My thoughts on IL-6

As someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about the Cegelis-Duckworth race these past few months, I was pretty shocked by the (closeness of the) result, and struggled all of yesterday with the question of how to interpret it and what to say.  I think I'll just stick with a personal narrative.

Let me first say that I live in Chicago, and have no particular insights into the 6th district beyond what you'd expect of someone who lives about 15 miles away.

That said, I was a Duckworth supporter from day 1, not because anyone told me to be, and not because anyone paid me to be, and not even because I'm a particularly big believer in the "fighting Dems" strategy, but just because I thought she was a (much) better candidate.  I still believe this, although of course Tuesday's results give me pause.  (I volunteered for Duckworth and remain confident that it was the right thing to do.)

I think this is a kind of unusual perspective among the netroots.  Most people I read who live around here seem to be very attached to Cegelis, and folks on the outside naturally view the question in big, abstract terms (what's the national strategy? what's the role of the grassroots? who should decide what for whom and how?).  For me, it was just a question of knowing the district (a little), knowing the candidates (a little), and having a very, very, very strong gut feeling about who was the right one to get behind.

All of this leaves me trying to figure out why things were so close given the obvious advantages Duckworth had (to beat the dead horse: money, endorsements from anyone who mattered, a staff made up of experienced pros, and a moving story which led to tons of free media).

I don't think it's as simple as grassroots-versus-insiders.  On election day, Duckworth had over 200 canvassers (and, no, most of them weren't paid outsiders; from what I could tell, most were working people from the district).  In the past 2 months, Duckworth volunteers phone-banked through the entire universe of Democratic primary voters.  I know that grassroots support means more than GOTV volunteers, and that Cegelis spent 3 years building something, but the fact remains that 6 months ago, Cegelis had practically no name ID in the district, so it's hardly clear that she used her head start wisely.

The point, which I guess is obvious, is that in an election with such low turnout, any campaign with a decent grassroots network can be competitive.  Consequently, the whole question of how this race was going to play out turned on a single issue: How real was Cegelis's supposed grassroots support?

What bugs me is that EVERYONE seemed to take a completely faith-based approach to answering this question.  The Cegelistas never gave us numbers, never said anything besides that it felt great, there was lots of energy, lots of support.  Just this endless drumbeat of "The candidate's doing lots of coffees, there are lots of volunteers, etc." Well, we've all heard that one before...

On the Duckworth side, the assumption was just that these people didn't know what they were talking about.  From what I can tell, everyone, from the bigshots who pushed her candidacy in the first place on down, just assumed that it was all smoke and mirrors and when push came to shove, she wouldn't have a real organization.

We now know, of course, that the Cegelis camp was right (well, with a caveat; it's important to remember that turnout was godawful all around).

But so anyway what really bugs me is the way the Duckworth supporters came to their conclusion.  Their belief, ever since November of 2004 (and possibly before), was that Cegelis wasn't a credible candidate.  I believed it.  (I still believe it, in the sense that I still believe that she'd have no chance against Roskam.)

And because they believed that so strongly, they were perfectly content to assume that nothing about her organization was credible.  Now, I'm usually hesitant to bandy about internet buzzwords like top-down/bottom-up, but this is literally the most advanced case of top-down sickness I've ever heard of.

And I think this is really corrosive, or at least represents a whole legion of missed opportunities.  The problem wasn't, like some have suggested, that "the establishment" was scared of Cegelis, an independent Democrat.  The problem wasn't, like some have suggested, that "the establishment" hates progressives.  The problem was that people took a look at Cegelis, decided she was a bad candidate, and concluded there was nothing valuable about her campaign.

I've said from the beginning that Duckworth's candidacy was introduced in an avoidably awful way that did damage to grassroots morale (see Lynn Sweet's column in today's Sun-Times for her thoughts about this).  But that bothered me in a mostly abstract way: I think it's never a good idea to punch progressive activists in the gut.  I bought into the groupthink that while it was a little ugly, it wouldn't really matter in the long run, because surely the Cegelis team didn't have much to offer anyhow.

