Observations of the ¨Progressive Candidate-to-Freshman¨ Transition – aka an Opportunity for expanding Progressive Power (and the power of the CPC)0
Since 2005 I’ve worked with dozens of Federal candidates/campaigns, some for a few days, some for a few weeks, some for a few months. One of the things I do often is ascertain what expectations have been given to candidates and what assumptions they have about not just running, but what happens next.
I’ve worked with a nominee who had never visited DC. I took him on his first visit to the Capitol, got him a tour, let him see how things work. It was like a child learning about wind as it turns a pinwheel.
I’ve worked with candidates who have been lobbyists, state legislators, Mayors, etc.
All of them have significant flawed assumptions and frequently are either allowed to walk away with rosy expectations or blatantly fed rosy expectations during the recruitment process, whether it be conducted by local, state or federal agents.
Recent writings, discussions and legislative battles have opened the question of whether or not the Congressional Progressive Caucus has power, wields it effectively. Some of these rants dismiss the tremendous successes of the CPC in taking on the White House and Democratic Leadership in both the House and Senate. I do believe there is room for significant growth, but we should give credit where credit is due.
These observed assumptions and expectations shape the behavior of victorious progressive Freshman, and I believe this is a significant opportunity for power expansion among the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
1. Candidates believe that win or lose, the day of the general election is the last “hard day” they will have to work for quite some time. They see victory as meaning they can hang up the “campaign hat” for at least a year, if not forever. They see defeat as the beginning of an extended vacation, most with a ‘screw everyone who didn’t do enough to help’ attitude. And frequently there is no one who did enough in their eyes.
2. When they start their campaigns, particularly among liberal/progressive candidates, candidates far too frequently believe that the positions they take on issues in and off themselves have value in terms of votes. Even when they figure out that is wrong during the campaign, they regain that assumption on or shortly before election day, which then carries in to their assumptions as a Freshman Representative. The lesson on the power of effective communication and messaging is lost. Every one of them (and you!) should read Anat Shenker-Osorio’s Don’t Buy It.
3. ”Good” campaigns are a constant exercise in expanding the network of the candidate, the pool of potential voters and the targets for volunteering/donating. This shifts in the GOTV phase where everything narrows to just those 1′s and 2′s. Those that have already given. Those that have already volunteered.
Progressive candidates frequently carry that narrowing philosophy in to their life as a Congressman. They rarely resume robust expansion efforts. This is 100% the opposite of their conservative counterparts, who see election as their mandate to become a national icon.
4. Compounding the narrowing problems from #3, we have the heartstrings problem. Progressives care too damn much, not wanting to seek donations from people that don’t have a huge surplus of money unless they absolutely positively need it. This means their fundraising operations scale back in all respects, nearly eliminate the small dollar/high volume efforts and narrow their efforts to the high dollar traditional donors. This dramatically alters the content and focus of their discussions, frequently away from the real experiences of working people and towards more broad view observations of wealthy individuals and organization leaders.
5. Generally narrowing everything about their efforts – to a specific set of issues, sometimes tied to their passions, sometimes their committee assignments. As such, they let many many opportunities sail by, failing to capitalize on earned media, network expansion and fundraising opportunities.
You can sense a trend… narrowing is a common thing. To candidates, campaigns are like being sprayed with chaos from every direction, the natural response is to try to narrow things down to a controlled flow from one small spout. Some candidates in this transition do go the exact opposite, Representative Alan Grayson tried to fill the void of outspoken progressive leadership for all progressive activists/causes in 2009/10 and it really killed him, he had one night stands with every niche group of activists but never got full engagement with any of them. This left him more vulnerable in the 2010 then he should have been. We need something in the middle. Leadership, courage, passion…on the issues that really matter to that member, taking advantage of key opportunities and passing on things when it is smart to do so.
When you look at the members of the CPC, think about these assumptions/expectations and consider where they might be if they kept their new media efforts at the same intensity they were at during the peak of their victorious challenger campaign. Think about how they would feel about the fundraising if they continued to raise ~$10K a week from email after they won their elections? That’s $500K/year. Likely that would incur increased costs of between $50 and $150K (for staff/services/office space), but still leaving a net gain of over $300,000. If they do it well, they could do double, triple or more.
In the process, they would be amplifying progressive messaging/values to a broader audience. From party activists to cable news audiences to earned media coverage to the netroots at large.
