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In case you haven't yet seen the news, a Kossack is running for Congress.  His name is Ron Shepston, and he's running in California's 42nd district against one of the most corrupt Republicans in Congress.  And did I mention--his campaign manager is also a Kossack.

Now you know who the candidate is--but today, on Blogosphere Day, I wanted to share with you some thoughts I had about how all this started, where it's going, and what it might even mean for the future of our political system.

Follow me below.

Previous diaries in the CA-42 campaign rollout series:
7/15: thereisnospoon's CA-42: A Kossack is running for Congress
7/16: atdnext's CA-42: The Case Against Dirty Gary Miller
7/17: Major Danby's CA-42: I'm managing a netroots U.S. House campaign
7/18: CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream's CA-42: Hi, I'm Ron Shepston and I'm running for Congress

If you've been following all this exciting news, you're probably familiar with a lot of the storyline.  Ron Shepston's candidacy is the first netroots-grown federal candidacy, and follows in the footsteps of pioneers such as Brian Keeler and others in actually trying to get involved, win elections, and be the change that we want to see.  But to me, the Ron Shepston for Congress campaign means so much more to me than whether the people involved--from the candidates on down to the supporters--just happen to go online to post on a blog.  To me, it's about restoring the way democracy should work in this country.  I've been involved since the campaign as it currently stands was no more than a twinkle in the eye of someone who half-jokingly said, "hey, you should run."  And along the way, I just happen to have borne witness to something I believe is truly extraordinary.

I was fortunate enough to be present, along with my brother thereisnospoon, at the event that gave rise to what is now the Ron Shepston for Congress campaign.  And like he said, it all began with a discussion of what will soon, I hope, become the first thing I hope everyone thinks about when they hear the name "Gary Miller": the "why won't you buy my property" video put out by the DCCC; and then of how to pursue the 50-state strategy successfully, if how we as Democrats had to make sure that Gary Miller didn't just get a free pass--and it just so happened that someone by the name of Ron Shepston (who, if you will pardon the pun on his handle, was certainly incensed but still hoping for better) happened to be an unwilling constituent of the aforementioned Gary Miller.

Once Ron had decided to run, the next phase of discussion turned to something elementary: a discussion of problems, and ideas about what to do to fix them.  From national issues such as Iraq and tax policy to more local issues such as freeways and transportation, over the course of the next several months, we as citizens actually discussed issues.  No consultants--not yet, anyway.  Just discussing with people in the district--the potential volunteers, the activists, or the regulars at the newly formed Drinking Liberally in Rancho Santa Marguerita and Santa Ana--what their issues are, and what they'd like to see done.

And as I've been observing the Ron Shepston campaign, this is the one thing that stands out to me.  The people discussing the issues internally in the campaign are regular citizens who care enough to have a debate about what's going wrong and what we can do to set it right.  To me, it doesn't honestly matter where all these regular citizens met each other and discovered their mutual interest in political discourse and ideation; DailyKos is wonderful for that sort of thing, but if everyone had happened to meet at a meatspace town hall rather than a virtual town hall, the idea would have been the same--it just wouldn't have given us the feeling of something so amazing as the connections produced by the blogosphere.

It's not that we don't discuss strategy.  We do.  Every campaign has to if it wants to have a chance to succeed.  But even then, our strategies (I could tell you what they are but then I'd have to kill you) have been formulated over the past several months the same way our platform is--by talking amongst ourselves, brainstorming, ideating, and having fun every step of the way.  You should see our meetings--I'd say we're spending just as much time laughing as we are talking, and yet it doesn't take away from our productivity--in fact, I'd say it enhances it.

Like I said--this is a different type of campaign.  And it's not different because we all happen to love participating in virtual town hall sites.  It's different because it's a campaign by a regular citizen, for regular citizens, and run by regular citizens.  And when we decided to make our official announcement, guess where we made it?
To the regular citizens like you who have made dreaming of such an idea possible.

I know it's early in the campaign, but I'd say our faith in what I like to call "citizen campaigning" has been a success so far--on our announcement day, we raised over $4,300 from regular citizens like you who want to see citizen candidates rather than special interest candidates, and who want to see campaigns run by those who share their values, rather than others who may seem out of touch with the values shared by the grassroots that makes our election possible. Something is happening here -- you can feel it.

Over the course of the past 6 months, I have witness the birth of a netroots campaign, an incipient grassroots campaign, and a campaign run and inspired by those who are passionate about political solutions to pressing issues.  It's a campaign on the cutting edge of the decentralized ideology that we have favored in campaigns since "Crashing the Gate".  It is a campaign that will put to the test the 50-state strategy, as well as what we in California call the 58-county strategy.

But you do know the only way it'll be a fair test, right?  We need you to help us out by helping to fuel this campaign.
See, it's my belief that a team of dedicated citizen activists ought to be able to compete with the corrupt institutionalization of the likes of Gary Miller.  It's my belief that a candidate shouldn't have to have a million dollars in his personal bank account to win a seat in the People's House.

It's my belief that we're running our campaign in the way the founders of our government intended for it to be done.  It's my belief that it can be successful.  And I want your help in proving me right.

Originally posted to Dante Atkins: the author formerly known as hekebolos on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 10:29 AM PDT.

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