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Sick of seeing scorched-earth Republicans in Congress holding America hostage?
Sick of our guys letting them get away with it?

We need to make it clear, right here, right now, that we are obsessed with increasing voter turnout in mid-term elections. That - and nothing else - will put backbone into the congressional Dems and fear of accountability into the GOP. We need to make everybody know that we are eating, sleeping, and breathing 2014 turnout.

America's democracy can only function when citizens provide scrutiny and participation. Less scrutiny, and less participation, and the system becomes dysfunctional.

So it's no surprise that progressives do better in the high-scrutiny, high-participation presidential campaigns, than in the low scrutiny, low participation mid-terms.

As I wrote in "Forget Demographics! Obama won because Americans are progressive"

...Presidential elections are the ones which citizens pay the most attention to, and are most likely to vote in. If you're looking for the purest existing way of expressing the will of the American majority, you look at the popular vote in Presidential elections. In the last 6 presidential elections, Republicans only won the popular vote once - and only by a few thousand votes...
So it's no surprise that congress always has such a low approval rating - even when Democrats run it, it's skewed to the right of American public opinion.

It doesn't have to be this way. If mid-term elections had the same turnout as Presidential elections, Congress would have been ours 5 out of 6 times also. So, it's time to talk about how we can get mid-terms to be more like presidential elections.

Some ideas off the top of my head:

Media Buzz

*Lots of shiny citizen initiatives. They don't need to have any hope in passing, they need to actually be any good. They just need to draw attention to voting day.

*Lots of shiny, media-friendly candidates. Celebrities. Again, they don't have to be any good or have any hope of winning, they are just there for media buzz. Check the Guiness book of world records and try to break a few. Look at media circuses of the past, talk to people in the media, figure out what makes headlines.

*Presidential elections get the media attention because the small cast of characters is more dramatic. We need to find people in showbiz and ask them: if a mid-term election was going to be a a movie, how would you do it?

*I want to see reality shows about people running for congress, or a show like the West Wing, about congress.

*When it comes to activists grabbing media attention, you can't beat PETA. You may agree with them or not, but they sure know how to get in the headlines. Imagine if there was an organization - let's call them "People for the Ethical Treatment of Voters" - whose job is not to make friends, not to look good, but simply to keep the mid-term elections in the headlines.


*Here's a suggestion for an organization that does nothing but increase mid-term turnout.

*We need a unified logo and slogan like the Obama campaign should be used. "We're all in this together", shortened to "together"? (The "O" being the Obama logo.)

*A campaign to get employers and universities to give time off to vote. From

Many employers give workers time off to vote in presidential elections but not in midterm elections. Also, many professors in colleges and universities cancel class or excuse students from class to vote in presidential elections, but may not do so in midterm elections.
*If Dems are good at one thing it's defiance. Keep talking about the GOP's voter suppression efforts. "If voting worked they'd make it illegal" - and they are, so it does.

*Challenge nonvoter memes like the quote above. "Dems will just follow the money"  -they won't need so much money if we always vote. "They'll wimp out" they don't need to surrender if they know we've always got their back. "Blah blah 3rd party" - we already have those, they're called primaries. "If we're loyal they'll take us for granted." Again, a way to punish them exists, and they're called primaries. Thats how conservatives got so much power - by using primaries, not by staying home. And when you're feeling discouraged and hopeless, don't go infecting everyone, either tell your dog, or STFU.

*Reverse-engineer the tea party. Minus the extremism and threats.

That's all I've got for now. Let's hear your ideas:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tipped/Recd, as I will for ALL decent 2014 posts. (12+ / 0-)

    Howard Dean will always be my president.

    by 4democracy on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:35:26 PM PST

  •  The majority appear to be progressive, D.C... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, elwior, Words In Action

    ...not so much. And, as far as "nothing else matters," I'd beg to differ. As we watch the fiscal cliff/deficit bullshit play out, it's becoming more and more crystal clear, by the day, to this Kossack that issues matter a hell of a lot more than party least at the moment.

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:37:00 PM PST

  •  Instead of "together" how about "All in"? (4+ / 0-)

    You suggested shortening "we're all in this together" to just "together."

    How about shortening it to "All in" instead.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:41:16 PM PST

  •  We could have taken the NV-02 if we'd actually had (8+ / 0-)

    a candidate this year. Instead, we had some kid who decided it might be cool to be in Congress who filed with no support/organization/money. He may or may not have been a Democrat.

    Anyone in the NV-02 (Washoe county) who wants to be a candidate or search for a candidate, Kos-message me.

    I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves. -John Wayne (-9.00,-8.86)

    by Jonathan Hoag on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:41:20 PM PST

    •  and we need to work on those blue districts (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, JamieG from Md

      CA-31, for instance, that didn't even have a dem on the ballot because of the f'n top two primary system in CA. THAT needs to be changed, too. We don't need Bermans fighting Shermans. We need good dems to fight lousy republicans. Nationwide.

