I have been thinking a lot about the last couple election cycles. From 2006-2009 I was on a high as Democrats racked up seats and generally favorable ratings with the public. But while the Democrats have made good theatrics of trying to get their policies through, they have let far too many progressive battles and potential victories slide through their fingers. This diary is about where we should go from here.
I thought organizations like MoveOn, DFA, Bold Progressives, the SEIU union and others would hold leverage over the Democrats. I volunteered very heavily through them, and donated money though them. I thought given all the work and money we had provided would count for hard power-- power which must be answered to. I was wrong.
Like I said above I was on a high which came crashing down with issues like Iraq, Afghanistan, health care, FISA, climate change, Gitmo, GLBT (thankfully this last one is progressing towards a happy ending).
I have been thinking about where to go from here. How do progressives obtain leverage over the Democrats? How do we reform this party? How do we get real traction in the media? The only answer I can come to is - progressive primaries.
Let me be clear. I do not just mean we should donate to progressive candidates when they pop up. Our game has been too reactive-- this goes for the blogs and the organizations I mentioned. We need to focus on long term planning and strategizing. I mean building organizational power which frightens the Democrats. I mean pointing out Democrats which enable Republicans and say-- next election cycle we are going to shake them.
I think groups like Bold Progressives DFA and MoveOn are great. But if they wanted to get down and dirty they would run their own candidates. I don't see that happening any time soon.
Here are some initial thoughts about what we need to do:
We can keep donating to primary candidates as they come up. But that can't be all we do. Donating to one off candidates does not build long-term power. It does not build a mandate. It does not reform what it means to be a primary. We must build power, memes, messages, and money.
We need to think about long term framing, messaging, and planning regarding what it means to be a progressive, and not just a Democrat.
Challenge the culture for progressive primaries. Primaries make people like Rahm Emanuel and even Nancy Pelosi's skin crawl. We must try to push open a wedge in the primary culture.
Build infrastructure to raise money for primaries. And I don't just mean raise money for candidates. We need a permanent infrastructure, amassing talent and best practices.
Identify weak Democrats 1-2 cycles a head of time so we can recruit people. By weak Democrats I mean-- Democrats who enable Republican policies, and also Democrats who are polling badly.
Identify key issues which transcend their silos and speak to progressive values, and policies. Then help primary candidates all run on these issues so that we can build national mandates.
Research victories and losses-- like the "Lieberman" and "Donna Edwards" elections, as well as Tea Party Primary victories. What are common elements in successes and failures? How do we build and refine a primary processes based on this amassed knowledge?
This is all a lot of work and will take time and money. But do you seriously want to just keep donating to one off candidates? I don't. That is like tossing stones at a dam hoping it comes down instead of looking for the cracks.
Interested? Discuss in the comments, provide suggestions, and criticism, & if you want to help email me. We will get down and dirty together.
NOTE: Sorry to those who saw this diary earlier. I published this as the site was crashing and a lot of people never saw it.