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                                       politics + culture

Friday, August 11, 2006

how to dismantle a GOP majority

For a Democratic volunteer still bearing fresh wounds from the elections of 2000, 2002 and 2004 there can hardly be a more dispiriting signal of what's just so wrong about politics in this country than this tripe from Adam Nagourney in today's New York Times.

In his first three paragraphs Mr. Nagourney spins a trifecta of terrorist arrests, "tough" Republicans, "timid" Dems and then, as a coup de grace, turns the Lieberman/Lamont primary on its head as if his lede had literally been written at Karl Rove's desk.

Now, it might seem that the strategic response to this familiar situation would be to counter each of these points and attack: attack Nagourney, attack the "tough" Republican frame, attack the "weak" Democrat frame, attack Karl Rove, attack the New York Times.

We've done that. That doesn't win elections...


I want to be very clear.

Since I tend to write overlong posts, I've boiled my message down to a few very short sentences. In 2006 the GOP is the incumbent party. The way you defeat incumbents is by attacking them where it counts. It's that simple. We need to get local.

That's the entire lesson of the Lamont campaign.  Connecticut Democratic primary voters, the only people who mattered in the Lamont/Lieberman race, voted to get rid of Joe Lieberman. Connecticut voters kicked the incumbent out. That's how it works.

The GOP has a majority in Congress.  We don't defeat them by attacking Adam Nagourney and the New York Times. We don't defeat them by countering the "weak" Dems frame.  We don't defeat them by weakening the "tough" GOP frame either.  We certainly won't defeat a single GOP incumbent by anything we say on Sunday Morning Talk shows.

The way to dismantle the GOP majority is by attacking their incumbents in every district and every state.

We need to get the message that matters...anti-incumbent...to the voters that matter...the local ones.  That's it.  It's that simple.  We need to get local.  That is our job.


Now, you may have read my recent post focused on local blogs called a challenge to the netroots.  If you haven't read it, I'd ask you to take a look and invite you to join that effort.  

In interest of brevity, I'm going to summarize that post in two sentences: Local blogs do exactly what we need to be doing right now.  They attack GOP incumbents in their districts and reach the only voters that matter in any race: the ones who vote.

Don't believe me that we can learn a ton from local blogs? Let me provide some quick examples:

  • Congresswoman Heather Wilson (NM-01) took $400,000 from big oil companies, while voting to give them $2.6 Billion in subsidies in a year they reaped record profits.
  • Congressman Jon Porter (NV-02), like many Nevada Republicans, is shy about admitting that he's a Republican.
  • AZ-05's JD Hayworth's has an Abramoff-laden money trail.
  • Congressman Mark Kirk (IL-10)  should be held accountable on his minimum wage vote.
  • Deborah Pryce (OH-15) has weaseled out on her commitment to term limits.
  • Congressman Gil Gutknecht (MN-01) likes to travel courtesy of Special Interest Groups.
  • One Hoosier is keeping a watchful eye on Chris Chocola (IN-02) misleading voters...and his golf game.
  • One local Wisconsin blogger tracks a local casino magnate's contributions to Congressman Paul Ryan in WI-01.
  • New Jersey Congressman Jim Saxton (NJ-03) voted with Tom DeLay as if his life depended on it.
  • Nancy Johnson's (CT-05) uses 9/11 imagery in a political ad.
  • Melisa Hart (PA-04) used faulty science to justify Bush's stem cell veto.
  • This blogger holds Robin Hayes (NC-08) accountable for his mill-closing CAFTA vote.
  • Another Virginia blogger has been tracking the tight race that Thelma Drake is facing in VA-02.

  • That's just a short survey of what's out there. This is the kind of writing the netroots needs to do every single day. Local blogs are the fulcrum point. They reach local voters and the attack incumbents where it hurts most: at home. They bring together the people who matter...local voters...where it matters...in the districts.

    There is still time for the netroots to make locally-focused blogging a factor this election year. It's not too late.

    Every vulnerable GOP incumbent deserves multiple opposition blogs. Every vulnerable GOP incumbent should have netroots bloggers tracking their campaign on the national blogs as well. How can we meet that challenge?


    I don't usually write this brief and to the point. I'm doing so now because I'm convinced that the netroots needs to get off its high falutin' national, 35,000 ft. level view of this nation for the next three months and get local. We need to dig in.

    There's only one way to dismantle this GOP majority in Congress...we need to attack GOP incumbents in their districts and states. We need to get local.

    It is that simple. And, yeah, it matters, alot.


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