Don't Try To Co-opt Indivisible Movement, Fulfill It

[ Posted Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 – 18:29 UTC ]

There are two things currently happening in the world of Democratic and progressive politics, which are happening independently of each other, for the most part. This weekend, the Democratic National Committee will meet to elect a new chair. Meanwhile, out in the hinterlands, the progressive wave of energy and resistance to Donald Trump and his agenda shows no signs of abating. But I would extend a word of caution to whomever becomes the next D.N.C. chair: Don't attempt to corral or co-opt the burgeoning Indivisible movement -- instead, just do your damnedest to fulfill their expectations.

Although the new movement is only one month old (like Trump's presidency, which is no coincidence), it's already had an impact on the national political debate. Establishment Democrats, so far, are caught between hoping the movement sustains its energy all the way to the midterm congressional elections and worrying about how to "harness" the movement for their own ends. This is the very same dilemma the Republican Party faced when the Tea Party began (although I'm not suggesting Indivisible is a complete parallel or mirror-image of the Tea Party, because it's so early that it's impossible to make such comparisons). But Democrats should be worrying more about living up to the movement's goals than somehow grabbing the reins of the movement in any way.

This is a true bottom-up movement. Social media has now made it possible for such movements to exist and flourish completely independently of any political party's direct control. That's the beauty of it -- leaders are not required. The Women's March on Washington which was organized by one woman posting on social media what she'd like to see happen. It snowballed from there. It wasn't a Democratic Party initiative, it just happened.

The Indivisible movement's name comes from a web page put together by congressional staffers -- the people who actually get most of the work done in Washington, in other words. They knew from personal experience what works to change the political landscape and what doesn't. They shared their experience online and urged people to use the tactics that had worked in the past. But they didn't try to "lead" their own movement in any way -- they just published a playbook and let the populace take it from there.

Liberal annoyance at the shortcomings and outright failures of Washington politicians to address the real needs of the people has always been with us in some form or another. Sometimes it is just more vocal and visible, really. Sometimes progressives mutter in their beer and sometimes they take to the streets. Sometimes it simmers on the back burner, sometimes it erupts.

The last such eruption was wildly successful at messaging, but ultimately wound up being no more than a footnote, politically. Occupy Wall Street was a bottom-up movement, and one that significantly changed the parameters of the national political debate. The idea of the "one percent versus the 99 percent" was their doing. We would likely not be talking so much about income equality if Occupy never happened, to put it another way.

But in terms of political results, it fell far short. There were never "Occupy candidates" or even "Occupy Democrats" or indeed anything of the like. The Occupy movement had a number of fatal flaws, really. The first was the timing -- you just don't begin an outdoor long-term protest movement right as winter is setting in. The weather will do more to defeat such a movement than its opponents. The second was its governing methodology. Occupiers may even dispute that there was any sort of governing methodology, but when defined as "self-governing" there was -- and it set its own bars way too high to ever get anything accomplished. Their "general assemblies" were run on the notion that an incredible 90 percent of them had to all agree on anything for it to be an official movement goal. That is a recipe for gridlock, to put it mildly (just look what the filibuster threshold of 60 percent does to the Senate, if you don't believe this). In the end, the movement couldn't ever agree on much of anything, except endless navel-gazing and constructing their castle-in-the-air of the perfect world they would (eventually) demand be built. The weather, the organizational dysfunction, and the cops and mayors (who finally got tired of it all) ended Occupy with a whimper.

I don't mean to belittle the effort. Their strategy was noble, but their tactics left a lot to be desired, that's all. But the Indivisible movement seems oriented towards much more practical avenues for change. After all, it was started by lower-level Washington insiders, who merely tossed a playbook for action out there to see what would happen.

What has so far been happening is encouraging. People are flocking to the streets to let their voices be heard in the era of Trump. People are showing up at town halls -- even in deep red districts and states -- to give their elected representatives an earful. Regular people are considering running for office who had never before entertained such an idea. Some Democratic politicians are already beginning to understand the fear of "getting primaried" (which, so far, has been almost exclusively a fear of Republican officeholders). People who have never engaged in politics before are even flooding in to local Democratic Party meetings, to see what can be done to accomplish change.

The Occupy movement strenuously insisted that it didn't have "leaders." Neither, really, does the Indivisible movement. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren certainly inspire the movement, but they're not truly leading it. But that didn't stop the Tea Party from becoming a force in Republican politics. Who, after all, could be said to be the "leader" of the Tea Party? It also has some favorites who inspire it (Ted Cruz, Dave Brat, etc.), but it still resembles more of an unruly mob than what would traditionally be referred to as a congressional "bloc" of votes.

