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In a conference call last evening with Organizing for America regional leads in Tennessee, I had the opportunity to hear from Lenda Sherrell, who met with the President and 6 other volunteers from across the country before Christmas.  Lenda, who is a former hospital auditor and a supporter of single payer healthcare, was a strong advocate for health reform in Tennessee and has been actively involved for 3 years.

During the call, Lenda noted that the President verbalized clearly a renewed commitment to doing more "bottom-up" organizing instead of what happened during the past 18 months, when the DNC and OFA gave "marching orders" and hoped that activists would fall in line.  President Obama clearly articulated (per Lenda's report) an understanding that part of the failure of the Vote 2010 project was that there was not enough creativity and not enough partnership with other groups and organizations.  As a result, OFA had difficulty building the kinds of winning coalitions we saw in 2006 and 2008 under Chairman Dean.

President Obama also noted that one way we can improve is by improving our message discipline.  I wanted to talk about that today....

A top-rec'd diary this morning is about Alan Grayson, the departing one-term Democratic Congressman from the Orlando area.  Grayson, who most certainly has been a "Congressman with Guts" and a key ally for the PCCC and other progressive groups, was outspoken in his criticism of corporatist and centrist Democrats, as well as Republicans who are too beholden to lobbyists.  

Those who understand what's going on in Washington DC realize that the "Obama-Pelosi agenda" is to drain the swamp of corruption, graft, and backroom dealing in Congress.  And no matter how many scary ads the Republicans put out about Obama and Pelosi, the fact is that they have been more engaged in restoring participatory democracy than any President and House Speaker in my lifetime.

We need to take back our pride in the accomplishments and achievements of the last Congress, and draw distinctions between Obama-Pelosi and Bush-Boehner-McConnell.  The fact is that Republicans don't have any real agenda except to repeal, obstruct, and distort the political process in Washington.  While the Obama-Pelosi agenda has been an effort to put constituents back in the driver's seat, the Teapublicans have been trying to create more division, disinformation, and distraction.

Of course, Republicans have learned how to win elections by doing nothing.  Hope deferred makes the heart sick, and if you can make Obama, Pelosi, and Senate Democrats look like "traditional Washington politicians," then you get to win by saying nothing other than "We're not them."

We don't have to wait for President Obama or the DNC in order to bring grassroots change.  One elected official at a time, we can draw the distinctions between Democrats and Republicans.  We can help our neighbors and neighborhoods to connect directly with our Senators and Congressmen.  And where elected officials cannot or will not do the will of the people, it's up to us to educate and inform voters and present them with better choices.

The next two years will require us to bring our "A-Game".  We need opposition research on every Republican in Congress.  We need to stay on message when it comes to promoting progressive issues like immigration reform, green jobs, energy independence, civil rights, and military spending.  We need to stop the circular firing squads and start figuring out ways to build winning coalitions in 2012.

Don't let the Republican Party get away with anything.  Hold them accountable and expose them for who they are.

Case in point: Bob Corker is up for re-election in 2012.  He won narrowly over Harold Ford, Jr., in 2006.  Corker has been completely sold out to the banking industry he's supposed to regulate as a member of the Senate Banking Committee.  His top legislative aide on financial regulations (Courtney Geduldig) is literally in bed with the banking lobby.  Her husband, Sam, is a top lobbyist for the banking industry whose clients include the American Bankers Association, the American Insurance Association, the US Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform, the Financial Services Roundtable, and the Consumer Banking Association.  (Note: Nowhere do I see Geduldig working for the people of Tennessee.)

Not only is Geduldig sold out beholden to the banking industry, but he also lobbies for General Motors.  This is another conflict of interest, considering that Corker says he's proud of union-busting against the UAW and blamed the UAW for the failures of GM - completely neglecting the catastrophic financing errors of GMAC's Mortgage Banking unit and the problems with the swaps and derivatives market that led to the near-collapse of the global banking system.

Corker played on racial prejudices in the 2006 campaign, and his Call Me ad remains one of the most despicable pieces of race-baiting garbage I've ever seen.  While the RNC produced the ad, and Corker tried to make himself look good by speaking out against it, the fact is that Corker's lack of leadership on promoting civil rights and equality belies his good ol' boy mentality.