Well, we now know that was just wrong, and just dumb, and we found out the awful way, by in one fell swoop proving that a group of volunteers could deliver and simultaneously demoralizing them, perhaps irreparably.

Yuck.   But anyhow, this all brings me to a version of the question Chris Bowers asks here.

How the hell is anyone supposed to evaluate anything?  We live in this great new world where information flows in all sorts of crazy directions at all sorts of crazy speeds, but in the end, when the dynamics of the situation don't gradually make their way toward consensus, how are you supposed to make a decision?  Matt complains that it's impractical for him to fly to the district to check it out himself, but I'd go one further -- short of sitting in the campaign office for a solid week (at least), how could you have "checked it out"?  These things are almost impossible to gauge, even from close up, without investing an awful lot of time.

Put another way, I believe in leadership, and so I believe that you can measure the effectiveness of an organization by looking at its leader.  But in our new world, it's easier for the "little people" to be leaders on a small scale.  We now have evidence that there was good leadership somewhere in the Cegelis campaign -- how were we supposed to know that in advance, if it never came from the candidate?  How do we even identify those leaders now, after the fact?

Tags: Christine Cegelis, dccc, grassroots, IL-6, netroots, Tammy Duckworth (all tags)



Yard signs -- actually in people's yards*

*signs in Blvds, etc. don't count because a campaign can put those up themselves.

That would be one way to gage where the support of people who are paying attention lies. Throughout my travels in IL-6 this winter, I saw LOTS of Cegelis signs, a couple of Scott signs and ZERO Duckworth signs in people's homes. So the people who actually cared enough to post a sign were overwhelmingly for Christine. That should have been a big clue right there to anyone who wanted to notice. (And it's not as though people like Michael in Chicago didn't blog about this.)

With a little better organization at the end or worse weather (I was hoping for a snowstorm) to keep more "casual" voters home, Christine would have pulled this out despite all of Duckworth's institutional advantages. If Obama had taken a pass on the race, Christine would have won relatively easily -- his endorsement, commercials, etc. were worth well over 1000 votes.

by Jim in Chicago 2006-03-23 08:35AM | 0 recs
Sorry, but

yard signs are never a reliable measure of anything.  According to yard signs, Kerry had no chance to win Illinois in 2004.  Different campaigns have different strategies regarding purchase and distribution of yard signs, and who knows when Duckworth's campaign ordered theirs, and how many?

by Daniel Biss 2006-03-23 08:47AM | 0 recs
I have to disagree

I don't think Jim is saying yard signs, per se, are a measure of how many votes your candidate is going to get, but it is a good indirect indication of 1)where your opponent's strength/weakness is in the the district, 2)a rough estimate of the amount of people and time canvassing being done by your opponent and 3)the frequency of your opponent's canvassing.

If people from the Duckworth campaign had made a habit of going around the district solely for opponent research purposes they would have seen 1) where Cegelis was weakest and strongest, 2)seen many different volunteers out each and every weekend months before the primary, and 3) what kind of response Cegelis is getting from people.

Having been someone who volunteered for the past couple months, I can tell you the Cegelis campaign knew exactly what they needed to do.  We knew that we needed about 14,000 votes to win (Duckworth won with just over 14,000 votes). and we knew we had to get all our definite and leaning our way voters out to the polls, which was over 8,000 just from our door-to-door canvassing.  So, we knew that we had a good shot at winning whether the Duckworth campaign and others from outside the district knew it or not.

by minvis 2006-03-24 09:56AM | 0 recs
I curse yard signs

I curse yard signs and yard sign vendors.

Yard signs are the biggest pain in the ass of any campaign. Supporters obsess over them, even though they have little effect. They make a candidate's supporters feel better. I hate those damn phone calls: "When are your yard signs coming in?" Or, the contributor who really believes that we must get more yard signs. I answer with, "Oh yes, the yard signs are in our campaign plan, but we have to raise another $10,000 for our mail plan, can you help us get there so we can eventually get yard signs?"