Because of its leaderless nature, the temptation already exists for Democratic politicians who are salivating over the prospect of somehow "capturing" all those incredibly-energized voters out there in the streets. But the nature of such social media movements is that they will not be led around by the nose. How do you "capture" a herd of cats? Each individual is out there protesting for their own reasons -- not some position paper or slogan dreamed up by the Democratic National Committee, after all. They're going to be impossible to capture, co-opt, or even corral by any top-down organization, that's my best guess.

Which leaves only one effective tactical option for the incoming D.N.C. chair -- don't worry so much about controlling or directing the movement's energy, instead aim for fulfilling its goals on your own. At the best, you can hope to be elevated to the ranks of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren -- solid inspirations for the movement, who don't attempt to direct it from above.

What the protesters want is obvious -- all you have to do is listen to them. They want Obamacare defended and protected. They want women's health rights to likewise be defended and protected. They want politicians to stand up for people's rights, including minorities of all types. They want more attention paid to Main Street than Wall Street. They want economic justice. Most of what they stand for almost completely overlaps the Democratic agenda (at least, the one Bernie Sanders was able to write into the last party platform), so there really shouldn't be a lot of ideological angst for Democrat politicians to join the movement wholeheartedly.

But that verb is important. Democratic politicians -- from the local city councilman up to the D.N.C. chair (whomever that happens to be, next week) -- should seek to join the movement that is already underway. Democratic politicians facing a primary challenge from the movement should really examine their own votes and positions to see why so many constituents are so angry with them. Smart Democratic politicians will show up at the rallies and protests to make their own case directly to the people. In doing so, they should try to live up to the crowd's goals in order to get their support, with a message that speaks directly to each protester. This can either be a full-throated: "I'm one of you!" or perhaps just: "Here's where I agree with you, here's where I disagree" -- whatever level of support the politician is comfortable with. But that's really as far as any Democratic politician should go, because any attempt to redirect the movement into nothing more than a fundraising arm of the Democratic National Committee is very likely doomed to fail.

-- Chris Weigant


Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


28 Comments on “Don't Try To Co-opt Indivisible Movement, Fulfill It”

  1. [1] 
    neilm wrote:

    Anybody watching the DNC debate tonight?

  2. [2] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hey CW

    I am amazed that you seem to believe that all Democratic politicians and "whoever wins" the DNC election will be inclined to fulfill the goals of the "Indivisible" movement.

    Most Dems in Congress and those backing Perez for the DNC chair are in the "everything is fine, we just need better messaging" crowd. That is the opposite of admitting there is anything worthy of protest besides Trump... and contrary to what many protestors want.

    Your characterization of the economic issues as "They want more attention paid to Main Street than Wall Street. They want economic justice" is rather vague and weak, but even that is beyond what the establishment Dems and the Hillary/Obama types backing Perez believe.

    If Perez wins the election with their support, why do you think he will be willing or even capable of "primarying" the people he owes his job to?

    If anything, Perez will be using DNC resources and money to defend the Wall Street coddlers from progressive primary challengers the way DWS did with the full backing of Obama and Biden.

    Perez has a record of being a Wall Street coddler himself, so the idea that he would suddenly embrace the desires of activists AND bite the hands that feed him seems like wishful thinking.

    Your advice makes perfect sense if you are offering it to some of the other DNC chair candidates and Dem politicians, but pretending that they are all on board is just not supported by the facts. If you were right, there wouldn't be any need for "primarying" Dems after all.


  3. [3] 
    altohone wrote:

    BTW CW

    "We would likely not be talking so much about income equality if Occupy never happened, to put it another way."
    "But in terms of political results, it fell far short"

    Nice contradiction.
    Getting people and candidates to talk about income inequality (and Wall Street crime, their purchased politicians, lobbyists, campaign finance, etc.) is most certainly a political result.

    "There were never "Occupy candidates""

    Well, it's hard to imagine any candidate ONLY talking about the economic issues Occupy was all about since other issues are always in play, but based on the economic policies they embraced, Bernie and quite a few other progressive candidates were actually Occupy candidates.

    "I don't mean to belittle the effort"

    And yet you seem to do it accidentally all the time.

    "The weather, the organizational dysfunction, and the cops and mayors (who finally got tired of it all) ended Occupy with a whimper."

    No, it was just forced dismantling by the cops under orders from the politicians... including Democrats.
    Not one Occupy camp broke up because of dysfunction or the weather.


  4. [4] 
    neilm wrote:

    A flurry of new "approval" polls today. Quinnipiac 38-55 (-17) was the most brutal.

    Even Rasmussen has dropped from +6 (last three) to +2.

