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February 27, 2008

This Changes Everything Some Limited Amount Of Things!

Brent Budowsky gets a little over-excited at Consortium News about Obama reaching one million donors:

The Obama gang of one million in March will grow to two million by August. It will put to bed the cynicism of those who speak of unity, idealism and participation with sarcasm, derision and negativity. It will bring honor to those who give their time, energy and money to create the true power for lasting change.

One million donors: This gives Democrats the resources to initiate the largest voter-registration project in history.

The year that began with historic turnout in state after state will end with a historic transformation of the electorate itself that will lift Democrats at all levels and inspire independents in all states...

This democracy summer between March and August could raise more than a hundred million dollars of new money, register a million new voters and finance an unprecedented advertising campaign on the Internet and liberal radio to promote a second wave of new donors, voters and volunteers to get out the vote.

2008 is similar to the Solidarity movement that transformed Poland, which was in part about Lech Walesa but equally about the Solidarity workers and their supporters.

But while I wouldn't compare this to the fall of communism, it has some significance.

First, having many small donors does make Obama slightly less beholden than most candidates to America's Most Rich. Also, if he does become president, and if he is willing to mobilize this base without controlling it completely (two big ifs), it would change a lot of political calculations. As I.F. Stone and others used to say, people vote every four years, but money votes every day. Keeping a million people involved every day and "voting" would be nothing to sneeze at.

Second, the fact this changes anything indicates how deeply rotten U.S. politics is. There are about two hundred million American adults. In a healthy system, mobilizing 0.5% of them would have barely any effect. But because our corporate overlords depend on such a narrow base of $$$ and power, and use it to enact such incredibly unpopular policies, merely having a teeny-tiny number of regular folk peep up is disruptive.

So imagine if it were possible to mobilize MORE than one out of every two hundred adults, to do more than just send $50 to someone they saw on Oprah. Let's dream big and imagine one out of every fifty people, or four million. I don't think it's crazy to believe that could be done, nor that reaching such an achievable goal would go a long way to creating Change We Can Believe In (Even Though English Teachers Would Tell You It Should Be "Change In Which We Can Believe").

BUT HOW? I'm writing something about this now, and can't reveal all my tantalizing secrets.

Posted at February 27, 2008 03:27 PM

As always I'm voting for Michael Meyer, BUT I wonder what change are we talking about? A Change in the direction for NOLA? A change for the VA? A change in IRAQ? A change in GITMO? How about the Military BUDGET, what will change there? Getting the internet to garner large volumes of cash from large groups of people, WHY YOU PEOPLE do that every day.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 27, 2008 06:28 PM

Having just finished The Shock Doctrine, I'm finding that comparisons to Lech Walesa are less than heartwarming. And, unfortunately, probably pretty accurate.

Posted by: ethan at February 27, 2008 06:54 PM

Kerry got 3 million donors, Bush about the same. That's 6 right there. And there are roughly 10M people who give over direct mail to political groups on both sides, without including email and internet funding which has probably expanded the number dramatically.

We're probably going to see 20M regular political donors in the next few years, simply because it's going to become easier and easier to ask and easier and easier to give.

Posted by: Matt Stoller at February 27, 2008 08:01 PM

We're probably going to see 20M regular political donors in the next few years, simply because it's going to become easier and easier to ask and easier and easier to give.

I gotta get me some of that. Er, I mean ... I too wish to be an agent of change.

Posted by: albany layman at February 27, 2008 08:46 PM

all thanks to the new microlobbying architecture developed in bangalore. with enough political bandwidth for millions or even billions of tiny steps, users can finally interact with their would-be representatives according to their own momentary microprinciples.

additionally, many observers expect full itunes support for microlobbying, including the ability to support partial bills or individual amendments, at one low price per shmooze.

in india itself, special interest groups generally have their own political parties. even the mobsters! and hundreds of millions of other people don't have computers. so this incredible technology is only for export.

Posted by: hapa at February 27, 2008 09:26 PM

Half the time I don't know what the hell you're trying to say, but that was brilliant. I expect "momentary microprinciples" to stick in my head for quite a while.

And for a blurgh comment, that's like immortality, or something.

Posted by: SteveB at February 27, 2008 10:58 PM

Need to check this more thoroughly, but the plan may be to direct the newly available resources to Obama, then kill him (or just let him be killed, most likely).

Posted by: me at February 28, 2008 07:36 AM

me: Republicans AREN'T that desperate to have McCain.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 28, 2008 03:31 PM

Concern about split-infinitives is a Romantic rule that 19th century British school teachers attempted to graft onto our ravenous Germanic language. It is an arbitrary standard that reveals more about the tradition of an individual's schooling then what is grammatically correct.

Posted by: BFSCR at February 28, 2008 07:47 PM

@host: what is your idea.

@steveb: guess! make it up! it's the same.

@BFSCR: yeah! to hell with the normans! we cleared this property of celts, we pick how to talk!

Posted by: hapa at February 28, 2008 10:31 PM