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When Progressive's lead, America moves forward.

When Republicans lead, America stumbles backward.

In the weeks leading up to the Lamont victory in Connecticut, this country experienced the inspirational force of Progressive leadership.  We led the debate, the race, and the country--and it felt great.

Then Ned Lamont won (hurray!).  And Progressives cheered, celebrated, and--left the podium open for Republicans to reclaim.

We did not do this on purpose.  We just assumed that we could take a break when the votes had been counted in Connecticut and our candidate came out on top.  We won, right?  And when the winner wins, that means the loser loses...right?  And at that pont, activists who led the fight and won deserved a break.  

But now we see that assumption was wrong.  We took a break, and immediately the Republicans stood back up and started poisoning the media with an RNC smear campaign that equates Ned Lamont and his followers with terrorism.  It is horrible, dishonest and bound to fail.  And yet, it is also what happens when Progressives step up to lead, but then step down thinking 'We've won.'

We need to step back up--right now.  And the first step is to drive the 'Kiss Float' to Washington, DC.

A Call To Get Back On The Road
I know the CT race was long and exhausting, and I know everyone involved is tired, sunburned and out of cash.

But unless the CT activists get back and gear--unless Progressive stand up again and lead the debate--everything that has been accomplished will slowly trip backwards as a result of Republicans taking control of the debate again.

The solution is very simple:  Pull "The Kiss" float out of the garage and drive it to DC

The float was more than piece of political theater.  It was the core  symbol that framed the entire debate in Connecticut and it has single handedly reframed the entire political debate in this country.  

The float embodies the massive discontent that the majority of Americans feel towards their elected leaders.

The float motivated the electorate to turn their discontent into action--real action expressed through the otherwise alienating electoral process.

The float inspired a huge turnout of voters in a primary race.

The float provided content for even the most timid journalists looking for a way to write about politics.

The float was a coste effective, powerful, 100% Progressive form of political participation.

The float was the voice fo the people made visible for everyone to see and understood.

And now the float is sitting somewhere in a garage.

When the Float's Away, Republicans Will Play
The return to a media driven by the cynical smear tactics of the RNC is the product of a leadership vacuum that opened up suddenly after the Lamont victory in Connecticut.

We all felt it.  We won!  Let's have a drink!  And we were right.  For the first time, the mainstream press was talking about the bloggers Progressive activists as if were human beings with a Democratic purpose, not pale and chubby geeks who needed to get out more.

And so we all sat back in our collective chairs and enjoyed it.  We were the new leaders of the debate.

But the Republicans do not give a crap about who is and who is not leading the debate.  They will push down their own grandmothers in traffic if it meant getting back up to the podium to scream their talking points to the public and drown out every other semblance of decency from the room.

And that is exactly what they did.  

Within minutes of Ned Lamont's victory, as we in the Netroots collectively breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed our firm grip on the media cycle--the RNC blitzed the podium.

"Lamont is a radical!  He's a terrorist!  Hates America!  More attacks!"

And then, a terrorist plot that had been under investigation for months was suddenly upgraded to 'Red Alert' by the President--knocking all other news off the air.  

That,  folks, is how the Republicans take back the podium.  And what did Progressives do in response?

We started asking for people do do for us again.

Asking vs.Taking
In the blogs, there is a funny dynamic that emerges when Progressives stop leading the debate:  the writing gets much better.

For some reason, we are all better writers when we are making demands of Democratic leadership, than when we are actually being the leaders.

But the down side to all that is that we are asking for help rather than making it happen.

In the weeks leading up to the Lamont campaign, the netroots stopped asking and started taking.

The  Connecticut activists did not ask Congressional Democrats if they would let Ned Lamont win.  They took it.

And now, if we want Congressional Democrats to push Lieberman out and really back Lamont, we cannot ask.  We have to take it.

Ride That Donkey Float All The Way To Washington
So, let's start taking again.

Let's ride that float all the way to Washington and park it outside the offices of those Democrats who have the power to pressure Lieberman to get out of the race.

Let's park that float outside of Harry Reid's office.

Let's park that float outside of Chuck Schumer's office.