Corker took heat in the 2006 primaries for hiring illegal immigrants in his multi-million dollar contracting business.  So, in addition to union-busting, Corker is the kind of employer who has been willing to cut corners and look the other way when it comes to hiring practices.  And the fact that Corker hired illegal immigrants by way of a subcontractor only illustrates Corker's tendency to get others to do his dirty work.

Sen. Corker is hoping that he can press his advantage by using his connections in the business community and by raising ungodly sums of money to push out his message and destroy any potential challengers.  But while money can certainly buy influence and attention, it cannot hide the truth.

Tennessee voters will need Democrats' help in 2012 to recruit an outstanding Senate candidate, to run a solid campaign, and to bring attention to the failures of Senator Corker's term in office.  Kossacks can help make this happen, but we have to stop attacking fellow Democrats and start closing the ranks to fight the corporatists who bought Corker's election and set the terms of his policies.

Originally posted to Benintn on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:21 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  More like this, please. It's time to... (13+ / 0-)

    get off the meta-train and organize / work for 2012.

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:24:47 AM PST

  •  Do you have any suggestions for an opponent? (4+ / 0-)

    How about Bredesen - though I will always be disgusted with the way he went about "reforming" (ending, not mending) TennCare. He'll be a blue dog, but he is popular. I don't think Gordon could be elected statewide, do you? Wharton would be great; do you think he would be interested?

    On a side note - do you think Fisher will be fired? I'll be so upset.

    It's what you do, not what you believe that counts - thenekkidtruth

    by sewaneepat on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:34:24 AM PST

    •  AC would be awesome. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Unduna, sewaneepat, Larsstephens

      Gordon won't run - I already asked him at Jackson Day 2010 and it's pretty clear he's retired.

      Bredesen would have to be "drafted" and because of his business community contacts, he may be afraid to jump in and oppose Corker.  (Corker's perceived as being "pro-business" and Bredesen would have a tough time raising money unless he starts NOW.)

      Lincoln Davis needs to re-invent himself.  He was a likely gubernatorial candidate for 2010 but dropped out when the party chairman (Chip Forrester) was elected.

      Jim Cooper won't likely run.

      I think you'll see some surprising names coming out for 2012 - possibly someone like Charles Robert Bone, certainly Van Turner is a possibility out of Memphis, and there are others.  But the biggest problem facing Tennessee Democrats is we're being outraised and outspent 10:1.  The inability of TN Dems to hold the line as a "pro-business" party has turned the fickle business community away from Democrats toward the corporatist Republicans.

      Bredesen remains the single most popular Democrat in Tennessee.  But there is a narrow window of time for TN Dems to celebrate Gov. Bredesen and encourage him to run.

      Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

      by Benintn on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:49:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What can we do to get Wharton to run? (3+ / 0-)

        And what can you tell me about Bone and Turner? I just googled them but mostly got news stories about them running for Dem party chair and that they are both lawyers.

        I think Wharton could win, even getting white votes from Shelby Co. And he would indeed be awesome as a Senator. It would be like going back to the days of my youth with Gore, Sr. and Kefauver.

        Lincoln Davis - couldn't get too excited about him. - except as an alternative to Desjarlais.

        Not weighing in on the Titans, Ben?

        It's what you do, not what you believe that counts - thenekkidtruth

        by sewaneepat on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 08:01:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Titans are a mess. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sewaneepat, Larsstephens

          I was at the home game v. Indy and it was a travesty.  How we lost both of those games by such a close margin... squandered opportunities... anyway, I think the real issue is that Heimerdinger has cancer (my wife's aunt holds season tickets and goes to church with Heimerdinger).  His illness has really affected things in a big way.  Vince likes Heimerdinger.  He has a lot of sparks with Fisher because Fisher is a defensive-minded coach and isn't particularly creative.

          Anyway, I think Wharton's too tied up with the One Memphis campaign and shouldn't be pulled away too early ... just like I think Karl Dean has potential higher office aspirations but he needs to focus on 2011.

