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What should Daily Kos be and do?

One good answer to that is that it should be and do whatever its owner wants it to be.  I tend to agree with this position as a matter of right, even as I see pressuring the site's owner to be my right so long as my presence is suffered here.  At any rate, Markos seems generally (with a few exceptions) accepting of whatever occurs on the right side of the page, and he benefits from the page views, so the question becomes what should we want Daily Kos to be and do?

The best answer I have to that question is that Daily Kos and its membership should exist to frighten and demoralize the Republican Party and our other opponents.  That's why I am here.

That is why, as much as I love this site (and I do, too much) I am often disappointed.  We often don't keep this goal in mind.  This diary proposes a floor-level expectation we should have of each other.

1. Frightening and Demoralizing Republicans

Let me start by clarifying: I think that we have to be honest (don't spread stories saying that watching Fox "News" causes cancer, unless it does) and fair (we want to frighten and demoralize them only insofar as it involves their pushing their political programs over ours, where we disagree.)  We want them to be less effective proponents of bad policies and opponents of good policies.  How do we do so?  What scares and depresses them?

Here is a hierarchy of diaries (which will be subject to revision (hopefully in response to your comments) that generally fit this bill, ranked by how much I think they frighten and demoralize Republicans:

(1) Channeling our efforts into contributing money, expertise, and effort to close political races.

(2) Channeling our efforts into contributing money, expertise, and effort to less close political races.

(3) Non-electoral but still political "action diaries."

(4) In-depth investigative pieces.

(5) Criticizing, explaining, and opposing regressive and Republican policies, strategies, and tactics.

(6) Proposing, explaining and promoting progressive and Democratic policies, strategies, and tactics.

(7) Identifying Republican and regressive lies and foibles.

(8) Making fun of Republicans and regressives so that it is not "cool" to be among them.

(9) Bringing to light new information and personal experiences about common problems that beg for progressive solutions.

(10) Debating with each other to hone our arguments about policies, strategies, and tactics.

(11) Metadiscussion of the processes by which we improve our performance at this task on this site.

(12) Making sure that people have read some useful article or writing from outside the site.

Here are some sorts of diaries that I think work against our purposes and make our opponents happy:

(1) "Doing the Republicans' work for them" by trashing Democratic and progressive approaches and people who may be worth opposing but generally not treating as if they were from the opposition.

(2) Discrediting the credibility of the site, whether with specious arguments and logic, lies, gratuitous viciousness or insults (which is where racism and the like fit in) or general recklessness (which is where the proscription against conspiracy theories, to the extent it applies -- which isn't 100% of the time -- fits in).

And here is a huge class of diaries that may help frighten and demoralize Republicans, but don't do so directly:

(1) Diaries intended to build community and esprit, which make participants enjoy the site and want to spend time here: this includes "non-political" diaries, diaries with pictures of dogs and cats (the slang terms used here don't belong in a manifesto!) and the like, mutual help diaries, mutual support diaries (as in the event of job loss and bereavement), etc.

Note what I am not saying: I am not saying that those diaries do not belong here and I am not even saying that they do not belong on the Rec List.  I am saying that they are not why we are here, except perhaps insofar as they give Markos more eyeballs to sell.  They are auxiliary to our reason for existence here.

Why do I say that?

Because our building community spirit does not in and of itself frighten and demoralize Republicans.

They don't care if we make each other smile or laugh.

They care if we get in their way.

They care if that community spirit leads people into active participation in the sorts of diaries (and supportive activities) that I listed first.

They care most if it leads people to engage in action that opposes them.

In other words, community spirit is nice for its own sake.  I enjoy my (too much) time here.  I am often dazzled by our collective wit, enlightened by what we collectively know, touched by others' emotions.

But while the feminist movement was correct to say that "the personal is political" -- that is, that what happens in our personal lives implicates politics -- the personal is not always political.  In saying that, I don't equate "political" with good; a sense of progressive community is good even when it doesn't implicate politics.  It simply doesn't frighten and demoralize regressives and Republicans, and that is what more than anything else I am here to do.

(Why are you here?)

2. Being Frightened and Demoralized by Regressive Republicans

I want to call attention to two recent diaries describing activities that have frightened and demoralized me.  Those activities, by our opponents, are in fact designed to do just that in part.

First, there's this Rec Listed diary by Troutfishing on regressive and viciously political "Third Wave" Christianity, which follows on his stories on, say, domination of such ideology within, among other places, the Air Force Academy.  Read it.  How does it make you feel?

Second, there's devtob's recent diary, which was decidedly not Rec Listed, on how the ultraconservative Christian Youth group Generation Joshua is sending Student Action Teams of true believers out to take part in local campaigns nationwide, including the just-ended NY-20 race, to tip the scales towards Republicans.

(I don't mean these examples to be slamming even devout Christianity; here's an example of a diary that talks about how religious Christians supported Obama in the last election.  I find that heartening, nuch as I find these other diaries disheartening.)

I will bet that, as you read those linked articles, what will frighten and demoralize you is not so much that people believe all sorts of repugnant things, but that they want to impose those beliefs on others through their participation in the political system -- and that they are doing it and doing it well.

This is how the Moral Majority and its ilk helped place and maintain Reagan and his followiers in office for the past thirty years.

Who, you might ask, is supposed to be the leftprogressive counterpart to these groups -- capable of getting people involved in local elections to oppose them?

Well -- and here I heave a deep sigh -- that is supposed to be us.

That is why I ranked action diaries -- especially in close elections -- first among those that scare Republicans.

3. Our failures and our chance to succeed

Regressive Republicans who can convince themselves that they are doing God's work (or Ayn Rand's or Dick Cheney's, whomever they worship) will work very hard for what they want; they will receive tangible benefits from their community -- religious or commercial or military -- for doing so, in addition to promises of pie in the sky when they die.

