Wes Clark: Party Builder

(crossposted at dailykos)

The 2006-midterm elections presented Democrats with a historic opportunity to strengthen the party brand and retake control of both houses of congress.  Party members of all stripes helped secure an election day capped with record setting victories through the nation.  

Although Howard Dean's 50-state strategy emphasizes long run party building over the short term electoral gains, its immediate success was vitally important not only to Americans hoping to derail the Bush agenda, but also to Democratic people powered movements in general.  Would grassroots level party building strengthen the brand or would it be wasted on people picking their noses in "red America"?

Well, obviously we can now say that grassroots level party building has definitely strengthened the Democratic brand.  So, if it entails being called a nose picker, then nose pickers we must be.  

Wes Clark worked as hard or harder than any other Democrat to further the 50-state strategy and the Democratic Party.  It must have taken a record setting amount of nose picking.

At the DNC convention earlier this month, Clark said:

I thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I did spend much of last year out stumping for Democratic candidates across the country. And by my count, it was I think 26 states, 86 candidates. A lot of them were the so-called red states, and I loved it. It was more fun, and I'll tell you something. I could see in those states and those candidates, I could see Governor Howard Dean's vision for a 50-state strategy is working.

No Democrat traveled and campaigned for more candidates around this country than did Wes Clark.  He traveled to 76 cities and 26 states for 86 candidates.  Out of the 96 candidates that he endorsed, Clark raised over $1.3 million in funds for their campaigns.  Of those 96 candidates that his PAC supported, 45 won their respective races and 25 seats flipped from Republican to Democrat control.

He was the number one requested campaign surrogate through the DCCC and the only National Democrat that netroots icon, Jon Tester, would allow to campaign for him in Montana.  From the beginning, Clark backed economic progressive Jim Webb in the primary when Harris Miller, party insider and lobbyist, was the sacrificial lamb for then-presidential hopeful George Allen.  When national democrats shied away from supporting Ned Lamont and refused to criticize Joe Lieberman, Clark stepped up for Connecticut Democrats.  Not only did he campaign and appear in television spots for Lamont, but also he publicly and vociferously lambasted Lieberman for his horrible record and Orwellian rhetoric.

Speaking in terms of netroots' Democrats, Clark endorsed, campaigned, and raised money for 13 out of the 17 actblue "netroots candidates." Out of the 6 that won their long shot races, Clark worked for every single one:

NH-02    Paul Hodes
CA-11    Jerry McNerney
PA-08    Patrick Murphy
PA-07    Joe Sestak
MT-SN    Jon Tester
MN-01    Tim Walz
VA-SN    Jim Webb

Clark's online participation and web presence is underappreciated but has been instrumental in helping get Democrats elected.  He not only helped found Vote Vets, the PAC that aired the heart wrenching body armor slots on both youtube and television that undermined Republican national support, but he also appeared in ads himself.  The National Journal on his online efforts:

The Clark Community Network has engaged in netroots activities including petitioning, fundraising, research and guidebooks to support campaigns up and down the ballot.  Here is a summary activity:

Online Advocacy Campaigns

Stop the "GI Tax" and support GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century (29,919 letters sent)
Stop Blaming the Troops -- Investigate the Real Culprits of Prisoner Abuse (14,778 signers)
Put Ed Schultz on Armed Forces Radio (26,722 letters sent)?Ed Schultz placed on Armed Forces Radio following advocacy campaign
Demand Body Armor for our Troops (17,331 signers)
Support the Consumer Telephone Records Protection Act of 2006 (16,728 letters sent)
End the Widow's Tax (16,948 letters sent)?

WesPac, Clark's PAC, has a stronger presence on Myspace than does any other potential presidential candidate. Those people are part of the hard-core group of online supporters that the General has leveraged to build and strengthen the Party.  Clark hasn't even announced his potential candidacy for president yet and his PAC has more support than does any other candidate:

43,685 friends for WesPac
42,707 friends for Obama
23,379 friends for Clinton
11,596 friends for Edwards

The National Journal asks, "Is Anyone Doing More for '06 Candidates Than Wes Clark?"

Since January of 2005, General Clark has made Democratic success on Election Day 2006 his top political priority.  He established WesPAC Securing America's Future from which he has spoken on behalf of Democratic candidates and causes.  General Clark briefed Congressional Leaders several times this cycle as part of his effort to assist Democrats in framing both the message and substance of Democratic alternatives to the Administration's vision.

