks for this, deep insight, like common sense, eloquently but simply said. That is where we are now, and the future looks doable.

The strength Obama, and the Obama movement, pulled from this, the kitchen sink and the withering shit storm, is written about, described, quite nicely in the Washington Post.

Writing for Newsweek magazine online, columnist Jonathan Alter said Obama had not only proved himself the virtual nominee but removed doubts about his resilience. "The glass jaw that Hillary Clinton and John McCain thought they saw turned out to be an illusion," Alter wrote. "In the jingle of the old Timex watch ads, he took a licking and kept on ticking."


And during this time Obama threw done again, standing on complex truth, not easy-to-get-along, simplistic lies. Like he has dine all campaign, no payments in Pennsylvania, no gas tax holiday distraction, Obama stood taller when the going got rough.  

Better than we could hope, better than I as a supporter hoped. The real deal this time. We have a cognitive surplus in our hands -so lets get smart, lets organize states and join coalitions and discuss and discuss and vote.

This is good story to go into the general with. Obama has some authority now. Moral authority. Make some calls, discuss and vote, this is going to be a transformative election.


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

You've taken to a whole new level (0.00 / 0)
the concept of the Obama koolaid.

WTF does it mean to reject the "same old Washington politics?"  Does that mean to deal fairly with your enemies?  Then why is he waging war against Vote Vets and Progressive Media?  The Obama movement of nondivisiveness will crush all enemies (as you say "destroyed their opponents within the party, stolen out from under them their base") - because, of course, they're divisive and itr isn't divisive to destroy them.  Somehow Moveon.org, one of the most aggressive groups around, isn't divisive.  Somehow the Bush Dog push, which is a purge of Democrats, doesn't make the list of divisive organizations, either.  

You're not divisive if you're for Obama, no matter how baldly partisan or brutal in your purge.  And if you're not in the fold, you're part of the "old way" of politics (which of course, is indistinguishable from the "new way").  This would be Orwellian, if it weren't so stupid.

The record turnouts - half of whom came to the polls to vote AGAINST Obama - is more evidence of him "uniting" the party.

I hope you've been partying hard over Obama's recent triumph, because it's frightening to contemplate that you wrote this cold sober.  

Why is it that (0.00 / 0)
if they didn't vote for Obama, they obviously voted against him?  If you had used McCain and noted that 25% of the people in IN voted for someone who isn't still in the race instead of McCain, that would make sense.  They voted a preference of Clinton over Obama.  Yes, I saw they polling data about who won't vote for the other candidate.  You think that those numbers will still be true in October when the economy still sucks and Iraq is still, well Iraq?  I doubt it.  Also, I have read comments from you that are just as divisive as any other, so get off your high horse.

[ Parent ]
Three points (4.00 / 1)
1.  I don't have a high horse.  I didn't claim to be not divisive.  I didn't claim that my candidate was going to transform politics by a post-partisan model and then explain how he was "uniting" the party by "destroying" his opposition.  "Divisive" isn't necessarily an insult in my vocabulary, but acting divisively while claiming not to is another matter.

2.  I don't follow the comment on voting "against" Obama or having a "preference" for Clinton.  It appears to me that Matt gave Obama credit for high turnout and claimed the high turnout was related to Obama unifying people.  But if people weren't voting for him, he can't take the credit for unifying, can he?  They were either voting for a Democrat, in general, in which case the entire party shares the credit with George Bush, or they were voting against Obama, in which case Obama can take credit for the motivation, but not for unity.  All evidence points to a little of both happening.

3.  I don't know if the Clinton supporters, in general, will come around, and neither does anyone else.  However, I think portraying Obama's victory as a movement "destroying" elements of the Democratic party is a bad way to persuade them.

[ Parent ]
In fairness to Matt (4.00 / 2)
I don't think he's lived Obama's politics before.  That's why they seem "new" to him.  They date to 1980 - a string of empty promises for "morning in America," a national movement, and dominance of the youth vote.  I think people forget that the Reagan revolution was a youth movement:

"A generation ago, Republicans owned the youth vote.

In 1984 and 1988, first Ronald Reagan and then George H.W. Bush won first-time voters and under-29 voters by big margins: 20 points in 1984. The twentysomethings of the 1980s remain the most Republican cohort in the electorate to this day."


There are specific ways to capture the youth vote: a message of hope, no matter how empty, charisma, and appearance that you're against the status quo of their parents, and organization.  Obama admires Reagan - his tactics are Reagan's.  Now, it may be different when a Democrat does it, but it isn't new politics.  It's just a shell game he doesn't remember, but the Clinton voters do.