We on the Left -- we don't pay our people well or make them promises of salvation that we know we can't or won't keep.  We depend on the worst possible motivation for political action: we want people to do it because it's right.

Our community here should be dedicated to turning all of that community spirit into the sort of political fighting force that our opponents have -- one that sends people into where the action is and gives them love and respect of their peers in deserved return.  That is why -- and when -- pootie and bereavement and snarkfest diaries matter politically.

This matters most when there is just one race -- usually a special election -- going on in the country, meaning that our opponents can focus all of their resources on a single point and we can do the same.

We have been doing a terrible job of it recently.

The greatest technological innovation in recent years (at least online) for helping Democratic candidates may well be ActBlue, which allows people who have been excited by what they read on a blog or e-mail to send money easily safely -- in small amounts that add up to huge ones -- to candidates who otherwise would never have been reached.

But that's money -- it's not time.  Traditionally, the advantage of Democrats over Republicans is that while they had more money, we had more volunteers willing to put in their time to campaigning.  In the past thirty years, Republicans have gotten better at the latter, even as in the past three years Democrats have gotten better at the former.

We need ways to do for volunteer effort what ActBlue does for donations.  Right now, the main way we have to do that is through out-of-district phonebanking.

Phonebanking technology has improved -- hell, it has improved just over the past year or so, though I still have criticisms of it.  (Lack of "left a message" buttons to let callers feel that they can document their useful actions, poorly written scripts, poorly revised information, often lousy and outdated and uncleaned lists, poor instructions on what to do when the voter is out and you speak to someone else, and more.)  Why isn't it improving better and faster?

Simple: because there's no real demand for it.  Why put a lot of effort into improving something that people won't show that they will use?

Imagine what would happen if, as happened in the Obama campaign, the phonebanks were flooded with volunteers.  Imagine what would happen if Democratic and progressive volunteerism from out of district were as reliably present as the Student Action Teams send by Generation Joshua to support our opponents?

The technology would improve.

The test cases -- the "proof of concept," if you will -- of how we as a national force can change the results of close elections nationwide comes most clearly in special elections, when most attention is focused -- at least when it comes to reading election results, when it's too late to affect them -- on one race.

Such races have shown how badly we have been failing as a movement.

For almost four months, my sig line was about our failure in LA-04, the race where moderate (by Louisiana standards) Democrat Paul Carmouche lost to John Fleming, after having led him in the first round, by 357 votes.

The way I talk about this race, you might think that I cared about it for a long time before it happened.  I didn't.  I knew in the back of my mind that it was upcoming, but it was so far out of my mind that in this December 2 recap on 2008 phonebanking I noted that our efforts had concluded for the year.  It wasn't until I asked some innocent questions about the races two days later that I realized that this was a race that was likely to be very close and that, despite our uninformed overconfidence, we had a good chance to lose.

For the next two days, I went into a frenzy of trying to get people here to phonebank and got a pitiful few takers.  This would not have been so much of a problem had it not been for the fact that when the results were coming in -- when people could be politial observers rather than political actors, the front page was crowded with people watching the returns of an election that few of them had shown any sign of caring about even only a few hours before.  I went into a rage, wrote a not very productive diary slamming the community, and no doubt made many friends.

I also (more to my credit) decided that I wanted to be of greater use when the next special election came down.  I was one of those opposed to the selection of Kirsten Gillibrand as Hillary Clinton's replacement in the Senate, in part because I doubted we would hold NY-20, but I felt that that gave me more responsibility to ensure that we held the seat.  So I pushed people here with any ties to the campaign about whether they would have national phone banking and when they put it in place I pushed Kosters to get involved with about a dozen diaries over 2-1/2 weeks.

We did better this time, but that means only moving from an F to a D-minus, and our progress was probably largely due to the energetic  efforts of the folks from The Albany Project, many of whom post here.  To my knowledge, DKos was the only site really promoting use of the DCCC's phonebanking tool, including diaries by many "average" Kosters and (after a little prodding) with a link in Arjun's front-page stories on the race.  I know that the top phone banker on the DCCC site (me) made 190 calls; I know that a day or two before the election the 10th ranked caller had made no less than 80, so that adds up to a lot of calls.  About 100 of my calls were messages (the effectiveness of which I don't know, but I it does appear that people seem to prefer personal messages to robocall messages), and I know that I seemed to have talked at least 5-6 people into supporting Murphy, and that I got at least one guy who wasn't going to vote out the door with about an hour left before the polls closed.  I don't know that, combined, DCCC phonebanking would be responsible for a a three digit margin, but if it's a two-digit margin I think that it might be.

Again, this race turned out to be extraordinarily close.  Again, the limited interest in diaries promoting phonebanking before the election was dwarved by the interest in people following the election returns once it was too late to do anything about them.

Let's estimate that maybe forty people made as many as 20 calls -- and that may be high.  In a site this size, with a race this close, with proper leadership (which the evidence definitively shows that I certainly was not able to provide), and with an new ethos that this is the sort of thing the netroots progressive are supposed to do, I don't think it's unreasonable to think that in a special election we shouldn't have been able to get 500 people to make 20 calls.  Maybe 1000.  Maybe, once it caught on that this is how you pay your progressive dues it could have been 5000.  Like so many other things here, it's mostly a matter of making it "cool."

I submit that we would not now be chewing our fingernails wondering if we were going to win this race once the absentee ballots came in.  We would have already won this race.  And those conservative "Student Action Teams" from Generation Joshua, who may win this race, would have/already lost/ it.  If that happens enough times, maybe Student Action Teams lose some of their allure.  That's good for our side.