Senate Chiefs of Staff Luncheon (x2)
House Democratic Caucus (x2)
House Democratic Caucus Retreat (x2)
United States Senate Democratic Caucus Retreat ('06)
Democratic Policy Committee (US Senate) Luncheon (x2)
Joint House and Senate Leadership Briefings (x2)
Rollout of Joint House and Senate "Real Security" Plan at Union Station
House Democrats Rollout of the "New GI Bill"
Gave the National Democratic Radio Address (x2)

Clark has been influencing policy both behind the scenes and out in front.  While working as an analyst for Fox, he's exposed himself and his views to the very side of the nation that needs most convincing.  As he smacks down charlatan after charlatan, Clark makes necessary inroads to a more conservative demographic for the Democratic Party.

These are just some of the things that Wes Clark has been doing in an effort to build the Democratic Party's brand recently.  He may fly under many pundits' radars, but he is certainly doing the necessary manual labor that it is going to take to clean up this Party and this country.

Tags: 2006 elections, dccc, George Allen, Harris Miller, Howard Dean, Jerry McNerney, Jim Webb, Joe Lieberman, Joe Sestak, Jon Tester, Ned Lamont, Patric Murphy, Paul Begala, Paul Hodes, Tim Waltz, Wes Clark, Wesley Clark (all tags)

Comments

22 Comments

Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder/Nose Picker

So is he going to run?

by howardpark 2007-02-19 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder/Nose Picker

"I" think so.  I think he will announce shortly after the international conference at UCLA that we will attend.

Its an apolitical event and he doesn't want to have his remarks be tainted by the presidential campaign.

Just a guess, though...

by areucrazy 2007-02-19 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder/Nose Picker

I think if he were going to run, he would have given some indication.  He's going to be very far behind in terms of staff, fundraising, and organization on the ground.

Clark is my number two choice, but so far this looks like a redux of his 2004 campaign.

by Vox Populi 2007-02-19 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder/Nose Picker

hmmm, I personally think that both Clark and Hagel still have plenty of time to get traction within their individual parties.

by sybil disobedience 2007-02-19 01:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder/Nose Picker

He's alluded to it various times.  In terms of boots on the ground, look at all those people that he supported in 2006.  He'll get plenty of support.  Jim Webb and Jon Tester would probably endorse him for starters.  That will pick up some netroots support.  Its still really early.  Outside of us junkies, not many primary voters are paying attention and big money raisers don't usually put all their eggs in one basket.

by areucrazy 2007-02-19 02:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder/Nose Picker

The threat is what if people like Webb and Tester endorse early like so many other pols, and go for Obama?

Wes has said he won't wait until it's too late again if he decides to run.  September was too late in 2003, I fear March will be too late in 2007.

by Vox Populi 2007-02-19 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder/Nose Picker

Well, Jim Webb already stated when asked if he would endorse Obama, that it's too early yet to endorse anyone for '08.

by sybil disobedience 2007-02-19 02:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder/Nose Picker

They wont endorse people by April.  I bet Clark makes it in in another few weeks.

BTW, Webb will wait for Clark and Tester only allowed Clark to campaign for him.  Why would he endorse somebody else?

by areucrazy 2007-02-19 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder/Nose Picker

I don't see Webb endorsing anyone who doesn't have national security experience. Apart from his personal background, his son is in Iraq.

by pelican 2007-02-19 04:41PM | 0 recs
Could You Please

Dear areucrazy:

Could you please edit your entry title "Wes Clark: Party Builder/Nose Picker" to just "Wes Clark: Party Builder/Cowboy", or something? Please.

by blues 2007-02-19 03:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Could You Please

Thank you for saying that.  I read the title and was pissed that somebody was calling General Clark a nose picker.

by Sonya 2007-02-19 04:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Could You Please

Really?  Do you really find it that objectionable? I thought it was kinda funny since Begala made that comment and all.

Sorry to offend; I'm a big Clark supporter and meant no disrespect...

by areucrazy 2007-02-19 07:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder/Nose Picker

She's not on your list, but Carol Shea-Porter used a Wes Clark radio ad as her one big media expense in NH-1.  Shea-Porter, of course, pulled a huge upset while spending $287,000.  She got no money from the DCCC.  This sounds like Clark, if he campaigns, will live and die on the New Hampshire result (Paul Hodes was on your list).

by David Kowalski 2007-02-19 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder/Nose Picker

She is, she just wasn't a netroots candidate (as far as MyDD/Kos is concerned.  She is one of the 25 races that Clark supported that flipped though...

by areucrazy 2007-02-19 07:50PM | 0 recs
Lack of gratitude towards clark

If you bashed Bush incessantly since 2004, but are ready to vote a Democrat who is surrounded by cronies who made it tougher to fight Bushies and indirectly helped him get away with his agenda and indirectly helped Bush frame the more winning narrative with 52% of Americans, then go ahead and vote for Hillary based on electability. If you think you owe Hillary because you loved Bill CLinton so much because of the way he was friendly with you in the 90s, then we owe Clark for working hard selflessly to make a real differnce in teh last few years when a lot of prominent Dems failed to stump for progressive candidates.  A real leader does not lookout for him(her)self.