[ Parent ]
the game has changed (4.00 / 1)
you haven't lived Obama's politics before either (although I do appreciate your experience and insight concerning what you lived through)

We cannot ignore the power of swift, uncensored communication in this election/society.  And that is why a comparison between the youth of Reagan vs. the youth of now falls short.

The under-50's understand the anti-authortarianism inherent in mass, open communication.  We are a angry, bitter, rebellious, forsaken bunch (watch Lil' Bush if you have any doubts).  Do you think we will not respond if Obama ignores our agenda and starts fucking us over?  The pushback will be quicker and harder then any we have seen in past history.  The medium makes this possible.  It encourages dissent and information - two things a cult leader fears.

I understand where you are coming from - but you have to take into account what has changed since Reagan's times.  You can't make a comparison w/o acknowledging how the internets have changed society.  

I also think a lot of younger generations don't quite get what life was like pre-internets and this is why Net Neutrality is sooo important.  We must understand that this vehicle for two-way, mass communication can be taken away and that would be very, very bad

[ Parent ]
The evidence? (4.00 / 1)
I see that the internet is a more efficient way to raise money than mail or phone solititations.  But I don't see any anger in the youth vote or effectiveness of the internet for nonmainstream causes.  

The "angry, rebellious" young voters that have swarmed to Obama get a corporate Democratic candidate, who proposed the weakest of the health care initiatives and expressed admiration for Republicans as the party of ideas.  If the youth vote had propelled Kucinich, or even Edwards, to the fore, I would be impressed with the anger and passion, and astonished by their power.  

Obama's "agenda" is the same as the rest of the centrist Democrats - I'm at a loss to understand how it's even possible that he could betray a progressive agenda in a way he hasn't already.  And, if he does betray the agenda, what does the youth vote do?  Back Kucinich or Nader?  Vent on blogs?  

As I argued elsewhere on this board, a primary weakness of the internet is that it creates communities that are 3000 miles wide and an inch deep - except for very mainstream entities, which make moves carefully based on polling and public relations experts, the tendency is for movements to be short lived because they fragment so easily over small differences.  Net neutrality or not, there is every reason to believe that the established polictical operations will dominate the net permanently, just as they do now, by outmarketing their competition.  Just as Obama did, in fact, by an expensive, poll-tested internet media strategy.

Obama is a teddy bear older brother candidate; Reagan was avuncular.  They do/did well with youth precisely because they aren't angry, bitter, hard and cynical, and they make young people, uncertain of how to make their way, hopeful for the future.  The Reagan/Obama youth movements are the opposite of the angry, rebellious youth movements of the sixties - co-opting young people into the system, with vague and false promises of new directions.  I can't think of a way to say this without coming across as a cynical, dismissive, old person: it is a movement away from maturity, not towards it, for everyone.

[ Parent ]
history (0.00 / 0)
Ah, for perspective.

Face it, kanzeon, progressive is now the middle of the road.  It's a tragedy for humanity and the earth, but here we are.  And it's not going to improve by complaining about it being that way, certainly not by anger or bitterness or spitefulness.  Anger, bitterness and spite are very conservative tactics - they come from fear of change, from fear of being attacked.

Moving the middle back to the middle is going to be a long, tedious, hard task and we're so desperately far behind on the things we need to be doing instead that we need to get on it today.

Complaining won't make it, won't bring out society close to where we need to be.  It's going to take coordinated convincing of the fearful, spiteful and bitter.

Now is not the time to whine.

[ Parent ]
I don't understand. (0.00 / 0)
I didn't like Reagan's policies and I think he is way over rated for many things, most notabley the fall of the USSR.  But he did build a coalition that arguabley lasted 25 years.  If Obama does the same coalition building and actually does some good things with it, will that not be good for America?  
As to your point on who is bringing in voters, I think the answer lies in the diary.  I live in Indiana and I was visited twice by Obama people canvassing my neighborhood, I only recieved mailers from Clinton.  On NPR two days ago, a man from West Virginia called in wondering where HRC was.  He had been contacted several times by Obama supporters.  I realize that two examples aren't enough to draw large conclusions, but I do feel that it is fair to say that Obama should get credit for bringing in more new voters as the diary suggests.  As for what happens to HRC's voters in the general, I  honestly believe that boils down to just how much race still matters in America.  Let's face it, Obama's and HRC's policy differences were not that far apart.  What rationale would people have for switching to McCain, whose policies are much like the current president?  The honest answer to me is that one is white and one is black.      

[ Parent ]
They didn't come to vote AGAINST Obama... (0.00 / 0)
They came to vote FOR Clinton. Right?