So this is two Congressional special elections in a row in which we didn't phone bank enough and we faced or may face a narrow loss.  If you believe in God, maybe we're being told something.  Or maybe this is just the old advice being underlined for us, that the Lord helps those who help themselves.

I cherish the DKos community.  But what it's good for is not merely making each other feel good -- it's for changing the world.  It's for making Republicans frightened and discouraged.  They are not frightened by our community diaries; they are not even really frightened by our discussions of policy and scandal.

They are not afraid of our fingers when they are typing.  They are afraid of our fingers when they are dialing for voters or balled up to knock on voters' doors.  Let's establish an ethos here that makes DKos a site that truly does frighten them, because we represent the desire and intent of Democrats nationally (and even internationally) to swoop into any district, as Republicans do, and make the difference in who serves in our government.

Campaign workers of the world outside of a given district having an election, unite!  We have nothing to lose but our ineffectiveness!

Originally posted to Doane Spills on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:27 PM PDT.

Poll

What do you think of phonebanking outside your district?

28%21 votes
18%14 votes
22%17 votes
2%2 votes
2%2 votes
1%1 votes
5%4 votes
5%4 votes
12%9 votes

| 74 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  If anybody needs me, I'll be on the phone (45+ / 0-)

    (in the next special election.)  I hope that you'll join me in helping to build the netroots ethos that if (as is true for so many these days) you have time but not money to donate, you will expect yourself and expect others to put time in on the phone.

    I want to frighten and demoralize Republicans to the point where they will give up and cooperate in creating a better world.  It's what I'm here for.  What about you?

    So, Markos: we're supposed to hope Murphy wins in NY-20, but not donate to or work for him? Yup?

    by Seneca Doane on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:27:05 PM PDT

    •  This is what I wish this site was (13+ / 0-)

      I want to support and  reward good (progressive) behavior. I don't care for "red meat". Populist outrage leaves me cold.  

      I would much rather work towards something.  I know that I'm not going to agree with Dems about everything but I'd rather focus on what we do agree on and work towards a goal.

    •  Phone-Banker of the First Rank. (5+ / 0-)

      We'll need more people like you if we hope to hold on in 2010.  2010 will be vital due to redistricting, which has long favored the Republicans and allowed them an easier-time holding onto Congressional seats.

      The margin we have right now in the House is the best we'll be able to get unless we can kick some serious ass in 2010 on the state level.

      "Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk." Mr. John Conyers Jr.

      by Setrak on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:44:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  thanks Seneca (6+ / 0-)

      I too am disappointed from time to time. I tend to favor action diaries (like the one this morning calling for a letter writing campaign to Senator Burr for holding up Tammy Duckworth's appointment) and whenever they show up I gladly oblige. It makes me feel like I'm DOING something.

      While I enjoy sharing and vigorous debate on these pages, (sometimes) I also feel that we need to be more proactive. But early on i realized that this site is mostly a site for opinion sharing. Analysis of politics but not really political action. I realized it after writing several action diaries and hardly getting any response. Its maddening to think that 200,000 registered users can't be more of a force politically. From time to time it happens, but by and large, this isn't it and like you, i feel frustrated about how to actualize it.

      So I work in my community the same way I did during Obama's campaign. handing out flyers i pay for myself, even if its just to a few churches and the community center and some houses on a few block near my house. I learn SO MUCH by doing that (like, what real regular people are thinking and feeling instead of political junkies) and I actually end up feeling like I;m still doing something. I wish wish wish we could get every people who posts a comment on this board to pass out 50 flyers in the neighborhood every couple weeks.

      Arrgh.

      •  I wish that too, but I also think of it this way (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Christin, RonV, elmo, Jacques

        If I had my own blog, I could rail against the wind until blue in the face and not get a bunch of people to join me in phonebanking.  Here, even if 95% of the people on the site ignore me (and I think that may be an underestimate), the remaining ones are still a huge number compared to what we could get elsewhere.

        Seriously, if Murphy wins by under 100 votes it could absolute be a result that depended on me and a bunch of other people whipping people into action here.  That doesn't have to happen too often to justify putting time into it!

        You're also absolutely right that community work is critical.  All DKos and no political work at home makes for a dull activist.

        •  Outstanding diary Seneca - simply outstanding. (4+ / 0-)

          And this so damn deserves to be the on rec list.
          Alas - it's not juicy enough.
          No "Breaking!"
          No "Obama Effed Up Again!".
          Sometimes I think Daily Kos is far far far better at being the Perez TMZ Hilton of Politics than getting serious.
          And it kills me to see action diaries get ignored, and the excuse to bitch and moan and scream and yell the outrage, many times faux, get the attention.

          You know it's so damn easy to complain and rant and rave with zero solutions or zero effort to fixing something.
          it's so damn easy to write a screaming manifesto on a blog that does nothing but froth up the masses who then do nothing but write comments and then go to bed.

          This is not meta, not by far.
          Thank you.

          "Oh no...you changed your hair color? It's just so dark. You like it? And with your skin tone?" My Beloved Mom, December 25 2007, once again on notice.

          by Christin on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 03:38:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I don't want to frighten or (5+ / 0-)

      demoralize anyone. If you love to gab on the phone with people you don't know then God Bless but that's not me. I communicate with those around me and donate what I can but I don't think you can apppreciate the amount of time and stress a single one of these phone calls can take out of some of us. You can tell me to toughen up and I'll agree but each call will still take forever to work up the nerve and then, once underway, will last a lifetime. I don't expect you to understand this at all.  

      The revolution is just an ethical haircut away - Billy Bragg

      by Elvis meets Nixon on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 03:04:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  GREAT diary! Thanks! n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Christin, RonV, Seneca Doane

      We find that after years of struggle we do not take a journey, but rather a journey takes us. -John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

      by tigerdog on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 03:05:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sorry I missed the chance to rec this diary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Seneca Doane

      I was off the computer all weekend.

