Last year, when the Georgia legislature approved a ballot measure to place a ban on gay marriage into the state constitution, some African American legislators were publicly very uncomfortable with the measure - and voted against it - because of the analogy with the civil rights struggle (particularly anti-miscegenation laws). Others voted against it without comment. Others voted for it without expressing any reservations, or explicitly rejected the civil rights comparison.
The African American community is profoundly diverse. There are individual differences. Regional differences. Religious differences. Country-of-origin differences (U.S. born versus various immigrant communities). Economic differences.
I know your main point related to the areas of commonality between white and black Democrats. But my point is that if you start from stereotyped assumptions about where areas of agreement or disagreement lie, the conversation won't go very far.
I am not goinr to speak for them but if you think about it, it is try to compair an alternative sex life to years of stuggle, I can see why some feel that way
Um, I can't let this pass. Gays were gassed at the concentration camps. In 1998, Matthew Shepherd
Really nicely put. Editor, any chance you'd write up an extended paper at some point documenting in a single place the history of your involvement in the race? Especially for those of us who live in "deep red" districts, as do I, I think it would be VERY instructive to hear more particulars about how this developed, laid out retrospectively from your viewpoint. I know the Swing State Project guys are going to put something together, and that'll be a very interesting read, but as I understand it, you were involved very, very early.
I am also an academic whose work touches on evolution, incidentally, so that frustration in particular is one I empathize with. I happen to know someone personally who was hammered by national right-wing political attack groups based on an abstract of federally funded research with that person listed as the PI. What's worse, it was a junior researcher, who really didn't need that kind of crap. And I occasionally have to drink heavily to get through the latest articles on the wave of "Intelligent Design" curricula. (I read them because I figure I'd better know what I'm up against.)
But, as far as the candidate goes... look, we've got to have people who are straight shooters as candidates. It bothers me when people use faith in a cynical, calculating way to win votes. It also bothers me when people use Christianity as a bludgeon, or to justify decidedly non-Christian behavior. But it doesn't bother me when people use biblical allusions in their political speech, if that's the way they genuinely think, talk, and feel. Not because it wins or loses votes, but because if that's who they are, then I'm honestly, truly fine with that.
In fact, better than fine. I rather like people who are honest about who they are.
I don't know this particular candidate, but he didn't come across as proselytizing. His note came across - at least to me - simply as the way he communicates. If that's the case, let's get beyond it. I can support people who communicate using very different language than me.
Bob Brigham at Swing State Project noted that his concession speech sounded like the start of a campaign. I hope so. Even something like Lt. Governor could be a great move, building up his statewide constituency. He doesn't have to shoot for the moon in the first step, although I'd certainly be behind him (and so would be my wallet) if he does.
What a great night. I'll have a difficult time going to sleep tonight, I'm so thrilled. Who knows, maybe even down here in Georgia (where I live) things could start turning a little more purple, again, with the right candidates and enough energy.
In any case, I'll be really interested in the more detailed analyses over the next few days re: what worked, what didn't, what can be nationalized.
Fair point, and we all do know how reliable leaked internal polls are. But I hope people will take the long view and see this as an experiment. If Hackett ends up being buried despite everything, that may be the impetus we all need to rally behind a new strategy for the netroots of the sort you suggest. If Hackett comes close or even ekes out a win, we can analyze what was effective and try to repeat it. After all, although it's almost cliche to say this by now, it took the right wing noise machine many years to figure out an effective strategy for leveraging their network of evangelical churches, talk radio, etc, in a way that actually turned elections.
There's a subtle distinction between "holier than thou" commentary (and you're quite right about that being a little annoying) and sounding a note of caution. I think there is a fair debate to be had about when "spam" of the e-mail, door-knocking, robo-calling, cold-calling, or any other type crosses the line into excessive (or even counterproductive). You're right that it's the medium that is the key point here. But it's the how, and the how much, and the when.
Despite advances, the tools are still crude (especially as deployed on the internet), and need continual refinement.
As for the particular case here, Paul Hackett probably inadvertently hit a nerve with some DKos commentators through the use of particular key words like "spread this virally" and "email to everyone you know." But he's not an internet organizer, he's an attorney and Marine, so a hefty amount of slack is warranted.
First, in the interest of full disclosure, I donated $25 rather early on, and stand by that.
I understand the cynicism, and yes, there need to be efforts to get people to open their pocketbooks for party-building operations that ultimately have a greater impact than any single candidate. Of course, this kind of energy for any single candidate is unsustainable in a general election, when resources have to be spread across hundreds of races.
But I think your cynicism is over the top, and the "stupid" label is extreme, for two reasons.
1) We have to face the reality that charismatic leaders and individual, interesting races prompt enthusiasm in ways that abstractions like organizing efforts do not. There are basic elements of human psychology at work here. Maybe $500,000 was a bit much, but as several commenters have noted, it's very likely that the vast majority of that money would have gone to nobody at all without a Paul Hackett to inspire the donations. The cash would have bought McDonalds sandwiches, not more effective political organizing. "Laptop needs" are hard to make exciting.
This is true in general, not just in politics: causes that grab people's imagination get deluged, other worthy causes that aren't quite as "sexy" starve. Arguments for setting up better structures for channeling the netroots' funding enthusiasm are quite reasonable. But this isn't a zero-sum game - especially since such structures are lacking, even the somewhat excessive donations to Paul Hackett are better than no donations at all.
Building up charismatic leaders is an investment beyond the particular race they're in. This may sound tautological, but the fact that Hackett could grab the attention necessary to achieve these slightly crazy fundraising results is itself evidence that he has potential, such that if he loses today, all is not lost.
2) If people really believe we're ABSOLUTELY going to win this, and we don't, there's a possibility that this will demoralize the netroots and make them less willing to donate in the future. We'll see, but I'm not convinced this is the case. Particularly if Hackett comes closer than he "should" in a solid red district, I think people will feel energized by the fight. There's a tremendous hunger for "fighting democrats" right now who are willing to stand on principle. Seeing one "fight the good fight" in deep red territory may be just what folks need, as long as it's not a total rout.
I suspect that donors today - even if they're ultimately donating to a losing cause - are on the path toward being donors tomorrow.
In all, I don't think you're giving the donors enough credit. I think most know what we're up against, and are prepared for the possibility of a loss. But sometimes the fight IS the message you want to send.