Blogad update

Our blogad fundraising campaign is doing well enough that we’ve expanded our list of targets a bit. But we need to raise more to get it out on all of the sites we’ve come up with! If you didn’t spend a few hours this weekend out talking to people about this thing, you in particular really need to contribute.
This morning, in two sentences, the SF Chron sums up the big problem with this election: that it doesn’t do a single thing to answer the real problems facing the state…

But as they tick off concerns about the future here — growth, traffic and jobs — Cervantez throws up his hands.
“Why,” he asked, “are we having a special election again?”

That’s about as pithy a summation as my Dad’s reaction: “I can’t believe you have to vote on this stuff. A lot of these are really stupid.” Unfortunately we have to, so channel some of your irritation at this whole mess and contribute to our blogad run!

Let’s get this voter guide out!

We’ve had really amazingly positive feedback to our voter guide (in english and in spanish), and we’d like to get it in front of as many people in the few days left before the election. To do this, we’re planning on running these blogads…

On a few political and some non-political ones, too. Click on the ad to go to our donations page. The nice thing about blogad buys is that (for now at least), they really scale on the low end: you can almost do an ad buy with the change you find in the back seat of your car. But we’d like to go up on some high traffic blogs with good placement – the more you contribute, the more we can do.


Blast from the past

From an American Prospect article on framing from a long, long time ago…

“[Strategic Framing Institute president Susan Bales] shows two slides. First she displays a cover of the children’s book Chicken Little. When greens sound like Chicken Little, she says, the message is that the sky is falling, it’s your fault and you have to lower your living standards. Not surprisingly, that message attracts only true believers. Then she puts up a second slide of The Little Engine That Could. A far better message is that good old American technology can solve environmental problems, and that citizens can hold government and business accountable if only they have the political will.”

That’s still probably the single most succinct description of framing that’s out there; something to think about while you’re talking to people about the special election. If the topic of how negative things seem right now comes up, point people towards our (very, very positive) progressive values pledge for California!

Wealth capture is not wealth creation.

This morning’s economic thought to ponder comes via this excellent diary on dailykos. It does take a second of thought to parse, but it’s a good point. The focus of the state needs to be on supporting the processes that truly create wealth, like education, and protect us from the brutalities of a marketplace so we can keep taking risks without ruining our lives in the process. It’s the high road!

Another widly successful No on Prop 73 phone bank

This is Nora Dye, she is doing an amazing job coordinating the No on Prop 73 phone banks for Planned Parenthood in San Francisco. Behind her is an adorable poster showing all the happy volunteers who have been coming in week after week to get the word out about this dangerous initiative.
Statewide, Planned Parenthood’s goal is to contact 50,000 voters about Prop 73, and with two weeks left they still need to contact about 20,000. My experience tonight proved again that people are receptive to voting the right way on this one, once they hear a coherent argument. If you haven’t given your time to phone bank on Prop 73, call your local Planned Parenthood affiliate and get involved!
If you’re in San Francisco, it happens at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 815 Eddy Street, and Thursdays at 1635 Mission.
They had Thai food. It was so great.

Even the corporate media ain’t buying it.

Last night’s performance by the Governor was exactly as expected: more style over substance. His performance threw new light on what Orwellian masterpieces these six propositions are. They sound great – it’s just that when you dig into them and realize what’s going on that you see that none of them will move this state in a remotely positive direction. From imposing tyranny on teenagers to shifting the balance even further towards private affluence and public squalor, all these propositions are as bad for the state today as they were before his slick sales pitch.
But they sound vaguely reasonable, especially when as talented a politician as Governor Schwarzenegger is leading the show. As good as he is, even the corporate media doesn’t seem to be buying it. The first headline here is the SF Chronicle’s, but the media elsewhere in the state seems to be getting it closer to right:
Governor on game in live forum
Governor’s Forum Shows Rifts
Governor: Prop. 76 not a grab for power
Schwarzenegger fields a few hostile questions
Governor gets defensive at election forum
`Showdown’ debate misses the mark
Sparks fly over event’s format
We have to keep the backdrop of what the real problems in this state are and the complete lack of impact anything that’s on the ballot will have…
Nothing in these will do anything to secure the environment.
Nothing in these will help a single uninsured child get health care.
Nothing in these will help relieve our dependence on cars and foreign oil.
Nothing in these will build stronger communities in California.
Nothing in these will help working families make ends meet.
Nothing in these will encourage long-term growth.
Nothing in these will help early childhood, K-12, or higher education.
Nothing in these will limit corporate power.
These are the wants and aspirations of the majority of the people in this state. We heard nothing about them last night, just another snow job attempt at making the case for government based on failed conservative principles.

We are being lied to.

George Skelton finally asks the obvious questions about the Governor’s increasingly Orwellian Proposition 76 sales pitch:

Political strategists for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger must think there’s voter appeal in telling people they can have it both ways: less and more at the same time. Or, regardless of where people come down on the side of spending – wanting more or less – they’re covered by Prop. 76.

The Schwarzenegger camp’s answer for how this can possibly be true is simple: more debt. Yep, make the grandkids pay for it! I guess it doesn’t count as spending if it doesn’t come out of the pockets of today’s rich. This is more bash, break, borrow & BS.
I really hope this strategy doesn’t work, but the fact that they’re even trying it says a lot about how they view the process of governing as one big campaign. There’s a bond of trust that has to be in place between leaders and the people. When that bond is abused – this tactic is only the latest in a long string of insults over the past few years – bad things happen. It’s something to keep in mind when discussing things with conservatives: they’ve been lied to, even more than the rest of us.