Worry about electability late in the primary. When you keep bringing up electability this early , it becomes self fulfilling.

by Pravin 2007-02-20 12:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Lack of gratitude towards clark

Maybe I'm a bit too adamant about this point. But 99% of these horrendous problems and arguments you are struggling with would simply vanish if our election methods were repaired. Doing that would surely cost thousands of times less tan the Iraq fiasco. The following plan is probably available where I posted it at:

http://wiki.electorama.com/wiki/Consecut ive_Runoff_Approval_Voting

But this issue is an absolutely fundamental premise of what I am trying to accomplish here, so I will give it in full now here:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Observe below that I use hardly any mathematical methods to describe Consecutive Runoff Approval Voting. This is probably because I work largely in natural language study, and have decided that whenever the potential number of criteria appears to exceed the number of methods they might be applied to, mathematical analyses tend to be less than fruitful. I do have one very prominent criterion, which is that any proposed system of voting should be completely free of the Black Hat Syndrome (or "spoiler effect"). I have concluded that every method is susceptible to a Gray Hat Syndrome, in which the presence of a Black Hat "ogre" candidate could cause the election of a Gray Hat, where a White hat would otherwise have been elected.

Consecutive Runoff Approval Voting --- The Basics:

The number and viability of subtle, yet pervasive, ways for "election hackers" to create security holes in all forms of "IRV" stunned me. And I began the search for a reasonably simple, stable version of "IRV" that could withstand brute-force assaults. I found none. I also found that "IRV" was advocacy was being generously supported by The Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Carnegie Mellon Foundation. (It is now advocated by New America's Leadership Council, whose Board of Directors seems to include the Executive Vice President, Wal-Mart.) So, I reluctantly concluded that "IRV" would doom all other viable efforts to institute any spoiler effect neutralizing election methods. It was depressing. And probably hundreds of Green Party, or semi-Green advocates had by this time been 100% sold on the amazingly attractive, yet highly problematic, "IRV" methods.

So, below, I repost what I see as one of the best explanations of a method that can actually completely overcome the baleful consequences of the spoiler effect, which I call the Black Hat Syndrome these days. Here it is:

There are so many reasons why, in this age of coordinated electronic propaganda, democracy just doesn't work. First of all, as I have said so often, it is totally foolish to believe that people who are one paycheck away from starvation would be permitted to wield the real power of the vote when their electronic media environment is owned by a few multi-billionaires. Ask yourself "Would that be possible?" Or try this more difficult one: "Can pigs fly?"

Our plurality voting system extracts 99% of the decision making power of the voters (very roughly speaking). If you would like to vote for a White Hat, say Nader, but there is a Gray Hat, say Kerry, and a Black Hat, say Bush, in the contest, you would be suicidal to vote for the White Hat. So you are screwed.

As I have pointed out before, if you include all of the proposed metods of counting, there are potentially many different methods for counting the ranked ballots of IRV, and the best of them require that specific information about every ballot bust be conveyed into one location, one computational funnel. And the the computation of the vote is exceedingly intricate for the best methods of counting. Moreover, you will still need to give your first rank vote to a Gray Hat if a Black hat is present in a contest.

All these woes disappear if you just have three distinct runoffs for each election. The first runoff is an approval election that narrows the field to, say, eight candidates. With the approval method, each voter can cast just one ballot for each potential candidate that she or he approves of. There would need to be some practical limit on the number of people each voter could give one vote to, maybe 20, since we can't deal with lists bearing thousands of names. The second runoff, in which each voter could give just one vote to as many of the remaining eight as she or he wishes, would narrow the field to just the two candidates who get the most votes. The third and final runoff would be simply a race between those two candidates. I would suggest that, for each runoff, the voting could be allowed to run over a span of three days. The ballots would be hand-marked, and hand-counted by randomly drafted citizens, with each day's results announces at each polling station on the morning after that day's voting. I would give the citizens a week to deliberate between each runoff, so there would be three days for the first runoff, plus a week, the same time for the second runoff, then three days to complete the final runoff. Such a procedure of consecutive runoff approval voting would ensure that the citizens would feel that they would be making real and serious decisions.