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

      by cany on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:14:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes! Candidate search committees start up NOW! (0+ / 0-)

        I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves. -John Wayne (-9.00,-8.86)

        by Jonathan Hoag on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 05:19:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent idea! (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the diary.

    We have to begin preparing now!

    Please stand by. I'm looking for a new sig line.

    by Betty Pinson on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:46:18 PM PST

  •  Youth Registration -- that's vital (9+ / 0-)

    One of the really and truly important things that I have learned from my work is that the vast majority of young people are definitely more Progressive than the rest of the electorate, yet they are some of the worst at turning up to vote. Most are, from what I have seen, not registered, not reminded to vote often enough, and very busy.

    It's on us to be older, wiser, and help more young folks remember to show up on election day to vote for their interests and futures.

    With Civics taken off the table as a California State prerequisite (and surely others as well) in the High Schools, the imperatives to vote that were previously instilled in students are not there. They need a nudge from us. So that's my personal soap box. It's the only one I can really speak from as an activist right now, although even there, my hands are somewhat tied.

    Tipped and Rec'd.

    •  So maybe some of us honest folks need to go to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mahakali overdrive, Larsstephens

      college campuses and register students and actually turn in the damn registrations and not screw around with them in the meantime.

      I'm 59 but pretty hip and willing to go do this.

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

      by cany on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:15:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just make sure to let the campus know in advance (2+ / 0-)

        you must have campus permit approval. You can usual table this way. They won't stop you. I've done it under the radar too, because I look like a student, I just stand in a busy corner and ask students about their voter registration. My University is liberal so there's no backlash here (although I was cuffed for an anti-war protest there once, sigh...)

        Check in with the local Democrats. Tell them what you want to do. If they can't help you, check in with the University itself. Not Admissions & Records, who are always notoriously bad, but like whomever issues permits to speakers. Might be under "events"?

        Godspeed to you!

      •  Join an organization like (0+ / 0-)

        the League of Women voters or Rock the Vote.

        I wouldn't try doing it on my own.

        Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

        by JamieG from Md on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 06:27:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yep... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Larsstephens, JamieG from Md

    even though Wisconsin went for Obama, the State GOP managed to take the State House and Senate up here. Lots of work to do up here.

    No one knows what it's like, To be the bad man, To be the sad man, behind blue eyes....

    by blueyedace2 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:52:22 PM PST

  •  "nothing else" might be a bit of an exaggeration (6+ / 0-)

    but I totally agree it's not a minute too soon to start.  

    The area that appeals to me personally is voter registration, especially in low-income neighborhoods.  Data shows that once someone registers, their chance of actually voting is somewhere between 70 to 90%.  Those are odds I like.  There's also data that shows that of the almost 40% of Americans who DON'T vote, that sentiments are 2 to 1 Democratic.  That's a ratio I like.  

    So while I know that lower-income voters move more often and some far-in-advance registrations will die on the vine, it seems to me that a long, slow burn on the voter registration front can really pay off for us.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:05:02 PM PST

  •  And implement President Obama's ground game (4+ / 0-)

    nationally in 2014. President Obama's campaign, including its volunteer arm, Obama for America, did a phenomenal job of turning out voters not only in key "swing" states, including North Carolina, which was lost very narrowly, but in other states, as well, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and elsewhere.

    It sure would be great to have the President convert those assets into part of a permanent nationwide Democratic ground effort to turn out voters all 50 states.

    (P.S. Thank you for this, because one of the first thoughts to occur to me after the initial glow of the 2012 election victories started to wear off was...oh, oh, hopefully, this will not be another 2008, followed by another 2010. You are so right...that we need to be solving this problem of lower turnout of key Democratic constituencies during "off-year" elections." Otherwise...we'll be relegated to a repeat of 2010.)

  •  A national refendum to legalize marijuana... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Larsstephens

    ...could be just one issue to help GOTV efforts in 2014.

    "What Elephant?" - Jimmy Durante, "Jumbo"

    by FresnoBill314 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:09:54 PM PST

  •  Repeat 3x: Ballot initiatives (7+ / 0-)

    Favorable and highly popular ballot initiatives will do the trick, guaranteed.

    As Rachel Maddow covered a year or so back, ballot initiatives to increase the state minimum wage win by large margins, and definitely have an effect on turnout statewide.

    While it is impossible to get state minimum wage increases on the ballot in every state, there are other, democrat-favoring initiatives which would have the same effect, guaranteed, such as:

    -Increase number of early voting days
    -Increase number of hours on existing early voting days
    -Upgrade absentee voting to include "no-excuse-required" (I'm in Virginia where absentee is excuse-required)
    -Allow the state to take on a debt to expand the number of polling places
    -Increase state minimum wage
    -Increase state income tax on high income earners
    -Legalize marijuana for medicinal use
    -Legalize marijuana for recreational use
    -Legalize gay marriage
    -Assault weapon ban
    -Amnesty initiatives, perhaps

    Unfortunately, the November 2014 elections are a bit too late for ballot initiatives to require one's state to accept Medicaid expansion as a result of the ACA, or to require one's state to setup a healthcare exchange, but those kinds of initiatives would work too (Missouri and Montana had ballot initiatives this past November to prevent the state from expanding Medicaid)

    You obviously can't get all initiatives on the ballot in all states, but you can get some in some states. More importantly, you would have to target each one for different states where it would have an effect. For example, putting legalization of gay marriage on the ballot in Mississippi would probably have no effect, hell, it might have the OPPOSITE effect.