All of us, together

Via Political Animal: this is an interesting post from someone who took part in a focus group of Ivy Leage Democratic Party activists. I’m really curious as to who is running such a thing (and why!), which the author declines to get into. The whole post is a little boneheaded, and has the ring of a very smart person thinking about this problem for the first time:

Take the issue of being pro-market, for example. Not one person at the table listed a commitment to either entrepreneurs or free markets as a core part of the Democratic agenda. Yet everyone at the table was basically pro-market and pro-business BUT believed that America must pay more attention to those left behind by markets and businesses.
Given that Republicans always identify themselves as the party of markets and entrepreneurs, could Democrats make any headway with this kind of “yes, but” approach to the subject? But if framing isn’t enough, how can Democrats alter the substance of their agenda without simply becoming more like Republicans?
In the final analysis, there was no answer to this question. Even a table full of Ivy League-educated Democratic activists couldn’t come up with an answer to the question of what the Democrats want to offer America as a whole, and not just the disadvantaged. But the question itself is important, because it has the potential to force the Democrats to approach every major policy debate from a fresh perspective.

Absolutely this is an important question, and in the final analysis we’re going to find an answer to it or continue to lose until we do.
I don’t suppose there is much reason to think any particular subset of Democratic activists (Ivy League trained or otherwise) would have sat down and figured out what comes next. One of the problems with the current political moment is that fewer numbers of lefties – people who would ordinarily be bringing in new thinking – are politically engaged. Much of the citizenry has been distracted by the sound and fury of haywire American capitalism, sucked into eddies of techno-utopianism (been there!), run off by repeated exposure to withering blasts of anti-government rhetoric emanating from the right wing noise machine, or some combination of all of these. All three are massively powerful undertow currents in American civilization and there are surely other forces at work as well.
The reasons why some small but not insubstantial portion of those who are left choose to participate in our democracy are sometimes less than wholesome. I’m not necessarily saying that this guy was stuck in a focus group with a bunch of apple polishers, but it’s possible. A more charitable explanation could be that they were just all too busy working the campaign gypsy lifestyle to dig into some of the more structural and philosophical issues feeding the ongoing implosion.
But I take strongest issue with the implication that no substantive Democratic alternative economics could possibly exist. It’s a question of both framing and substance. Twice in the past week (both here and here) I’ve had to go into considerable detail chewing out Republicans who accused me of offering nothing more than “the usual liberal establishment talking points” or whatever. Too often we don’t engage, but that isn’t working. Republican policies haven’t even been good for what they claim they’re good for (like growth). By God, if we can’t come up with an alternative to the supply-side horsepucky they’ve been shoveling at us for the past few decades, we really don’t deserve to win!
I don’t know if it’s the high road (my preferred term), the moral economy (George Lakoff’s), the “we’re tired of getting trickled down on” economy or whatever the heck we’ll end up calling it, but there is not a shred of doubt in my mind that an alternative exists. Whatever other features it has, I am absolutely certain that solidarity between the lower, middle and large chunks of the upper-middle classes will form the backbone of it, and this is an important tactical consideration to keep in mind.
The kleptocracy this poor country has become is nothing like the best of all possible economic worlds and it is borderline ridiculous (and indicative of how far gone things are) to suggest that it is. This assumption is omnipresent; it’s why I can’t ordinarily read more than a few pages of the Economist.
This dynamic is especially explicative here in California, where overwhelming majorities of voters are with the left on social issues. Economics is the only reason we lose here. Our wins will be few and far between until we have destroyed right-wing economic policies, frames, narratives and conventional wisdom by presenting a positive and hopeful alternative. I was first assured of our side’s capability of delivering on this while hauling across frozen Iowa cornfields in a minivan full of Ph.D (and one Republican!) Dean supporters during the 2004 primary. It might take a while – conventional wisdom isn’t replaced overnight. But it will happen.

Turnout is the core dynamic

The Bee has a story this morning that really zeroes in on the core dynamic of this race: turnout. The sense that you get of how things are going is one of the best byproducts of particpating in a ground campaign. (the number one best thing is the interaction: every time you go out it’s like your own little private focus group.) Of course you can’t overgeneralize – you may be talking to a universe of voters (campaign-speak for a targeted group) that isn’t remotely representative of the whole, your sample size is typically pretty small, etc. But it’s suprising how often the ground-feel of a campaign turns out to be pretty right on.
WIth the above caveats in mind, based on the walk I did near my neighborhood in San Francisco yesterday, things aren’t bad. People are starting to realize that although we can’t yet move our own agenda, we do have a chance to say no, things are going the wrong direction. There’s a lot of anger about both President Bush and the Governor, but this election is about saying no to the whole regressive conservative agenda, not just them personally.
There is still quite a bit of confusion though, as the anecdotal evidence in the Bee story indicates. Along with the really funny and good lit that the Alliance had for the walk, I brought along copies of our voter guide. The response to it has been just overwhelmingly positive – even just the printed out summary version that I was handing out seemed like it was really helpful to people. So keep getting that sucker out there!