I have claimed that IRV-style voting methods would not provide any substantial improvement over "our" current plurality method. All questions about voting methods tend to be tricky. One of the most disturbing things about IRV-style voting is that it would "cloak" the security holes of plurality voting; another is that, despite all the claims otherwise, even the most moderately secure forms of IRV require massive computer intervention, and they still retain a spoiler effect (Black Hat Effect) of their own, since in every system that offers a highest-rank choice to the voter, the voter is ultimately forced (out of self preservation) the give that highest-rank vote to a Gray Hat when Black Hats are present. It does absolutely no good to surmise that such scenarios are unlikely, since reality dictates that powerful anti-populist power brokers can always use money power to maneuver to make such scenarios inevitable.

And, when it comes to voting: SIMPLE IS BEAUTIFUL!

Everything comes at a price, and voting method selection is the very last place we should expect to get something for nothing. One difficulty with Approval voting is reflected in the fact that it really should be called "Acceptability voting"; You would pretty well thwart the elite (ish) anti-populist power brokers, but would still occasionally struggle with an irksome conundrum. For example, suppose three fourths want, say, Ralph Nader very, very, much but all four-fifths of us still find John Kerry slightly acceptable. Even though no one is very excited at all about Kerry's campaign, while three fourths totally love Nader's program, Kerry will win. This is a bad, though not ruinous, outcome. But it will not encourage participation. So, I advocate consecutive runoff approval voting. That is:

A first Approval runoff that narrows the field of candidates to eight:

A week later, another Approval runoff that narrows the field of candidates to two.

A week later, another final Approval runoff that selects the office holder-elect. (Technically, that would be nearly equivalent to the present Plurality method, except that no "third candidate" could be on the ballot to "spoil" the voting).

Of course, these advantages will not come "for free." Three consecutive runoffs would be required. However, as any old organizer knows perfectly well, the more you get people to participate or struggle, the more engaged they will always become, and the more they will see themselves as holding a stake in that process and its outcome. As I have reiterated again and again, voting is like military service, and people are willing to vote for the same reasons they are willing to fight. If you can get people to spend years in hard military battle, then you can get them to go out and vote three times.

»»» Note: The "Winner Take All Effect" has nothing to do with the Black Hat Syndrome (or "spoiler effect"). The example below demonstrates this reality:

The following sentence typifies a notion that tends to be constantly reiterated in the political blogs:

The winner take all system naturally reduces to 2 dominant parties and the Republicans were one of the two parties that survived.

This is really at the heart of the central dilemma of US politics. If you hope to have any influence on the ideological structure of US politics, you must capture one of two dominant parties, because the voting structure imposes a two party system. What distresses me more than anything is that virtually every political blogger around insists on courting a totally incorrect theory about why this is the case! This contention is that: "The winner take all system naturally reduces to 2 dominant parties and the Republicans were one of the two parties that survived" -- and this is just flat-out WRONG!!!

Careless thinking might lead us to see a winner take all syndrome as the cause of our inflexible two-party pseudo-democracy. BUT THAT IS TOTALLY WRONG. The real cause of the two-party pseudo-democracy is really the direct consequence of THE BLACK HAT SYNDROME! This Black Hat Syndrome (or "spoiler effect") is the outcome that results when we have a White Hat (relative to each individual voter -- say, for example, Ralph Nader), a Gray Hat (say, for example, John Kerry), and a Black Hat (say, for example, George W. Bush) in a political contest. You cannot vote for the White Hat without "sacrificing" the vote you would have otherwise used to fend off an election of the Black Hat. So you will just never get to vote for a White Hat, and thus anything like a third party is out of the question.

I will now provide an example of an implementation of a realistic solution (which definitely is not IRV -- unlike IRV it does not demand that all information from every ballot must be gathered into one central counting location, and it only requires simple addition -- it is intrinsically extremely simple). It requires three consecutive runoffs, but if we can ask people to fight and die in Iraq for years, we can surely ask them to vote three times. Besides, it provides a deliberative process, and an opportunity for participation, instead of a mere ritual. (I indulge in a liberal perspective, but these arguments would also hold if viewed from a conservative perspective.)

Consecutive Approval Voting ---

Round one of a Consecutive Approval Voting election is an approval, not a plurality method of election. Therefor, each voter gets to give just one vote to each candidate that she or he "approves of" (finds acceptable) up to twenty choices (so wacky people don't list thousands of candidates out of a phone book). From start to finish, parties are only advocacy networks; this voting system is "blind" to parties. So there can be no negotiating. Now, for example, Intelligent Greens will vote for some Democrats, as well as some greens. And intelligent Democrats will vote for some Greens, as well as some Democrats. So some Democrats and/or some greens will undoubtedly get a very high percentage of the maximum possible vote. Given a modicum of intelligence on the part of the voters, some Republicans would possibly get up to 40% of the maximum possible vote, supposing that Democrats could muster, say, 35%, and Greens held, say, 25% of the maximum possible vote. Now, the eight candidates who garner the most votes get to go to a second round.