At campaign management school we were told to only purchase enough yard signs to plant beteeen a candidate's home and place of work. That way, they'll think their yard signs are everywhere.

by Michael Bersin 2006-03-23 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

How do you know that yard signs "have little effect?" If having a yard sign jazzes up the person who displays it, don't you think that person might be more motivated to talk up their candidate and to give money not only to the candidate but the future candidates?

Instead of looking down your nose at people who want to feel like they're "a part of it," wouldn't it be a better idea to try to figure out how to make feel feel even MORE connected to Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party? Perish the thought!

My God, delivering a yard sign might just get Democrats out of the office and into the neighbhorhoods. Can't have that, can we?

by cwilson 2006-03-23 01:43PM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

How do you know (remember, the plural of anecdote is not data!) that yard signs work - especially proportional to their cost and effort?

Those signs cost a lot of money, don't they? Those signs make you feel good, don't they? You just gotta have one.

Please lead me to any campaign management seminar or school which advocates yard signs as a cost effective campaign tool. Please.

Have you ever wondered why the presidential campaigns of late don't provide yard signs? Do you know how you got those Kerry/Edwards yard signs? The national campaign didn't spring for them. Local campaign offices ordered them from vendors and then either sold them at cost or had some benefactor front the cost and distributed them for free. Same with those good old bumper stickers.

I am the chair of a state senate Democratic committee. In 2000 our incumbent Democratic state senator was running for re-election (in 2004 he was term limited out). He commissioned a large sample poll by a reputable national opinion research firm. You'll have to take my word for this - the poll asked a series of questions of likely voters inquiring as to what media helped them decide who to vote for. A succession of mail pieces was up there in the numbers. Phone contact was up there. Individual contact was up there. Sevene per cent said they liked the senator's television ads (he didn't run any, though his opponent did - and they were negative). One per cent siad that they were persuaded by yard signs. One per cent. So, you tell me that the cost in money and man hours is worth that one per cent at the expense of everything else.

Frickin' amateurs.  

by Michael Bersin 2006-03-23 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

I don't think yard signs really sway anyone, but they do help with name recognition in local races.  They also help give the sense of "momentum" and "strength" to a campaign--which might encourage volunteers and voters that their efforts are not wasted.  Yeah, signs don't vote, but they do have an effect, like:

"Wow, these guys really are organized--they have signs up at all the major roads and in all the neighborhoods... hmm, maybe they have a shot.  Maybe I will vote afterall."

If you're living in a sea of Republican signs, MAYBE you might feel less inclined to vote if you feel that your Democratic candidate isn't running a strong campaign.

Signs are about perception.  I don't think they're make-or-break (I have seen campaigns win even though they were heavily out-signed), but I do think they have a psychological effect that can't be discounted.

by HellofaSandwich 2006-03-23 06:32PM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

Yeah, yard signs make you feel better. Local race? Yeah, they help a tiny bit. Give me a local race with a mail plan, a lit drop plan, and a candidate going door to door and I'll beat the crap out of candidate with yard signs everywhere and not much else.

The race in question here was a primary for Congress. Did you notice the discussion? Ceglais supporters said she had a lot of grassroots help and her yard signs were everywhere. Somebody somewhere noted that Duckworth signs were conspicuous by their absence. Notice that the discussion also described Duckworth's campaign materials. "Slick mailings". That's part of a mail plan. Television ads. And a lot of free media coverage - that's called "earned media". Someone also noted that Duckworth's campaign had 200 people in what looked to be a GOTV plan (with the description of Cegalis'volunteer base I'm certain that her campaign had a GOTV effort).

If I recall correctly the total number of voters in the Democratic primary was around 40,000.

You'll note the reports that Cegalis participated in forums. There were "complaints" that Duckworth didn't. You'll note that no one described the attendance at these events in the "thousands". A good campaign manager will judge the value of these events. If the attendance (historically) is low the candidate can spend their time better elsewhere, no matter how "prestigious" the event.

The three most effective modes in a campaign are: direct candidate contact, direct mail, and surrogate contact. In large scale campaigns media ("earned" and paid) are also essential. Newspaper ads and yard signs at the expense of everything else is bad campaign technique.

