Thank you OpenLeft

by: Adam Bink

Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 10:30

Some of you may have noticed I haven't been writing for some time. The reason is because I recently accepted a position as Director of Online Programs at the Courage Campaign, where I will be running the online shop with a special emphasis on LGBT equality campaigns, but have been so engaged I haven't found time to write a farewell post.

Which brings me back to OpenLeft and the news, announced by Chris this morning, that we have agreed to close OpenLeft.

I have been working on OpenLeft since before the day we launched in July 2007- managing the advertising spaces, working out the bugs, working on the design with Chris and Matt. Many of you remember my open threads asking for improvements, and then we went out and did our best to fulfill your requests. Eventually I started writing, and many of you liked my work, so I started writing more. Eventually I started working on action campaigns like No On 1/Protect Maine Equality, buying the advertisements you funded around the public option in DC newspaper outlets, coordinating the work to promote Mike's book The Progressive Revolution, and more.

I really would not be where I am today, starting off in a new role with a strong and vibrant online community at Courage Campaign, if not for working on all of that with you all. You chipped in to defend equality in Maine, chipped in to fund ads supporting the public option, came to book events, sent a public comment to the HHS Committee considering a revision of the ban on blood donations from MSM, and more. You joined our e-mail list, now over 100,000 strong, all built from scratch.

What I mean to say with all of this is that you all helped me get my start in online organizing. And I'm truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work together. Grateful with all my heart.

The second thing I want to say is to ask you to glance to the right of this blog post, at the top under the user log-in/menu, at our list of OpenLeft campaigns. I am proud of the work we did here. Electing Donna Edwards. Helping Joe Sestak beat Arlen Specter. Generating remarkable ROI in the Searching for John McCain project. Nearly getting the public option to the finish line. Changing the conversation with the Responsible Plan to End the War. We did create some real change, and where we didn't push things over the top, we took great strides in moving people and lawmakers and the media. Some campaigns are years-long campaigns and much of the work we did is only the start.

The last thing I want to say is that although OpenLeft will no longer publish new content, we are continuing to fight the good fight elsewhere. I will be doing it at Courage Campaign and its blog, (where you can continue reading my writing), Chris at DailyKos, and the rest of us in various other places throughout our movement.  I write with a heavy heart because I've tried to make the site ever better, the writing interesting, and the actions strategic, and I hope you've found it to be so. But I take heart in what Chris wrote this morning, that this movement is bigger than just one blog, and we will continue working to build a better and society and planet.

Thank you for everything you have done.

Discuss :: (21 Comments)

Golden Oldie: Essay: The value of constructive criticism in the LGBT movement

by: OpenLeft

Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 19:00

An Adam Bink Golden Oldie
From Feb 25, 2010. Original HERE.

Over the weekend at Rootscamp and generally over the past few weeks, I've been participating in a series of conversations concerning the relationship between traditional "legacy" LGBT organizations- such as the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)- and online communities. Discussions have centered around how there has been a lot of "infighting" over the past few months. Two prominent examples are the blogswarm last week aimed at the Human Rights Campaign around its strategy on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, along with Bil Browning's criticism of GLAAD around The Cleveland Show episode, but criticisms in general- including in my writing, as you may have noticed- have been growing louder across the LGBT blogosphere for some time now.

What is interesting to me is where healthy dialogue turns into "infighting", and why it is deemed critical that progressive movement actors- such as President Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders- need a "left flank", but the same does not seem to apply to LGBT organizations.

