Friday, February 17, 2006

"Never Doubt That a Small Group of Thoughtful, Committed Citizens Can Change the World"

In a comment to a post below, ctpatriot wrote:

I am so sick and tired of calling the Dems in congress. I truly don't believe that, other than a select few, the Senate Democrats give a crap about anything other than retaining their cushy jobs. I swore after the Alito debacle that I wasn't going to make another call to congress. I violated that today only to experience the same kind of BS from Rockefeller's office - the same Rockefeller that voted FOR cloture on Alito. Fuck em. I'll put my time into something that can hopefully make a difference - helping Ned Lamont take Joe Lieberman's seat (

I'm all for helping Ned Lamont. In fact, I'm disappointed that more folks aren't donating to our selected candidates through the ActBlue link to the right: we need to put our money where our mouths are. Ciro Rodriguez' primary is coming up in less than a month and he still needs money. Lamont's just gettings started. There are other Resistance Fighters out there in close races against Vichys, and we need to get involved personally and financially to help them out.

But I also want to reiterate something I said below:

[P]art of our goal is to teach our representatives that the grassroots are waking up, paying attention and getting mad. That means telling them what we want BEFORE they take action, then telling them how we feel about it AFTER they act.

It's frustrating that sometimes the best we can do is make our voices heard. But that's a hell of a lot better -- a lot more active, a lot more involved, a lot more influential -- than merely casting votes every two years.

Our goal here is nothing less than helping build a new kind of movement that capitalizes on the Internet and other communications technologies that no citizens, in the history of the world, have ever had before. If the Dean campaign and MoveOn used the Internet to build "grassroots organizations," then we can use it to empower the grassroots themselves. We can bring a new thing into the world: Internet-driven, rapid-response, politically nuanced, direct grassroots democracy. I'm convinced that can be powerful. The Alito phone calls certainly were: this site was FIVE DAYS OLD on that Monday, but received 8,500 hits by the time that day was over and generated tens of thousands of phone calls, and we DID sway some senators' votes. Did we win that particular battle? No. Did we start waking some senators up? Absolutely. Dianne Feinstein, one of only two Senators from the most populous state in the Union, has stopped careening right and instead is looking warily to her left. Why? Not Cindy Sheehan, but people like us. Manning the phones. Making her nervous.

MoveOn petitions, while important, can still be dismissed as the work of "special interest groups." But a few thousand well-educated, politically sophisticated voters who call their Senators and Congresspeople DIRECTLY, both in Washington and at home -- done again and again and again and in ever-increasing numbers -- can't be dismissed as "a few Kossacks" or "some liberal group." It's the direct voice of the voters, and eventually the politicians will have to wake up and pay us heed. It's the only thing, short of insurrection, that's ever worked; and with modern technology, we can do it more quickly, more specifically, and more obtrusively than any citizens, anywhere, anytime, ever have.

So on this site we talk, on unremarkable days, about what's happening. And then, when key events are about to occur, I issue "Game Plans" and contact information, and ask you to mobilize and make phone calls and send emails and faxes and pester the crap out of our public servants. That's not a passing fancy; it's a concrete, living, recurring plan of action.

I'm no kid pontificating from his parents' basement. I've been a litigator and mediator for nearly 20 years. I've defended defense contractors against FBI investigations, successfully prosecuted criminals, worked on everything from helping small businesspeople stay afloat to defending McDonnell Douglas in aircrashes that killed dozens of people. I've written legislation and seen it through enactment. As a search and rescue volunteer, I've put people into body bags and hauled them out of the wilderness. I understand the grown-up world and know what hardball is.

And I believe, I truly do believe, that thousands of incessant hammer taps on the Establishment, at the fracture points, over and over, can change the world, starting with swing Democrats and moderate Republicans, then the whole parties, then the government, then the nation, and on from there.

So I hope you don't get discouraged and stop making phone calls. I hope, instead, that you sign up for VichyDems email updates over on the right sidebar and keep coming back here, or anywhere you find helps you do this work, and keep making those annoying, incessant, inexorable little hammer taps until we finally succeed. To paraphrase Dwight D. Eisenhower (no sappy idealist): When the people want something badly enough, "one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it." And as Margaret Mead said, "never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

SUPPLEMENT, 11:17 P.T.: And if I haven't gotten your blood flowing again, maybe Glenn can. Great minds thinking alike and all that!


Christopher said...

Lamont is a necessary use of energy to replace DINO Joementum.