    Gallup is good news for Trump, while also being bad news - going from -13 to only -10. I'm sure some WH staffer is spinning this as a +3 move to the Old Man.

    If the Rasmussen poll keeps dropping, the one outlier that 45 fanboys can point to is going to drag the average down.

    I downloaded all the data into a spreadsheet then calculated the running score of the last 10 unique polls (fiddly bit of spreadsheeting) - the average has been roughly 44-46 for the last few weeks - basically no trend.

  5. [5] 
    neilm wrote:

    I checked my Facebook feed for a local "Indivisible" group and found one. It was created on Feb 20th and already has over 1,100 members. This is a closed group, so I asked to join but they haven't processed my request yet. Thus there may be even more. This is a group that covers a geographical area with about 250,000 people, so this is a pretty good number of members.

    I downloaded the guide from the Indivisible website. The section analyzing the Tea Party was interesting - especially as they said that only 5-10 core members in a Congressional district could make enough noise to influence MoC (Members of Congress - i.e. Congresspeople and Senators). The 5-10 vocal core acted as a point of crystallization for a much larger group of sympathizers who amplified the local message.

    If this is the case, the numbers for Indivisible in my area are likely to be very influential. It remains to be seen if this movement maintains momentum and relevance, but if my friends are anything to go by the anger with 45 is palpable and deep.

    I'm going to my Congressman's Town Hall tomorrow night - I'm getting there early. The last one I went to was 1/3 full - I'm expecting there may be fire limitations at this one.

  6. [6] 
    neilm wrote:

    It was created on Feb 20th

    Sorry - It was created on Feb 9th

  7. [7] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Thanks to this installment of I've signed up at Indivisible. Their web page is very good. I have one problem with Indivisible. They seem VERY dependent on Smart Phones and Social Media. I don't use either. I know how to use them, I just don't like them. I find them invasive, shallow and addictive. Social media seems good at mobilization, but not so good at anything else. There is probably a work around for communication Luddites like myself.

    I continue to call Congressional representatives, most of whom don't directly represent me, although they damn sure can affect me. The majority of my calls are to Republicans offering some resistance to Trump - I go a bit over the top with praise.

    The staff I talk to seem a bit dazed....I think the phone traffic is pretty high. Staff remain uniformly polite.

  8. [8] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Congratulations on a magnificent accomplishment. I did not think it was possible for anyone to be so RIGHT and so WRONG at the same time.
    (Now would be the time to use the bathroom, get a drink ,etc.- this is gonna be a long one.)

    "Don't attempt to to corral or co-opt the burgeoning Indivisible movement, just do your damnedest to fulfill their expectations."
    Great advice. But they do not want or care to listen to advice. If you want them to listen it must be a demand.

    "The Indivisible movement's name comes for a web page put together by congressional staffers" "(Lower-level Washington insiders")
    Was this a playbook on how to improve our political process or just a way to steer people into protesting rather than something that is actually electorally productive ? As you correctly pointed out, that is part of why the Occupy movement fizzled out.

    "There were no Occupy candidates or even Occupy Democrats"
    "90 percent of them had to all agree on everything..."
    This is again accurate. But there could have been Occupy candidates in 2016. I encouraged people to Occupy the Primaries.
    And these candidates and their supporters could have occupied both CMPs and all candidates and parties with the common demand that 80% of citizens agree on -getting the Big Money out of politics. And they still could have disagreed about everything else.

    "The Women's March on Washington which was organized by one woman posting on social media what she'd like to see happen. It snowballed from there."
    Neilm (5)- "..I asked to join.."
    The Stig (7)- "Thanks to this installment of I've signed up at indivisible."
    The Women's March may have been started by one woman, but it snowballed because someone like CW wrote about it giving it the legitimacy that it would not get from a poster on social media as evidenced by the comments quoted above.
    There have been comments from some here about me and Voucher Vendetta that confirm this assertion.

