Election Heads Up — It’s a Plan

A few days ago, I ran across a fascinating post on FireDogLake by scrowder, called A failure to plan is a plan to fail – a challenge to the FDL website.

A failure to plan is a plan to fail. So said a poster here on a different diary today and it got me to thinking. What is the progressive plan for dealing with the Conservadems in Congress who’ve sold us out time and again since the Reagan years?

(crickets)  Yeah, that’s the problem. The debate always comes down to this: Vote Dem or let the Repugs rule. And that’s what happens. Dems lose their base in disgust and Repugs take over. I’m just as guilty. I’ve voted Nader every election until the chance to elect a black man president outweighed the knowledge that this guy was being foisted on us by the corporatocracy.

Instead of worrying about polls, or what the Dems should be doing or what Obama isn’t doing, we should be wholly focused on getting progressives past their primary challenges and replacing Conservadems on the ballot. But we aren’t.

The point — to underline scrowder — is on what WE are doing, not on what THEY aren’t doing for us.

Case in point: Alexi Giannoulias.

It’s hard to believe this is the candidate whom the Democrats wanted as their nominee. As Ben Smith dryly noted, Giannoulias “is about as un-changey as you get.” The Republicans are obviously delighted to have such a target-rich opponent. I suspect this will be another seat added to the political gurus’ “leans Republican” lists.

Where was coverage of the primary? Where was the grassroots effort to stop this guy from getting the nomination? Where was there even mention that this election was coming up?  Nowhere.

When did I first hear about him? After it was too late. This guy had already won his primary and where were the progressives?

He goes on to talk about the failure to challenge Harry Reid in the primary, the opportunity lost.  But then he gets down to it.

You know what the real point I’m trying to make is? I don’t even know when Nevada’s Democratic primary is. How’s that for not having a fucking plan to get a progressive in office to replace a highly disliked conservadem?

I really like that.  A smooth sophisticate looking down from Olympus might say, gee, if he’s so damn smart, why didn’t the ignorant SOB look it up himself instead of just sitting around waiting.  But the point is that scrowder is an ORDINARY person.  And he can BOTH see through the eyes of an ordinary person AND see the political ramifications of that viewpoint, something our smooth sophisticate would completely miss.

So people, let’s start putting together a freaking PLAN here. The Democratic Party is not going to help us, they’re going to do everything they can to fight us. There are going to be obstacles galore set up to get in our way. The only way we’re going to ever see real change is if we start it right here on FDL.

So I am asking that this website set up a section devoted NOT in reporting what the Dems are doing, but to be used by us, to work and to plan and to recruit candidates and to raise money and to do whatever it is that we can do to get progressives, homegrown from our own ranks, up and running for office and challenging Dems in the primaries in 2012 and beyond. I am asking that more attention be paid to upcoming primaries and that said attention start being paid to them sooner.

I am asking for those of you represented by conservadems find the courage to stand up and run against them and count on our support.

… It’s time we stopped being reactionary. It’s time we started having a plan.

In the comments, Jane Hamsher politely but firmly shot him down:

What if there was an organization devoted to primaries? Now there’s a thought:  [smug condescension here — jr]


Unfortunately in a year where Democrats think they’re going to get massacred, there aren’t a lot of viable candidates willing to put their heads on the chopping block. And the minute you start talking about it publicly, they get nervous and lose interest.

Nonetheless, we persevere.


Just because we’re not writing about it non-stop doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It’s just a lot more challenging than people might imagine, and when you’re trying to get all your ducks in order it’s not necessarily conducive to the kind of regular updates people might understandably want.

Hamsher’s links lead to a straightforward ActBlue “target the worst” approach which I’ve dissected at some length in We Deal in Change.  So here’s where it gets interesting.  Instead of saying, “bummer man, the important people didn’t jump aboard, guess I’ll go lick my wounds knowing that at least I tried,” scrowder went ahead.

He takes his home state of Washington, does the work, and posts Election Heads Up:  Friday Edition.  Does a very nice piece of work analyzing the state of the Washington primaries, who’s running, what their politics are, what is needed for 2012.  Yes, 2012.  While everyone is fixated on what we can do right now (Not much, “bummer man, etc.”) looking to 2012.  So we get off the chipmunk treadmill and can build in a non-hysterical manner.

He ends with:

If you’re interested in helping out with the Heads Up diaries to keep progressives informed on what’s coming and where we need to put our resources, please volunteer in the comments section below and I will contact you.

Until next week, if you want change, it has to start with you.

scrowder might call it Election Heads Up.  He is currently trying to assemble a team of maybe 10 people to do the research and analysis.  Who’s running?  Who’s incumbent?  How do they vote?  Do we have a progressive candidate running there per Full Court Press?  What are the filing regulations?  What’s the demographics? What dates to be aware of?  He’s already divvied up the states for assignment to volunteers.  He said doing Washington State took him about 4 hours of hard work.  I surmise that states like California and Texas would take a bit more.  That’s a hefty piece of work for progressives comfortable cheering from the bleachers, but quite reasonable if you’re serious about changing the world.

The plan needs a lot of refinement, as it is just beginning.  But here’s a lesson in Method Towards Activism.  Instead of waiting until the plan is perfectly refined IN ADVANCE, it will be refined as it is implemented.

Will this Election Heads Up change the world?  In and of itself, no.  But none of us are merely in  and of ourselves, are we?  If you have a few hours to do some hard work, I urge you to sign on.  At this point, you can do so by e-mailing me at [email protected], subject, Election Heads Up, and I’ll get you to scrowder’s attention.

Is it the same as the Full Court Press?  Of course not.  But the Full Court Press, as I’ve often stated, is deliberately minimal in order to make it compatible with and able to support a variety of efforts, and this ranks high among them.  The Full Court Press is defined by presenting 5 progressive points to every congressperson and challenger, and if none of them endorse the 5 points, we primary them.  In 2012.

But it should be obvious that this minimal plan will require a rather extensive support apparatus, including basic intelligence on who’s running, ballot access expertise, fundraising, publicity, etc.  We urge ordinary people to get in there and run in the primaries, whether as FCP candidates or not.  Making this information available will make it that much easier.  There is information out there, but it is fragmented and most of it is focused on the glamour ActBlue races.  Yes, knocking off the Blue Dogs is a worthy goal.  But we are going after the 100’s of Dems who voted for a Stupak/Nelson healthcare bill, who are funding sending more troops to kill in Afghanistan, who are going along with Obama’s response to the jobs crisis of doling out more tax breaks to business.

Right now, by the way, Full Court Press could use a good (and hopefully free) lawyer and accountant.  We have just incorporated for legal purposes, and need to keep our paperwork in order so we don’t end up pulling a Eugene Debs (running from behind bars).  Go to our website “thefullcourtpress.org” to offer your services.


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  1. Link.

  2. Hopefully you got NPK’s forward.

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