More on this, along with an interview w/HRC President Joe Solmonese, in the extended entry.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 1756 words in story)

OpenLefters at Netroots Nation

by: Adam Bink

Thu Jul 22, 2010 at 18:00

(Update- the 2 PM OpenLeft caucus will stay in the exhibit hall. Look for the small tables and chairs in the corner. See you then! - promoted by Adam Bink)

If you're an OpenLefter at Netroots Nation, here's a run-down of all things OpenLeft. All times are local Vegas time.
There's More... :: (8 Comments, 222 words in story)

OpenLeft, Freedom to Marry announce 10 Netroots Nation finalists

by: Adam Bink

Tue Jun 15, 2010 at 15:30

Last month we launched a scholarship program with a few other netroots organizations to send three marriage equality online activists to Netroots Nation in Las Vegas. After myself and a panel of other judges (Markos/DailyKos, Julia Rosen/Courage Campaign, Rod McCollum/Rod 2.0, Joe Sudbay/AMERICABlog, Alex Blaze/Bilerico Project) narrowed the voting field, we have a set of ten finalists.

We're now opening up the voting to you in the netroots. You can check out their applications here. We've posted videos, blog posts and answers to questions on how they would advance the freedom to marry for same-sex couples on the page so you can have a little background. You can vote once every 24 hours for one person. If you have a friend or someone who's work you like, feel free to spread the word online to garner votes for him/her.

There really are some great contestants- some folks whose work I'm familiar with and some others who look like they would really benefit from the experience and help build our movement back home. There's also a lot of geographic diversity, which really is awesome. You can check them out and go vote here. Voting ends on June 25th.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Top 15 most trafficked OpenLeft posts

by: Adam Bink

Thu Jun 03, 2010 at 19:00

There have been a lot of new users over the past 6 months or so at OpenLeft and a broader community folks that have started reading the site. For an interesting OpenLeft evening thread- both for the newbies who haven't read our older stuff, as well as for you longtime readers' interest- I thought I'd put up an evening thread with our most highly-trafficked posts (measured by Google Analytics pageviews) since we launched in July 2007. I left off two that were more quick blips in policy fights- such as breaking news of a Senator coming out in favor of something- than substantive pieces.

Happy reading, and feel free to list some of your own favorites (with links, if possible) in the comments.

This is an open thread.

#1 Republican leader John Boehner demanding the White House post its health care proposal online, then attacking them for doing exactly that.

#2 An e-mail sent to Matt Stoller (an OpenLeft founder and alum), from a very pissed off member of Congress, which he published.

#3 Chris noting how several large traditional media websites refused to admit Obama was 270 electoral votes leading up to the 2008 election

#4 and #5 My live-blogging of election results from the No On 1 boiler room in Portland.

#6 Republican netroots suckitude.

#7. Chris' prediction that if Sarah Palin runs for President, she will win the Republican nomination in 2012.

#8 George W. Bush: Congress doesn't exist unless I say it does.

#9 Documenting how George W. Bush is the least popular President since polling actually came into existence.

#10 From Laughing Liberally, top ten most outrageous quotes from McCain's "spiritual advisers".

#11 Matt Stoller on whether McCain tampered with DEA enforcement to cover up his wife's drug use.

#12 Chris arguing in the first week of February, 2008 the importance of superdelegates in determining the 2008 nominee.

#13 Our Bush Dog Democrats action campaign.

#14 Chris' tips on everything you need to know about parsing daily tracking polls.

#15 Matt Stoller on Obama's praise of Ronald Reagan and the narrative around Reagan in general.

This is different than a "best of" list, which is perhaps even more worth of checking out. For what we think of as our own "best-of" list (as well as some reader suggestions), you can find that in a series of posts here.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

OpenLeft, Freedom to Marry announce Netroots Nation scholarships

by: Adam Bink

Tue Jun 01, 2010 at 08:00

--promoted by Adam Bink

While I was working on No On 1/Protect Maine Equality, I had the privilege of meeting lots and lots of other online organizers- some from the straight community and some from the LGBT community. What was notable was how much talent for organizing there is out there, and how many new creative ideas. From the Volunteer Vacation campaign to Call and Drive for Equality to creative fundraising ideas, there were a wealth of organizing ideas. There were also a wealth of smart ways to build public support for marriage equality itself across the country.

That's what it comes down to- building support piece by piece across the country. In the 2012 Republican primary, I think marriage equality will be in the spotlight, as it's now legal in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Somewhere out there, there are some very smart organizing ideas to get Republicans onboard for the freedom to marry, and lots of other cool ideas that can incubating at Netroots Nation this summer. And that's what today's post is about.