    For example, the following states have NO early voting (VA's early voting is excuse-required in-person absentee, not true no-excuse-required):
    MN, WI, MO, MI, KY, MS, AL, SC, VA, PA, DE, NY, CT, RI, MA, NH
    So initiatives to open early voting in those states would help.

    After the 2012 debacles in AZ, FL, VA, OH, initiatives to expand polling places would help.

    I understand OR didn't pass their marijuana initiative because it was too restrictive, not because they reject the idea. So I think another run at that with an initiative that is LESS restrictive would work.

    Gay marriage has passed both state legislative houses in NJ, but Christie refuses to sign. A ballot initiative there might help. States like IL, NM and CA might actually be receptive to it this time around.

    After brutal assault-weapon related massacres in states like VA, CO might influence people to vote to ban assault weapons:
    Assault weapon mass shootings in the US: Link

    The follow states have laws that allow rates LOWER than the federal rate:
    WY, MN, AR, GA
    The following states have no minimum wage laws, and thus the federal rate applies:
    LA, MS, AL, TN, SC
    The following states have state minimum wages the same as the federal rate:
    AK, HI, AZ, UT, ID, MT, ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, TX, IA, WI, IN, KY, WV, VA, NC, GA, FL, PA, MD, DE, NJ, NY, NH
    So many states in that list would seem, to me, to be receptive to an increase over the federal rate.

    Keep in mind that in November 2006 (MIDTERM ELECTION!) the following states approved state-wide wage increases:
    AZ, CO, MO, MT, NV, OH

  •  With the election of Cornyn as GOP Senate whip, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a tantalizing prospect looms...

    If Julian Castro could unseat Cornyn (a stretch, I know), and a Kentucky Dem could unseat McConnell (considerably less of a stretch), we could decapitate the Senate GOP. It would be sweet comeuppance for what happened to Daschle, and it would all come down to turnout.

    Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.

    by Zutroy on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:16:50 PM PST

    •  Don't rule out KY... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      People on the fringe are starting to get upset with the party leaders, getting ready to primary Boehner and McConnell. If they are successful in unseating McConnell in KY, another run by Jack Conway might be successful. If 2010 had the same level of democratic enthusiasm as 2006, and McConnell was the republican up for re-election as opposed to a retiring Jim Bunning / candidate Rand Paul, I guarantee you that we would be saying "Senator Jack Conway".

      On a side note, I thought Christine O'Donnell was some nobody who came on the scene from the fringe in 2010. I had no idea that she ran unsuccessfully in 2008 against Biden as well. WTF? She got smoked in 2008 and decided to run again in 2010??? Ridiculous.

      •  Christine O'Donnell was/is a perrenial candidate. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        That's what was so ridiculous about her victory to begin with, before the witch crap even came out. She had run in many races besides 2008.

        Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.

        by Zutroy on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 09:50:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Let's also remind women.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cany, Words In Action, Larsstephens

    ....R's War on Women. Starting in Ohio.

    Ohio Votes To Defund Planned Parenthood.

    Ohio 'Heartbeat Bill' Is Revived In State Legislature

    Elections be damned.

  •  Obviously, it's going to be necessary for groups (3+ / 0-)

    in each state to suss what will work well for them. In CA, the initiative process is quite expensive (not to mention legal challenges all along the way). I don't know what it's like in other states.

    It might make sense for folks to focus, in some states, on county initiatives. For example, in CA, let's say we put a higher min. wage initiative on the ballot. That would fly in blue counties, but counties like Orange County wouldn't pass it. Why let OC drag down the vote when we can get more voters in blue districts, even blue city initiatives.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:23:00 PM PST

  •  Mid-term turnout is the key. That's why Repubs (3+ / 0-)

    dominate Ohio politics, our state administrative offices and 100 per cent of house races and half of senate races go two years away from presidential election years, which are always low turnout elections.  As everyone here at Kos knows, Paul Weyrich infamously declared that Radical Republicans win electons when voter turnout is low.

    In fact, I have long advocated an Ohio constitutional amendment to match our gubernatorial and administrative office elections up with presidential elections to increase turnout and take that massive advantage away from the Republicans.  I think I will have to write the petition myself and begin the circulation because I really haven't been able to find any support among the few political types I know.

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 07:56:12 PM PST

  •  Get people in the habit of thinking down-ticket (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I wonder how many people stayed home this time because they weren't in a swing state. I wonder how many down-ticket races were lost as a result.

    The only thing that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do stuff that doesn't work

    by PatriotismOverProfits on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:26:15 PM PST

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