One of the things I have many times harped on is the disparity between Republican Party events and Democratic Party events. Even in small counties in mid-sized states, the headline attendees to Republican fundraisers are congressmen, senators and governors — and these from other states and regions, not just locally.
The same events for Democrats often struggle to get a state senator who represents the county. Florida has somewhere around 45 “active” Democratic county parties. The 70+ members of the CPC should be fighting to appear at a fundraising dinner for every one of them. There should be a line of CPC House members begging for the chance to headline events for the FDP Progressive, GLBT, Black, Hispanic and Women’s caucuses. Our elected officials can’t sit on their hands and wait for invitations — they need to reach out and challenge organizations to create opportunities for them. Feel free to re-read that last paragraph and insert Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, Michigan, California, Texas, Iowa, New York, North Carolina, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, and so on in place of Florida.
In addition to increasing the power and efficacy of the CPC, this kind of action would also provide employment for more progressive talent. By keeping them in the system and interested in working more than 1 campaign cycle you further dramatically improve the quality of progressive campaigns.
I have two sessions proposed for RootsCamp 2012 at DC’s Washington Convention Center.
Already scheduled for Saturday in Room 149B at 10:30 AM (first session) is: “Where are we & how do we fix it. Auditing campaigns to right a sinking ship, even when already under water.”
You can find the handout for this session here.
Beth Becker of Progressive Social and I have also proposed a session entitled: “The word Consultant really isn’t the dirty word some would have you believe. How to find the good ones!”
You can find the handout for this session here.
One of the best things going on right now to help progressive candidates find their way on to ballots and to run effective campaigns is The Candidate Project, a joint venture of The New Organizing Institute and Democracy for America.
The Candidate Project’s goal was to recruit, train and empower 2012 candidates to run at all levels in the 2012 elections. They really failed somewhere along the way…in the goal setting department, because they are WAY past 2012, in to the 8000 range. Yeah, major kudos guys, kick ass!
One of the ways the Candidate Project is training these candidates (and staff, activists, & volunteers) is through online webinars. They’ve conducted eight of these training sessions so far (you can catch up on the ones you missed here) and tomorrow night (Tuesday 4/3), I will be co-hosting Communications, Media & Message. I’ll be joined by DFA’s Deputy Communications Director Linsey Pecikonis to conduct this training. Have you signed up yet?
A few weekends a year Democracy for America sends me to a new community to participate in their Campaign Academy program as a trainer. DFA posted a profile of me as a trainer on their blog recently. This past weekend, we took the Campaign Academy show to Miami’s FIU Graham Center. Thank you to our hosts, the FIU College Democrats.
As I promised to those in my sessions, here are digital versions of the materials I referenced during the training:
I hope all the trainees had a great time at the Miami Training Academy!
Notes from the closing session of RootsCamp 2012, “Some Guy Candidates: How they Delay Progress & How to Make Them Suck Less.”
You can find some background here: ‘Some Guy’ vs Contender – which are you?
Reviewing, the basics of the ‘Some Guy’ candidate: Lacks money, social network and the experience/understanding of how to be a candidate.
We talked about the common ways ‘Some Guys‘ push back – blaming the system, proclaiming too much purity to be sullied by doing the work, and of course attacking those that try to help them.
We explored the common motivations of ‘Some Guy‘ candidates, that they typically have a high degree of ideological (or egocentric) resolve. This means that if you are trying to move a ‘some guy‘ out of a race, you better have an idealistic win-win proposals for them, the right advocate to make the case and an expectation that their resolve is much stronger than rational logic can conquer.
As an idealist, I admire the confident idealism of these candidates. But, I’m also a strategist – one that recognizes that these candidates running on sheer idealism are hurting the progressive movement and damaging the Democratic party brand.
The best thing you can do to help these candidates is get them to attend a Democracy for America Training, like the ones coming up in Miami (March 17-18) or Gainesville (March 24-25). The DFA Training program is a comprehensive overview of campaigning designed to help people at all levels of experience and engagement. Whether you are a 5 hour a week activist/volunteer, full time staff to a candidate running for office, the DFA Training Academy will make you more effective. The DFA Training Manual (provided to Academy attendees or purchased direct from DFA) is also a fantastic resource that you will use day after day throughout your adventures in campaign politics.
