What We Are Doing And Why!

This past election, I and 11 others got together here in our home and made calls for MoveOn, for candidates in districts other than ours, as far as I know they did nothing for our local Candidate in IL-19, although I was told they would.

As I was reading a script in support of a democratic candidate I know nothing about, who for all I know has been written about negatively else where, it dawned on me that this wasn't the way it should be.

First and foremost we should know about the candidate we are supporting, either with phone calling, handing out literature, or just talking to someone about the election. It made me feel good that I was accomplishing something, but I also felt guilty that we weren't calling for our candidate.

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Facing Reality in Iraq

Every day of continued chaos in Iraq should be a reminder of the need to face reality and change course. Today's release of the Iraq Study Group report should serve as another wake up call, as well as provide the maneuvering room - and the political cover - for Congress and the Bush administration to do what must be done.

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Campaign Reform Idea

I'm not even sure how this would work within the boundaries of the first amendment, but since there are other restrictions on political advertising, I'm assuming there are ways to implement an idea I had.

What if Democrats propose as part of their "cleaning up DC" plan a very simple campaign reform that states "Any political advertisement that comes during a political campaign may not mention a political opponent or refer to said candidate without those words being spoken by the advertising candidate themselves"? Now, the lawyers out there can certainly come up with better language than that, but the gist of it is to end attack ads that are not owned by a candidate. Party committees and 527's would no longer be able to create advertisments targeting a candidate. Instead of listing a litany of evils with an ominous voice, and then have a candidate cutely add at the end "I approve this message", they would have to attack the other candidate themselves.

The climate seems perfect for such a proposal, as the Republicans were badly wounded by ads by MoveOn and other liberal groups. And the electorate as a whole is angry about these ads. It would probably be just the kind of high-profile and popular issue that would really endear Democrats to everyday folks. But more importantly, though our side did well in the negative advertising war this cycle, ultimately these strategies work against our goal of increasing voter turnout and inclusiveness. There've been studies done lately that seem to prove pretty conclusively that negative advertising suppresses turnout. Ultimately, Democrats benefit in the long term when discussions return to policy and leadership, rather than the crimes of the other camp. We could put the final nails in the coffin of the Rove divide-and-conquer strategy.

Ultimately, candidates would be able to go negative anyway, if they wanted to. They just wouldn't be able to maintain a sunny facade while henchmen did the dirty work. They'd have to make the accusations themselves. And for the rest, for the scandals, the corruption that needs to be exposed, etc, that job would remain with journalists and bloggers, where it belongs.

As for free speech, there are obviously several laws around campaign advertising that restrain fully free speech ("I approve this ad" requirement, 527s' inability to mention voting for a particular candidate, etc), so there's a precedent.

Imagine if the billions that were spent on attack ads this cycle were plowed into grassroots organizing and ads that proposed positive policy and change? Another side benefit, would be that much of the political consultant population would be dislodged from the Democratic party too. What's a Carville to do without attacks?

I'm thinking about working this up into a formal proposal and presenting to a local congressman who's preparing an ethics package (Mcnerney)...what do folks think? What are the loopholes? Too restrictive to free speech? How would it best be worded?

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Clarifying Candidates

The candidates.

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