      I do want to say it was the community spirit diaries that got me invested in this site.  Without them I wouldn't still be here, and wouldn't have felt motivated to participate when you put out the call to phone bank.

      Having said that, I am bewildered more people didn't heed the call.  Like you said, if even only 5% of Kossacks made only 20 calls, it would've been HUGE.  Makes no sense to me that it didn't happen.

      So here are my committments:  

      1. when I see you, or others, putting out the call to phone bank I will make at least 20 calls.
      1. I have not yet written a diary, but in the future, when there are action diaries out there, I will diary with links to them.  They probably won't get much play, but it's better than nothing.
      1. I'll link to phone banking action diaries in the communities here in which I am active.  That should get them a little more play.

      Thanks for providing me a route to action Seneca.  I'm praying hard for Murphy to pull it off in NY-20, and I plan to be part of the solution in the next special election as well.

      Life is so difficult, how can we be anything but kind?

      by dakinishir on Mon Apr 06, 2009 at 11:37:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Superb diary. Thanks for a great effort. n/t (7+ / 0-)
  •  Dailykos is cash money for unknown progressive... (0+ / 0-)

    ...candidates who need funds to be competitive and break through to the news media. The rest? "Buy-in" components of the fundraising/support network. And festoonery. I like it that way and I don't think it's a negative or debased idea at all (though some recoil) to have a fundraising/support network tied to a social network function.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:37:02 PM PDT

  •  I did some for Obama and some for Murphy (8+ / 0-)

    for Murphy, though, I didn't actually reach anyone.  of the calls I made, 90% were 'no one home', and all the ones where someone answered were wrong numbers.

    But I'll do it again.

    Still, we need to improve our phone banking:

    1. The lists are out of date.  Not sure what to do about this
    1. People are getting multiple calls and it's pissing them off.  
    1. The scripts (e.g. for Murphy) should have a message to leave and a button to click for 'left message on machine'.
    •  Taking these in turn (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kitty, Christin, RonV, plf515, mdmslle
      1. Lists cost money to purchase and cost time to maintain (e.g., by taking out all of those non-working numbers.)  Campaigns will put the effort into that only when they believe that people like us will make good use of their product.
      1. There's an answer everyone should know to that.  First, in the waning days of the election, I start off a call, after saying who I am, by saying "I'll get you're getting a lot of calls, huh?"  They usually (but not always!) say "yes," and I say "well, the good news for all of us is that the election is almost over!"  This makes them laugh and builds rapport.  If they sound up to it, I'll also explain that different groups make calls from similar lists and that by law we can't coordinate, which is what causes the problem.  Most have never thought a moment about this, and I've found that getting this explanation really appears to people; among other things, they seem more inclined to listen to me.  (Now, could we build that into a script?)
      1. Murphy's phone bank did have a message text, but it was stuck at the bottom.  It should have been in a blue box under the red "voter not reached" options and to the right of the green "voter reached" script.  There should definitely be a button for phonebankers to indicate that they left a message, even if it is programmed to send that click into the same column as "not home."  If you look at a database showing my calls, the vast majority would appear as "not home," inviting the inference that I am dogging it (or possible even sabotaging them!) rather than working my ass off.  Letting people say "yes, I did something in this call" -- even if the campaign doesn't care -- is an important motivational tool.  Phonebankers want to feel that they are contributing and that the contribution is, somewhere noted.

      Thanks for the characteristically helpful post!

      •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Christin, RonV, Seneca Doane

        Yeah, I found the Murphy phone banking very confusing.  I didn't know where to click for 'left message'.  And I do not think it should go to the same as 'not reached'.  At least when calling known Democrats, leaving a message should remove the person from the list.

        I like your first response!  They should put that in a script.

        As to maintaining lists ... Clearly, you are right, but I hope that when one of us clicks 'wrong number' it removes that name/number combination from the list.

  •  Why I generally do NOT phone bank (4+ / 0-)

    outside my city/state/district:

    Many voters do not wish to be pitched by "outsiders."  Saying, "Wait, I live here" draws more listeners, in my experience.

    grumble grumble mutter mutter

    by Crashing Vor on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:41:09 PM PDT

  •  I'll do ya one better... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cjallen, Seneca Doane, KelleyRN2

    how about the ability to simulate phone banking with one another for the lurkers like myself that hate, hate phone banking with a passion.

    I've donated, gone door-to-door, and even done some phone calling here and there in my own locale.  However, I really hate dialing up a random person and attempted to establish a rapport.

    I'm sure there are many like me that could talk policy for hours with other wonks (even opposition wonks), but freeze up when having to deal with a person of unknown political knowledge and values.

    In normal situations, this can be offset by being from the same neighborhood or the local college.  But what to do when calling across country?

    Any thoughts on that?

    •  I would happily roleplay with people here (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RonV, mdmslle, UpstateAlan

      (although I think I'd only give my number to people whom I knew by participation here.)  That is something that can be organized.  As for giving tips, you can take a look at my 12/2 diary linked above for last year as well as comments from me and others in my diaries for the past few weeks on NY-20.

      The big ones: be friendly, unfailingly polite, read the script as verbatim as you feel you should, and don't feel bad about being nervous, because it's humanizing!

    •  i think that's something that could be done (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Seneca Doane

      either set up a day of play acting or if you have a remaining grassroots group in your community do it face to face.

      In my community during the Obama campaign I was in charge of my town of 15,000 (directly under the CFC Staffer who had too many other towns to do so she basically left me in charge of the volunteers). O hosted parties where we did phone banking and canvassing role play. It was FUN and Hilarious. And yes, even more fun after a few beers.

      I think its vitally important to stay involved in our local communities because we are the ones who are political activists. We can be the leaders and the message bearers on teh ground. Organizaing for American is functional and Obama's old website and all the listservs for local community groups are still quite active.