After they attend the training, the next step is rule #9 again, If it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist. This means writing a landscape memo and campaign plan (and all the component parts, field, finance and communications). Somewhere in the midst of this process, if not sooner, the (former?) ‘Some Guy‘ candidate should begin to recognize that the water is way over their head. This is the best time to do a ‘right size’ analysis. Very few candidates should be running for Congress the first time out. State House, State Senate and city/county offices are much more attainable and can help build the foundation for a later campaign for Congress. This is also the point that we should remember that local offices hold the most power.
Long term, ‘Some Guy‘ candidates need to work to expand their social networks (offline more than online). This means reaching out to like minded organizations, attending meetings and conventions, building relationships and working to earn media. This process can also serve to help (future) candidates improve their campaign skills without the pressures of an impending election. If you are not certain three hundred people will give your campaign money in the first 30 days, you aren’t ready to run for Congress. Write down the list.
It was a great discussion, thanks to all who attended.
Since I started publishing my analysis of Florida’s new US House districts, a number of candidates and/or supporters have challenged the label of ‘some guy’. One supporter sent a nice email, asserting her candidate was the real deal (the facts disagree thus far). Another sent an email with what might classify is disgust. And one ‘some guy’ sent an email to his campaign list using the label as a slur for motivation. Not a terrible tactic.
Candidates can cross from ‘some guy’ to real contender, it has happened before, but not very often and not typically in the span of a single election cycle.
Here are a few notes about what separates the real contenders from the ‘some guys’. Not all conditions need to be true to make you a ‘some guy’ and not all conditions are false in a ‘contender’.
Money: The most obvious indicator and the most unfortunate. Our system shouldn’t be predicated on wealth or access to wealth dictating who can and cannot represent us in Congress. But it does. I only work with candidate who will commit to changing that by supporting public financing as part of campaign finance reform.
If you are running for US Congress, to compete you need to be able to raise six figures your first quarter out, ideally $100,000 in the first 30 days. You should be able to write a list down before you do a day of campaigning, of people you already know, in the hundreds or thousands that you can reasonably expect to give you money. You can learn more about campaign finance/fund raising here.
Regardless of when you start this campaign, by 3-4 months prior to your Primary election (with or without a serious opponent) you should have already raised better than $500,000. In Florida, given the higher costs of doing so many things in most of our districts, you should be aiming for the $500,000 mark by mid-March or sooner. Once you start, you need to pull in six figures every quarter, upwards of $3000/day or $4000/weekday. Note that is a trajectory of roughly $250,000 a quarter, your race may dictate much more per quarter, particularly as you get closer to election day. The quarterly number should get larger as the campaign goes on, significant drops will be perceived as a drop in support or ‘hitting a ceiling’.
In the end, to be a contender as a challenger for a regular (not Special Election) Congressional seat, you need to raise upwards of $1,000,000. That puts you ‘in the game’, possibly as close as within the margin of error. To actually be in a position to win, you likely need somewhere between $2 Million and $6 Million. And in the end, if you spend it poorly, it doesn’t matter how much you raise.
Experience/Network/Credibility/Reach: The next major separator between ‘some guys’ and contenders we will look at is the equivalent of Twitter’s Klout score. This is how many people you know, how many people know you, how likely they are to listen to you, and how likely they are to repeat/share what you say. It is also important what the people know you for, do they see you as an expert/fount of wisdom on political things? Or are you just a person that they find funny from time to time.
When we (MPA Political, LLC) teach public speaking for candidates/campaigns, we talk about the credibility disconnect that occurs when you become a candidate. In normal public speaking, when you are introduced as a rocket scientist, you are automatically given some credibility on the subject by the audience. As a candidate, the opposite happens, everyone becomes skeptical about your qualifications and credibility. The best way to combat that is to have long standing personal connections (and surrogates with credibility) to help carry that credibility beyond the ‘candidate’ threshold.
If you don’t have a network of people accessible to the district that can project credibility upon you, and you have not been a well-known member of the community for a significant period of time, it will be very hard to break through the ‘some guy’ shell without an absolute monster haul of fund raising. The odds of you having that fund raising capacity without the network/credibility are obviously pretty slim.
Campaign Understanding/Experience: Far too many candidates think running for office is some mixture of the various campaign/political tv shows and movies they have seen. Some spice in what they’ve gleaned from CNN, MSNBC, PoliticalWire.com, DailyKos.com, etc etc. What ever picture those put in your head, it’s likely wrong. It isn’t all fairs and speeches. The biggest component of campaigning is phone to mouth. Before you can do that, you need to have a coherent message and you need to know how to stay on message all the time.