    So let's consider this:
    Let's say that at least 10 commenters here would prefer to vote for small contribution candidates instead of Big Money candidate for Congress in 2018 (includes the Senate , where applicable.) You can find out if you could be one of the ten by asking yourself the questions in comment 289 from FTP.
    If those 10 people each registered at VV and got 1 or 2 other people to also participate that would be about 25 people. Then I could get some people from New Jersey Independent Voters to participate which could lead to participation from some in the National organization . I will be attending the conference in March which could help in that regard.
    CW could write an article about VV and that could get more citizens to join up. There are probably more like The Stig that don't comment or don't comment here.
    This could get our numbers up to 100-300 participants by the middle to end of March. These citizens could all send a Citizens Summons to Ralph Nader demanding that he discuss this idea on his radio program and encourage his listeners to participate. We can point out that we are trying to implement his plan of 100 activists in each congressional district for the purpose of demanding small contribution candidates. He may also notice that we are using his Citizen Summons idea.
    This could get several thousand people to participate each bringing several people with them to swell the ranks to the tens of thousands. We could then encourage Mr. Nader to get other activists such as Jim Hightower involved or they may just participate on their own at that point.
    This would enable us to reach 1% national participation by July 4 (or possibly even Memorial Day). This could snowball to 5% by Labor Day and 10% or even 15-20% by Jan 2018. Plenty of time to be effective in the 2018 primaries and general election.
    Name any other approach that could be that effective that quickly while at the same time build a sustainable resistance to the Big Money interests that control not only the CMPs but our entire political process.

    "...any attempt to redirect the movement into nothing more than a fundraising arm of the DNC is very likely doomed to fail."
    Again, absolutely correct. But this exploitation is not limited to the DNC. Every email I get from all the groups from Brand New Congress, Our Revolution, MoveOn to The Constitution Party, (as VV is for all citizens I also contact conservatives and end up on their mailing lists, too.) they are all asking for me to send them money to fight the good fight.
    VV is the only organization that is asking and providing an avenue for you to send your contributions directly to the small contribution candidates. This gives the participants control rather than the leaders. This is why VV is the only true grassroots movement. It could also be the reason why the people like Ralph Nader and organizations such as MoveOn, Our Revolution, etc. that should be supporting VV have chosen to ignore or dismiss it. They can't exploit people for contributions (even if they don't consciously realize they are doing it).

    So CW and everyone here you have two choices and "only one effective tactical option". Ask yourself the questions from comment 289 FTP. Then participate in VV or take a magic marker and write "SUCKER" on your forehead.

  9. [9] 
    altohone wrote:

    follow up to BTW CW

    I woke up thinking about it, so here I am adding some more thoughts on Occupy.

    "But in terms of political results, it fell far short"

    Like I said before, getting people to talk about the issues and getting candidates to embrace some of the policies is a notable political result.

    In any case, the camps may have been broken up, but the goals remain, and efforts to achieve them continue in different ways... like the Fight for $15 and now Indivisible.

    Occupy wasn't about forming a new political party, or wing of a party, though there was talk about the first, so judging them on that basis doesn't really make sense.

    Instead, it makes more sense to compare them to other efforts.

    The first Gallup poll asking about marijuana legalization in 1969 showed 12% support. The first smoke-in in DC was in 1970. Oregon was the first state to decriminalize pot in 1973. California was the first to legalize medical pot in 1996. Colorado and Washington were the first to legalize recreational pot in 2012.
    And we may well go backwards for years again before a national effort is truly successful.

    Louis X abolished slavery in the Kingdom of France in 1315. The abolition movement in England had its first success in 1772. Thomas Jefferson tried to include abolition of slavery in the Declaration of Independence. Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery in 1777. Pennsylvania in 1780. All the northern states by 1804. The Emancipation Proclamation 1863. 13th Amendment 1865. Native American and Alaskan tribes 1867.
    We then went backwards for decades until efforts in a different form using different tactics became the Civil Rights movement, which despite major successes, continues to this day.

    Occupy wasn't so much a movement as a tactic within previously existing efforts, a movement within a larger diffuse movement... or more accurately, a rebirth of efforts that had been won legislatively (anti-trust laws, New Deal, regulation, progressive taxation, etc.) and then lost again (deregulation, tax cuts, coopted regulators, lack of enforcement, etc.).

    None of the ideas and policies Occupy embraced originated with them, and they didn't die with them either.

    Before mostly abandoning the policies and betraying his supporters, Obama campaigned on many of the ideas in 2008, and Occupy started in 2011, I would say largely in response to that betrayal and inaction.

    And Occupy had the support of 59% of Americans before they were crushed. No small feat. Numbers achieved with support from Dems, Indies and Republicans.

    The establishment wants to portray Occupy as a failed movement... ignoring or downplaying the actions of the police, FBI, DHS and the support for the crackdown by financial corporations... so I find it odd when a political pundit who has expressed support for the goals of Occupy and for candidates who embraced those goals to repeatedly serve the establishment narrative.

    (and, BTW, they are also desperately trying to downplay and ignore the economic issues being raised by Indivisible)

    I would suggest an alternative to the quote at the beginning of this comment-

    "But in terms of political results, there has been some success, but the main goals have not been achieved YET".

    Yet, obviously, being the key word.