      But i think absent that, we can and should be doing something like that here. But as Seneca notes, the reception for action is way below what it ought to be.

      Wanna here something funny? When I finally stopped lurking here and posted something saying that we ought to "do this or that" someone blatantly said to me "this is a blog not a PAC".  I'd link to the comment but it would take me a while to find it but it was in response to one of my first posts here. It taught me alot.

  •  Pfui. (3+ / 0-)

    You take yourself and this site too seriously.

  •  DKos is an organizing tool. The question is whose (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, chrome327

    organization is it for? Democrats or progressives/liberals/lefties? The stated mission of the site is to support Democrats, but many here have often been frustrated with the Democratic party, and that has in fact been a big part of the draw of the site. Much of the tension that has been going on for as long as I've known this site (since 2003) has revolved around this question. The latest manifestation of it is the divide between the Don't-criticize-Obama-it's-sacrilegious crowd and the Obama-is-awesome-but-there's-a-big--old-world-to-the-left-of-his-policies-and-that's-where-I-live bunch.

    An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz (cskendrick)

    by brainwave on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:44:25 PM PDT

    •  Yes, and some people certainly did refuse to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brainwave

      phonebank for Murphy on ideological grounds (that I found specious.)  Those people obviously won't participate; I prefer, though, that they don't slam those who do.

    •  We start from more Democrats. I phone-banked (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brainwave, chrome327

      for Murphy even though I think he sucks. (I did not send money) Special case, this was a special election. If there's a progressive primary challenger against him next time around, I'll send money and work for Murphy's defeat in the primary.

      I don't care if this organization is for

      Democrats or progressives/liberals/lefties? The stated mission of the site is to support Democrats

      I use it as a resource because, aside from the damn cat diaries, there's actual content here.

      For the record, I'm on the progressives/liberals/lefties side of things, I'll have a diary up about my letter(s) to the DLC/DCCC/DSCC about why I won't be sending them any money anymore. (They have to support reelection of Blue Dogs, and I'm not sending one cent for that anymore. Oops....that was the diary, maybe I won't write one after all...damn!)

      My point, circuitously arrived at, is that I am for better Democrats first, but when faced with a Murphy, will work for more (crappy) Democrats.

      Remember what FDR said, "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." Have you written/called a congress-critter today? -8.25, -6.21

      by Jacques on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 05:47:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was happy to phonebank for Obama, but... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrome327, FarWestGirl

    I spent countless days phoning and a couple weeks in another state canvasing for our President.  That's because I knew quite a bit about Obama and could be an informed passionate advocate for him.  

    I spent some time reading Murphy's web site and trying to find out a little about him.  But never felt I knew enough about Murphy or NY-20 issues to be an effective advocate for him.

    In addition to simply calling for folks to phone bank how about a little candidate education?  Something more than just a script?

    I would feel like a tool if the only reason I was supporting a candidate is because he's a Democrat and the opponent a Republican.

    •  You can phone banks to Democrats (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Seneca Doane, sherijr, FarWestGirl

      and just tell them to vote.

      That's what I did.

      •  My point is that I don't want to be a Dem stooge (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jacques, FarWestGirl

        Not every Democrat is a good democrat.  I want to support the ones that I believe are worth supporting.  With Murphy it was difficult to tell which he was.  At least for me.

        •  Murphy was better than Tedisco (6+ / 0-)

          that's pretty much all I need to know.

          I would love it if every senator was like Bernie Sanders, and every rep like Pete Stark.  But it ain't gonna happen, at least, not anytime soon.

          So, in a place like NY-20, I am all for Murphy.

          OTOH, if a guy like Murphy primaried my rep (Jerry Nadler) I'd be on the phone AGAINST Murphy.

          •  Yep. There wasn't a "better Democrat" to vote (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            plf515, Seneca Doane, FarWestGirl

            for this time, we had to settle for more Democrats. But if/when Murphy is primaried from the left, if I still have a job, I'm in for $100 and phone time.

            Remember what FDR said, "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." Have you written/called a congress-critter today? -8.25, -6.21

            by Jacques on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 05:51:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Had I been in your position (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elmo, FarWestGirl, UpstateAlan

          I would have written a diary and said: "OK, people, convince me why Scott Murphy is worth supporting in NY-20."  And people would have responded -- maybe you'd have been convinced, maybe not.  But you would have felt an ethical obligation to ask.

          I don't consider myself a stooge; I consider myself a soldier.  There are orders I will defy -- you won't see me phonebanking for Evan Bayh -- but overall I do think that when it comes to electing the person who wins the primary, we're on the same side, and my desire for people more conservative than I am to be on my side when the liberal candidate I prefer is nominated makes me more likely to play when theirs does.

    •  It *is* sort of disempowering to merely read (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mdmslle

      someone else's script, which is why I generally embellish mine.  But here's my rule of thumb.  If you're the sort of person who would be on the sort of results thread we had this past Tuesday night, where all sorts of people were urging on Murphy to a victory, lamenting everytime he fell behind and exulting when he pulled ahead, then you have already decided that you know enough about him and you should put your money or your mouth (or both) behind him.  If you really didn't care who won when you saw the results, then it's understandable why you shouldn't phonebank.

  •  Since I am results-oriented, I agree with you. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane, mdmslle

    I've done the occasional diary to help raise money.  Tried to help on getting the news out there.  I got a list of reporters that I e-mail when I come across a good story(a lot).

    Granted, I also have many diaries that pertain to analysis and opinion, but I joined this site to help Democrats win.   We can't get progress if we don't win.

    "Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk." Mr. John Conyers Jr.

    by Setrak on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:48:13 PM PDT

  •  Dissension is the soul of democracy. (5+ / 0-)

    I'm not interested in frightening anybody; the WST group seems afraid enough already.