Who else is running against him?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if there's anyone besides Lamont; I do know there's nobody relevant besides Lamont. He's got his 1,000 CT volunteers now, and is fundraising half a million (to add to the $1 mill or so he personally is going to spend) for his launch. Even if he is a millionnaire, he's worth donating to; check out the ActBlue link on the VichyDems front page right sidebar.

Also, Atrios had a post up earlier today about Lamont, I think -- he's polling 23% and hasn't even announced yet.

The Film Diva said...


I totally agree with your point of view, and I would like to point out that letters to local papers written to sitting politicians, candidates, and city and state party officials also put local feet to the fire. People who sit on local DNC and GOP organizing committees, and local reps are far more accountable for their party's actions because they have to deal with the local citzenry and the stakes are immediate and dire for them if they do not answer questions. Also, small local media outlets (local tv news teams, and print reporters as well as alternative papers) have a much more vested interest in covering locally generated stories then bigger outlets. I agree with the hammer taps at fracture points, I think it's important to find those local fracture points as well.

ina said...

OT (it will get lost if I try to respond at Atrios' place)

I know that Thers is Mary's partner. I addressed my babyblogging to you two 'cause she had posted her pictures and you commented on them. So I thought you two might be interested in seeing mine...

Via said...

Just came from Glenn's place, and you are right, great minds DO think alike! I agree completely with you, the hammer taps will work, IF we keep applying them. I wish you were DNC chair. Not to knock Dean, but I don't see him organizing the internet roots like you are doing, and I believe that will be critical in affecting change. In all seriousness, have you spoken with him? Or sent him a copy of this post?

Christopher said...

Joementum enjoys the $$$ support of dozens of wealthy Republican lobbyists and other conservatives.

Lamont deserves every dollar of support we can offer.

Pontificating Weasel said...

By all means, go after Joe Lieberman tooth and tong. Given your track record you will assure his victory. It is a no lose situation. If you are somehow successful in sliming this great American your candidate from the planet Nutball will assure that in the general election another Rebublican is elected to the senate in Sen. Lieberman's place. Also, if you don't mind, I would love to see you on the opposite side of another important issue. Could you please organize a gas toots, uh, I mean grass roots effort to support the take over of our most important port facilities by the United Arab Emirates. I am a little concerned about that one.

CTPatriot said...

To PW: I always love the advice that's posted by trolls hoping to discourage people from taking actions that just might help to stop the GOP coup against our democracy. Joe Lieberman is nothing close to resembling a great American. He is a duplicitous weasel that will go down in history as one of the biggest enablers of Bush's destruction of America that exists in the Democratic party.

Those of us that care about this democracy will do everything possible to make your nightmare come true - sending Joementum to the bench in favor of a true Democrat. Should he lose in the general election to a Republican, which I doubt, barring another election theft, there will be little lost. Why? Because the guy we got now is certainly no Democrat.

CTPatriot said...

Seeing as how I am guilty of the post that led to this thread, I may as well add my 2 cents now that I've had a night to think about things.

First of all, I hope that my own feelings of discouragement will not slow down the rest of you. The calls to congress are, indeed, important and I very much appreciate the way in which this site and others are rallying the troops.

For me personally, I need to contribute to the cause in some other way right now. I've been calling, writing and faxing congress for most of the last 5 years. Yes, we did finally get some of the Dems to feel the heat and change their stance. And yes, we sure did flush out the vichy dems. The actions we took were a big success in that regard. But they failed to keep Alito off the bench. And that, my friends, may be "game over" for this republic.

The PATRIOT Act was just renewed in the Senate with a 97-3 vote. The message that we sent certainly didn't have much of a lasting impact.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I feel that the failure of the Democratic party runs so deep at this time, that it cannot be overridden by phone calls and faxes. The vichy dems need to get the message that their jobs are no longer safe. Sending Joementum and others of his ilk into retirement seems like the only way to deliver that message clearly enough that it will be understood and acted upon.

I also question whether the Democratic party will ever stand up to Bush with Harry Reid at the helm.

Please, the rest of you keep calling and faxing, or doing whatever you can to move us forward. I hope you all can prove me wrong.

When it gets to the point that I am cussing out staffers and slamming the phone down in disgust (as I did to Chafee's aid during the Alito calls), and I sit around here with such unrelenting anger (as I felt when I started making my calls today) that I want to kick the walls in, for my own sanity, I need to find some other outlet for what little energy I have.