The Community Candidate Concept: What Makes a Good Candidate?

What makes a good candiate? Groups like Emily's List and Working Families Party have a tendency to look to the candidates who have money, whose skills are in fundraising. Some people seem to think only lawyers can be effective politicians. And some simply think all candidates are pretty much the same and despair of finding excitement in supporting a candidate.

I don't buy any of those. I do get excited about candidates. They do not tend to be the ones who are supported by big money interests, and they are not always lawyers, but they are the candidates who are smart, articulate, and good on the issues. But there is one thing more that really makes a candidate kick ass. Dedication to the community. In some ways this may be the thing that can break through racial, cultural and political divides, because a candidate who proves him or herself to the community can get broad support: black and white, rich and poor, liberal and moderate. I want to discuss just such candidates.

There's more...

Apologies and Diary Recognition

Of late, I have immersed myself in a series of activities that have detracted from my already reduced ability to blog on a regular basis. Becoming a local and state committee member requires me to attend more meetings. Going on the road to try and tack down video keeps me offline. Making preparations for Yearly Kos, where I am conducting a workshop, a caucus, two panels is sapping a lot of my time. I am also in the midst of writing a couple of big articles and starting up a new website. All of these projects, while exciting and important, have kept me from my primary political love, which remains blogging on MyDD. My blogging habits, already cut in half to around fifty articles a month since Election Day 2005, have been reduced even further.

I apologize for my absence, and I sincerely hope that following Yearly Kos I will be able to resume my former posting rate. Fortunately, I have advantages not afforded to many other bloggers. For starters, Matt and Jonathan are still around to help out with front-page blogging duties. Just as importantly, MyDD remains a good community site with many diarists producing good work. Before I re-immerse myself in my other projects, I would like to take some time to recognize some of the best diaries from this past weekend that have not been promoted to the front page, were not already. This is an open thread. Tell the world what is on your mind.

Carpooling liberally: how to soften the blow of gas prices, build community, and win at the polls

(I originally thought this up in the aftermath of Katrina, and posted about it at the time.  I've tinkered with it a little bit since then, and I think it's worth a second shot, with high gas prices again in the news.)

The gas price crisis we are now facing is not likely to go away soon, and it is a burning and deep problem for millions of people.

As Democrats, I think we can turn this crisis into an opportunity - to lead, to build community, to "be the change we seek", and to improve our own electoral chances.

We can become a party of carpoolers.

Follow me over the flip for more!

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Diary Recognition Thread

Here are some noteworthy diaries from the last seventy-two hours:There have been some other good diaries over the last twenty-four hours, but for now I'll just leave it there. Check 'em, chat, and have a good Saturday night.

My Vision of the Blogosphere: Those Uncorrupted By Powerlessness

Over the last two or three days, I have noticed a welcome trend here on MyDD: a significant increase in the number of quality diaries on the site. While I welcome diaries form electoral campaigns and from Democratic / progressive leadership organizations, I would like to take some time to highlight the contributions of individuals who, entirely through personal initiative, have posted diaries on MyDD that work to further the progressive movement. These diaries are not mere complaints, are not simply re-hashing age-old arguments, are not simply posting links to breaking news stories, are not polls, and are not trying incite a flame war. Instead, these are individual diarists who have taken it upon themselves to engage in original reporting, activism, research, and strategic thinking about elections, infrastructure, activism and messaging. The effort they put into their high-quality work is a regular reminder to me of why the progressive blogosphere is an important and powerful development for the progressive movement:This is the sort of thing I want to see more of--a lot more of. All too often, comment threads on the blogosphere in general and MyDD in particular are easily dominated and corrupted by the most anti-social elements of the blogosphere. They are dominated by trolls, by people who use way too much bold face and ALL CAPS, by those most willing to repeat the tedious and lazy complaints about the DLC, by those who are most willing to engage in the age-old arguments about third party candidates, by those most willing to use vulgarity, by ratings abuse wars, and by those who would rather just complain than actually do anything about the current predicament we face as progressive in America. They are, in short, dominated by those who have been corrupted by their feeling of powerless.

Both the exceptional diaries and the types of anti-social behavior I listed above are, like almost everything in the independent blogosphere, born out of a feeling of powerlessness. Whether you are talking to Kos or a blogger with only ten readers a day, one thing I am sure you will hear is that a feeling of powerlessness was one of the main driving forces for them in starting their blogs. We created this new institution, the progressive blogosphere and netroots, to cope and combat that feeling of powerlessness in the face of a rising conservative tide. Now, this sense of powerlessness has resulted in a sprawling, powerful and populist institution that is a major force in American politics. However, for all of the great things the progressive blogosphere has built and accomplished, as Billmon notes, this feeling of powerless can also corrupt:The problem is that Lord Acton's maxim is equally true in reverse: If power corrupts, so does powerlessness. It can lead to fatalism, apathy and irresponsibility - or to paranoia, rage and a willingness to believe every loopy conspiracy theory that comes down the pike. When you participate in the progressive political blogosphere, I think you face a choice. On the one hand, you can be corrupted by your feeling of powerlessness, and engage in the sort of anti-social behavior that dominates many comment threads here and elsewhere in the progressive blogosphere. On the other hand, you can be spurred on by this feeling of powerlessness, leave the anti-social and corrupted tendencies of powerlessness behind you, and instead serve as a positive force working to rectify the conditions that originally led to your sense of powerlessness.

As a site, MyDD focuses on elections, political infrastructure, strategy, and activism. My vision for the site is a community of front-pagers, diarists, commenters, and readers who strive to make positive, progressive and in-depth contributions in those areas. I wish I knew what needed to be done in order to change the tone of the community so that we are closer to this ideal than our many anti-social comment threads would indicate. I am going to start by trying to highlight those members who are making contributions that clearly strive toward this ideal. Work to make a positive contribution, and you will be rewarded with recognition and influence. Remain anti-social, and you will remain obscure and powerless.


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