I'm happy to announce OpenLeft is partnering with Freedom to Marry, a national organization winning marriage equality state-by-state, and DailyKos, The Bilerico Project, Rod 2.0, AMERICABlog and Courage Campaign in announcing three organizing scholarships for marriage equality activists to attend Netroots Nation. We conceived of this idea for two reasons (a) Like you've shown at OpenLeft, there are activists out there in the netroots willing to take a stand for marriage equality (b) There are smart organizers who can continue their work and start putting together good campaigns to win the freedom to marry across the country. We aim to help kickstart that.


  • If you're interested in applying, first, submit two blog posts OR one video demonstrating your work in support of the freedom to marry. Kind of like an e-resume, since this is online organizing, after all! The video can also be a short (2-3 minutes) recording of yourself speaking to camera describing your efforts, too. Be creative.

  • Second, respond to the questions on the application form here. Note especially that this is open to online organizers- you don't need to be a blogger per se.

  • A panel of judges from around the netroots including myself will narrow the field to ten applicants, and then you will have the opportunity to select the winners by voting.

  • Scholarships will include Netroots Nation registration, round-trip airfare to Las Vegas, and hotel costs.

  • Applications are due June 7th and winners will be announced June 25th. We're looking for the best out there, so please share far and wide, and be sure to apply yourself!

All other details are here. Hope to see you in Vegas.  

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Helping others even when you don't have much yourself

by: Mike Lux

Thu May 06, 2010 at 13:15

Even though she died when I was only 12 years old, one of the most important and influential people in my life was my Grandma, my mom's mother. I was the youngest son of a youngest daughter, so she was pretty old when I came along, and not in very good health, but she spent a lot of time with me when I was little. I had a moderate form of cerebral palsy, and I suspect she spent extra time taking care of me because of it, taking me for short walks to strengthen my legs. She spent long hours playing card games with me, reading to me, and listening to me prattle on about every subject under the sun.

After she died, my mom told me a story about her that has remained with me as one of those touchstone stories about how people should treat each other. In 1933, at the height of the great depression, my Grandfather, who was a Methodist minister in Rosalie, NE, died of pneumonia. 4 months later, a drunk driver killed my mom's 10 year old brother John. Faced with that kind of grief and loss, and having nothing except a $3,000 life insurance policy from the Methodist conference, my Grandma decided to move to northeast Lincoln so that her 5 remaining children would have a chance to go to college at the Nebraska Wesleyan, a Methodist school where minister's kids go for a much reduced tuition. Grandma found jobs, was able to keep the family together, but remained very poor her entire life.

The story that moved me so much, though, was this: in the great depression, there were a lot of homeless men that rode the rails from town to town. They had their own society and network, providing each other information about who the people were in every town along the railroad line that were kind of enough to provide meals to the hungry. In Lincoln, word spread very quickly that my Grandma was one of those people. As poor as she was, she never turned down a hungry man down for a meal in her kitchen, and my mom remembers that pretty often, these men would knock on their door and ask for a meal.

Feeding the poor when you are poor yourself has become a metaphor for me. No matter what, good people can and will look out for each other.

I tell this story today because of how moved I am by the support of so many good folks who don't have a lot themselves for Openleft. John Amato of Crooks and Liars helped us even though he was doing a fundraiser himself this same week. Digby, who ain't exactly rolling in the dough, was kind enough to send some love our way. I know that most of our readers aren't exactly corporate mogul types, but your generosity continues. Most moving of all to me, Americans for Financial Reform, a poorly funded group running on fumes while going up against the several tens of millions being spent by the financial industry, voted to give us a remarkable $1,000 contribution to support our work.