  10. [10] 
    TheStig wrote:

    I initially thought naming a progressive movement "Indivisible" was unfortunate for two reasons:

    1) As far as I can tell, the most common usage of indivisible is in The Pledge of Allegiance. I am not a big fan of vague loyalty oaths administered before a sporting pressure, right?


    2) United States Politics is predictably divisible along regional, ethnic and income lines. Trump won (narrowly) by exploiting division, which works very well in a highly non-representative Federal system with only two parties holding significant power (offices). If you are going to use indivisible in a strictly objective manner, it should be followed by "- my ass."

    The above said, co-opting the language of your political opposition is a smart tactical move. It amounts to stealing an asset. The Tea Party (an invention of smart, if not necessarily disinterested political pros) applied this principle very effectively. Learn from your opposition but don't try to re-fight the last war.

    Indivisible the Media Movement seems to me an excellent political primer from professionals who actually live and breath the exercise of political power. The title is just ironic.

  11. [11] 
    TheStig wrote:

    "There are probably more like The Stig that don't comment or don't comment here."

    I stopped commenting at immediately after the election. I didn't stop reading the articles, but the comments had gotten clunky, and the bulk of the comments were a circular argument with a Troll. This was a waste of time. In my case, it was an addictive behavior. I like to argue too much. It's probably genetic. With the election over, the only thing to do was wait and see what Trump actually did. Waited, saw, don't like what I saw. Time to comment again, but much less reflexively.

  12. [12] 
    altohone wrote:

    delayed response to comment 25 from "Rocky start"

    "People claim that she isn't truly a "liberal" or that she is more "Republican-lite" than Democrat, but the fact is that she and Bernie voted the same way 93% of the time"

    Yes, and humans and chimps share 99% of their DNA.

    Small differences in percentages can result in MAJOR differences in policy.

    Hillary's policies and voting record showed her to be a right wing Wall Street coddling corporatist with a right wing interventionist foreign policy just like Obama and Republicans.
    Support for progressive social policies does not alone a liberal make.

    If you investigated it and didn't discover that reality, maybe you should dig a little more instead of denying reality.
    The evidence has been presented again and again and again.

    The economic issues under discussion are mostly about legalized corruption (including campaign finance, tax policy, trade policy, wages, etc.) and inaction on enforcement. The first may not be criminal but it's still wrong and a massive problem, and the nature of the second allows for the avoidance of accountability and deniability.
    (See the article on Perez I linked to in that column for a good example).

    CW has pointed out the fallacy of the "policies are fine, we just need better messaging" crowd of Democrats, John M and Don and occasionally others have been writing about these issues, so even if you haven't been reading my relevant comments, you really should have been exposed to these ideas by now... so I'm not going to repeat myself beyond saying-
    Hillary was a Big Money candidate serving the corrupt status quo, and it's impossible to serve both them and the people.


  13. [13] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    TS (11)-
    Hope you have also been paying attention to what the Dems and the resistance on the left have been doing or not been doing to be more precise.
    It's time for more than commenting again. It's time to take action, make demands and follow through on the threats that go with those demands (see comment 8). That is pro-active and productive action rather than the reflexive action of being manipulated and milked for contributions by the status quo interests in the Dems and the "anti-establishment" establishment.

  14. [14] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    altohone (9)-
    Many good points.
    Your history of the many different movements that took years to accomplish demonstrates what I have been saying about VV.

    So where do you (generic you meaning anyone, not you specifically or only you) want be in 2022 ?
    Do you want the majority of congressional (and senatorial where applicable) candidates to be financed by small contributions or by Big Money contributions as they are now?
    Remember how some here commented during the 2016 campaign that while VV may be a good idea to try in the future, that the 2016 election was too important to start any such effort during the 2016 campaign ? One even said it would be better to start it for 2018 right after the 2016 election was over.
    That person must have forgotten they said it (that's Ok I forgot who it was, too) because they did not respond after the election when I asked after the election if that person was now ready to participate in VV (though it is possible the person just missed my comment).
    Where could we be now if the scenario in comment 8 for 2018 had started in the fall of 2015 and played out in 2016 as in comment 8 for 2018 ?
    Bernie could have won the primary. Even if he didn't, there could have been enough of movement built that he might have taken Jill Stein's offer to run as the Green Party candidate.
    This could have resulted in Bernie winning as a Democrat or Green.
    A three way race could even have helped Hillary win because it could have split the anti-establishment vote. It could have also helped Dems in Congress (remember all those that stayed home?)
    Of course, since VV was about Congress and not just the presidency this could have even helped Hillary in the two way race because many of those that stayed home would have had a reason to show up and excepting those that would have voted third party more of them might have voted for Hillary instead of Trump as long as they were there.
    And there could have been anywhere from 10-50 small contribution congressional candidates elected to office in 2016. Maybe even including a Green or Libertarian candidate or two.
    This is, of course, just conjecture. But it is not much different than those that now blame the Bernie voters that voted for Stein or stayed home for electing Trump (the old Nader-Gore argument recycled). One difference is there is certainly more evidence to support my conjectures.

