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Friends,

As you already know, today is the last day of the all important 3rd quarter filing deadline for campaigns and I'm sure your inbox has been filled up with requests for donations and support. I want to take a moment to first thank everyone at DailyKos, Openleft, MyDD, and the Swing State Project for deciding to add my race to their Blue Majority page as well those of you who have decided to support my race and the other Blue Majority candidates. The support of bloggers is incredibly valuable and we simply cannot win without your help. Today, I want to take a moment to address you in video which is something I haven't been able to do as often as I like (though your contributions are helping us build out our staff and increase our capabilities):

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The Dean campaign in 2003 vs. 2007: where's the energy?

Mousepads, Shoe Leather, and Hope: Lessons from the Howard Dean Campaign for the Future of Internet Politics.

This is a new book out that's about Howard Dean's campaign, written by individuals in the campaign the chance to tell their stories with an eye to documenting the Internet campaign revolution and providing lessons to future campaigns. I've got a chapter in it, that I'll post more about later hopefully. Here's Tom Streeter to talk about the book, jerome

Having recently had the honor of editing a collection of stories about the internet and the Dean campaign by campaign veterans (Mousepads, Shoe Leather, and Hope), I can't help thinking about the differences between then and now, between the fall of 2003 when Howard Dean was upending all the rules and leading the most significant grassroots Presidential campaign in a generation -- and now, when we have a bunch of perhaps interesting candidates but very little of the energy. What's different? What's the same? Where's the energy?

Maybe the energy is just spread out. Dean's type is no longer alone. In 2003 Howard Dean stood alone in both his politics (the war etc.), his straightforward style, and of course his use of the internet. Now, everyone is using the internet, and a significant chunk of the Democratic party has followed Dean's lead away from triangulation, being Republican-lite, and disdain for the grassroots. Edwards, Obama, Richardson and others have all adopted elements of Dean's political playbook and principles.

But as I read and listened to the stories of people who were deeply involved in the campaign, I can't help thinking that there's more to it than that. In 2003, spontaneous efforts were breaking out all over the country on behalf of Dean, without guidance and often without knowledge from headquarters. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see much of that now. In spite of some candidates' efforts to do things differently, it seems like it's mostly about money and TV news shows again. What happened? What can be done about it?

If you want to be taken back to that time, you can read Amanda Michel's chapter about the creation of GenerationDean. (This was the largest youth movement of this type at least since the McGovern campaign.) Or as Zephyr Teachout puts it, reflecting back on 2003:

"I forget sometimes that we did, but we really believed. As mechanical and jaded as we were about some of the operations . . . there was a core passion that we all shared about actually changing the shape of political society.

"There's no clear answer to me about why that happened . . . It's not so simple as the DNC speech or the NYC Meetup flipping a switch. I don't remember when I first started believing that it was possible--this restructuring of society . . . I like to think some of the tools I had a hand in were instrumental--Get Local and so on--but I can really imagine the Dean campaign without all of these things, except perhaps Meetup. What I can't imagine is the Dean campaign without that conviction and belief, the culture of passionate, pragmatic work toward something much different and bigger than a candidate--the tool that made up the molecular structure of everything we did--in a deeply contentious, anxious environment, the one tool that held us all together, if barely."

Where did it go?

Tom Streeter, Burlington, Vermont

I'm Tired of It All

I'm tired of all of the bickering. I'm tired of the egos being puffed out for display. I'm tired of our collective energy tearing us apart. Like many others, I've been disappointed in what's been happening here at MyDD. But I think they're all symptoms of a larger problem.

I'll start off by giving my biases. I'm for Obama. I was for Dean last time. I didn't like Kerry too much. And in the same way, I'm not a huge Hillary fan. For me, it's a matter of politics as usual and doing something that changes the game. Edwards, by the way, leaves me a bit cold. But whomever is the nominee will get my support.

On to the substance. I just read Mizner's critique of Chris Bowers. All I have to say is "Wow!" I simply can't believe the audacity that Bowers is displaying. But then again, I can. I saw the same thing with Matt Stoller here. And I just read several accounts of users being banned by him, as well. But, to me, this is all just a symptom. It's a symptom of needing to be heard.

We get that over here at MyDD all of the time. People attack each other quite a bit. The level of discourse as gotten a bit tattered. I agree with Jerome Armstrong that people should be with their candidates 100%. But that shouldn't mean that it should be at the expense of civility and reason. And that seems to be what has happened.

What is happening, I think, is that what could have been a truly revolutionary movement is falling prey to itself and becoming the Loony Left. We are victims of a need to be heard and a desire for power within the system. We have believed our own hype. And when the facts don't support us, we shout even more loudly.

What do I mean? Let's start with the war because that's the main thing. It shouldn't have happened. And we adequately voiced our opinion about that. In fact, much of what we have here today is a direct result. And this time we could shake our image as peaceniks and argue that we've been waging the wrong war. We had so much on our side.

And eventually, after much tragedy, the public came along with us. That was due to our endeavors. And politicians have come along, as well. It's amazing that every single Democratic presidential candidate has an anti-war position.

We won. But that wasn't enough for us. We then pushed for getting our troops out now. And that was good. And we've seen a huge amount of movement on that issue. The fact that Bush even talked about his proposal to end the surge using Withdrawal as the frame means that we are winning that debate. Once we have them using our language and frame, it's a matter of continuing to execute.

