Friday, March 3, 2006

Roots Project: NB and ME Campaign Status Report

Making the news: FGOI (a new acronym I just made up: For Good Or Ill), the Roots Project is on the Blogometer's radar. From yesterday's Blogometer:

Vichy Dems does its part to help out a number of prominent lefty bloggers' Roots Project (see 2/23 and 2/27 editions), which aims to "work with local bloggers in each state to mobilize local grassroots/netroots/'netboots' efforts"; currently the effort is focused on persuading the Senate Jud [sic] Cmte to hold hearings on the NSA wiretaps. Vichy Dems: "Today we're rolling out an ambitious plan: to turn out both national and in-state activists, for two states (Nebraska and Maine), on two fronts (calls to senators and letters to editors). ... The Senate Intelligence Committee meets next on March 7. We're hammering them between now and then, including at night and over the weekend."

From today's:

NETROOTS: The Snagel Strategy:
Crooks and Liars: "Our Kansas Roots effort last week was a real success. We managed to get lots of letters about the illegal NSA wiretaps published in local Kansas papers where the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Pat Roberts (R-KS) no doubt felt their heat, and now we're asking everyone to do the same thing" for cmte members Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE). Firedoglake and Vichy Dems provide multiple phone numbers for both Snowe and Hagel. One new blog devoted to the cause is New Nebraska Network.

The important thing about these posts, which have a large national audience on both sides of the aisle, is that Bill Beutler, who writes the Blogometer, correctly characterizes the Roots Project as essentially a local, "netboots" effort, building citizen advocacy networks from the ground up.

By the numbers: As far as I can tell from hit counter data, our current two-state project is yielding exactly the right kind of small but vocal grassroots activism. The Alito filibuster brought thousands of people from across the country to VichyDems for contact info and Game Plans. Compared to that, the current two-state (NB and ME) effort is yielding much smaller, but more targeted, numbers: a few hundred people around the country accessing the specific contact info, a few dozen of whom have ISP providers in or close to the target states and who therefore are probably taking local action. That may sound inconsequential, but do the math: Maine and Nebraska, together, are home to only 1 % of the U.S. population. If everyone in the country responded the way Mainers and Nebraskans are, those few dozen locals equate to 5,000 or more Americans all actually calling, faxing and emailing their OWN Senators to give personalized, passionate, non-scripted input on a specific issue. That's the kind of impact that, until now, only evangelical churches and similar large right-wing organizations have been able to generate, and it can have a big impact.

Some people have commented over at the indomitable and incisive Glenn Greewald's blog that they wish we would roll out all 50 states at once. The response to that is twofold: (1) We can't -- we're part-time bloggers with real jobs and families and achy carpal tunnels, and we can't organize everything all at once; and (2) We're picking our targets very carefully, for what my old high school football coach would have called "maximal impact." Maine and Nebraska may represent only 1% of the US population, but their senators are 100% central to the question of whether there are NSA investigations, or just a whitewash. One percent of the population IS the electorate for the swing votes on the NSA question, so we're focusing our current effort on that 1%, like a laserbeam. The Mainers and Nebraskans working on the Roots Project are our Hasty Team, our Special Forces, fighting a small, intense, local battle that may tip the scale in an entire war.

Bottom line: the Roots Project state efforts are making a difference -- might make THE difference in the NSA fight. (We'll know that one next Tuesday.) Until then, we still need every Nebraskan and Mainer, and every Nebraskan and Mainer that out-of-state readers can contact, to participate in the current Game Plan. And over the weekend, EVERYONE who cares about these issues should send emails and faxes and voicemail messages to Senators Snowe and Hagel, backing up the local efforts.

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