    Do you (again generic) think that 2018 would look any different now if this had occurred in 2016 ?
    I think that if 10-50 small contribution candidates had been elected as above and 20% of citizens had voted for these candidates or written in their own name as a vote against the Big Money candidates if no small contribution candidate was on their ballot, that there would not be this business as usual from the political establishments that we have now because they would be scared shitless.

    Did you (again generic) vote for a Big Money congressional candidate in 2016 ?
    Did you (do I have to say it?) vote for the CMP congressional candidate from your party (which pretty much means you had to answer yes to the previous question) even though the district was one of the 90% of districts gerrymandered to favor your party or the other party and your vote really didn't make a difference ?
    If you did, then you voted in 2016 for more of the same in 2018. One could say you threw away or wasted your vote, especially if you voted for a Big Money candidate from your party that could not win the general election. Remember that the next time you are tempted to criticize someone that didn't vote or voted for a third party.
    The point is that NOW is the next best time to start VV. The other choice is to wait and say in 2018, 2020 and 2022 all the same things you (again generic) said in 2016, 2014, 2012, etc. as well as being still stuck with a Democratic Party and entire political system controlled by the Big Money interests.
    "The best time to plant an oak tree is fifty years ago. The next best time is today."
    - don't know who said it.

  15. [15] 
    altohone wrote:


    The generic me and me specifically both support small donor campaigns... but not financially.


  16. [16] 
    TheStig wrote:


    Not to worry DH, I am active. At this stage my mission is to help marginalize Trump, both with voters AND more importantly, with the spineless/venal Republican office holders who saw Trump as an ends to a means and were willing to overlook the race baiting, the xenophobia, the:

    Conflicts of interest,
    Lack of talent
    Just plain word salad craziness.

    Trump has been extremely helpful by shooting himself in the foot at regular intervals. His lack of discipline an self awareness is startling.

    The courts are showing a lot more guts than I thought they would. This very helpful.

    I think Michael Moore has articulated a very effective strategy for gutting Trump. So,I make phone calls to politicians every day, Republican and Democrat. On issues that Trump so helpfully illuminates. Rule of law. Competence vs cronyism. People DO care about Trump's taxes. Virulent antisemitism by Trump's alt. rt allies. Too much golf, not enough attention to being President. I could go on and on. I just read the paper, and let Trump and his news cycle write my scripts.

    I encourage my friends get on the phone to and vent about dysfunctional government. I really don't know how successful that has been. I live in a very Republican district, most of my friends lean Republican. I'm eagerly awaiting local town hall meetings. I think I'll wander on down to Republican HQ and have a friendly chat.

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Any yoots (apologies to Joe Pesci) can participate effectively in VV without making any contributions and/or contributions to VV. Contributions directly to candidates are for those that want to do more. Contributions to VV are for those that want to do even more than doing more.
    VV is about how you vote, letting candidates know before it's time to vote how you are going to vote and uniting with other citizens and voting with them for small contribution candidates.
    So the question then becomes will you participate now and encourage others to participate now ?

  18. [18] 
    TheStig wrote:

    While I was writing post 16, Obergruppenführer Bannon just wrote my next script for me. If antisemitism is so gol' darn awful, and must stop NOW, why hasn't Trump fired Bannon for running a mouthpiece for neo Nazis? How long before a fellow traveler with an 80 IQ and an arsenal shows up at a synagogue?

  19. [19] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Sounds like a good plan.
    But which part of that plan has anything to do with Big Money Democrats or removing Big Money form the entire political process ?
    I'm just asking. It's OK if that is your whole plan. You may just want to concentrate on one thing (like me and Big Money).

  20. [20] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    That should be
    "...from the entire political process ?"
    I make that mistake a lot. I think it may be some deep emotional disorder, but I haven't completely fromed an opinion on that yet.

  21. [21] 
    neilm wrote:

    So there is an "Empty Seat Town Hall" for Diane Feinstein in Oakland, CA on Sunday.

    They already are oversubscribed, even without the key speaker. They will be recording questions to submit to her office.

    This is the pressure a Democratic Senator is feeling. I can only imagine what is going on in purple states.