A good start is attending a Democracy for America Campaign Academy. The next step is hiring a professional who knows what they are doing. Conveniently for those of you in Florida, there are two DFA Training Academies coming up in March: Miami and Gainesville.
This is a tricky hurdle for candidates, as the majority who have little experience with campaigns on this level won’t even know where to start the hiring process. It isn’t unusual to see candidates with high potential fail from this step, blowing money on bad/opportunistic consultants/staff that provide them with little to show for the money spent. Mistakes often include a perverse desire to ‘hire local’ in districts that haven’t been competitive in recent history. If there was someone local who could make it competitive, they would have already. You can learn more about hiring here.
Common Pushback on ‘Some guy’ status: ‘Some guy’ candidates and their supporters often push back on the label with arguments about the campaign finance system being broken and they are going to prove it is wrong by a) forgoing contributions over XYZ dollars, b) only taking donations from within the district, c) refusing PAC money, d) raising no more than X total dollars or (new this year) e) promising not to seek re-election because re-elections means spending the people’s time raising money rather than serving. Many of these have good intent behind them, there is some honor in there. But you can’t pay for direct mail, radio or TV with honor. You can’t pay staff or consultants with honor. Good intentions only matter if the roughly 200,000 voters you need are aware of them. The system is this way, it is designed to protect incumbents, get over it, raise the money and change it.
Probably my least favorite ‘some guy’ money argument is candidates pointing at other challengers that raised tons of money and lost as indicators that the money doesn’t matter. First of all, just because you raise the money doesn’t mean you spend it well. Second, only one candidate gets to win, did the candidates opponent also raise serious money? Is this particular losing candidate running for the seat of an entrenched and well liked incumbent? Did they have a good message that resonated with their district?
Yes, you need the money to compete. No, it isn’t going to show up because you have the right issue positions or because your opponent sucks that much. Quit praying for a ‘Mark Foley’ and do the work.
Summary: It is very rare for challengers to win Congressional seats, period. It is even more rare for first time candidates (for any office) to win Congressional seats. The most common trait of winning Congressional challengers is having lost a campaign for Congress previously.
If you aren’t sure if you are a some guy or a contender, you are probably a ‘some guy’. The most common path to changing that is through successful fund raising. Put your comfy pants on, sit down (every day for 6-8 hours), and make a ton of phone calls. Call Time is the most important task for candidates to master.
‘Some guy’ candidates are frequently brilliant on policy and push it out by the truck load. None of the voters in their district read it or care, but they do it. And these candidates believe this makes them ‘serious’. It doesn’t. Please stop.
Whining about the system, whining about the media, whining in general…is not going to win you significant support or generate your miracle fund raising. Whining doesn’t reflect the strong leadership voters/donors want. But it does occasionally generate something funny for the rest of us to giggle at.
Play this video and listen as you read this post. You’re welcome.
Jill Sobule @ Netroots Nation 2011
I sent the following to a request for comment/advice regarding a bright young man’s effort to make a difference through a “bi-partisan organization”:
I don’t do anything (political) non-partisan or bi-partisan. Partisanship isnt the problem, blind extremist ignorance is. Good ideas are good ideas regardless of party and corruption is corruption regardless of party, party is a key feature of our current electoral system and it is the party with the strongest brand that holds the advantages (and wins more often, enacting their ideas in to law). Until we stop tripping over ourselves to disguise the problem to make it more palatable, we wont start making real progress. Stand up, speak out and have no shame for your chosen party id.
Note that this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever criticize or question your party of choice. Quality control is needed. Badly.
Change the electoral system and then we might have a different discussion.