From the descriptions I've read, Cegalis had motivated supporters and a lot of volunteers. I read no descriptions of a mail plan, and from what I've read, it looks like Duckworth prevailed on "earned" media (that's life).

Look who won.    

by Michael Bersin 2006-03-24 12:01AM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

Come on, who is ever going to tell someone, even a pollster, that they were persuaded by a yard sign? That's the equivalent of admitting that you're nothing but a laboratory rat punching the bar for a pellet of food.

Take a look around sometime. People display all kinds of logos. It gives them a self-identity. You obviously look down on this. I might argue that "looking down" on people is one of the central problems that has afflicted Democrats for a few decades now.

Yard signs may or may not build momentum, etc. I don't think there's a reliable way to scientifically test that idea. But if someone wants a yard sign or a bumper sticker or a button or whatever, I say you GIVE IT TO THEM. When they ask for something like that, they're telling you that they want to put your brand name on their house because they want to feel like they're a part of it.

And your response is that it costs too much? I'm sorry, but I think you've taken one too many statistics class. Use some common sense! Oh, and yard signs are a whole lot less expensive than some, if not most, other things that political campaigns buy.

by cwilson 2006-03-24 08:17AM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

Have you ever managed a campaign? If so, how many man hours did you devote to getting signs out and up?

Do you know when signs go up? In some cases local ordinance restricts the timeframe for the display of signs. This usually coincides with the point in a campaign when everything else has to happen. Yard signs are a distraction disproportionate to their effectiveness.

You can raise more money. You can recruit more volunteers. You can print more literature. You can send more mail. You can even get more yard signs. What you can't get is more time.

Signs are one of the least effective modes in getting your message out. They are labor intensive and they distract campaigns from the things which  really do work. If you've got the excess money and and an excess number of volunteers, fine go ahead and use them. Don't expect to win if the signs come at the expense of waht you really should be doing.

As for your ostensible instinct about the effectiveness of signs - give me some data on how effective they are -I'll take a look at it. Remember though - the plural of anecdote is not data.

by Michael Bersin 2006-03-24 01:40PM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

I've already commented on the "data" question, and like the prototypical political "pro" you simply breezed right past my comment without so much as engaging in it. Maybe this is why, when Democrats win elections, it's as much by mistake as anything else.

by cwilson 2006-03-26 04:33PM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

Ah, I see, "faith based" campaigning is the wave of the future.

by Michael Bersin 2006-03-27 02:23AM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

I'm sure once you see an article in, oh, I don't know, The Progressive on how activist politics isn't just about electing people but about "building community," you'll rediscover the virtue of the yard sign and claim the idea for your own.

by cwilson 2006-03-27 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

Hey, especially if your concept of "building community" is all about getting people to make superficial gestures.

Ask Dean for America how well that worked. There were people who did follow up - the vast majority never did.

by Michael Bersin 2006-03-27 08:52AM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

Ah yes, the progressive disdain for mere "superficial gestures." Yard signs are so gauche. People who display them are obviously not conversant with all of the issues, and they are preaching to the other idiots who are too stupid to spend all of their time researching the issues.

Well, neither of us can prove the science here so it really does boil down to attitudes and instincts. Everywhere I turn I see logos and bumperstickers, but yes I agree that they are unforgivable superficial. Political campaigns have much more important things to do than to appeal to mere superficiality.

Instead, they should be organizing voter activism training seminars for the masses.

by cwilson 2006-03-27 03:47PM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

By all means - put that maximum effort in acquiring and distributing yard signs for the next campaign you manage. Then come back and tell us all how you did.

by Michael Bersin 2006-03-27 06:13PM | 0 recs
Re: I curse yard signs

"Maximum effort?" I never wrote that yard signs should be the focus of "maximum effort." What compels you to purposely misrepresent my point of view?

As for Democratic campaigns, well, from the looks of how they've been managed in recent years I'd say that just about any change would represent a positive step.

by cwilson 2006-04-01 11:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Yard signs -- actually in people's yards*

I would contend that they are only usefull in local elections, state senate and house also.  

