Smart Move by Ned
This is great news. Sirota to work for Lamont:
Clearly, this is an uphill fight - but then, uphill fights are the kind of campaigns I have always worked on. Why? Because trying to change the status quo is always an uphill fight. In 1998, people told me not to work for Joe Hoeffel because they said he couldn't win a Republican congressional seat in Pennsylvania - but we won. In 2004, people told me I was crazy for working for political outsider Brian Schweitzer because they said he could never win a statewide race in as Republican a state as Montana. Now, Schweitzer is the widely popular governor of Big Sky country. People said Ned Lamont couldn't win a primary against an 18-year incumbent who grossly outspent him with a massive warchest of corporate cash - but he won. Even after Ned's crushing primary victory, elite cynics in Washington and the national Republican Party apparatus that is supporting Joe Lieberman still say Ned can't win the general election. And once again, we're going to prove them wrong.
Rock the boat,
I'd heard some chatter about Lamont turning away from the bloggers on the advice of "serious" campaign professional's advice, but this makes up for that.
One thing I think it's really important to communicate to pols running for office or crafting policy: there is a great deal of exceptional talent out there just waiting for you to take advantage of it. Often for free, and in some cases for way less than they normally get paid. I know Sirota is a professional consultant from days of old, but he's also a great blogger who embraced blogging early on, and more importantly most bloggers have other, full time professions. That's kind of my point here.
As I've made a study for the last six years, like an entomologist looking upon an ant farm, of the situation in DC, it's become increasingly clear to me that the problem is largely a social one. Dems have taken the really expensive, really bad advice of the so-called "professional" class, many of whom have worked for or are actual Republicans, and turned that money-well-spent into a string of lost elections. The only reason I can think of to explain why this trend persists, even today, has to do with the idea that neopotism is alive and well. When you party with, are married to, went to school with, and share a social class with the people who are giving you advice, it must be pretty hard to be objective and critical of them. DC is a "company town," and the loyalty problem (being loyal to other townies, and not the "customers" in flyoverland) is a big part of why the Dems remain a poor example of what an opposition party should look like.
But the solution is staring them right there in the face, and I hope that Lamont's example leads a few smarter Dems in the right direction. How many lawyers have I "met" in the blogosphere? Computer professionals? Writers, actors, teachers, people with significant fundraising and organizing experience? Since I don't hang out at Powerloins very often, the answer is "a lot." Every blogger gathering I've been to is the same. Yes, there are kids in the mix, but there are also a lot of intelligent, proven record of results type people, many of whom, thanks to Bush, aren't so busy these days. Smart Dems will reach into that pool as they craft messages in the coming months, and in the long term future.
What's particularly sad to me about the failure of many Dems to connect with the base is that there are many of us who would work really, really hard, fueled by our intense desire for change and accountability, and for cheap. What's the Democratic warchest looking like for this fall? How much of it is being spent on people who only have one message ("move to the center and support the war")? How much of it will be wasted on totally lame TV and radio commercials crafted by insider "professionals" who have a tin ear for, or are downright hostile to, the idea that a majority of not only Democrats, but Americans support an end to the war? I probably don't want to know. But throwing more money down a hole isn't exactly a smart idea, not even this year when it's practically the Dems to lose.
There is a long list of talented, popular bloggers out there, people with the skills, readership, willingness, energy and ideas to make sweeping progressive victory possible.* Every last one of them should be getting phone calls like Sirota has. There has got to be one or two enterprising and forward thinking staffers who can see this. Although the more I think about it, the more I suspect that once again, the blogosphere will have to bootstrap itself up into the deeply willfully silly heights of the party, and make this point ourselves. If nothing else, the recent excoriation of Lieberman's "sunset" ad and Allen's macaca snaffu prove that when it comes to killer ideas, memes and humor, the blogosphere beats the traditional consulting class hands down.
*and no, I'm not putting myself on that list. I like to say "fuck" too much.