Obama Kills 50-State Strategy?

I am hearing that the post-Dean DNC under Obama has killed off the 50-state strategy and that 200 organizers have been fired. The word is they are going to go back to the old 50%-plus-one strategy that sacrificed the idea of making gains in areas that have voted Republican.
See Daily Kos: RIP 50-state strategy.
If this is true it is time to stop giving money or otherwise helping the DNC, and start thinking about ways to build progressive infrastructure.

Progressive Infrastructure

This post originally appeared at firedoglake.

You may have heard the term “progressive infrastructure.”  We need it.  Let me explain.

Bush and the Republicans are out, but we have to consolidate that victory, keep them out and implement progressive policies.  We need to elect progressives to state office and we have to get “centrist” Democrats to do the right thing or run primary candidates who will. 

Progressive infrastructure” is the key to getting that done. 

Look at how conservatives became so successful in elections and legislation battles.  Starting in the 1970s they built well-funded organizations employing researchers, writers, pundits, speechmakers, marketers, talk-show guests, operatives etc. all using channels like talk radio, Fox News, the Washington Times and blogs to tell the public one or another form of a basic propaganda message: “liberals and their ideas are bad, while conservatives and their ideas are good.” 

Movement operatives infiltrated churches, sports (NASCAR), interest groups (NRA) … always working to convince people to identify as conservatives.  After a few decades of this the public had a negative view of liberals.  In surveys many people say they are conservative even though they line up with us on the facts and issues.  Their candidates rode that wave into office and their policies rode it into law.  In some races all a candidate had to do was point and shout “liberal!” to win!

Meanwhile progressive candidates start from scratch in the late summer, have to decide “issues” to run on, develop a message and then reach their voters – on their own from scratch.

Like the frog in heated water, progressives didn’t see what was happening.  It took Clinton’s impeachment and the 2000 election theft to really shake and wake people up.  Then came the blogosphere. Continue reading

Progressive Infrastructure To Renew The California Dream

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
Markos, in a post today about the state of progressive infrastructure compared to the right’s, Building machines,

[. . .] But that battle is no longer one-sided. Their machine may be bigger, but we have something. And that’s all we ever needed — a hint of a partisan progressive media machine, fed by research and investigative reporting from the likes of ThinkProgress and Talking Points Memo, to begin delivering our message in the face of their vast media machine, as well as ineffective CW[conventional wisdom]-meisters like Maureen Dowd, Mark Halperin, and David Broder.

Look what we have been able to get done in this country with only the smallest, minimally-funded hint at an infrastructure of organizations and media outlets working to counter the right that has been built up since we started this fight. We fought back against the conservative machine and got the Democrats to start fighting back themselves. We took the Presidency, increased our numbers in the House and maybe, just maybe took enough senate seats to stop the filibusters.
Now, imagine what we could do if we actually started funding serious progressive infrastructure organizations and building an ecosystem in which our writers and advocates could actually make a living, sell enough books to start receiving advances, get paid reasonably to write articles, receive speaking fees from organizations and some of the things right-wing advocates take for granted… Imagine tens of thousands of young activists being trained every year. Imagine progressive non-profits having the budgets to pay people more than minimum wage and provide benefits and get things done. Sheesh.
Imagine what we could get done in California if we put together solid organizations that could reach out to all of the public and explain the benefits of progressive values and policies. I mean progressive policies like good, well-funded public schools and low-cost universities, a health care system that works for the people, help with child care, a transportation infrastructure that gets people where they want to go in a timely manner, energy alternatives that cost less and do not pollute and employment rules that bring us reasonable wages and benefits in good jobs that also give us time to have fulfillment in our lives. These are all possibilities, in fact these are all things that we were within reach of obtaining in California not too long ago. These are things thaqt we can dream about again.
Barack Obama was able to raise millions of dollars in small donations, and this has helped the country to start to restore democracy. We can do this in California, by sending $10 or $100 or more to help organizations like Speak Out California and others, and doing this as often as you can.
It is time for us to begin to renew the California Dream.
Click through to Speak Out California

Bold Progressives

Bold Progressives,

Please email the below message to your progressive friends and family.
This week, Democrats helped George W. Bush and Republicans loot the federal treasury and hand billions over to Wall Street.
For some reason, we can never find money for kids’ health care, clean energy, or other progressive priorities. But when it comes to right-wing priorities like war and giveaways to failed Wall Street executives, Republicans always find the money and Democrats go along.
There were progressive solutions to the financial crisis that would have truly held Wall Street accountable and helped the middle class. But instead of fighting for a bold progressive alternative, Democrats caved to the least popular president in history.
ENOUGH. Anyone with common sense will vote for Barack Obama and Democratic congressional candidates this November. But it’s time for citizens to fight back and take this pledge — will you join in signing it?

“In 2009 and beyond, I will be part of the movement that pushes Democrats to be bold progressives — and that helps pass a bold progressive agenda into law.”

Go read the rest and sign the pledge! And tell others!

New Progressive Voices

What do we do if we win?
I’ll be writing soon about New Progressive Voices – Values and Policies for the 21st Century,

The members of the Progressive Ideas Network have come together at this auspicious moment to lay out a course for genuine progress in the government and governance of this country and all its people.