While the Republicans pursue a hyper partisan agenda, with remarkable success, Democrats – under the leadership of our President and Senate Majority Leader are striving for “bi-partisan compromises,” seen by many of us as solving little while giving away tax payer money to the wealthy, gutting regulations and axing social programs crucial to the survival and recovery of so many Americans. No where in the Republican sales pitch do they disguise their allegiance to “conservative ideals”, no where do they beg for approval from Democrats. They make declarative statements about what (they believe) America needs and package their pitch in an emotional, passionate narrative. They embrace the Tea Party, ignoring or approving of the xenophobic racism and bigotry. They use fiery rhetoric and aggressive campaigning coast to coast to raise money and shift the debate radically rightward . That’s important. What they are doing IS radical. The proposals and ideas of progressives today are not at all radical. They are rooted in the preservation of the New Deal, the regulations and social mechanisms put in place to end the Great Depression and prevent a future economic disaster of similar magnitude. Republican’s, joined by a relative handful of corporate crony Democrats committed terrorism and/or treason in decimating the regulations and systems keeping corporate greed and the financial sector in check and stable. We need to remember that. It was radical action by “conservative leaders” in the 1990′s through 2006 that turned our economy in to a mob run casino and mired our nation in wars on multiple fronts without clear objectives or adherence to the Powell Doctrine. Actual wars, with huge costs, human and financial. Accompanied by none of the planning and consideration needed for such endeavors. They didn’t pay for the wars, they slid them off the books and made major tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest 2% simultaneously. Now they object to raising the debt ceiling, something they did repeatedly without reservation while George W. Bush was working with them to rapidly inflate the debt.
What’s my point? We don’t need less partisanship. WE NEED MORE. We need progressives to stand up and speak out about the atrocities foisted on the Nation and 98% of the population. We need to speak about the young men and women serving their country returning broken or worse – while Republicans work to diminish the services available to those soldiers and their families. We need to stand up for educators and the institution of public education, it is the future of this nation that is being destroyed with every cut and every profit based decision. Decisions in education must be based on one thing and one thing only, the highest possible quality education provided to every child everywhere in this great nation. They aren’t less partisan with their attacks on these vital components of America. Why are we (Democrats) acting under the premise that reducing our level of partisanship will be beneficial?
We have some great speakers unafraid of the partisan labels and attacks from the right, but we need more of them. If I could clone Van Jones and run him for Senate in every state, I would, but reality requires we all stand taller and speak louder, that we join great voices like Van Jones and take on the Republican Greed & Hate Machine.
We must have one hundred bold progressives come forward between now and the end of 2011 to run for Congress and Senate. They must be willing to do the hard work and under the sheer brutality of a Congressional Campaign. As it reaches the peak of stress, frustration and exhaustion, they need to remember why they are fighting and say, “I Fight for We the People! I Fight for America!”
We need bold progressives to run for State House and State Senate across the country. To step forward to lead their community back to a path that gets them an opportunity at the American Dream. We need men and women to stand up and declare that equality is a right of all Americans. That greed is not a right and should be put in check. That corporations are not people and are not entitled to act with impunity, manipulating elections and destroying America’s people, land and resources with little to no concern. This is the time to act. We have to be the ones we were waiting for, there may not be future generations if we don’t stand up to the GOP now.
Are you ready to join the fight as a candidate? A volunteer? A donor? Contact us today, we need your Talent, Time and/or Treasure ASAP to win this war, what investment can you make in America?
If you are planning to attend Netroots Nation 2011 in Minneapolis and you are planning to run this cycle or next cycle, or just maybe someday, MPA Political will be providing free consulting sessions. Over the course of 30 to 90 minutes, MPA Political will provide you with a better understanding of the campaign you are thinking about undertaking, tips for being a better candidate and how to avoid the most common mistakes candidates make.
For those with specific districts and races all plotted out, we can provide you with a turnout projection, win number and fund raising goals. For those looking farther in to the future, we can provide you with the techniques that will put you in a better position to run for whatever office is on your horizon.
To book a free consulting session, email your name, mobile phone number, email address, and any information about what you are planning to run for to webATmpapolitical.com or use our web based contact form.
I spent this past weekend at the southeastern regional training for trainers (t4t) of PowerShift 2011
This spring, over 10,000 young leaders will converge on Washington, DC to stand up for our future. At Power Shift 2011, we’ll stand together to reclaim our democracy from big corporations and push our nation to move beyond dirty energy sources that are harming the health of people and the planet.
To train 10,000 in DC, they held regional trainings throughout the nation this past weekend. In Atlanta we had roughly 80 attendees learning to be Coaches and Facilitators, sharpening their skills as organizers and activists. PowerShift itself is a program of the Energy Action Coalition, which includes 50 youth oriented environmental and social justice organizations.
Through the New Organizing Institute, PowerShift gains a great program, training materials and some very talented master trainers. The regional program was a three-day adventure, not without logistical & communication lapses and mishaps, but overall execution was very good. The base of the training materials comes from Marshall Ganz‘s organizing model, as many of you may have learned through the Obama campaign. The materials themselves are published by NOI to coincide with the program, with some occurring a bit out of sequence from the program as it was presented in Atlanta. You can find some of NOI’s great training materials online at their Toolbox.