They are effective when money isn't used for large media campaigns because of lots of spillover.

by epv72 2006-03-23 04:02PM | 0 recs
Bumper Stickers

Here in MD.  The first rethug Gov in 36 years plastered bumber stickers on every supporters car in MD.  They were frickin everywhere and he was a long shot.  The dem candidate charged a $1 a bumpersticker.  Obviously she had a different budget strategy.  She lost.

I agree. I think visual images on cars or houses or buttons on people are a good indication of support.  Not predictive but they demonstrate individual passion which can turn into momentum.

by aiko 2006-03-24 10:24AM | 0 recs

Great job, Daniel!  Nice thoughts.

You and I have spoken about this extensively, but with so much money and energy wasted in IL-6, people are missing the real race.

The race everyone should be helping with is John Pavich in IL-11.  On his own, without any national support to date (because they invested their personal reputations in Duckworth), John has raised nearly $350K, has no loans, and has most of that money in the bank.

He is a great candidate with a resume to match! He is trying to win in a district that is pretty much a 50/50 district with lots of new families in Will and Grundy Counties.  This district has the most union households in the state.  

I'm volunteering for him (his grassroots is growing quickly too), after meeting him last spring, and will walk through fire to get him elected!  Jerry Weller is very beatable.

I wish others would take a look at John Pavich and start blogging about him.  HE CAN WIN!!

by chicagodavid 2006-03-23 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: IL-11

Thanks, David.

I can't quite agree with your stark "IL-11 is the real race; IL-6 isn't" but one thing is for sure:

There are 4 competitive races in Illinois: 6 (open), 10 (Kirk), 11 (Weller), and 8 (Bean).

As far as 6 & 8 are concerned, our candidates have tons of (financial) support already.  In 10, Dan Seals has a natural base of incredibly wealthy  progressives to tap into.

The 11th is a much less well-off district, and the race will surely be far less expensive than the ones I've mentioned above.  If the netroots strategy is to get behind a candidate where $100,000 early on can make a huge difference, as Kos has suggested, then there's no question: Pavich is the guy.

by Daniel Biss 2006-03-23 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: IL-11

Absolutely. And Dan while you and disagreed on Duckworth/Cegelis, I hope we can agree on a Pavich Strategy: Yes, John's campaign needs money, BIG MONEY, unfortunately, to beat Weller. But John will never have as much as Weller has, not even close. So he needs to look at Cegelis' campaign, the GOTV, the personal touch, the warm fuzzies. I live here and I am telling you that will work here in the 11th as well as it worked for Cegelis.

Now how did I know Cegelis was going to do as well as she did all the way down here in Kankakee? I'm a progressive values voter and Cegelis, unlike Duckworth, is the real deal. Also while, imho, each political race is a new race, even if some of the same candidates are running, look at what Cegelis did in 2004 against a THIRTY YEAR INCUMBENT!!! She got 44% of the vote in 2004, an entirely different political climate than now, when the Iraq War and Katrina has soured many Americans. So while it may have been a shock to some, Rahmbo and Dumbkin knew exactly what they were doing - screwing the base of their party.

But back to Pavich and here in the 11th. The situation here is very different, but if John uses the Cegelis personal style, it takes alot of time and work from him and his poor family, but if they want to truly beat Weller that is what Pavich HAS TO DO. Knock on every door he can, make as many personal appearances as he can. It's one thing he can do that Weller can't. Weller is not a people person, and he's too busy being the big shot congressman and having a relationship with his wife (or someone) in Guatemala to spend much time in district. Pavich should take advantage of that. Look what it did for Cegelis.

by Kankakee Voice 2006-03-23 04:57PM | 0 recs
Grass Roots vs. Insiders

How many canvassers or GOTV walkers do you think would have been out for Tammy if she had entered the race in December on her own with mostly local support, rather than being inserted by high-powered deep-pockets?  What if she had raised her own money by asking for it herself, built her own campaign staff, crafted her own message, all with a core of support on the ground?