This is a book of nine essays by progressive leaders, laying out a progressive vision for governance. You can download their document (56 pages PDF).
Go to the site to see the list of Progressive Ideas Network organizations that are participating.

Why Conservative Policies Dominate

Why does the public flock to conservative / corporate policies that generally run against their own interests? Take tax cuts for the rich, or the current offshore-drilling campaign as examples.
Here is my opinion of the reason: Conservatives have a huge outside-the-party infrastructure devoted to persuading the public to support their policies and progressives do not.
Conservatives recognize the value of movement-building and work steadily to create popular demand, which then gets their candidates elected. This is why so many terrible Republicans are able to get elected just by pointing their finger at their opponent and shouting, “Liberal, Liberal!”
Progressives instead for decades have believed that a candidate will come along who will be so popular that he or she will lead them out of the wilderness, and convince the publi of the rightness of all of their ideas. Therefore almost all of their money and effort goes into short-term election efforts, candidates and the party instead of to ongoing outside-the-party organizations that work over the long term to build lasting demand for their ideas.
Discuss.

Commonweal Institute’s New Website

Take a look at Commonweal Institute’s new website. And get involved.

The Commonweal Institute is an alliance of independent thinkers leading the public in civic dialogue about our shared values as Americans and a progressive approach to problem-solving. We envision a society in which the advancement of human rights, civil liberties, participatory democracy, justice, strong and caring communities, and a more secure and sustainable future coexist with responsible global capitalism. Our goal is to engage all segments of society in the discovery and creation of a new harmony between private interests and the common good.

Also, the Commonweal Institute blog.

SEIU’s Accountability Project – Making Politicians Do The Right Thing

I am at the SEIU 2008 convention in Puerto Rico. Todd Beeton posted earlier today over at MyDD about the SEIU’s Accountability Project and I’d like to add to this discussion. This is a big, big deal for progressives! As Andy Stern said in his address to the convention today we are tired of, “Politicians who want your vote but after the election are at your throat.”
In his post Todd explained,

. . . In a nutshell, after November, the SEIU intends to hold our Democratic representatives to their promises and let them know that there is the money, the organization and the will not only to fund primary challenges but to recruit and even train qualified candidates around the country if they don’t do what they said they’d do.
What makes this threat real, of course, is that SEIU was instrumental in the defeat of Al Wynn by Donna Edwards in Maryland’s February 12th primary. The SEIU spent $1 million on that race alone. Next year and all during the ensuing cycle, they’re prepared to spend $10 million to target Democrats who don’t follow through on their promises. Think about what the SEIU got for their money in MD-04: Congresswoman Donna Edwards who will champion progressive legislation on issue after issue affecting not only those in her district but impacting people’s lives for the better all over the country, as every new and better Democrat added to congress by definition does.

The primary race between Al Wynn and Donna Edwards was a very big victory for progressives. Prior to this race Democrats in Congress only saw one effective power bloc on the playing field which meant going against those big corporate interests could cost them their jobs. Whatever they might want to do, politics is about what you make them do. Wherever their hearts might have been, elected Democrats could see that only one side was able to rally the only real support or punishment that counted: enough votes. Yes, Ned Lamont caused some problems for Joe Lieberman but it’s still Senator Lieberman.

Continue reading

Drum Major Institute Benefit – NYC

I’m a bit late in posting this, but if you are in New York City Tuesday you want to go to the DMI Benefit.
The Drum Major Institute’s Annual Benefit will be held Tuesday, May 20 in New York at Cipriani on 23rd Street right across from Madison Square Park.. This year’s honorees include City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, a founding member of Women of El Barrio, political organizer Steve Phillips, president and founder of PowerPAC.org, and David Simon, creator and producer of HBO’s acclaimed series The Wire. Tom Watson has more details.

Things People “Know”

Progressives have their work cut out for them for November. And even if they win the Presidency there’s nothing that tells me they’ll be able to get anything implemented because there is little supporting infrastructure out there that gets the message out, creating demand for progressive candidates and policies. In fact, progressive organizations like Rockridge Institute (see story) and Center for Policy Alternatives are going under because they cannot find funding.
Meanwhile the right-wing drumbeat is still finding its way to every corner of the country.
W Virginia keeps distance from Obama

Most people questioned said they mistrusted Mr Obama because of doubts about his patriotism and “values”, stemming from his cosmopolitan background, his exotic name and the controversy surrounding “anti-American” sermons by Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor. Several people said they believed he was a Muslim – an unfounded rumour that has circulated on the internet for months – despite the contradiction with his 20-year membership of Mr Wright’s church in Chicago. Others mentioned his refusal to wear a Stars and Stripes badge and controversial remarks by his wife, Mich­elle, who des­cribed America as “mean” and implied that she had never been proud of the US until her husband ran for president.
Conservative commentators have questioned Mr Obama’s patriotism for months and the issue is expected to be one of the Republicans’ main lines of attack if he wins the nomination. “The American people want a president who loves their country as much as they do,” said Whit Ayres, a Rep­ub­lican strategist. Obama supporters believe patriotism is being used as code to harness racist sentiment.

Hundreds of millions for candidates to run TV ads that literally just go up in the air — but nothing for the organizations that make long-term change possible.