There was a pre-training session for Coaches Friday evening at a quaint little hotel North of Atlanta, with a nice drive through blooming dogwood trees along the way, but the feature venue for the Southeast Regional training was Fuzion Lounge at Atlanta’s Underground at the end of “Kenny’s Alley.” I’ve done trainings in all sorts of venues, from living rooms to civic centers, I even chaired a caucus in a Las Vegas Casino once – this was my first training in a night club, giving or receiving. My team’s breakout sessions were held in the “VIP” Area (I think they call it “the Blue room”), complete with stripper pole. No, I didn’t try it out. I won’t speak for the rest of my team though. Quite an experience, we could have done without the black lights, but we worked through the breakouts and much learning was done.
Saturday started with a narrative journey down the timeline of PowerShift’s history as well as the first examples of Story of Self. For those who never heard of him, the story and actions of Tim DeChristopher are quite remarkable, a young man who stood up against all odds for justice, when few others were even paying attention. We heard about Dan Cannon’s involvement with student organizing on campus and Anita Poushan’s border crossing revelation. Through their stories, everyone became more engaged and inspired, this is the strength of this snowflake organizing model. We found unity when Dan asked the crowd, “Do you know who Monsanto is?” The resounding chorus of boos was instant and passionate. In general session and in our group breakouts we heard diverse stories of how people came to be at this event, part of this movement. Some were well aware of the moment they became inspired, the events and experiences that caused them to join the movement. For others, it was the beginning of a process by which they will gain self awareness and through a better understanding of themselves, become better at understanding and persuading others to join the movement.
If you are organizing an event with a bunch of activists that starts early in the morning and is expected to go well in to the evening, what is the one logistic you can’t fail to deliver? Yeah, so there was a coffee deficiency, it happened, we got through it, and much learning was had. It isn’t a big deal to me, as I don’t drink coffee, I brought my own caffeine source with me, for others the situation was dire. Everyone survived, no blood was shed, and due to hydration deficiencies, there weren’t even tears. Logistics were managed by the Master and Lead trainers, and coffee was had by all that desired – this is a lesson in having faith in organizers. Another lesson was had with the failure of technology was an inability to get a laptop working with the projector, an easel, pad and marker were located, teamwork was employed and training was conducted with great success. One big lesson I learned early in my campaigning/organizing life – things are going to go wrong, in ways you couldn’t have possibly imagined, and some in ways you should have, all we can do is move on and find solutions to accomplish our goals in spite of the unexpected obstacles. Getting through such obstacles is the mark of a good organizer, never panicking, expressing despair, or becoming consumed by the emotional roller coaster – that is the makings of a great organizer.
I was placed in a group that later became known as a the Green Tigers, an homage to the bulk of our group being students at Clemson University. With a wide array of ages, experiences and interests. Through our breakout exercises, we shared our stories of self and helped each other improve our presentation of our individual inspirations. In the process we learned just how different our lives have been, and yet each of us was drawn to the same place and time for this shared experience. In the beginning of every DFA Training Academy, the lead trainer for the opening session informs the attendees, “You are not normal.” Showing up for a training about improving your capacity to participate in Democracy early on a Saturday, that isn’t normal. Knowingly subjecting yourself to the physical, mental and emotional abuse of running for office, that isn’t normal. Volunteering to work (paid or not) on candidate or issue campaigns, very not normal. Within this group, the Green Tigers, the members may feel a sense of normalcy they don’t typically find in other groups and settings.
The second key early morning lesson at a DFA Training Academy is, “There is no magic. There is work.” The PowerShift Training, like DFA is about providing activists with the skills and understanding they need to do the work needed to create change. In a little over a week, 10,000 participants will have the curtain pulled back, they will see that it isn’t magic, that they can make a difference. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? PowerShift 2011 is still seeking facilitators, can you do your part to help achieve the goal of training 10,000 youth energy activists? Discount registrations are available for facilitators who participate in pre-training (5-7 hours of webinar and/or phone based training), contact me directly if you are interested.