While there are a few organizations in progressive politics who have some dough, mostly we don't. Our groups are almost always out-spent. Our blogs are way underfunded. Great young activists go too long without a job, or get underpaid when they are lucky enough to get one. But we help each other make it through, just like my Grandma feeding the poor when she was poor herself. That's what good people do, and that's what our movement has to do. Thanks to all of you who have helped.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

The promise and power of building a movement

by: Mike Lux

Wed May 05, 2010 at 12:00

As of 12:05 eastern, we are at 209 contributors. We need 400, and we need your help to do it! -- Chris Bowers

Building a movement is a long hard slog (as Donald Rumsfeld might have put it.) There are flashes of genius, moments where things all come together, sparks that start bigger fires at just the right time. But mostly it's just hard unglamorous work over a very long time. Lots of frustration. Little money. Allies who piss you off.

But it's work that has to be done if you are going to achieve real and lasting change for the better.

The good news is that if the work is done with a spirit of innovation and fun, things get a lot easier. That is why OpenLeft and Living Liberally are so important to support. Those of us at OpenLeft, and our dear friends and allies at Living Liberally, do all that hard movement-building work, but we have fun doing it, too. We are always trying new things, stretching ourselves to come up with new ways to make things happen.

As you may have seen yesterday, this week we are joining forces on yet another project: to raise us some money. We decided that offering you a twofer might make you interested in giving more. For just one contribution, you can support innovative activism, cogent political analysis, and important networks of people working for change- in two great organizations at the cutting edge of progressive strategy.

Please do your part and help us out. If you do, you will be supporting the work of two organizations worth of activists and writers working to build a better world, and you can feel very, very good about yourself. If you don't, we'll produce a really horrendous video of Justin Krebs and Chris Bowers moping around in deep depression, and you just don't want to have to see that.

Your choice is clear: give now.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Essay: The value of constructive criticism in the LGBT movement

by: Adam Bink

Thu Feb 25, 2010 at 17:00

( - promoted by AdamGreen)

Over the weekend at Rootscamp and generally over the past few weeks, I've been participating in a series of conversations concerning the relationship between traditional "legacy" LGBT organizations- such as the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)- and online communities. Discussions have centered around how there has been a lot of "infighting" over the past few months. Two prominent examples are the blogswarm last week aimed at the Human Rights Campaign around its strategy on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, along with Bil Browning's criticism of GLAAD around The Cleveland Show episode, but criticisms in general- including in my writing, as you may have noticed- have been growing louder across the LGBT blogosphere for some time now.

What is interesting to me is where healthy dialogue turns into "infighting", and why it is deemed critical that progressive movement actors- such as President Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders- need a "left flank", but the same does not seem to apply to LGBT organizations.

More on this, along with an interview w/HRC President Joe Solmonese, in the extended entry.

There's More... :: (12 Comments, 1756 words in story)

Building a progressive online movement together

by: Adam Bink

Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 19:30

Tomorrow when you go to OpenLeft, you will likely see a "splash page" (e.g., a small page appearing on top of the regular OpenLeft window). We're putting that page up to ask you to join Open Left Action's e-mail list. The page will appear rarely, and is completely optional of course.

Now, you're probably thinking, why should I join another e-mail list. Before you decide, I have four reasons you should consider.

1. OpenLeft has a proven track record of success on progressive action campaigns. From playing a role in winning Donna Edwards' primary campaign in 2008 to winning a public option in the House and merged Senate bills; from getting all the major 2008 Democratic Senate candidates to come out publicly for net neutrality to raising McCain's negatives with the innovative Searching for John McCain campaign. Even those we didn't win, we made progress, like moving more voters towards marriage equality and equality overall in Maine, David Sirota's success in pushing the White House's caving on prescription drug reimportation into the traditional media, and changing the conversation with the no residual forces in Iraq campaigns and the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq. We've made progress online with your help.

