[I am in a foreign land this week with abundant rum but uncertain Internet access.  If anything dramatic has happened — Pence resigned? life on Mars? — this post will seem weirdly oblivious. It was pre-posted before I left to honor the terms of your subscription.]

I found these two pieces on Brazil’s rapid descent dismaying:

How Police Violence Paves The Way To Authoritarianism: “Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, believes the only good criminal is a dead one. Many Brazilians agree.”

Brazil Is About To Show The World How A Modern Democracy Collapses: “Far-right president Jair Bolsonaro is a threat to Brazilian democracy — and a model for authoritarianism that leaders around the world will follow.”

But my main concern is helping to prevent the collapse of our own increasingly shaky, increasingly disrespected democracy.

Part of our job, as I see it, is to channel the dismay and alarm many people feel into logical, constructive action.

So when a centi-millionaire recently sent me an article declaring, in effect, a state of emergency — he sends me really good stuff like this once or twice a week — I replied:

Appalling – no?  Thanks for sending.

Ready to help?  I’ve attached a big project we just launched to recruit 1000 college juniors now, in 7 swing states, to learn to be organizers, register new voters on and around campus, and then throw themselves into the 2020 campaign when they graduate next year and we have a nominee.

Join me in funding this?

I’ve been asking his help for years.  I thought this project — Organizing Corps 2020 — might finally push him over the edge.

He replied:

Absolutely not.  I hate big, undifferentiated projects where my cash would go into the vast and bottomless mosh pit of the Democratic Party.  I am much more motivated to try to get rid of both Devin Nuñes and Kevin McCarthy – both Californians from the Central Valley. I LOATHE both of them.  They are so antithetical to what this state stands for. Devin Nuñes is a partisan apologist and enabler for Trump – so appalling his “midnight run to the White House.” And that pathetic sycophant, Kevin McCarthy – I cannot bear to see him standing behind the Buffoon-in-Chief emotionlessly endorsing this traitor President.  However, if cogent political analysis shows that either or both are unbeatable in 2020, I’m happy to look at other key congressional races to see where we can make a difference. I want to see the differentiated results of any “investments” I make in the political process.

So you can see he’s (a) real smart; (b) passionate; and (c) did I mention he’s a centi-millionaire?

I replied:

I share your view of Nunes and McCarthy – and so many others.

I don’t share your view that defeating them is a top priority.  Now that they’re in the minority, they’re largely irrelevant.

It would FEEL good to get rid of them – I am totally with you there — but isn’t it a million times more important to get back the White house and the Senate gavels?

But even if the main goal IS to defeat Nunes, et al  (or maybe put them in jail?), I also don’t share your view that the most effective way to beat them is by targeting their races.

Money to a specific congressional race is largely spent on advertising.

It makes the candidates feel good.  It makes their supporters feel good.

But advertising doesn’t inspire many people to register to vote . . . or to turn out to vote . . . or to switch tribes.

The leveraged thing to do, I think, is to invest in organizers, early, who will have time to recruit and train volunteers (free labor!), who will have time to register millions of new voters and organize what ultimately becomes a massive blue turn-out.

Because once one of our folks does get to the polls, he or she will likely vote for ALL our candidates.  Whether or not they saw any of their ads on TV.

Getting voters to the polls gives us their vote for president, senator, governor, congressperson, state assemblyman, state senator . . . all of it.

So the attached $10 million plan to recruit and train 1,000 college juniors to become organizers . . . ramping up registration and turn-out among young people and minorities in 7 key states . . . strikes me as really well thought out and vastly more leveraged and powerful than dumping $10 million more into a sea of TV ads in a couple of congressional races.

Not, of course, that it’s the only thing that needs doing.  In the context of a multi-billion-dollar election cycle, $10M is a drop in the bucket.  But I think THIS drop will be far more potent than most . . . and in close races in those 7 swing states could make the difference.  We lost the Electoral College last time, as you well know, by just 77,000 votes in three of those 7 states.

What am I missing?

No reply, as of yet.




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