Let's park that float outside of Barbar Boxer's office.

Let's park that float outside of Hillary Clinton's office.

And let's keep that float in the news until Joe Lieberman steps down.

Those of us who cannot ride the float, we can be there to provide resources.

Those of us who know how to raise money on the internet, start a campaign right  now:  raise money so the owners of the float can get to Washington, pay for gas, pay for cell phone time, buy video tape, organize press conferences, find a place to sleep at night.

And those of us with contacts in Washington can help.

And those of us with contacts in the media can help.

Drive that float all the way to Washington.

The Frame Is Ours, But We Lost the Momentum
The frame is still ours.  We still have the Republicans on the defensive.  The country now sees real change of leadership as the key to national security and moving the country forward.

But we lost the momentum because relaxed for a minute, and the Republicans muscled their way back to the podium.

Let's take it back.

Originally posted to Jeffrey Feldman on Sat Aug 12, 2006 at 06:14 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We haven't lost the momentum.,, (5+ / 0-)

    We've lost the "Joementum".

    "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room" President Merkin Muffley

    by irate on Sat Aug 12, 2006 at 06:10:53 AM PDT

    •  lol (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      I think.

      There should be a kiss FLOAT that follow joe in DC. Sort of like a bad Omen following him around.

      It's brilliant idea. It'll be a city attraction.

      WHen will Joe be back in DC? Plus there should be one float for DC, jsut to annoy the hell out of EVERYBODY, specially spineless democrats.


      WE NEED a KISS float in DC!

  •  Time to step up and close the deal (14+ / 0-)

    We cannot ask.  We need to take it.

    Drive the float to DC.

    •  every winnable race needs its OWN kiss float (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WI Deadhead, Jeffrey Feldman

      and then come this fall when congress goes back into session, we should have a 'kiss' floatilla in DC....akin to a progressive parade...that passes by the white house...and then the capital building.

      think of the press
      think of the photo ops
      think of the compromised republican incumbants trying to sneak into their offices without having to pass the KISS floatilla

      50 state strategy = 50 KISS floats

      I want the one from NY to be all about Peter King :)

      the only way to wipe the rights meme off the front pages is to do something BIG that the press cannot and does not want to ignore

      50 KISS floats is a media event....and a political piece of theater that can knock karl rove OFF message

      "if all the world's a stage, who is sitting in the audience?"

      by KnotIookin on Sat Aug 12, 2006 at 06:45:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The 'kiss' is symbolic, and the float dramatized (6+ / 0-)

    it bigger than life.   I agree we need to keep up the pressure, and the kiss is great shorthand to do it with.  

    The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity." - Harlan Ellison

    by dkmich on Sat Aug 12, 2006 at 06:16:15 AM PDT

  •  Great diary! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tlh lib, Leila

    He that chooses his own path needs no map. Queen Kristina of Sweden.

    by Boppy on Sat Aug 12, 2006 at 06:17:38 AM PDT

  •  This is it... (7+ / 0-)

    Yes, the writing gets much better. Most of us here don't have a podium other than DKos, whatever it can provide. But these action items are a way for the minority party to regain the attention and take the fight to the enemy.

    Please get that float to Washington.

  •  I love this idea! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tlh lib, Boppy, sodalis, Karyn

    We must keep the momentum going!

  •  The float will be needed (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tlh lib, Natalie, jiml

    in Connecticut between now and November unless and until mein Lieber Herr drops his independent bid (or turns out not to have enough valid signatures for it, which is possible but not, alas, likely).

  •  If we can't get the press (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tlh lib, Jeffrey Feldman, Natalie, Leila

    the float is a great way to get attention.  Reminds me of the "drown government in a bathtub" float that was in DC last fall.

    Very effective.  It's the access we have trouble getting.  Message says it all--Loserman is a suck up.

  •  no-menutm (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeffrey Feldman

    So the major reason you think this strategy will be effective is that it would shame our leadership into pressuring Joe to drop out? It might do that, but if so, is that because it would put a negative frame out to the majority of the nation's voters?