    Below is a list of the sponsors (CW - there is a local Indivisible group):

    Groups supporting this event:

    Indivisible East Bay
    Indivisible San Francisco
    Indivisible 510
    Indivisible Berkeley
    Indivisible Yuba-Sutter
    Indivisible South Bay
    Indivisible YOLO
    Indivisible Euclid
    Indivisible Sonoma
    Silicon Valley Indivisible
    Indivisible Petaluma
    Indivisible Healdsburg
    Indivisible Sonoma County
    Indivisible: South Berkeley
    Indivisible Danville/Walnut Creek
    Dumbledore’s Indivisible Army
    Marin 2020
    Moms On The Left
    Ready For Action
    Orinda Progressive Action Alliance
    Building Community, Fighting Hate
    Lace up your Boots
    See Jane Resist
    Bay Area Rebellious Nurses
    13 PAGES
    North Oakland Resistance
    First Wednesdays
    Progressive Sonoma
    Tassajara Daily Action Team
    Actions for Democracy
    MoveOn Resist Trump
    Contra Costa MoveOn
    MoneyOut! PeopleIn! Coalition
    North Berkeley MoveOn
    TriValley STAND
    Stand Up San Francisco
    TWW CA-17
    TWW Palo Alto/Mountain View
    Indivisible Milpitas
    SuitUp! Mid Peninsula SF Bay
    Indivisible Marin
    Indivisible Stanford
    Indivisible Central Contra Costa County
    Indivisible El Sobrante
    United for Action
    Santa Cruz Indivisible
    Redwood Heights Indivisible Collective
    Indivisible West CA 11
    Indivisible Lake Merritt
    San Francisco Women's Group
    Center for Biological Diversity
    Marin County Resistance: Indivisible
    Silicon Valley Courageous Resistance
    South Bay Rapid Response Indivisible
    Indivisible CA20

  22. [22] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    I should add that a good way to marginalize Trump is to find a common issue with people that support(ed) Trump. Then you may find other issues you agree on that can further distance them from Trump.
    This issue will not be minimum wage, taxes, immigration or any other issue already defined in the partisan divide with Trumpers or any of your Republican friends.
    But 80% of citizens (and even a majority of Republicans) want the Big Money out of politics. Any citizen that wants the Big Money out would choose to vote for a small contribution candidate over a Big Money candidate if they both could win.
    Participation in VV now could make that possible in 2018 and future elections as described in comment 8.
    You may think that VV can't make that happen and maybe it won't. It certainly won't if we don't try it. I don't think we should admit defeat to Big Money without even trying.
    And there is no other approach that even has a chance of being effective at getting the Big Money out in 2018 and even 2020.
    It is also based on the free-market principle of supply and demand, requires no government money, no new laws or regulations, limits no ones free speech (remember money is speech), is people pulling themselves up politically by their own bootstraps and utilizing the tools provided by our founding fathers for citizens to participate in our electoral process- which could all be great talking points for your Republican friends.
    Even Tea Party members could willing to participate. Wouldn't it help tremendously if some of the rank and file Tea Party and/or Republican voters could be separated from the Big Money Tea Party/Republican candidates financed by the Koch Bros or other Big Money conservative interests ?
    As these talking points may not inspire liberal friends you could refer to VV as a Union for Politics. Just as workers can go on strike by withholding their labor to get better wages, working conditions, etc., citizens can go on strike by withholding their votes from Big Money candidates and demand small contribution candidates.

  23. [23] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    neilm (21)-
    An impressive list of organizations.
    It is good that pressure is being applied to Democrats as well as Trump and the Republicans.
    I wonder if anyone will ask at any town meeting if the representative will commit to a small contribution campaign in 2018 (or their re-election in 2020 or 2022 for Senators).
    Here's a thought. Just two people from each of the about 60 groups you mentioned participating in VV and getting one or two other people to participate could total 200-300 people. This could be enough to get Ralph Nader (and/or other activists) to respond to a Citizens Summons from these people and encourage his listeners to participate ( and so on as in comment 8).
    Not that it will happen. But it shows how easy it could be with just a little bit of effort.

  24. [24] 
    Paula wrote:
  25. [25] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Don Harris,

    I used to run a non-profit youth ministry that was entirely funded by donations we received. I start with that so you might understand where my thinking comes from: someone who was constantly focused on raising support from donors in order to pay the bills and be able to put food on the table. The organization I worked for did a pretty good job of showing appreciation to all of our donors -- whether they gave $10 or $10,000.

    I think that forcing a candidate to accept only small contributions to gain your support sounds great on the surface, but is an incredibly foolish way to run an organization that relies on contributions in order to survive. You are choosing to assign blame on a numerical value, which is NOT the problem! Plus, you are silencing those who can afford to give more from providing the support they wish to give. It is the corruption that is the problem.

