Strip-mining the Grassroots (pt 6): Joiners vs fighters (or: civic conscription)

(This is the sixth in a series of posts about a particular breed of ground operations that is increasingly popular among progressive organizations. I'll argue -- and I'm not the first to do so -- that this model of 'grassroots' activism is unhealthy for the progressive movement; that it saps vital energy and does not effectively advance our cause.)

In this series, I've written about the PIRG/Fund canvassing model, which is currently being outsourced (through Grassroots Campaigns, Inc) by the DNC and MoveOn for their field operations. In my first three posts, I described how these canvassers appeal to potential donors about the urgency of a given cause, but ask only for monetary contribution, even though this money is just used to pay for the operation itself. In my fourth post, I discussed the unsustainable working conditions in these operations. In the last post, I analyzed the canvass model as a wholly top-down operation in which each participant is interchangeable and all interactions are scripted. In this post, I'll contextualize this curious form of 'activism' within the history of American civic life.

There's more...

BlogPac Fundraiser: Start of the Second Day

Yesterday, 54 people contributed to BlogPac, and gave a total of $2,921.02. Thank you to everyone who gave!

As we move toward our goal of $15,000, I want to remind everyone that supporting BlogPac also means supporting MyDD. Throughout our history, MyDD has always strived to not only be a blog of words, but also a blog of action. Whenever we write about campaigns, we try to engage in those campaigns as well. For example, Matt is not just writing about Net Neutrality, he is actively fighting to save Net Neutrality behind the scenes. I became a Democratic committeeperson not just so I could write about it, but in the hope that other people would follow my example and join up with the silent revolution in their area. Jerome was a major player in developing the Dean netroots revolution. Scott is now working for Senator Menendez. Jonathan, fresh out of college, is already heavily involved in the local scene in Oregon, as I am sure he will tell you later on. On MyDD, I hope that words and action will always go hand in hand.

Much of our best content on MyDD comes form the political work we do. If we are unable to do that political work, the quality of blogging at MyDD will decrease. If we are unable to do test our writing in the real world, the quality of our activism and the insights in our writing will decrease. There is really no way to separate MyDD, the blog, from MyDD, the activist site.

Supporting BlogPac helps MyDD. Any campaign we engage in will be blogged on the front page. The more resources we have to carry out our political work, the better our blogging will become. And when I say "our," I mean it. Donating to BlogPac means joining BlogPac, and having a say in the direction our political work takes. While we have leaders, we are always a community site. BlogPac will function in the same way.

So please, support BlogPac, and in so doing support My Direct Democracy. We are all in this together.

Fundraiser Update #2

Support BlogPac

Second update: $1,901.02, with 33 donors. We are making out way. Since we are targeting $15,000, we are one-eighth of the way there.

We are not asking people to make large contributions: $50 is plenty. If you have more, great, but every little bit helps. We know that the netroots is the burning activist core of a new progressive movement, and we want to be there to help defend it. The poll that is going to be revealed at Yearly Kos will cost $7K on its own, even if I do not end up receiving a dime for it. This is an important poll, as it will ask the netroots something that has never been asked before in a statistically acceptable methodology: what strategic prescriptions does the progressive netroots have for the progressive movement? This is the sort of project that will teach the netroots a lot about itself, and teach people outside of the netroots a lot about us.

Many people would like to dismiss the netroots as not worth listening to. I say they should first learn what advice the netroots has to offer. Over time, as the results sink in, a poll like this will make it even harder for the anti-netroots narrative to stick.

Along with the Net Neutrality fight, this is the sort of projects we are conducting at the new BlogPac. Donate to BlogPac and become part of the conversation on what we should do next.

Fundraiser Update #1

Support BlogPac

After two hours, 20 new donors have joined BlogPac, and you guys have raised $1,521.01. We are already 10% of the way to our total. Thank you!

As tremendous as this is, we need a lot more. In the Net Neutrality fight alone, we are matched up against corporations and lobbyists that have tens of millions of dollars t their disposal. As remarkable as the new progressive movement is, people like Matt need more than $1,521.01 available to them in order to continue winning our campaigns.

Join with BlogPac today. Keep posting comments about BlogPac as well--I love to hear what you guys have to say.

BlogPac: For the Netroots, From the Netroots

Support BlogPac

Today, I am proud to announce that Matt and I have taken over stewardship of BlogPac, an organization founded in 2004 by Markos and Jerome. Rather than operating primarily as a means to channel money to electoral campaigns, under our management, the mission of BlogPac will be primarily to defend the netroots and improve the quality of online activism. Through ActBlue, the netroots already has an excellent means of channeling resources to its favorite campaigns. What we do not have is a formal entity to defend and enhance the political activity of the progressive blogosphere and progressive netroots. BlogPac will now be refocused to serve that function.

Our work is already underway. For over a month now, Matt has been the clear blogosphere leader in the fight to save Net Neutrality, and his tireless efforts have already resulted in tangible victories. At the same time, I have begun to engage in a full-scale effort to defeat the negative branding of the netroots being conducted by certain elements within the political and media establishment. This effort includes a scientific survey of the netroots to be revealed at Yearly Kos, upcoming appearances in major news publications, and an upcoming website to gather all of the best work online written about the netroots.

These are important undertakings we are engaged in to defend the netroots, and to date we have done so without any pay and with few resources. While operating within the free-flowing world of the netroots and the blogosphere allows us to operate with far less overhead than most organizations, we cannot operate without any resources at all. We need to be paid for the work we do. We need money for the surveys we are running. We have bills for a lawyer and an accountant.

This week, during our initial fundraiser, we are looking to raise $15,000 to support our work of defending the netroots. If you want to support Net Neutrality, support BlogPac. If you want to improve the image of the netroots in the established media, support BlogPac.

As BlogPac seeks to defend the progressive netroots, we are looking for our funding from the netroots. We need to know that the work we are doing is important to the netroots, and one of the best ways to guarantee that is for our primary source of funding to be small donations from the netroots activists we are defending. Also, we want to stay in touch with our donors through a series of regular emails and conference calls. This is not only so our donors can hear updates on our efforts, but also so we can hear from you on how well you think we are doing, and on other projects you would like to see us pursue. Your contribution to BlogPac will give you a voice in the direction we take.

BlogPac will be for the netroots, from the netroots. You contribution will not only help make sure that the progressive netroots remains strong and effective, but it will also bring you into a community of people willing to partake in the fight to defend and enhance the netroots. Contribute to BlogPac and join the fight today.


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