Thursday, November 8, 2012

A progressive accounting too

As Rachel Maddow pointed out last night, the Republicans have a lot of work to do in squaring themselves with the reality that was brought home this election.

But progressives have just a bit of work to do in that arena as well. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard someone on our side of the aisle say that the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling was going to end democracy as we know it.

I oppose Citizens United as much as anyone and hope that it can be overturned. But an awful lot of people are waking up these days to the fact that the ruling - and the SuperPACs it fostered - were pretty meaningless in terms of their impact on this election. As a matter of fact, many progressives are having a little fun imagining what will go on today in that telephone call between Karl Rove and his donors. Me too!!!

So what is it that progressives should learn from all this?

First of all, technology is on the side of democracy in this instance. That's because the most significant thing money can buy is TV ads...and people don't watch them anymore. Even the lowest tech person has a remote for their television. And its most important use (lol) is to channel surf (or mute) as soon as commercials come on. That's just a fact of life today. From there, folks who have a little more sophisticated technology (ie, money) can stream or pay for commercial-less channels or tivo, etc. And so I'd suspect that Rove spent millions of dollars on TV ad buys that no one watched.

Secondly, as Kevin Drum points out - even when SuperPACs spend their money on organizing, its ineffective.
Done properly, it's simply far more efficient for organizing to be centralized. You can target more precisely, you can make sure nothing falls through the cracks, and you can make sure that people get called with the right message and don't get barraged by multiple organizers. Unless I'm missing something important, Super-PACs will simply never be as good at organizing a national campaign as a high-disciplined central organization.
Finally - and most importantly - progressives need to recognize that political campaigns, especially with regards to presidential elections, have been forever changed by the Obama model. What they failed to learn in 2008 should surely sink in now.

As I wrote about before, there was a time when Democratic presidential politics was all about selling out to the plutocrats. But with his small donor juggernaut, Barack Obama showed it didn't have to be that way...we could compete and win with numbers.

I'd say that its time for progressives to quit crying in our beer over this idea that the 1% control our politics with their money and get busy working on the winning strategy of organizing. If we learned nothing else from this election its that ground game beats the fat cats. And that might be the biggest win of all.

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