    Although Dkos occasionally resembles a pit of vipers with the emotional attributes of hormonal teenagers and the mental abilities of earthworms, many of the discussions/arguments on here are intelligent, thought-provoking, and packed with passion.

    Your diaries and comments I include in the latter.

    I would like for people to come here and see how progressives think and work on solutions to solve problems. I would like politicians(of either party) to come here and get ideas. Civil argument is a part of that

    Only that day dawns to which we are awake... Henry David Thoreau

    by graycat13 on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:49:07 PM PDT

  •  I don't care for personal tragedy diaries (8+ / 0-)

    but other people do. I love the uber meta diaries that show the likelyhood of a diary to get on the rec list by the time of day it is published. I like pictures of kitties. I love the "person in the street" reports from rallies and caucuses. I  like Nate Silver style analysis - the numbers behind the numbers. Above all I love GBCW diaries from people I never heard of. All these things make a community and that community works together (sorta) to elect more and better Dems.

    The revolution is just an ethical haircut away - Billy Bragg

    by Elvis meets Nixon on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:49:40 PM PDT

    •  Perfectly reasonable set of preferences (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jacques, mdmslle

      but the question at the end is: does the community work together to elect more and better Dems?  In LA-04, it didn't hardly at all; in NY-20, it didn't enough.  In both races, this community was big enough to be absolutely decisive.

    •  I don't see how pictures of people's cats promote (0+ / 0-)

      anyone's political goals, unless there's a "Let's decimate songbirds and other North American native fauna PAC".

      Let them go to Cute Overload or LOLcats.

      Remember what FDR said, "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." Have you written/called a congress-critter today? -8.25, -6.21

      by Jacques on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:00:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't dismiss the community diaries! (12+ / 0-)

    All of them contribute, in some indirect fashion, to life-coping skills, and many of them are political in an indirect way.  

    1.  The food diaries, such as What's for Dinner, are environmental (i.e. political).
    1.  The IGTNT diaries serve a very powerful purpose.
    1.  The jobs/employment/recession diaries are economic (i.e., political).
    1.  Speaking just for myself, my Tuesday series  started out as a fitness series but has evolved into an appreciation of national parks, being outdoors, and getting off the beaten path, which I consider political.

    And, speaking just for myself (go ahead, falme me), there are way too many diaries reflecting some diarist's opinion on what some media person said to another media person on what someone in the administration said -- i.e., gossip and personalities, not issues.  

    Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, discussing outdoor adventures Tuesdays at 5 PM PDT

    by indigoblueskies on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:49:57 PM PDT

    •  I hope that it's clear that I don't dismiss them (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mdmslle

      I enjoy some of them, participate in some, learn from some.  But I do consider them auxiliary to our task here.  I would like people who are here for community diaries to feel some sense that they have to pay "dues" of some sort, in the coin of money or of time and effort, in exchange for the service that Markos and their fellow participants in the site provide them.  That's what I mean by an "ethos."

      •  I don't think we should have to pay dues (7+ / 0-)

        Diaries that build community .... well, they build community!

        One reason Daily Kos gets way more visitors than (say) Swing State Project is that this place is so broad based.

      •  but seneca consider this (6+ / 0-)

        those diaries are extremely popular and build such a strong sense of community. they are part of the reason WHY the site has 200,000+ registered users (an astronomical number for the internet). The problem isnt those diaries (not that you said they were) but in fact could be part of what is enlarging our pool of potential activists.

        The challenge is to harness those numbers somehow.

        I encourage the diaries that build community, that do the auxilliary things if for no other reason than that it makes it more likely that we will have larger numbers to call to action when the time comes.

        Our challenge, as you mention in your diary, is finding the "formula" that makes action attractive and rewarding somehow.

      •  Posting those diaries IS paying dues (4+ / 0-)

        Each of us has different skills and talents; along with different personal lives, work lives, and other obligations.

        You apparently thrive on making phone calls, I actually hate it. I will even procrastinate calling friends or loved ones because I hate the phone so much. I'm a pretty good letter writer though, so when time allows I write to legislators, or submit LTE's.

        Other's among us have tremendous wit, and write clever diaries; which are part of that community building "glue" that we need. If that's what they do in "payment" for learning about issues here, and maybe taking that knowledge to spread among friends and colleagues; well that's more than enough as far as I'm concerned.

        And most of us are multi-dimensional and multi-tasking and make multiple "contributions" to the political process.

        "People who have what they want are fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they really don't want it." Ogden Nash (on universal health care?)

        by Catte Nappe on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 04:59:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But what, as you conceive of it, is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Catte Nappe

          the community formed by (among other things) community diaries for?  It seems far too easy to say that creating community is an end in itself; by that standard, there's really no way to fail "as a progressive activist," is there?

          You talk about the "community building 'glue' that we need."  Need for what?  That's what I don't get from what you've written.  Need to be happy?  Well, I doubt that's really true (you were happy before DKos, right?), but if so, is that all that it is about?  If happiness is the only goal, ignorance is supposed to be bliss.

          My father and stepmother are avid bridge players.  They are part of a "community" of bridge players.  They commune over playing bridge.  Many (though not all) of the benefits of this community would be present there, plus some besides.  You can argue that this would allow them to spread support for the Democratic candidate to others (and in fact they did just that last year.)  Is it activism, though?  Or just having fun?

          I am not on the "trashing community diaries" bandwagon (if one can even call it that) here, but I do think that one's moral responsibility to foster change goes beyond just hanging out with other progressives.  But you make an interesting argument.

          By the way: most people who are action-oriented activists are also multi-dimensional.  I myself have four, including duration, and more if you buy into string theory.