2. OpenLeft is on the cutting edge of progressive online activism. We are one of the very few progressive political blogs to have our own e-mail list. With your help, we placed advertising in traditional media publications when we placed ads in the Washington Post, Roll Call, and The Hill on the public option late last year. With your help, we linked our writers on the ground in key progressive fights- Matt Stoller with Donna Edwards, Chris Bowers with Joe Sestak, and myself in Maine. We've helped make public whip counts a science. We were one of the first blogs to partner in launching the new, user-friendly petition widget you see at the top right of the page. We've led the way in progressive online action, and will continue to do so.

3. Unlike other organizations or electoral campaigns, we won't clog your inbox. Trust me, we get it- as online activists ourselves, we understand how annoying a barrage of e-mails asking for money or help can be. We're in your camp, and that's why I think many already on our list can attest that we only e-mail you when we see a serious opportunity to create progressive change. We'll ask you what issues and fights you're most interested in, too.

4. Lots of big fights coming up. We're working on filibuster reform, financial regulation reform (like our FDIC comment action), and other key issues, and we can't do it alone.

If I've convinced you, and you're not a member of Open Left Action, join today. If you're already a member, consider asking asking your friends to join. Together we will build a stronger progressive online movement.

Discuss :: (21 Comments)

The question of issue prioritization

by: Adam Bink

Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 14:00

I like to have a lot of discussions around political strategy with friends, both politically-oriented folks as well as more detached friends. I was e-mailing with one fairly politically-oriented friend of mine back and forth through the day yesterday about Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and the question of issue prioritization.

He wasn't comfortable with me publishing his response or naming him, but his complaint boiled down to why the LGBT movement is prioritizing repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell- which, in his eyes, affects a tiny fraction of LGBT people in this country- over passage of other issues, notably the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), given that employment discrimination at people based on sexual orientation is still legal in 29 states, and legal based on gender identity or expression in 38 states.

I think this question is an important and valid one, and I have a number of thoughts on it.

  • While it is true that the momentum has shifted from ENDA towards DADT, the work to pass ENDA has not completely stopped. There are a number of organizations out there who are focusing almost entirely on ENDA, as well as activists in online spaces such as this one. Frankly, that is probably a good thing. There shouldn't be one collective hive mind directing everyone to do one thing. There is a diverse movement that is moving on many different issues at once, so calls for "the LGBT movement" to do something, aside from being vague and unproductive, don't mean a lot since "the LGBT movement" never moves in lockstep.

  • That said, there is the question of resources. As I wrote when raising questions about the timing of the National Equality March and being spread thin, I have never been a "we can walk and chew gum at the same time"- you have to have enough gum to go around for every issue movement, and there isn't enough.

    The answer to that is that sometimes this is out of activists' hands. President Obama mentioned DADT in the State of the Union (and did not mention ENDA). The result was increased chatter on DADT for the next several days on cable news, in op-ed pages, polling firms choosing to poll on the issue and release the results, and people like me writing about all of it. All of that led to John McCain's comments, Colin Powell and Dick Cheney choosing to speak out, and so forth. In other words, the President helped kick start the momentum- momentum we haven't had since 1993, in my view- and now that it's there, it's important to take advantage of it. You could say that activists like me calling for the President to discuss repeal in the speech, and institutions lobbying for the same, helped lead to all of that, but there wasn't any one major decision that "okay, the LGBT movement is going to collectively shift to Don't Ask, Don't Tell! Go!". Thus, another reason why attacks on "the LGBT movement" aren't entirely accurate. President Obama played a major role in starting this momentum, and when it's there, you have to grab it, and channel resources to that effect.

  • The third point I want to mention is on the question of resources and enthusiasm. The question was raised in the same way around how activists working on marriage equality were "sucking the energy out of the room" around ENDA. On this, I turn to the words of Kos- "it's a big internet". If you don't like the direction being taken in terms of strategy or prioritization, you can always do it your own way. I also would refer back to what Chris wrote here- "how to start your own netroots organization". One thing I mentioned in Dallas at a panel on the blogopshere is that a number of institutions- including OpenLeft- have sprung up in response to disagreement with the strategy or prioritization taken by other institutions. Hell, that's one big reason people started blogging. Now OpenLeft even has its own tools like an e-mail list and a fundraising apparatus, and with your help, together we got a public option in merged Senate bill, elected Rep. Donna Edwards in the face of establishment backing for Al Wynn, got every major 2008 Senate Democratic challenger to come out in favor of net neutrality, and other wins, not to mention some close losses like in Maine, and changing the debate on issues like no residual forces in Iraq. All of that came because a number of us didn't like the way other institutions were acting, so we built our own, and so can you.