    The float was a stroke of genius. It clearly spoke to CT voters. However, it may have a different symbolic effect to voters across the country who are less aware of JL's actions. They likely only know that he was the Dem VP candidate. They probably don't view him as a DINO. Would they look at the float and think that all politicians are in bed together?...doesn't matter whether they're Rep or Dem, you can't trust 'em. This could tarnish all the Dems.

    Don't we want to nationalize the elections?
    How about replacing Joe on the foat with an admitted Republican? Or, maybe an entire fleet of floats! Bush playing his presidential guitar for John McCain. Bush on a Mission Accomplished float. Condi shoe shopping. The possibilities are endless!

  •  Senator Dodd (3+ / 0-)

    Senator Dodd has the best chance to talk him out of it, that should be a main point of pressure.

  •  The underlying (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeffrey Feldman, DBunn

    communication of the don't ask for it, make it, take it attitude backed up by tough, smart political action is that we are leading the Democratic party out of the darkness of identifying wih the victim role. You can't unconsciously identify with the victim and kick ass at the same time.

    The Republican's have had their foot on our throat ever since Regan and we have unconsciously been asking for help. See how mean they are, we need help.

    Most of the success the R's have had in marketing their message has been based on characterizing Democrats as being identified with the victim and asking for help instead of taking responsibility for their own life and  making something happen.

    Welfare reform, tax cuts, union busting, the environment, political correctness, affirmative action, the assenine "strong on defense" statement, all appeal to the same dynamic. They have played on the victim identification that has been obvious and real.

    Kicking some ass is the one thing that undermines the appeal of all their arguements. It is not that we have to take on the corporate suck up policies of the  R's, we just have to take charge and make our own reality the dominant one. People like the fact that Dem's aren't at heart corporate suck up's, they like our policy positions, they just hate our identification with the victim, come help me, stance.

    Forget the money and MSM disadvantage and just start throwing punches. Throw em hard, throw lots of em, keep throwing em.

    The float represents taking up the fight. The next time they accuse anyone of being angry, as if that isn't appropriate, just say "get out of my fucking way, I've got some ass to kick"

    •  That's right (0+ / 0-)

      Kicking some ass, instead of kissing some ass lips.

    •  and we better start the kicking quickly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jeffrey Feldman, poe, DBunn

      Pound them on security. They're the party of insecurity. Trying to protect the public on the cheap, so that they can line their pockets and fund their little international game of Risk.

      It doesn't take a genius to see that GWB will pull a terror threat out of his magic hat right at the end of October. If we don't preempt this cheap ploy so that it blows up in his face (figuratively, I mean), we're hosed again.

      •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        poe, jiml

        We need to really hit hard  and keep moving forward--whether or not there's a red alert on toothpaste.

        •  'War on Toothpaste' ...very clever (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jeffrey Feldman, Bob Guyer

          Jeffrey, great discussion of Cold War frames. Another phrase occurred to me while reading it. "Duct and Cover"... but surely someone thought of this during the Great Duct Tape Alert of '03.

        •  It's primitive (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jeffrey Feldman, DBunn

          cave dweller stuff. We have been dominated by a bully for a long time. Everyone is sick of it but too afraid to stand up.

          People will follow if we prove that we can  kick the bully's ass and make a safe spece for the redress of everyones greivences.

          Taking punches and coming back throwing says two things.

          One we are not afraid anymore and have the power to attack.

          Two, maybe even more important, we can take a punch and not go down. When the MSM went after Howard Dean, we showed we had a glass jaw, one punch and we go down. That is when John Kerry lost the election.

          Gotta take a punch, laugh it off, is that all you got punk, you better bring more if you expect to kick my ass. If we would have collectively done that any candidate we would have selected would have won.

          The bully's power comes from fear, not an overwhelming advantage in actual power. Puncture that illusion and they have noting to fall back on. They will make a lot of noise as they deflate because that is all they know how to do, make noise. Their real power comes from the fear in the audience and the projection of power onto them as opposed to owning and using our own power.

    •  Words of weakness (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Guyer

      Most of the success the R's have had in marketing their message has been based on characterizing Democrats as being identified with the victim and asking for help instead of taking responsibility for their own life and  making something happen.

