I think an interesting contrast would be the Environmental Careers Organization which places interns in reasonably paid internships and follows up on their "alumni" who have then gone on to environmental jobs, creating a network of trained, capable and increasingly connected environmentalists.
wouldn't it be great if GCI Alumni were mainly positive, maintained the relationships that were built during their campaign experience (both with the fellow campaigners and the recruited volunteers and contacted voters and contributors). Then we would have an increasingly powerful and effective network of engaged and active progressives who knew the nuts and bolts of a running a field campaign or GOTV effort.
For fundraising, voter turnout, issue advocacy, whatever, we would have an amazing structure that would dwarf the cobbled together coalition of fundamentalist churches and regressive fringe groups that currently is the mainstay of the Republican party's machine. And in further contrast to the machine, the network would be intelligent, responsive and able to give real time feedback from the legitimate grassroots all the way to the lead organizers.
So ask yourself what kind of campaign you want to be work for? What kind will you put in the 90 hr weeks for little or no pay? Simple, it's the one that takes care of you, and helps you win in the long run. If GCI doesn't do that, well, they should go [cheney] themselves.
From a business perspective (which is a fundamentally competitive environment), there is a huge advantage to taking good care of your employees.
Let's look at the example of CostCo vs Walmart. CostCo has better prices, cares for its employees, and only sacrifices a very minimal short term gain for its shareholders in favor of a long-term strategy of growth. Walmart treats its employees like cattle and tries to eke out a few more pennies per share, and expects the taxpayers to pick up the difference (like the GCI college students' parents).
Walmart is pretty much reviled for its exploitive labor practices and no self-respecting progressive would ever shopt there.
There is a vast un-met need which GCI fills; we desperately need a network of trained and engaged citizen activists to combat the Bush fanatics. I applaud them for their efforts, but I can't help but thinking of them as a Walmart model as opposed to the CostCo model.
I agree with Artichoke: GCI is simply not a good organization. GCI is not helping us create a fair just and free country.
My data: I volunteered for MoveOn's Leave No Voter Behind Campaign in 2004, and worked 50+ hrs a week side by side with the paid GCI volunteers for three months (and occasionally bought them pizza and washed their clothes because they had neither money nor time). They were under intense pressure -- both internal because they wanted to help take back the country, and external because they were required to conform to the GCI way.
My analysis: I understood that MoveOn did not have the organizational capacity to mount a full-on ground campaign, nor the time to develop the infrastructure, but through some quirk of the internet, MoveOn had the financial resources to hire the GCI organizers. I initially did not blame MoveOn for this decision and instead jumped on the bandwagon and did my darnedest to help John Kerry win. Any port in a storm and all that. However, in retrospect I believe that decision has doomed MoveOn to political irrelevance.
1. GCI does not build grassroots support: at best they act as sowing the seeds of support; at worst they are simply astroturfing. The organizers are flown in from out of town frequently, are unaware of the local issues that motivate people, and are cut off from the culture they are supposed to be building.
2. GCI is not good at winning elections: Their strategy (or perhaps it was the groupthinkers at MoveOn who were so inept) was inadequate (If Ohio was the most important state, why didn't they win it?), their tactics were crude and only marginally effective- they simply followed the same script as every other organization that helped out and basically every single voter they contacted had been contacted 3 times that same day.
3. GCI is more concerned about self promotion: during the most important part of the campaign, organizers were forced to make up irrelevant and useless numbers that made GCI look good but did not contribute to winning the campaign or building a permanent progressive infrastructure to reclaim our country. As the guy who was tasked with collecting this information, I know exactly how useless and irrelevant it was toward the goals, how much was fudged or simply made up on the spot because we were all too concerned about trying to win the election.
4. yes, they have abusive labor practices, and that doesn't help us create the progressive America we know is possible, but that is not their greatest sin. Their true failing is that they aren't any good at winning elections, creating grassroots movements, or building a sustainable progressive infrastructure.
If MoveOn had a shred of vision or self-awareness, they would drop GCI like the bad habit it is, and capitalize on their (way less motivated and optimistic, but still not half bad) dedicated volunteer base to start creating a genuine, locally driven, progressive movement rather than continuously patting themselves on the back for getting a bunch of email signatures delivered to congress.
I think the McMorris (incumbent fundamentalist republican)- Goldmark (solid, intelligent, progressive farmer democrat) in WA-05 is going to be worth the coverage, and worth our efforts. I would love to see someone step up for this one, particularly an Eastern Washington resident who knows the district.
Under the "winner take all" electoral system we have, the only way for a party to win is to embrace 51% of the electorate. The vast majority of the world's democracies use a system where parties form coalitions to garner a majority of the votes. The government formed by the coalition is made up of members of many parties.
In the USA, we have to form the 51% coalition before the election by using the primary process to figure out which candidates and issues best represent the democratic 51% of voters in the district and state.
There are two ways to think about the Democratic Party:
1. as the heart of the progressive movement, dedicated to liberty and justice for all.
2. as the party that works together to mobilize voters, win elections, and govern our nation ethically, democratically and well.
And we have two elections, the primary to select our favorite representative to carry the coalition/party to victory, and the general, to show that our coalition/party deserves that victory.
I agree very much with the dropping of knee-jerk gun control as a Democratic issue. I think Paul Hackett's campaign did a great job of casting it in a "pro-freedom" light. A quotation from a Post Article, reprinted in the Wikipedia :
I'm for limiting government. I'm for fiscal responsibility. I'm for a strong national defense. I'm for fair trade. This means I don't need Washington to tell me how to live my personal life of worship my God. And I don't need Washington to dictate what decisions my wife can make with her doctor any more than I need Washington to tell me what guns I keep in my gun safe. I fought for Iraq's freedom, not to come back and have a government tell me I can't have my freedom because the world is too dangerous. Our freedoms are what make America great and desirable to the rest of the world and any government that wants to take away its people's freedoms under the pretense of national security is what makes the world more dangerous.
We support gay marriage and abortion not because we want to marry someone of our same gender or want to abort a pregnancy, but because we believe in freedom. The "defense of marriage" bills that clobbered us in the last election were just another set of "anti-freedom" actions by the liberty-hating GOP, the only party to reduce individual freedom in the history of our country.
The main problem with the movement that crusades against womens rights and medical science is that they are falsele garbed in the positive frame of "pro-life." Their stance has some relation to the preservation of life, but what they are fighting for is a reduction of freedom. It's not about being pro or anti abortion, and it's certainly not a question of being for or against "life." You are either anti-choice or you are pro-choice. You could be anti-freedom or pro-liberty.
Call a spade a spade, and never ever use the term "pro-life" to refer to the freedom haters who seek to destroy the rights of American women.