I'm just absolutely thrilled that I have a Presidential candidate to vote FOR.  

Further Reading

[ Parent ]
Here's what could be done (4.00 / 2)

Like many of us, I endorsed Obama, gave him money, and I intend to work to get him elected. He is attempting to completely rewrite the rules of politics, and we should try to figure out what that means for where we take our meager work. Obama is now the party leader. And he has ensured and we have given him the mandate that when he speaks, he speaks for all of us. I hope he's a vibrant progressive when he gets into office, and we should begin figuring out how to put ourselves in a position to help him take the country in a progressive direction

Ok - here's what should be done. Remember all those folks in Appalachian country that don't like Obama?  We should be organizing campaigns out there to find out what they want.  You know that 90% black voting block that he's got?  Someone ought to go talk to them and find out what's on their mind (and yes - talk to the people - not necessarily the politicians, especially those who went in the opposite direction of their constituents).  Organize people to get up some ideas and then...

submit them to the campaign.

Yep.  The campaign has a section for submitting ideas.  It looks like this:


Speak your mind and help set the policies that will guide this campaign and change the country.

Clicking on the link brings up this hopeful message:

MyPolicy: What Do You Think?

The best, most comprehensive plan for change in our country will include your ideas and your feedback. America needs a president with a mandate from the people, and everyone deserves a voice in shaping our next president's agenda.

Take a moment to share your ideas. Over the coming months the best ideas will be featured and incorporated into the campaign's policy proposals. Be as broad or specific as you want.
I don't know if this is legacy- if policy is already set in stone. But, since it's still on the site (under every single issue), there's no reason to not use the link.  Organizing groups of 5 to 10 people to come up with ideas and then submitting them - and letting the campaign know that this is what's happening - is a great way to get the grassroots involved in shaping the campaign. 

 Interestingly - I've sent two issues in, have heard nothing, and when I called the campaign - the volunteer I spoke with didn't know what I was talking about.  Clearly this isn't a well used feature on the site.  I think a good grassroots effort would be to get a dialogue going between the campaign and the American people on the subjects of concern to them.  



Visit the Obama Project


Overlays (4.00 / 3)
The key property of how Obama has run his campaign is that he taps into energy centers, like MoveOn or union machines, and overlays an organizational model without imposing a heirarchy on them.  He doesn't consolidate the power, in the sense of trying to claim it as his own and denying it to others.

Ask anyone who worked for his campaign at the street level, the last thing the Obama staff did on their way out of town was make sure the local party apparatus had the mailing list and had been introduced to the new faces.

One thing the netroots have shown the potential for is being the "long lance", with the ability to reach out across the country and inject money and bodies into local races.  That's going to be very important in the future, and where Clinton would have insisted on either controlling that power for herself, or breaking it, Obama is showing every sign he's going to let it be.

Obama is laying down an overlay for the General election.  But he's not "consolidating" power, he's just tapping it.  And he's not breaking the old power structures, just rendering them irrelevant.

He's going to change politics?  Good, the old system sucked balls.  Chaos in the political machinery is good for the netroots, they're far better prepared to exploit the results.

Best post ever! Thank you (0.00 / 0)

Great post ... (0.00 / 0)
Much to digest here.  Well thought out, and well said!

My test for a President Obama (4.00 / 1)
Will the pardons start once he is President, in the interests of post-partisanship?

Fitzgerald has not yet closed up his shop.  I think we may get some surprises there yet.  This is a guy who believes that no-one, but no-one, is above the law.  
BTW I don't think it is by any means a given that Obama will win the general.  McCain has the media firmly in the tank, and if Obama tries to hit him for his hypocrisy I expect to see none of those attacks repeated in the media. Obama is very short on experience, and the country will be sliding further and further into the worst recession since the 1930s by the fall. We may even have a shooting match with Iran by then.  A lot of women are going to be really really pissed that the first female president idea has been kicked further down the road.  And if you don't like the word "elitist" in your discourse, turn off your TV, radio and computer until November 5....

fantastic piece of writing (0.00 / 0)
very hopeful.

Like most commenters (4.00 / 1)
I agree by-and-large with this insightful diary but am disappointed that too few (if any) of the comments deal with the following conclusion that Matt drew:
"we should begin figuring out how to put ourselves in a position to help him take the country in a progressive direction"

Many Hillary Clinton supporters may believe that backing their candidate is a way to put pressure on Obama to be more progressive. But this couldn't be further from the truth because although she is more progressive on some issues (like healthcare), she is decidedly less progressive on many other issues (gas tax, "obliterating" Iran, support from PACs and lobbyists). So as the rest of the Primary plays out and the GE starts to ramp up, voicing a preference for Clinton (or Edwards, for that matter, who I supported) over Obama is not necessarily advocating for more progressive positions from the Obama campaign. So what would be effective ways to "help" (I'd prefer a stronger verb, "force") Obama to take the country in a progressive direction? Perhaps Matt would like to take on this question in a subsequent diary. Also, progressives everywhere should make the case that Obama should do this even within the context of the GE, rather than opting for the safer strategy of "let's win the GE first and then set the course."