      Great insight. The Republicans as abusers, the Dems acting like abuse victims. This is something I’ve been feeling for a long time, but you put it into words.

      One phrase I hear a lot from Dems is that if elected they will “fight for your rights” or something like that. They seem to think it makes them sound tough. But really, it activates an image of an opponent that is more powerful than we are and that is in charge of everything. In this context the “fight” may be scrappy and spirited, but it will ultimately be a losing effort. The power is elsewhere, with the abuser.

      We’re not going to “fight” anyone—we’re going to take over and run things ourselves. The Republicans are almost irrelevant, because we have the power—and we do have it, by the way, we just lost the habit of using it. Oh we won’t ignore them, we’ll deal with them, but more the way capable parents deal with a misbehaving child. We’re sure not going to “fight” them—that suggests they have some kind of standing, some degree of worthiness as an opponent.

      Here’s another word I’d like to see retired: “Demands”, as in “the protestors’ demands are withdrawal from Iraq and greater investment in education and health care”. “Demand” again tries to sound strong, but beneath that superficial appearance is an acceptance that there is a larger controlling entity with the power to grant or deny the demands. In this framing the protestors are like children asking the parents for permission to stay out late on Saturday night. The protest event is like a tantrum.

      I’m not saying that people should not go into the streets to make a political point or show the power of their numbers and the solidarity of their beliefs. I’m just saying stop trying to “demand” things. We’re not demanding anything, we’re just going to go ahead and do what needs to be done.

      •  We are seeing the same thing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jeffrey Feldman, DBunn

        and the more we can put it into words the more we break the spell. Their power has been resting on the illusion of our own powerlessness and the perverse gain we have gotten out of reveling in the victim position.

        I love your words;

        We’re sure not going to “fight” them—that suggests they have some kind of standing, some degree of worthiness as an opponent.


        We’re not demanding anything, we’re just going to go ahead and do what needs to be done.

        We are self respecting adults, we don't have to ask anyone for self respect. We either have it, and live it, or we don't, our responsibility, end of story.

        It is so good to talk to other strong people. I love this space. To quote Dylan

        something is happening here, but you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones

      •  Yeah, but... (0+ / 0-)

        If I just want to be a Senator, it's not so simple.

        We need to pressure people who have their finger on the lever to pull it, sometimes.

        The float is not a demand so much as bringing the show to the people who need to see it the most.

        •  Pressure, yes (0+ / 0-)

          We have to let them know what we expect of them. We have to be firm. We can start by being polite, even gentle, respectful, but firm. And we will not accept anything less than performance. If they do not respond to polite and gentle, then we must be ready to go to the next stage. We must be willing to use whatever means are necessary.

          Throughout the struggle we must remember that the center is within us. Republicans are weak and unbalanced because they are off-center. They have a poor understanding of the world. They are selfish, mean, petulant, untruthful. They cannot be trusted to lead. They are like misbehaving children, and we are the adults who have the vision, integrity, composure, and moral strength to lead.

  •  I GOT IT...the perfect frame for poor old Joe (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeffrey Feldman

    i crack up every time i hear poor old joe claim 'for the good of my party I cannot let the will of the voters in CT stand"

    the reason i laugh is that Joe's party is the 'CT for lieberman" party...a party of ONE...joe lieberman.  So what he is, in effect saying, is that for the good of himself he refuses to accept the outcome of the democratic primary ....

    i wonder how this plays in IRAQ, where people like Joe claim they want to spread democracy.....and tout elections and urge iraqi's to accept the outcome of those elections.

    Joe Lieberman is an American insurgent.

    "if all the world's a stage, who is sitting in the audience?"

    by KnotIookin on Sat Aug 12, 2006 at 07:06:17 AM PDT

  •  I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

    Lamont deserves a vacation.  When he gets back, he'll be refreshed, focused, and able to handle business.

    Have the facts changed?  Iraqis still did not do 911.  These people are scared and desperate.  That's the point that needs to be made.

    Who's gonna offer you more to fear?  Who's gonna offer you courageous leadership?

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