How many voters would know her based on the number of public appearances she made in the district?  How many voters would know her based on an actual conversation between candidate and citizen?  How many voters know her at all?

And you don't see this as grass roots versus insiders.

by Archetype 2006-03-23 09:31AM | 0 recs
The volunteers I met

mostly saw her on TV and got excited about the candidacy.  Not her paid ads with Obama, but the press coverage.

by Daniel Biss 2006-03-23 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: The volunteers I met

My, you are quite the informed voter.

by illinois062006 2006-03-23 06:03PM | 0 recs
Listen, I'm a Cegelis supporter

And I'm feeling your pain but that's not quite right.  

by lisadawn82 2006-03-23 06:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Grass Roots vs. Insiders

Archetype: Your candidate LOST. Get over it. She can live to fight another day. What are you going to do now? Kick and scream and stamp your little feet? It's over. Now: Are you the Democrat or are you a Republican? 'Cause that is the only question on the table now.

by cwilson 2006-03-23 02:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Grass Roots vs. Insiders

Hopefully he's a REAL progressive and sticks to his values in this particular race, the IL06th. No vote for Duckworth or Roskham would be my choice. I'd write in Cegelis. Just to send a message back to Rahmbo. But then my values aren't all about "just winning" and replacing a R with D and keep on getting screwed by the corporatocracy. But that's just me.

by Kankakee Voice 2006-03-23 05:01PM | 0 recs
Re: My thoughts on IL-6

Interesting posting, Daniel, and commendably informative and even-handed. It sounds like both sides made their mistakes, and it sounds like the common mistake was to confine their politicking to within the party faithful.

Now the real question will be whether the whiners who supported the loser will suck it up and go fix the common mistake in the general election. Do they want a DEMOCRAT to win that district or is it all part of someone's cult of personality?

It's Henry Hyde's former district. The challenge is obvious. Now's the time to separate the whiners from the winners.

by cwilson 2006-03-23 01:47PM | 0 recs
Re: My thoughts on IL-6

Now the real question will be whether the whiners who supported the loser will suck it up and go fix the common mistake in the general election.

What kind of jerk calls over 300 people who worked hard for a candidate a bunch of whining losers and then expects them to help their candidate beat the other team?  I really don't think that you're doing your candidate any good here. I'm betting that Duckworth isn't going to appreciate you pissing off any potential ground troops and Emanual isn't going to appreciate you pissing off potential DCCC doners.

by lisadawn82 2006-03-23 02:34PM | 0 recs
These Elections are really Hastert vs Pelosi

I have mentioned this before, but I wanted to emphasize that when you are voting for members of the House of Representatives, the truth is you are voting more for which party and party leadership team will be setting the congressional agenda, and less for an individual member.  This is because the majority leadership in the House is extremely powerful and determines what is debated, how it is debated, annd most importantly, what is NOT debated. (The Senate is a different animal with each Senator having a lot of individual power).

When those in IL-06 are choosing whether to vote for Duckworth or not vote (or write in Cegelis) they are saying that they would rather have Hastert set the agenda than support a moderate Democrat who would use her first vote to place a Pelosi leadership team in power that would set an agenda that includes: Increasing the Minimum Wage, Broader Health Insurance for Everyone, Protectiing Social Security, a Sane Trade Policy, and most importantly would start formal investigations into this White House.  To not vote for Duckworth and thus allow the Anti-Choice, Pro-Deficit, Pro-pharmaceutical companies, Bush-backing tools to continue to set the congressional agenda is very short-sighted.  Once the Dems are back in power we can then work on making some of the members more progressive. But the truth is, moderate or progressive, just by supporting the Dem leadership in his or her first vote, a freshman member will be supporting a much more liberal agenda than can otherwise be debated now.

by Ian in DC 2006-03-23 06:01PM | 0 recs
Re: These Elections are really Hastert vs Pelosi

I loathe that type of argument.  Indeed, it is political blackmail.  Lacks rigor, fails to pass the smell test.  And it is out of touch with District 6 values.

by illinois062006 2006-03-23 06:05PM | 0 recs
Re: These Elections are really Hastert vs Pelosi

It's no argument for a primary that's for sure. But for the general there's truth in saying that except in extreme situations you hold your nose and vote for the Democrat because in America we are better off with Democrats controlling Congress than Republicans.