But we weren't satisfied. No, all troops have to be out. And while that's a legitimate claim, we get into arcana like whether the Embassy is US soil or if that still constitutes an occupation. Oh, come ON! Yes, let's push. But where does it all end? Does anyone seriously think anything worthwhile is going to change while we have Bush in office? He's the stubbornest man in the world, I think. And he's infinitely smarter about picking fights and using the power of his office and the media than the Left typically gives him credit for.

So, come on! There are other issues. The war is a supremely important one. But the other issues are just as important. Let's peal away our day-to-day issues and talk about why we think we should be doing X, Y or Z. Let's stop attacking each other and try to understand each other. We all want a better US of A. I trust that. I trust that you all are good people who only want what's best.

Let's trust that Hillary supporters want the best for our country. Let's trust that those who want every single troop out of Iraq want what's best just as thos who support residual troops. Let's trust each other and argue from there. Let's not let the weeds keep us from seeing that we all want the country to move left. We may each have different tactics or theories for how that should happen. But we each want it to happen.

I want dialog. But we've sometimes moved on from that to pure fighting. And I don't think that's a good thing. And I think a lot of that is that we forget our original goals. When we succeed with that goal, we keep on fighting and do it with each other.

As for me, here's where I'm coming from: I'm interested in Transformational Politics. I look at Europe and see that the pendulum is far further left there than here. I want that to happen. And I think it will happen over time. I keep coming back to the fact that relatively speaking, America is fairly young. It's going to take time for it to age into what I'd like to see it as. But I believe we can help it along. And I have long believed that we can do that by listening to the other side a bit. i don't mean that we shouldn't fight for what we believe in. But we should not demonize them as they often do us. Perhaps that comes from the fact that I'm a black, gay man who grew up as a Christian Fundamentalist. So, I understand a bit about both sides. Perhaps it also comes from having studied Social Anthropology and see how groups form and shape beliefs and habits. I don't know. But I know that listening and respect can do a lot. And I believe that we have to choose our fights carefully. Women's rights, Black rights, gay rights. Those are things that I think were worth fighting for. We're not done with those, yet. But the pendulum has swung to the left in all of those. Environmentalism and global warming is a place where the pendulum must swing. The pendulum has swung on the war in Iraq.

Let's not leave any of these issues. But when we get too het up about the details and make the details the fight, we're damaging ourselves and our collective strength.

(Maybe next time I'll critique the whole idea of the Netroots not having an elite and simply being a collective. But that's for another time.)

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IN-06 Barry Welsh Official Blog Debuts

The Barry A. Welsh For Congress  campaign today unveiled the new official blog on their website, located at http://blog.barrywelsh.org. The new blog will feature posts from the candidate himself as well as blog team members, communications staff and the occasional guest post from friends and allies of the campaign. The blog will be used to make regular posts with items of interest relating to the campaign, recent podcasts, interviews online and more.

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Netroot Elitism

It is not at all uncommon, when something becomes popular, for people to try to gain status by saying `I remember when that thing was better, before it had become popular.'  In other words, I have more authenticity than you because I was here before you. Here in my home state of Texas it is, I lived in Austin before Dell came in, or before they scraped the hills to put highway 360 in.  Or my favorite, I was here before they put in a parking lot and started charging to go to Hippy Hallow (clothing optional park on Lake Travis.)

There is a lot of this going on in the sphere theses days.  I find this a little ironic. Isn't the appeal of new media its populist access?  Isn't increased numbers what we - you - wanted?

This mentality disconnects the netroots from its populist and activist predecessors.  This is a history that we would do well to pay close attention to in these days of transformation.  The main contribution of this new community has been to raise ideas and money. While these are great contributions, we have not nearly hit our stride in terms of the potential to increase real door knocking, fist raising, Main Street marching, working class American energizing activism.  There are many reasons why this has not happened to the degree that it could.  One is because an awful lot of people who are plugged into their computer are not plugged into the streets.  My guess is that these are the people most likely to be vocal about lowbrow newcomers.  The netroots are mostly a lot of moderately well-educated middle class young people with a spattering of good leaders and good thinkers.  

Poor people, a fast growing group in this country, do not have time to blog. Most do not own a computer and most of them have lost hope in voting.  The netroots, like youthful movements of the past, seeks to be mindful of the downtrodden and disenfranchised.  Nonetheless, this is not the experience of those here.  If we are unwelcoming of the great unwashed of the computer class, how would we ever be welcoming of a broader cross section of America?  

I strongly encourage anyone engaged in Democratic politics to go to an Acorn meeting or a neighborhood meeting of a poor minority community.  Not only will you hear the stories of people who have struggles that are hard to fathom, you will also hear a lot of bad grammar, ignorant ideas and maneuvering of those who have been psychologically bruised.  But above that you will also hear intelligence (often spoken with bad grammar,) hope where it has no right to exist and integrity.  I'm sure that many here do work to reach out in meaningful ways to the vast community of disposed in our country.  People often wonder what progressive means.  In my vernacular progressive means to be not only deeply concerned about the disposed but willing, and working to, include them in the process.  Generally speaking, the netroots continues to have a lot of unactualized potential in being truly progressive.

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