          I hope that these questions don't seem hostile, as they're not intended that way.

          •  An attempt to explain (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chrome327

            Your diary seems to be a call for everyone to focus on the political mission, and suggesting that everyone should make certain specific kinds of direct efforts toward that mission - with "community building" or similar "side" projects being acceptable, but non-essential.

            My point is...well, first let's recognize that a given person might do multiple things. Contribute to selected candidates. Write issue oriented letters to their congress critters. Post pootie diaries.

            So, back to my point. One of the great things about this site is it provides a platform for group effort. Let's try an analogy of another kind of group - an army. In our "army" not everyone may carry a rifle or drive a tank. Perhaps some serve as medics, treating wounds. Perhaps others spend most of their time arranging USO tours. Before the mercenaries, others were pretty much full time cooks. All functions necessary for the group as a whole to achieve their mission.

            Equivalently here, some may phone bank, some contribute dollars, some post pootie diaries or comment in bereavement diaries. All making a useful contribution to the whole. The beauty here, though, is that one needn't be limited to one role.

            "People who have what they want are fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they really don't want it." Ogden Nash (on universal health care?)

            by Catte Nappe on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:29:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I *don't* think that pootie diaries are (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Catte Nappe

              essential, but I think that they can be damned useful in building esprit.  They are important, therefore, as an adjunct to some other activity.  (It doesn't have to be phonebanking, but it ought to be something.)

              I think that your military service metaphor is apt.  The problem is not when some people are planning USO shows, it's when most people (or at least a huge chunk of them) are doing so when there are also latrines to be dug and risks of being shot and bombed to take.  That's what you get when you let everyone self-assign.  I'm all for "Work Hard and Play Hard."  But if that's the idea, then you have to work hard.  I think that if people were working hard, we'd be up two Congressional seats right now.

    •  I love the community diaries (4+ / 0-)

      I sure write enough of them!
      And DKU is sort of a meta-community diary. :-)

    •  By the way, some of those diaries (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calfacon, indigoblueskies

      (like IGTNT) are ones that I absolutely consider to be "political" (in a good way.)

  •  The Higher Standard (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, Catte Nappe, Seneca Doane

    I also think that a higher standard of truth and evidence exists here--or should! We should insist on diaries that link to reputable sources, that quote judiciously but accurately, and that don't make claims they can't back up. I'm never offended (but sometimes mildly embarrassed) when someone asks me for "linky, please."

    To constantly--up front and obviously--demand evidence, logic and truth over and over again can make this site even greater than it is. As it is, the regulars dump recipes onto the trash. But it would be even better if we could "hide" a junk diary with maybe 30 donuts just as we can hide a junk comment with 3.

    We need to be able to say clearly why this medium is different--and as the Captain would say, "Make it so!"

    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

    by MrMichaelMT on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:50:27 PM PDT

  •  Good stuff -- you'll never get even most Kossacks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane, Mrs M, mdmslle

    To agree on nearly anything, i'm pretty sure, let alone what they think the 'overriding goal' of the site is, but you present a very well-argued diary about how you think it ought work best, and i do think it's useful and important to be having these meta-discussions as well, all the time, so thx..

    And yes -- i donated, phonebanked and canvassed plenty out of state not just for Obama, but many of the other candidates (esp. Senatorial ones).

    Tipped and rec'd (which i very rarely do to diaries now btw, reserving my recs usually for diaries i think are impt and don't have many recs yet).

  •  I Really Like Your Mind, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    Seneca Doane. Your writing, not so much. (just kidding)

  •  I admire your passion re phonebanking, But. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, Catte Nappe, skod, chrome327

    I don't want to receive political calls under any circumstances.  Whenever the phone rings prior to an election and I find a phonebanker on the other end, my privacy -- in my opinion -- has been violated.  It pisses me off.  Fact is, I think it pisses most people off.  Given that I feel that strongly about phonebanking, I don't feel comfortable or even ethical calling others.  

    Does that mean my efforts are less than yours?  I managed to stay busy to the point of exhaustion last year, even though I wasn't making phone calls.  I'm making LOTS of calls this year, but I'm calling members of congress and telling them how I expect them to vote on particular issues.  I'm sorry I'm not doing things your way, but keeping an eye on my state's two new senators is damn near a full-time job!

    •  Your efforts are certainly useful (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      and I don't mean to disparage them.  If this shoe doesn't fit you, you shouldn't wear it.  I don't think you're sorry you aren't doing things my way (right?), but I don't begrudge it.  You're being an activist, not an observer.  You're OK in my book.

      Research has been done on whether calling people (and even calling them repeatedly) pissed them off more than it helps, and so long as you're calling at reasonable hours the evidence is that it doesn't.  That could be wrong, but that's what the pros say.  I find that by being disarming and empathetic -- sometimes even a little apologetic about the intrusion -- I think that I limit the negative effects.  When I leave a message at the end of the race, I sign off with "Thanks for your time and your patience, have a good evening."

      Your phone number comes from a public record (or in some cases a purchased private record); your legal privacy isn't violated, though perhaps colloquially it's true.

  •  Well, there's an item missing on the poll: (5+ / 0-)

    "I wouldn't phonebank if you held a freakin' gun to my head: and it doesn't matter for whom."

    I despise marketing/political calls with a deep passion, and have often said that I will not vote for anybody whose representative calls me up and harasses me during dinner, or a business meeting, or frankly at any time other than that of my own choosing for my political life.

    Sorry to be a wet blanket, but count me as one who considers phonebanking to be destructive instead of constructive, and will not participate in it under any circumstances. I suspect I'm not alone.

    When my phone rings, I want it to be something I need to deal with- and not verbal spam. At least I've finally convinced the local Democratic party reps to put me on their do not call list, so that I don't have to be angry at them and their candidates for the entire neverending election season...

