Ford found relgion in an attempt to overcome that variable (sounds terrible to even write it that way)--and I think everyone thought it was working. Then the "call me" ad ran, and I think the TN electorate just kind of woke up and thought, "Oh, yeah..." and the numbers flipped back to Corker. The airport confrontation? I don't know if that was the issue. It's not as though Ford was warm and fuzzy before that.
An ad that cast him as a black Congressman at the Playboy mansion? Oy. That just played into every ugly stereotype. Thank goodness for all the TN voters who were not swayed by that ad, but I think it moved enough to make the difference. I'd be very surprised if the GOP robocalls in TN did not also hit on that ad theme.
We currently have a President who makes decisions based soley on strong conviction and belief. We don't need more of that.
So, what I think you and Glenn meant was that we want a politics based on strong conviction and belief in progressive progressive principles--most important of which is the fair and equal participation of the people as the core foundation of American democracy.
It is the value of that progressive idea--participation--that eludes most top elected officials at the moment.
Thanks for this post--really important to start looking forward.
In terms of framing, I think we need to take stock at how amazingly successful progressives were at primary battles--and then we need to take that concept and apply it everywhere. And I mean everywhere.
There is an institutional structure that the blogs brought to the game--and it may be murky at this point, but it is there and it was amazingly good at mounting these kinds of first round challenges.
If I learned anything in this round it is how important it is to win the first round.
I really believe that when historians write about this partiuclar set of elections, they will give 99% of the credit to the CT primary campaign. As an anthropologist, I just don't see any other way to read it. That was the key to everything--the establishment knew it then, they know it know, and we have to figure out exactly how we did that and reproduce it everywhere.
It might be a good idea to start, for example, talking about the Lamont primary as the big success of the 2006 midterms--as opposed to the big loss--disect that success and then build our agenda around future successes of that order. Legislative--yes. I want legislative success. But ground level movement success is where I see there is real room for explosive growth--a real giant step forward in how the entire country 'does' politics.
This ties into a much broader notion that the progressive movement is not about a legislative agenda, but about the experience of politics--the fundamental change is at the level of experience. That also entails a legislative shift, but the nature of that shift is secondary (I believe) to the shift at the level of experience.
Yeah, that seems to be the issue. Great comment. GOTV is a local enterprise--or at least that's how it works right now. So this is the moment when everyone is running into the absence of a local Progressive infrastructure.
It's a big challenge, but--we'll get there.
And Rochester is turning! My psychic powers tell me so....
Frustrating. But I think there's another key point, here, worth mentioning. Activists often assume that everyone knows what it means to volunteer and campaign and canvas. Maybe there are a fair number of people who know how and still refuse to do the ground work, I trust your view of what's happening. But I think there are far, far more people who do not even know step one of where to begin--do not even know the most basic terms that would allow them to make the choice to do the kind of things we might claim people are refusing to do. We are in the last round of a desperate fight, right now. And so much depends on it. But the bridge between individuals and their government was intentionally broken by the Republicans a long time ago, and if we want the kind of GOTV turnout that Chris is calling for--that we are all calling for--then we will have to do more than just show up as individuals, but will also need to devise a division of labor where some of us sit down and dedicate ourselves to getting people to show up--to solving that problem.
So I agree with the basic point of the post: everyone should try their best to get out there and do what they can.
But also want to see a new development out of this insight--the emergence of a new kind of Progressive grassroots activist wholly concerned with solving this problem of GOTV in the final week, and wholly absorbed in creative probelm solving.
In this respect, I want to point to kidoakland's series of diaries on the importance of what he calls "local blogging" as a first step in this direction. But we need more steps, more people working on this in the off season--and more people recognizing the importance of this work: in the off season.
Part of Chris' frustration--a large part of it, I think--is directed at the fact that things have moved so fast for Proressives this past week that we are really feeling the absence of this group that has solved the GOTV problem in a way that makes us confident in the final days of an election.
So, "thanks" to everyone who is giving 210% of their energy to volunteer for a campaign. But "thanks" also to those people who are making the choice right now to learn what they can from this round in order to improve the Dem GOTV effort next round. Come this time 2008, I hope to see diaries praising both efforts.