    Another way to look at this: Who do you think expects more from their investment: the person who gives 5% of their income or the person who gives .0001% of their income to a candidate. There are plenty of people and groups that can write a $5,000 check and give it away like you or I might give away spare change to a homeless person -- with no expectation of anything in return!

    By demanding a candidate only accept small donations, you are requiring them to focus far more time and energy trying to raise money. The average freshman in Congress already spends over 60% of their workweek focused on fundraising. Limiting the size of the donations they could accept would only result in more time being spent fundraising! If we want to take the power money has over our politicians out of the picture, this plan will only force politicians to be more focused on raising money...not less!

    On the surface, it sounds like a great idea, but the truth is that it is incorrectly placing the blame for political corruption on a monetary value -- vastly oversimplifying a complex issue.

  26. [26] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    Yes, and humans and chimps share 99% of their DNA.

    Small differences in percentages can result in MAJOR differences in policy.

    Hillary's policies and voting record showed her to be a right wing Wall Street coddling corporatist with a right wing interventionist foreign policy just like Obama and Republicans.

    No, they share 96%, but that is not the point. I was stating what Clinton's actions (voting) showed us. Your opinion of Clinton is your own and I have no chance of changing that opinion, I realize. If you see Clinton to be no different than Republicans, despite Clinton's voting record showing her to be 80% more progressive than her fellow members of Congress, then it seems odd that we even bother with having a Democratic Party.

    If you try to dismantle the fund raising arm of the DNC, you will completely cripple any hope of getting progressives elected. Direct contributions to a candidate's campaign aren't the problem. It's PACS and SuperPACS that can take in as much money as they like. As long as campaign finance laws remain the same, it will require massive amounts of money to successfully run campaigns.

    And before anyone responds that Bernie did it, I would simply remind you that I said "to SUCCESSFULLY run campaigns"! Because even though everyone praises Bernie's campaign as being so wonderful, the fact is he lost the primaries by a fairly large margin. Yes, you can run a political campaign on $35 donations, you just won't be running a successful political campaign.

  27. [27] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    While I see your point about your organization and fundraising, the people that contribute to an organization such yours have different motivations and expectations regarding their contributions than the Big Money political contributors.
    And if Big Money contributions equals corruption and there is a difference between Big and small contributions, then some numerical value must be assigned to differentiate between Big and small contributions.
    While it can't be perfect, 200 dollars is the amount I chose for now. It will be up to the participants if that amount is changed in either direction.
    We decide that 18 years old makes someone an adult. It is not a perfect number. There are many or at least some 15 year olds that are more emotionally mature than some 25 year olds.
    I agree that fundraising takes up too much of a legislator/candidate's time. But VV will in the long run actually reduce the amount time candidates spend fundraising.
    When people are registered with VV (and even those not registered) will be able to access information on which candidates are running as small contribution candidates. This will enable the participants to find the candidates with their contributions rather than the other way around.
    And citizens can contribute to small contribution candidates outside their congressional district and state for Senate elections. For example, a citizen that wants to contribute 1000 dollars can make ten 100 dollar contributions to ten candidates or five 200 dollar contributions to five candidates. Someone that wants to contribute 5000 or 50,000 could do the same.
    And in a few election cycles when the majority of congressional districts have competitive small contribution candidates it will make the Big Money contributor's investment too risky with the majority of citizens committed to not voting for a Big Money candidate.
    And a successful campaign doesn't always win right off the bat (see altohone comment 9). So Bernie's campaign was successful even though he didn't win.
    Continuing to vote for the Big Money candidates because "this election is too important" is a short term strategy that the Big Money interests have been suckering people with for the forty years I have been voting while they play the long game which depends on citizens playing the short game. VV is a long term strategy that counters their long game with our own long term strategy.
    And no matter how much you want to believe it there is no way that any candidate that takes Big Money contributions is a progressive. They know which side of the bread is buttered. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Any progressive positions espoused by Big Money candidates are just for show.
    If they take Big Money they are not progressive. So dismantling the DNC Big Money fundraising arm is the ONLY way to elect progressives.
    When the majority of voters have made the commitment to only vote for small contribution candidates it will no longer take the massive amounts of money to run campaigns because the Big Money will no longer be effective so it will mostly disappear from the political process.

  28. [28] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    And I should add that VV can be used by all citizens to influence all parties and candidates so the Republican Big Money fundraising arm will also be dismantled, removing the excuse (that's EXCUSE- not REASON) Democrats use for having to take the Big Money contributions.

Comments for this article are closed.