From my tweets during the Southeast Regional T4T:
@mpiscatella: I’m @ #PowerShift because as one, my power is limited, as an empowering trainer my power is limitless – join us in dc #pfla #p2
A couple weeks ago, amid the discussions of Egypt’s uprising, this came in to my email box:
What Country Is This?:
“The state was thus increasingly seen to be a state for the few. Its old base in the rural middle classes was rapidly declining as young people moved to the cities. It was doing little for the urban working and middle classes. An ostentatious state business class emerged, deeply dependent on government contracts and state good will, and meeting in the fancy tourist hotels. But the masses of high school and college graduates reduced to driving taxis or selling rugs (if they could even get those gigs) were not benefiting from the on-paper growth rates of the past decade.”
With a link to the following story, explaining, in depth, the background of what has been happening in Egypt: http://www.juancole.com/2011/01/egypts-class-conflict.html
How many of you read that paragraph and thought, “that doesn’t sound any different from what is happening here in America.”? It was President Eisenhower who first spoke out in concern of the Military-Industrial Complex in his January, 1961 Farewell Address. Since then, what have we really done to alleviate the dangers? What would President Eisenhower have to say about behemoth defense/government contractors like Halliburton? What about enormous subsidies to companies pulling in record profits and paying no federal taxes? Of course, if you really wanted to piss him off, you could have had a large state, like say, Florida, tell him, “No thanks, we don’t want your stinkin’ Interstate Highways.” Which is what Governor Rick Scott did this week.
Over at Hullabaloo, Digby posted a Judy Woodruff/PBS interview with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, talking about the budget proposals. The piece that sticks out to me is Senator Bernie Sanders reminding us of this:
This year, ExxonMobil, the most profitable corporation in the history of the world, is not paying a nickel in federal income taxes, despite having made $19 billion last year. In 2005, one-quarter of corporation — large corporations in America making a trillion in revenue didn’t pay a nickel in taxes. You have got a military budget which in many ways is still fighting the old Cold War.
We have the Right banging the drums about regulation and tax oppression, crying that they can’t create jobs with out tax cuts. But reality tells us that tax rates are at their lowest point since 1950 and most of the biggest corporations doing business in America are not paying any Federal taxes. None. Some of the largest recipients of government contracts have moved “off shore,” to avoid paying corporate taxes on their massive profits, including Halliburton.
Union membership has fallen to less than 12% of the American workforce, wages have been stagnant for decades, all the while executive compensation and the wealth gap have expanded exponentially. Wall Street’s massive arrogant gambling led to economic collapse just a couple years ago, leading them to beg for relief from the tax payers. Last year, Wall Street responded by paying out the most compensation EVER. Huge bonuses, large salaries. What lesson should they learn from this?
State Governments, like Wisconsin’s massive overreach by Governor Walker and Florida’s crushing proposals by Governor Rick Scott are all intent on dismantling unions and privatizing every aspect of the state. No lessons were learned from the deregulation of California’s energy sector (Enron), from decades of data showing that union states outperform non-union states in nearly every educational metric, that costs go up, not down, when services are privatized.
So in Wisconsin, the teachers, students and so many of their supporters have stood up. They have organized and acted. They are living in the capitol and telling their government their voices will be heard. Just as the people of Egypt stood tall against their repressive and corrupt regime, Americans are doing the same. In Florida, organizing has begun, with more than 1000 people following “Awake the State“, an idea conceived just a couple days ago, which could lead to our own “Madison Moment.”
The focus I wish to convey is that it is organizing in action that drives these actions to success. A few students showing up with signs at the capitol will be written off as nuisance and achieve nothing. To make lasting change, one must make a case for such change, one must convince others, en mass, to stand up and express their belief in that change. Violence is not the answer, organizing is. Use your phone, your Facebook AND your twitter, not one or the other, to engage and activate your friends and family. Give them a direct action to take, not just a vague statement of support. Call your Governor, Congressman AND Senator. Tell them it is time for the nonsense to end. No more Corporate giveaways and worker sell-outs. Education must be fully funded and accessible to every child, free and in their neighborhood. Voting districts should be drawn with the communities interests first, not to benefit the incumbent office holder or party in power. Women should have the absolute right to make decisions about their bodies. Human rights should be extended to all within the borders of our nation, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or how they came to be here. Every man, woman and child should receive the absolute best health care possible, without having to sell their home to pay for it. We must look forward with investment in infrastructure, innovation, imagination and inspiration. The cost of not doing so is too great. It is the permanent economic collapse of our great nation.
What are you doing to make your voice heard? Are you calling the Governors office? You can reach Gov Rick Scott at: (850) 488-7146. How about your Congressman? Senator? The time to act is now.