  •  I generally agree (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, Seneca Doane, chrome327

    however, if we devolve this site into a simple attack vehicle we run the risk of simply echoing Republican actions on our side of the debates.

    In my mind what separates us from the right ARE the extraneous conversations that can be seen here. I notice the breath and depth of these conversations, and the intelligent responses, and it gives me great hope for the future. If you want to read the breadth and depth of the right's internal dialogue, simply visit something like worldnetdaily and read the comment threads. What you read is NOT fringe right, it is the right.

    The community building is a vital aspect of Daily Kos in my opinion. I might not stay if this was purely a tactical implement used to wage political war. I feel that Daily Kos is a community building tool as well, and that it does a good job at mixing the two equally important responsibilities.

    That said, I do generally agree that tactical offensives against the right is especially important RIGHT NOW. At this moment in time, yes, I think it is possibly the more important purpose. But certainly not the only purpose.

  •  It's too much trouble... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane, FarWestGirl

    I live in New Zealand!  Give me a way to help on par with what I could do in the States and I'm in.  

  •  Well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane, Bronx59

    What I think this site is generlaly good at is finding second and third tier candidates whom the national party, DSCC, and DCCC have ignored but who have good potential.

  •  Oh, go ahead and say it: DOWN WITH CAT DIARIES!! (0+ / 0-)

    Let 'em go to Cute Overload where they belong.

    Remember what FDR said, "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." Have you written/called a congress-critter today? -8.25, -6.21

    by Jacques on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 05:32:26 PM PDT

  •  Seneca- (4+ / 0-)

    I hate phone banking.  I rarely ever do it.  What I do to help candidates is canvassing.  This limits me to candidates fairly close, but it is far more effective to have volunteer canvassers than pretty much anything else, studies have shown.

    Increasing my capabilities is the Oregon Bus Project, which takes Bus Trips to competitive state legislative districts to transport canvassers mainly from the Portland metro area out to swing districts, where the action is.  The Bus Project gave me the opportunity to canvass for state legislative candidates in four different parts of the state in 2006.

    And rather than, in my mind, wasting my time phone-banking across  the country for a presidential primary I didn't care about, I canvassed here in the state AG primary to get a better Democrat, who's proven to be a real energetic, activist guy, than the typical do-nothing establishment AG of the kind we've had in recent years.

    Certainly, though, for a special election when there is nothing else going on, this would seem a better opportunity for me to affect change, but there's never nothing else going on.  Now I'm trying to help coordinate fund raisers and forums and whatnot to help build an organization that will hopefully do a lot in local politics in 2010.

    In other words, phone-banking is be a good tool for some, particularly those who would rather make phone calls than pound the pavement and do development or other work, but not for all.  We've all got our thing.

    -5.38, -5.90 Deus mihi iustitiam dabit.

    by cjallen on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 05:58:57 PM PDT

  •  I don't know why you are a Democrat (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, Catte Nappe, chrome327

    but the reason I'm one is that I do care about the welfare of others as much as my own. Frankly, that's one of the things that, I think, distinguishes us from Republicans. As some of the people who commented above said, I have no desire to frighten or demoralize anyone. Your manifesto sort of implies that the DKos community isn't already doing its part to get our candidates elected. What makes you think people on this site aren't already contributing in their own way (in addition to partaking of the community-building diaries). One of the reasons I wrote a diary a few weeks ago defending the cat diaries is that I got tired of people popping into them (like so many angry John McCains) telling the kids to "get off his lawn!" I thought it was so rude and unnecessary. If you want to change things, you don't do it by being mean.

    •  You don't want to demoralize Republicans? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cjallen

      Stick to cat diaries then.  The two party contest is usually a zero sum game -- in this case, a "game" where lives are at stake.  Demoralizing the opposition is good.  They understand that, as should you.

      I don't think I've ever gone into a cat diary and done that.  I've gone in to enjoy the pictures.  And I have no problem with people who are here for cats and activism.  I do have a problem when people think that trading cat photos is activism.

  •  Number 8 is big, and DKos does it well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane, FarWestGirl

    (8) Making fun of Republicans and regressives so that it is not "cool" to be among them.

    This stuff does creep from DKos and other blogs into the conventional media.  

    •  It is useful, absolutely (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cjallen, Bronx59, FarWestGirl

      I love doing it.  But it's subsidiary, in my opinion, to some of our other tasks.

      •  I actually think that 7 & 8 both should be a bit (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Seneca Doane, Bronx59, MKSinSA

        higher. They're a quick 'hook' for low information types or casual passersby. Not a lot of the idly curious or the unconvinced will click on a rant or a well researched piece, but a lot may pop in for a quick look around. If they want to know more after that, then there should absolutely be the well reasoned and researched, heavily linked, in depth diaries to back up the lighter stuff, but when we're looking at courting independents or finding new people to vote or contribute or whatever, a lighter touch is more effective. A joke or even a poem is more likely to catch someone who may not know they agree with us than a heavy, serious debate or treatise. Just my  $.02, FWIW.

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

        by FarWestGirl on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 08:45:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  regarding item (8) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane, chrome327

    I see this as having more therapeutic benefit than actually motivating people to leave the Party of No; they won't be reading these diaries anyway.

    I would also like to invite my fellow Kossacks to join together in inventing new ways of framing issues to benefit our side.  It is easy to be critical, but more difficult to come up with a way of stating our position that captures the ear of the other side.

    Good stuff, thanks for posting!

  •  Belatedly discovered and hotlisted for reference (0+ / 0-)

    Better late than never, excepting parachutes :)

    ======
    Peace. It's cheaper, and more fun. We've already tried everything else.

    by USexpat Ukraine on Sat Apr 18, 2009 at 04:15:34 PM PDT

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