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

So Obama is the new boss, same as the old boss? (0.00 / 0)
I voted for Obama in CT's Feb. 5 primary because he was the only viable candidate to oppose Hillary.  I am not inspired by Obama or by his rhetoric.  I don't subscribe to his MyBarackObama page and have donated very little to his campaign.  I will donate to candidates that I can support, not ones Obama tells me to support.

If what you describe is true about Obama -- that he is replacing the Democratic Party with himself -- then he will not get a lot of Democrats who voted against him to support him.  Obama has become a new dictator, not a leader.  That's the problem I had with the Clintons.

Let's remember Obama, if he gets the White House, will only have it for 8 years at most.  What's to become of the Dem Party after he leaves office?  Michelle Obama already said that she won't be running for Prez.

So Obama is the new boss, same as the old boss? (0.00 / 0)
I voted for Obama in CT's Feb. 5 primary because he was the only viable candidate to oppose Hillary.  I am not inspired by Obama or by his rhetoric.  I don't subscribe to his MyBarackObama page and have donated very little to his campaign.  I will donate to candidates that I can support, not ones Obama tells me to support.

If what you describe is true about Obama -- that he is replacing the Democratic Party with himself -- then he will not get a lot of Democrats who voted against him to support him.  Obama has become a new dictator, not a leader.  That's the problem I had with the Clintons.

Let's remember Obama, if he gets the White House, will only have it for 8 years at most.  What's to become of the Dem Party after he leaves office?  Michelle Obama already said that she won't be running for Prez.

So? Will the power go to his head (0.00 / 0)
Or is he really what we see?

I have been reading a bio of him by David Mendell, Obama from Promise to Power.  Mendell has been covering him since he started to run for state Senate in IL. for the Chicago Trib.

Mendell tries to show as many sides of the person as he's given access to.  He shows Obama grumpy, shows him unsuccessful and trying to figure out why, shows him happy, loving, caustic, tender, guarding his privacy, thinking things through.  But always from the distance of a newspaper writer without full access.

So there's still the question of whether this guy is who he appears to be.

And that has a lot to do with just how much of a liability it could be for him to consolidate so much power.

When I consider what's gone on for the last 5 months since the primary season began and those who really don't pay a lot of attention to politics have started to become aware of Obama, I'm deeply impressed by the things that Matt has explicated here -

Obama's oratorical skill,
his forging of a new path to organizing people (using the new media, finessing Fox News, raising so much money in little amounts, binding his fans together through the site),
his dogged insistance on taking the highest road he can find even in the face of the Clintons' so-called kitchen sink strategy,
his distancing himself from the party (so much so that for a long time now it's been clear to me that he is not part of the party at all).
his committment to the 50-state Strategy and campaigning in all the states (reaching out to the mob and the little corner pizza place).

But as these tactics succeed, and the mob gets bigger, it gets harder to control.  And those who don't get it resent it.

Control of the entire thing is clearly part of the Obama script.  The further some person or group is from being willing to accept his being top dog, the further he wishes to distance himself from them.  The blogosphere is too hard to bring under control, cannot be counted on to hew to the party line.  Jeremiah Wright was uncontrollable and way too close to keep at arm's length and therefore was a liability.

So the real question is: what will he be with all that power?  Just how strong will the Republicans have to be to keep that power from doing something seriously wrong for the country - even defining seriously wrong in progressive terms?  Will he be able to maintain his mediating skills once it's too easy to get enough to go along?  Will he look outside his own box when he's infatuated with his own ideas?  

Who will be there to keep him on track?

I don't think (0.00 / 0)
he can control it with an open internet.  

mass communication, along with simplified organization tools (which he understands - he has used it extremely well) will keep him on track or bring him down.

It might not be instanteous, but it will be quicker and more effective then we have ever seen before in politics.

That is why Net Neutrality is important.  Access to information and diverse viewpoints is crucial to combat authortarianism.

[ Parent ]
Sounds like he's building a personal empire ... (0.00 / 0)
... not a party.

Carolyn Kay

Called a stupid, white-trash racist because I voted for Hillary.

Carolyn Kay


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