          Al and Tipper are getting divorced, and that's terrible news for Tennessee Democrats.

          Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

          by Benintn on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 08:05:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sandy on Signal, Larsstephens

            Especially for the insight into how Heimerdinger's illness has impacted the Titans. If it's going to be Vince instead of Fisher, I hope he grows up soon.

            Back to the real issue of TN senator, I'll be looking for your posts on who is  running and what to do. I'm actually more interested in getting rid of Alexander more than Corker, but that will have to wait til 2014.

            Thanks for all your informative diaries on TN politics.

            It's what you do, not what you believe that counts - thenekkidtruth

            by sewaneepat on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 08:13:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Bone and Turner are both good young dems (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sewaneepat, Larsstephens

          who are smart and talented.  Charles Robert is from Sumner County and understands the transportation industry.  He's a smart guy, a competent fundraiser, etc.

          Van Turner is someone who has been very involved with trying to help city-county issues in Shelby and he's another stalwart who's been active in the community.

          I think we'll know a lot more about the future based on what happens in the chair's election for the TNDP.

          Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

          by Benintn on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 08:08:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  How much help did OFA provide to Grayson? (6+ / 0-)

    I was not aware of any assistance to the Alan Grayson campaign from either OFA or WH (POTUS.)

    •  OFA/DNC did a lot. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boofdah, Larsstephens, Eclectablog

      I know that OFA teams in Florida were making calls for Grayson.  POTUS stayed out of Grayson's district because his unfavorables were so high.  And there was a sense that PCCC would be there to "adopt" Grayson and carry him across the finish line.

      Since I don't live in Florida (or Orlando, specifically), I cannot really speak to specific actions taken to help him.  Perhaps you could contact OFA folks in Florida and find out.

      Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

      by Benintn on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:51:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  there will be no change in Dem messaging (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wilber

    until Democratic reps actually refute the LIES spewed by Frightwing media 24/7.

    STOP THE SPENDING by ending tax cuts for zillionaires!

    by MartyM on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:51:51 AM PST

  •  Blaming .. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wilber

    .. "not getting the message out" rings pretty hollow, no matter how many times it gets rolled out.

    Remain tonedeaf to REALITY and keep losing elections, it's really just that simple, even if the wonkie wonks keep selling you that bag of magic beans.

    Why do they only call it "class warfare" when we are fighting their unquenchable greed?

    by The Uncola on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:54:44 AM PST

    •  Thanks for the words of "encouragement" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sewaneepat, Larsstephens, Eclectablog

      What are YOU doing to help fight the right-wingers? Or are you just too content to sit on your arse and bitch and moan?

      Democracy for America, still the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

      by boofdah on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:56:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  When you actually know.. (0+ / 0-)

        .. something of me and what I do or don't do, have and haven't done, we'll have that discussion. Till then, go blow your smoke up someone elses "arse."

        Why do they only call it "class warfare" when we are fighting their unquenchable greed?

        by The Uncola on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 08:30:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Which "reality" are you talking about? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sewaneepat, Eclectablog

      Please clarify what you mean.

      Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

      by Benintn on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:59:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You know.. (0+ / 0-)

        .. the REALITY of the real world. The one that doesn't require quotation marks around it. The world outside the false soft cocoon of Washington DC and it's stick it to the little guy behind closed doors and then blame them for your fuckups.

        THAT fucking REALITY.

        Why do they only call it "class warfare" when we are fighting their unquenchable greed?

        by The Uncola on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 08:25:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Since all seeing is seeing-as (0+ / 0-)

          The "reality of the real world" is something that looks different.

          As far as the soft cocoon of Washington DC, I have no idea what you're talking about.  Apparently, you don't either.  Washington DC is most certainly not a cocoon.

          Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

          by Benintn on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 12:14:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  hmmm.. (0+ / 0-)

        .. guess you weren't actually interested in having me "clarify" what I meant all that much, in REALITY, eh?

        meh.

        Why do they only call it "class warfare" when we are fighting their unquenchable greed?

        by The Uncola on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 11:06:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I just don't exist to respond to your comments. (0+ / 0-)

          Sometimes it takes me a little while.

