Unlike the people profiled in What's the Matter with Kansas, by Thomas Frank, Kossacks are not fooled by Republican Party propaganda into not voting in their own interests. We are, it seems, fooled by our own internal propaganda into not acting in our own interests. For all of the great discussions of the evils of the GOP (and also the evils of anti-Progressive Democrats), for all the support for better candidates, Occupy Wall Street, and other important initiatives, we uniformly take our eyes off the prize in self-congratulation about how Progressive and enlightened we are.
What prize is that, you might be wondering? Get Out The Vote. Actually winning elections in the worst climate of voter suppression since the end of legal Jim Crow.
How do I know that, you might demand? The response to a Diary Entry about the Obama campaign's Web site for countering voter suppression, GottaVote.org.
It doesn't matter how Progressive you may personally be if you don't vote, and more importantly, ask others to vote, help others to vote, educate others to vote, in the worst case tell others how they can vote when the Republican Party has pulled out every dirty trick they know to prevent them.
Supporting Progressive ideas and Progressive candidates, or even Democrats ;-> as the lesser evil is essential. But it comes to nothing if we lose elections we could have won easily. Al Gore, for example, was not a totally inspiring candidate, and ran an exceedingly lackluster campaign. Nevertheless, he had the voters on the day, and would have won if Republicans had not stolen Florida in five different ways, with the additional gift of the Butterfly Ballot fiasco. Kerry, likewise, with the edge for Bush being voter suppression in Ohio. (link to PDF)
Maybe you think I am being too harsh on Kossacks. After all, GOTV is a constant theme here. We know about the importance of the Ground Game. We volunteer with campaigns, and send in our contributions.
But what about this?
A week ago, LeftOfYou posted a Diary about helping our fellow citizens vote using the GottaVote.org Web site
Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:51 AM PDTIt got two (2) tips, 4 votes, and 0 comments (I counted them. Twice.) after the Tip Jar. This is the only Diary Entry on all of dKos that mentions the GottaVote site, one of the most important resources in this political cycle.
Action: GOTV - Gottavote.org+*
by LeftOfYou for Better Democrats
I observe constantly that almost everybody gets really excited about their favorite issue (Mine is global education for ending poverty), but that few look further to what needs to be done overall, and what most needs to be done right now this minute. I am glad that people are pursuing all of the Progressive issues of our time, but I respectfully request that you take some time from your favorite issue and direct it to specific actions aimed at winning this seasons elections. Not just for President, not just for Congress, but for every office where the winners get to implement policies that can and do take us forward or backward. Union-busting, the War on Women, tax increases on the poor in the Ryan budget, immigration...You know the litany.
Voter suppression is the most important issue in this election, because it is no ordinary issue. For ordinary issues of policy, programs, and the taxes to pay for them, the basic remedy for bad legislation is to support better candidates who can bring in better bills in the next session of whichever legislature and sign them into law. We do need to do that, to repeal all of the partisan restrictions on voting and voter registration pushed through Republican legislatures, to prevent election officials purging legitimate voters from the rolls with the thin Dog Whistle excuse of preventing voter fraud, to take back our elections and with them our country.
But voter suppression is different from issues. The only ways to counter voter suppression are in the courts and with strong, even aggressive GOTV. And the only way to do strong GOTV is to have the knowledge at your fingertips. Not general knowledge that you should vote, that you need to register, that you might need ID when you go to the polls. Specific knowledge that you can walk prospective voters all the way through.
- What does each state require?
- What is the cutoff date for registration?
- Where can you register?
- How do you register, and what documents do you need?
- What documents do you need to bring to the polls?
- When and where can you vote early?
- What rules have been changed?
- Are there restrictions on absentee ballots?
- What if you get sent to the wrong polling place?
- What additional obstacles are they putting in place, such as moving polling places and cutting their number in Black areas of town?
- What lies are they telling?
- Are the police involved?