The bottom line is that there are entirely valid questions about channeling resources and issue prioritization. Some of it is in activists' hands, and some is not, but there is no collective focus on just one issue, nor is it wise to just ignore all of the momentum on Don't Ask, Don't Tell and insist on focusing on ENDA. Opportunities must be taken as they come.

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Golden oldies

by: Adam Bink

Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 14:30

For the upcoming holiday season, we came up with the idea to re-post some of the more interesting/provocative/brilliant front page pieces from OpenLeft's history. The reason is because not everyone has a chance to read every piece throughout the year. And over the course of the year, a lot of new readers have come in who haven't read some of the better stuff in the early months.

So, we'd like to open up the floor to you to recommend your favorite stuff. Just leave a URL in the comments and we'll pick the best suggestions.

For easier scrolling back through the year, I recommend clicking on a writer's name and changing the numbers at the end if you're looking for a specific time period. For example, all my posts are at:

And they show my most recent stuff. If I click on the "Next" link at the very bottom of those, it takes me to:

Which are the most recent ones before that.

Copy and paste that link and change the number at the end to 2, or 10, or whatever you like and that'll help you scroll through the year. If you're looking for another writer, just click on their name, copy and paste that link in, and you can do the same. You can also use our "OpenLeft Campaigns" tags at the bottom of this page to help, and if you've got other ideas, chime in.

What are your favorites?

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

So I Won

by: Mike Lux

Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 11:29

Bystander breaks the news in Quick Hits- Air America announced this morning that I won their blogger contest, so I am going on the cruise. Thanks to all of you who helped, it honors me that so many folks voted for me. While I intend to have fun, I will spend most of the trip strategizing my ass off with Rachel, Howard, and the gang, so hopefully I will do you proud.

Now for those of you who voted for Digby, maybe if we can raise her some big money over the next few days, I can talk her into going along.

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

Evening Twitter Thread

by: Adam Bink

Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 20:00

Something I don't think we've ever done is communicate with each other on Twitter very much. I find it has increasingly equalled or surpassed my use on Facebook, and for me, has also been extremely useful for political organizing this year. I know a couple of you are on, but happy to know more.

So, a quick run-down of us front-pagers who are on:

What's your Twitter handle?

Discuss :: (12 Comments)


by: Mike Lux

Wed Dec 16, 2009 at 18:00

Okay, I know the health care bill is a big disappointment. And climate change is stalled. The big banks aren't being broken up. Who knows when immigration reform is happening? And don't even get me started about the 2nd big escalation into Afghanistan.

Politics sometimes really sucks. But I want to once again argue that you should keep hope alive, sometimes miracles do happen. By some weird lightning strike of fate, with voting closing at 5:00 pm EST tomorrow, I am currently ahead in the voting for the Air America blogger contest.

I have written a post on the reasons you should consider voting for me, so I won't go into a long rah-rah pitch, but I humbly ask that if you haven't voted yet, that you consider voting for me.

It would help Openleft, it would help give publicity to my book The Progressive Revolution, and I would get to spend a week strategizing about progressive politics with Rachel Maddow, Howard Dean, Bobby Kennedy, Jr, and lots of other smart folks- many of whom I could get to start reading and maybe even commenting here. How cool would that be?

If I've convinced you, please vote here. And if you want to help with the GOTV operations, while we are not going door to door, you could post this links to your Facebook Status:

E-mail ten friends, or even Twitter about it:

RT @adamjbink Mike Lux is in first place with one day to go! Poooooour it on! Vote and RT! #aamcruise


Discuss :: (5 Comments)
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