          I am busy trying to keep others from sticking it to the man.

          Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

          by Benintn on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 12:14:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Then don't effen question me.. (0+ / 0-)

            .. if you can't or won't follow up. That is, of course if your "questions" are actually anything other than snark or a disrespectful and cowardly way of trying to belittle those that dare to disagree with you.

            Why do they only call it "class warfare" when we are fighting their unquenchable greed?

            by The Uncola on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 12:53:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  See my comment above. (0+ / 0-)

              http://www.dailykos.com/...

              You can have a discussion with me that doesn't involve instant gratification or instant responses.

              Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

              by Benintn on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 06:27:25 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'll take one that doen't involve.. (0+ / 0-)

                .. drive-by cheap shots. Let me know when you are capable of that. Or not, as I'm acutely aware of how diversion tactics are played on the net. Like I said, if you ask me a question and I show you the respect to answer it, the very least you can do is acknowledge it in  a timely manner. Or don't bother asking the snarky fucking question to begin with.  

                Why do they only call it "class warfare" when we are fighting their unquenchable greed?

                by The Uncola on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 06:50:41 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  YEA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Benintn

    I CAN'T BELEIVE THUNE IS THINKING OF RUNNING OR PREZ. SD IS A SWAMP OF BACKROOM DEALS AND SHADY CHARACTERS.

  •  Thanks Ben, and good job Lenda!! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, sewaneepat, Benintn, Eclectablog

    Met her the other night; what an impressive woman.

    "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

    by Unduna on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:55:31 AM PST

  •  Conficting message here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Big Tex, Benintn

    First you say that

    During the call, Lenda noted that the President verbalized clearly a renewed commitment to doing more "bottom-up" organizing instead of what happened during the past 18 months, when the DNC and OFA gave "marching orders" and hoped that activists would fall in line.

    but then you talk about how the focus needs to be on message discipline.  Message discipline is a top-down type of thing.

    Also, this whole thing reads like you're trying to position Pres. Obama as an outsider, draining the swamp of corruption, when he's now sitting right at the top of the establishment.  You can't run as an anti-establishment candidate when you're sitting right at the top of the establishment and living in the White House.

    I just find this to be very conflicting, and invokes a wtf reaction.

    The only thing coherent about this whole OFA plan that is being set out is that the intention is to do distributed opposition research, and it sounds like part of the plan is to turn OFA into a team of attack dogs for the next year or so until they're needed to go do the GOTV stuff again.  That is, IMHO, a terrible waste of resources.

  •  Messaging Tools (0+ / 0-)

    I've been thinking the past few days - what would be a really great tool is for DKos to post a library of "fact sheets" of some of the most salient points.

    Things like our top (sourced) messages on health care reform, climate change, etc.

    We all use these points and cite them - what better way to help with message discipline than to be organized?

    The nose of a mob is its imagination. By this, at any time, it can be quietly led. -- Edgar Allan Poe

    by Sarea on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 08:41:14 AM PST

  •  Two Parts: (0+ / 0-)

    1 - Oppo research. Project Vote Smart might be of use.

    2 - Find/suggest candidates. Bill Halter might be persuaded to run in Ark., provided that the DNC and OFA don't attack him.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

    by enhydra lutris on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 09:12:21 AM PST

  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

    POTUS stayed out of Grayson's district because his unfavorables were so high.

    Seems like a poor excuse. After all, the left is being soundly and correctly blamed for the 2010 disaster for not campaigning sufficiently hard and enthusiastically for the blue dogs. If Blanche Lincoln's constituents wanted to hear from the hard left, then Grayson's must've also wanted to hear from Obama, n'est ce pas?

    The OFA might figure out whatthehell their consistent message is before they try to impose message discipline.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

    by enhydra lutris on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 09:21:34 AM PST

  •  With Daley at helm (COS) order will be restored (0+ / 0-)

    When Rahm left, message discipline did really suffer!  Bringing in Bill Daley! will restore the scope and direction of the Obama POTUS messaging.  Daley is uniquely qualified with close connections to his predecessor and vast experience with NAFTA and other special projects.  OFA will benefit from his direction and will be treated gently but firmly...

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