That TN race seems more foreign to me than any other. I look at Ford and I just do not get it. But I hope he wins just he same.
As for Kerry: poor guy just got chopped up by the GOP hit gangs, that's all. I realize he's probably been reigned in by the entire Dem leadership, but I just can't get mad at the guy for what happened.
The GOP is so lost right now they've settled on a closing strategy that seems to be pretending this is the 2004 election so they can feel good about beating up Kerry again. That's fine with me, frankly.
I don't think we look weak, divided and grovelling. This is just Kerry looking like Kerry: an awkward guy who gets mad as hell at Bush. I mean, I thought he was doing more damage when he was talking about surfing--made me cringe. But still. Roll 2004 election all over again. The ruler of the free world (Bush) calling a senator names and saying gems like,"Our soldiers is plenty smart." Red meat for the "Brains! More brains!" zombies who would vote GOP anyway.
Besides, the longer this thing stays up, the more the media will probably turn against Bush for being an opportunist. I mean, what the hell else can they say? Net loss: a few events with Kerry on the stump, but so what? Was John Kerry swinging the big elections all alone? I doubt it. He was doing his part on the stump, but he can do something else on the public dime this week.
I think we look just as strong as we did two days ago. Even stronger by Friday when big media anchors start scrambling to be the first to use the word "landslide."
I think Chris makes good points, but I also don't think this whole thing is really about John Kerry's words--mangled joke or not. It's a game of chicken: the subject hear is the Democrat's fear of the Republican accusation that they are "weak on defense" or that they don't "support the troops."
My one beef is that Kerry got mad. I'd like to have seen him laugh when he heard the attacks from Snow, Bush, Cheney, et al. He could have said something like this:
"I'll apologize for being the world's worst deliverer of a punch line in a joke. How bad I am at telling jokes is a joke in my family--and my chief of staff should resign for letting me tell jokes in a stump speech for Democrats. But bad delivery or no bad delivery, here's how the joke should have been delivered [...]. I apologize for messing that up. But the situation in Iraq is no joke and the people who caused it will not give up easily. That's why we all need to vote them out of office next Tuesday..."
Something like that. I mean...what Bush wants is to be in a fight with somebody--so he can look important. The reality is that he is an embarassment. The GOP is practically sending to give stump speeches at Chucky Cheese birthday parties. Nobody wants to be seen with him.
So, I say Kerry should laugh at Bush instead of getting mad.
A "non-answer" to a non-question: I'd say I'm batting 1000.
It's not that I don't think I have to take a position, but that I don't answer dishonest questions. Do you have a position on national defense? Or are you really so far gone that you think "strong on defense" is your position? It's not a position. It's the rhetorical equivalent of throwing a beer in someone's face.
You obviously feel slighted by Progressives for some reason--god only knows what that is. Maybe you volunteer for Lieberman, I have no idea. So you come here and toss aggressive, but hollow questions at us to feel better about yourself--claiming that your real goal is to find out our "position" on "security"--as if Democrats are "weak on defense" (c.f. Karl Rove). But that's not your real goal. Your real goal is to feel better about yourself at the precise moment that Progressives are making historic gains in these elections.
Here's my hint to you, MarkB: start thinking your own thoughts and strop trying to forge a political identity out of the fear and intimidation thrown at you by Republicans. One key reason the country is voting for Democrats is because it sees the Republican attack on Dems (e.g., "Dems are weak on defense") as little more than fraudulent and divisive politics that has led to thousands of deaths and millions of lives ruined. Stop climbing on board that corrupt logic at the exact moment that even the most politically disinterested are finally waking up from it's spell. The majority of the country now sees the phrase "Dems are week on defense" as being about as meaningful as the punchline in a zombie movie. That should be a hint that it's time for you to go "cold turkey" from viewing your world through the narrow lens given to you by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.
Or, you can keep posing as a policy guy who thinks "tough on defense" is an actual position--which, frankly, is more entertaining for me, but I suspect less satisfying for you in the long run.