I don't like the two-party system much compared with multi-party systems but it's what we've got. It's a monolith and it's going to take an incredible force to do anything about it. I don't see how. I don't see anyone telling me how. So I've given up tilting at that windmill. Instead the way to go, in the United States, is to change the Democratic Party to fight for the values you deem important.

That's why I just cringe when I hear arguments for abstaining or voting for third parties. In the matrix we are caught in it is self-defeating to split from the Democrats. If you don't like them then change them.

If you want to talk about District 6 values then you've got to bow down to the fact that you only have two choices. Left and Right.

I wish it weren't so.

by Curt Matlock 2006-03-23 06:43PM | 0 recs
Re: These Elections are really Hastert vs Pelosi

No, the choice is now between Right and Far Right.

And Pelosi as Speaker doesn't make my heart pump.

by antiHyde 2006-03-24 04:46AM | 0 recs
Re: These Elections are really Hastert vs Pelosi

"That's why I just cringe when I hear arguments for abstaining or voting for third parties. In the matrix we are caught in it is self-defeating to split from the Democrats. If you don't like them then change them." you say.

Ok, YOU tell me how you change them. I cringe everytime I hear someone agrue that it's NOT possible to have more than two parties in America. Let's give up instead of continuing to build them. The Greens have a good start.

How do you change a political system where a candidate has to raise several thousands of dollars a day to get in and stay in office. That has not change, lobbyists and campaign money have gotten worse not better. Voting for a moderate democratic is still voting for America the Corporatocracy. What's the difference? And I am not talking about voting 3rd party in every race, I'm talking about long term, SOONER rather than later, progressive change in the democratic party by targeting and sending a message to the MSD in power. If there is any race where the BASE OF THE PARTY was INTENTIONALLY ignored and not respected it was IL- 06. Rahmbo and Dumbkin essentially said, set up aside progressive grassroots, we don't need you. So don't ask all of us, real progressive value voters, IN THIS PARTICULAR RACE, to just fall in line and give Duckworth our vote. It's only two years. If we send a strong enough message like: Hey F*ckheads, you can't win without us. Maybe in 2 years the Big Guys will be ready to compromise with US, their base.

by Kankakee Voice 2006-03-24 04:56AM | 0 recs
You asked

Ok, YOU tell me how you change them.

You asked. Here's how you change the party:

1. Find a local Democratic candidate you can support. Volunteer for them. Be reliable, show up, roll your sleeves up. Do what needs to be done to help the campiagn. Literature drops. Door to door. Stuff envelopes. Man phone banks. Register voters. Drive voters to the polls. Whatever you're comfortable doing - there's always too much to do in a campaign, and not nearly enough people to do it. No one cares about your specific ideology, they'll just be happy you're there helping out.

2. After you've established your bonafides as a volunteer, find out how to file for ward or precinct committee, then run. Chances are the position is open and you'll probably win.

3. Work for more candidates in additional elections. Rinse and repeat.

4. Run for committee positions further up in the party hierarchy (this varies by state). Get elected to them (it helps if other like minded individuals have moved up the system).

5. Congratulations. You and like minded individuals have just taken over the party.

by Michael Bersin 2006-03-24 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: You asked

Amen brother. That's the correct -- and only -- answer.

by ColoDem 2006-03-24 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: You asked

Yes, but...

I did that once and it was me against the world.  And the world won.  Maybe next time it would be different but it isn't easy and it isn't for the faint of heart.

What you have described requires some buy in to the party line, party system, and traditional outlook re electability, potential fundraising, etc.

There is a battle underway for the soul of the dem party.  The mission is to sweep away traditional assumptions, refocus on and empower locals, say no special interests and consider new ways of doing things and solving problems.