The second round is, again, an approval contest between the eight remaining contenders. No negotiation between parties is allowed. Each voter can give exactly one vote to each of the eight remaining contenders that she or he "approves of" (finds acceptable). Once again the votes are added up, and the two candidates who have received the most votes go to the final round.

The final round is between only the two remaining contenders, and there will be no third candidate to act as a "spoiler," So, the Black Hat, or "spoiler" syndrome is entirely eliminated.

by blues 2007-02-20 02:20AM | 0 recs
Wes Clark: Party Builder

Racist Con Artists Draft Al Gore people creates thousands of illegal fake signatures with the help of few people , they also stole money from Katrina Victims. In order to Fool John Edwards supporters, Hillary's supporters and Obama supporters worthless unemployed Draft Gore Con Artists created fake signatures . These people don't have any moral values or ethics, basically Draft gore is supported by few unemployed desperate old Ladies who are looking for attention.

http://electgore2008.blogspot.com/2007/0 2/draft-al-gore-stole-money-from.html

by dandoty 2007-02-20 03:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder

Wes did good things for the party in 2006 and I was a huge supporter of his in 2004.  Maybe it's just that I still feel burned from the last time he "ran" for president, but there are a few other people I'd rather have as our nominee in 2008.  If he can prove that he's over his 2004 problems, though, I'd love to see him win, or maybe take the VP slot.  For Clinton, Obama, or Edwards, he would make a lot of sense.

by LPMandrake 2007-02-20 10:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder

Burned?  How so?

He ran neck and neck with Edwards but got no media coverage.

by areucrazy 2007-02-20 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder

For me, beating John Kerry is a pretty low hurdle to pass.  That Clark was battling Edwards for the distant second place finish does not reflect well on him.

The reason I say Clark burned me in 2004 is because I think that nomination should have been his for the taking.  He proved to be, however, an inexperienced campaigner whose campaign never really demonstrated it had what it took to win.  I was an outsider, but every impression I got was that the Clark campaign was plagued by in-fighting and lack coherent structure or strategy.

Like I said, I like the guy and am willing to see if he's improved himself this time around.  The burden of proof, however, is on him to convince me that he's credible, particularly since we have a more than a few candidates I think would do the job as well as he could.  This isn't 2004.  He isn't head and shoulders the most appealing potential chief executive.

by LPMandrake 2007-02-20 01:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder

In all fairness, bypassing Iowa was what felled his candidacy.  Once Kerry won Iowa it was over and Clark had no chance.  Democrats were on the "just support our candidate" train and not getting off.

Clark has definitely improved as a candidate.  Stumping for 86 candidates can do that.  He will be a good candidate.  If you want a flawlessly perfected politician though, you probably still wont like him.

by areucrazy 2007-02-20 01:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Wes Clark: Party Builder

Wes did have a shaky start in 2004. But I will vouch personally for his transformation. I remember getting pissed he joined the fray to muddy things in 2004 and was hoping he would try to help Dean. But I got over my initial impression as I gave him a chance(which is all I ask for people to do with every candidate, including Hillary if you have not followed them previously). Each time, I saw him on a talk show, i saw a guy who has looked more confident.

What impresses me about him is not only does he make good arguments for his viewpoints, but he shows real leadership when he rushes to the rescue of a fellow progressive being maligned.  For me, this is true character. Does he have your back when the chips are down? I have seen Obama and Edwards waver in the past. With Clark, I have seen this steady progression with each passing month. WIth Edwards, it seems like two steps forward, one step back at times. With Obama, he started off a star, and then played it too safe at times.

THe best clips to view of Clark is when he shows up on FOX shows. This is where you know he values defending his party as much as himself. Even when Bill O reilly types like to use the age old trick of praising the guest(Clark) but bashing his friends(Soros and others) via a disigenuous statement like "Oh you are good, but man, some of your people in the party like Soros, i don't know", guess what Clark does. He doesn't smile passively like Schumer, but he jumps to their defense. He has also done this to issues held dearly by progressives related to the war. He shows he is very alert and quick thinking in these unscripted interviews. I am sold on him and he wasn't even my top 2 choices in 2004.

The guy is good people.

by Pravin 2007-02-20 07:19PM | 0 recs

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