On the eve of the State of the Union, I figured it was time to broach a little something about the state of the progressive movement. The state is fun, but honestly, it's pretty unhealthy.
Though the internet left has raised many millions for candidates, the dirty little secret of progressive activism is that there is literally no support for any of the people who make internet politics work. Many effective activists don't have health care, and scrap along with whatever they can. The right has a well-developed infrastructure, and that's why they tend to win. They take care of their people. We don't, and so our people quit, or leave, or become consultants, etc. Now, there are lots of sob stories that are much much worse than anything progressive activists deal with, and that's not my point. I want to make an argument about strategy, and why we need to reorient our priority towards funding people that make things happen.
This is best illustrated with an example: Lane Hudson. Lane is the person who moved Mark Foley's scandalous behavior into the national discourse on a blog called Stop Sex Predators. When it was discovered that he was responsible for pushing Foley into the national news, Lane was fired without severance from his position at the gay rights group where he worked, the Human Rights Campaign. Were Lane on the right, he would be taken care of and put into a think tank, corporate job, or consulting shop, simply because he had proved that he is an incredibly valuable asset to the movement. But on our side, though Lane arguably delivered Democrats control of Congress, he is unemployed and struggling to pay his rent. I don't really need to point out that this is no way to run a movement.
Lane is a hero and a leader, but he's being treated as refuse. Think about this for a second. The incentive baked into the cake if you are a progressive activist or Democrat is that under no circumstances here should you ever take a public risk; you'll sully your name and no one will help you. Is it any wonder we have a party lacking leadership and built on caution?
Though you may not realize it, you are helping in a small way to fix this problem. Chris and I run Blogpac, and Blogpac cut Lane a $2000 check to help tide him over. Blogpac has raised its money from you, mostly from being included on the netroots page in 2006. In 2006, we took this money and used it on a few homegrown projects (like Use it Or Lose and Google-bombing the election), but mostly what we did is cut small but useful checks to activists doing great work who couldn't get money from rich people. You can find a list here, on Blogpac's website. It includes names you'll recognize, like Drinking Liberally, Blue America PAC, YearlyKos and Bluejersey. Despite all the work they've done, these groups are just not funded. As I read articles about a billion dollar Presidential campaign, I'm sickened by these strategically unwise investments.
It doesn't take a billion dollars to make a difference, it takes a smartly deployed and much smaller amount of money to do so. Blogpac had some money left over from 2006 that we're using to pay Lane. I'm asking you to help us ensure that we can keep doing so.
Here are the specific details. Blogpac is trying to raise around $10K this week. Here's where you can give. We've gotten 49 donations totally slightly above $1400. We need about 86 more of you to put up $100 to get to $10K.
About half of that is going to go to people like Lane, who really need it and have frankly earned it. Lane put his name out there, risked his career, lost his job, and arguably delivered us Congress. He deserves to be able to pay his rent at the very least. About half of it will go to a 50 state blog network. We think that supporting the local bloggers that deliver us better and higher quality information than the traditional media and operative class is critical to gaining and holding progressie power. The money is going to go for paying hosting fees and training, though if we can raise more we'll try to channel as much money as possible their way. $5K doesn't go very far, but it's a start.
We'll keep you up to date with what we're doing on the Blogpac site, and if something especially interesting pops up we'll talk about it here.
So anyway, if you have $100 or another amount to spare, please help out. Over the next two years, many candidates and groups are going to ask you for money and pledge all sorts of things about how they will change the country. And they aren't lying. Still, I can pretty much guarantee you that your money will have no greater impact than making sure that this movement continues to have people like Lane Hudson in it.
UPDATE: We're up to 95 donors and $5,293.40. That's 44 new donors giving $80 apiece or so. We only need 47 more people to chip in.
UPDATE: We're up to 106 donors and $5,863.40. Just 41 and 1/2 more.