That's without getting into the evils of unauditable electronic voting systems, or the widespread practice of putting the oldest and least reliable equipment in inadequate numbers in minority districts.
So when LeftOfYou (What a snob! ;-> ) offered help, you passed it by. Maybe you, personally, never even saw the offer. I admit that I didn't, and only found out about it when I did a search before starting a diary on the subject myself. You can't look at everything on dKos, can you? No, I agree, you can't read everything, but yes, you can look at all of the headlines on the main page and the Diaries page, and dip in to what looks interesting and important. You didn't dip into the most important problem facing us. OK, neither did I, last week. But I'm here to say that I am sorry for what I did wrong, and to remedy it.
So I am going to repeat part of last week's Diary Entry:
GOP programs for vote suppression not seen since the demise of de jure Jim Crow, are making it harder than ever to turn out younger voters who qualify to vote under the new restrictions. How do we do that? Well, there's an app for that.Now, the question remains: Do Kossacks care about their own interests enough to do something about it?
It's not an app, exactly but its a pretty nifty online tool that Obama For America is providing at Gottavote.org. With this tool, the younger voters in your life (anyone, for that matter) can find everything needed to traverse the thickets of Republican voter suppression laws and get prepared to show up at the polls in November registered and armed with every necessary credential.
Here is a message to those fine young people who lie within your social circle:
You gotta vote in November and you have to make sure, right now, that you are registered and have the proper ID to vote in the state you vote in. To make sure, take time now and go to Gottavote.org. Find your state and follow your checklist. Send this to others. Gottavote.org needs to go viral.
Share this post with the young folks you know among your Facebook friends, etc. Gottavote.org is an enormously important resource for the American electorate and the more voters that use it, the better, especially younger ones you may be able to influence to become participants in their own democracy. Add your own encouraging words. For elderly voters you may know, I have a different recommendation on how to use Gottavote.org, to discuss in a later post. Please broadcast this on your social networks. Encourage your friends to send it on to their contemporaries. It is difficult to engage people about party politics, and the more so to get them to do so with others. But the more we try the more it will happen. Share the word about Gottavote.org.
Easy enough to find out. We'll see, to begin with, whether this message gets any traction. You know the drill. For starters, tip, rec, vote in the Poll, comment, and tell your friends. Tweet, Facebook, Google+, whatever you use. I'll be watching. Tell us what you are doing to drive traffic to GottaVote.org. Do your friends know about this? Are they telling those who need to know? Is it in your local newspapers? On radio and TV? Does your local campaign organization know about this? Student organizations? Minority organizations? Women's organizations? Organizations for the elderly? Ask, and offer your help.
This is war. You can tell because Republicans are all saying, Who, us? We aren't making war on women, minorities, immigrants, the young, the old, and especially the poor! No, no, we like, we love women, minorities, etc. Let us show you how much we love them with our calculated and studied campaigns of insults and our plans to cut programs for them, raise taxes on them, destroy the public schools, and most pernicious of all, prevent them from voting.
From my Code Whistle glossary:
Big TentThe Right is justifiably proud of being able to stir up its base to anger, hatred, fear, and loathing and turn their Useful Idiots out in numbers. But they would be less proud of their ability to inspire anger and the rest in those they attack if they did not think that they can suppress our side, or convince us to be helpless before their onslaughts. We need to demonstrate that they cannot fool almost enough of the people almost enough of the time, and make up the difference in dirty tricks. Then we have to do it again, and again, and again...
You can come in, but you have to stand over there, and cheer whenever we give the signal.
They only admit that it is war when we fight back. It is not enough for you to fight at dKos or alone in the voting booth. You must recruit fighters wherever and whenever you can.
These are the times that try men's [sic, but that was then] souls. The Summer Soldier and the Sunshine Patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country, but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of men and women.—Thomas PainePass it on. Let us know what you did in the comments here, so that we can send love and thanks your way, on behalf of millions.