Becoming a party official is only one small piece of the puzzle.  

by aiko 2006-03-24 10:59AM | 0 recs
Re: You asked

Are you saying it's too difficult. Try again. Keep trying until you win. Not everybody wins their first time out. Or the second.

by Michael Bersin 2006-03-24 01:48PM | 0 recs
Re: These Elections are really Hastert vs Pelosi

First... If you want to tal about "IL-06" values as an expert... then their values involve sending one of the most conservative members of Congress to Washington for 30 years!  If you want to go by IL-06 values then Duckworth is obviously closer to the values of the district as a whole than Cegelis.

Second, the argiment more than passes your ill-defined "smell-test." as stated above, it is a rule for the general election in a two-party system.  It is also a rule for the House and not the Senate as I explained.  If you don't think things would be much different with Dems in control of the Houose rather the the Republicans, then you just haven't been paying attention.  If you are willing to give up many of the good things that come with Dem control merely out of spite, then the Democrats have no shot.

The Republicans, and especially Gingrich, were smart in 1994.  They wanted to win and they were willing to make compromises in order to win because they knew that they would then control the debate.  What you are showing is that many in the Democratic Party are incapable of learning that lesson.

by Ian in DC 2006-03-23 08:40PM | 0 recs
Re: These Elections are really Hastert vs Pelosi

No, you loathe it because you don't like the implications. But it's absolutely unarguable. Don't just say you hate it, tell me why it isn't valid. Do you care more that YOUR candidate wins than that Democrats take over the House? You had your shot to have your cake and eat it too, and you lost. So now what? You have to make a choice.

by ColoDem 2006-03-24 06:30AM | 0 recs
Re: These Elections are really Hastert vs Pelosi

Ian, you are out of touch.

we are in primary mode. dem vs dem.  local vs dc. top down vs ground up. inside the beltway vs. everybody else. old dem party vs new dem party.  future vs. past. hope vs. status quo.

when we get past the primaries and head toward the general then we can worry about bad vs. really bad speakers of the house.


by aiko 2006-03-24 11:03AM | 0 recs
Re: These Elections are really Hastert vs Pelosi

Aiko... if you had read my comments they were specifically about post-primary elections.  I have stated that the primary is fine for ideological battles, but in the general election we have to keep our eye on the prize, so to speak.

by Ian in DC 2006-03-28 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: My thoughts on IL-6

This "story" has already taken up too much blog-time, and blog-time is cheap. Move on. Yeah, it was closer than expected, but that was entirely the result of low turnout and the presence of a third candidate. Cegelis didn't set the world on fire: She got 13,000 votes. 13,000!!! After three years of campaigning. As I've said before, that's less than you need to win a City Council race in many (not very big) places. She probably personally talked to half of them. If you'd have told me before the primary that she would get that many votes, I'd have said, yeah, that sounds about right. The only surprising thing is that it amounted to 40%. I'd have guessed more like 35%. But it any case, whatever. It is what it is, and she lost. Duckworth has to win if we're going to take the House, and what's the real prize here?

Altogether now .... IT'S NOT ABOUT US.

by ColoDem 2006-03-24 06:27AM | 0 recs
Re: My thoughts on IL-6

And Duckworth got only 14,000 votes.

For a winner, this looks a whole lot like a loser.

by Feh 2006-03-24 06:50AM | 0 recs
Marriage Counselor

You guys should step back from the "circular firing squad" and find a good mediator for solutions to the problems I keep see reoccurring in this IL-06 debate. I think they are real problem that causes real voter apathy. Finding some real solutions rather entrenching your belief is important for getting out votes.

Good thoughtful post Daniel. I think you are asking the right questions.

by PurityOfEssence 2006-03-24 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: My thoughts on IL-6

Why isn't anyone discussing Lindy Scott's amazing turnout? Prof. Scott received close to 20% of the vote in the DuPage portion of the district and ended up with 16% overall.

If an attempt was made to place the candidates on an ideological spectrum, an argument could be made that 60% of voters in IL-06 are more moderate than Cegelis.

by LetsWin 2006-03-24 11:40AM | 0 recs


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