Democrats & Liberals Archives

Scaling

Another blog here calls the winners of the MoveOn Poll “unelectable” without providing any evidence.

Right now, based on the way we assume Presidential campaigns are run, Richard Bennett is right. I will go further. Based on the present rules and assumptions of politics, no Democrat is electable.

This has nothing to do with MoveOn being "ultra-left" or Bush being in the mainstream. In fact, the opposite is very much the case.

Except for the Iraq War, which in fact has barely started (despite Bush' claims it ended May 1), this Administration's policies are far from mainstream. They are radical. The deficit is out-of-control. Our social policies have become repressive. Our tax policy has become regressive. George W. Bush is the most radical right-wing politician we have ever seen in power in this country. He isn't a fascist -- he is an Americanist. But that means he is just what Huey Long warned us against.

In contrast, Howard Dean says we need to balance the budget, and so do other Democrats. Howard Dean says the court decided rightly in the case of Lawrence et al v. Texas This is wildly left only to someone who is wildly right.

Yet right now, under the present rules, no Democrat is electable.

This is because the political rule is that you raise as much money as you can and spend it on TV commercials. No Democrat can compete under those rules. No Democrat can compete when business lobbyists are deliberately intimidated and shaken-down for contributions by an Administration that has no shame about using, and abusing, its power.

The only way Democrats can compete -- the only way to restore democracy (which depends on a vibrant two-party competition) -- is to change the rules.

This is what makes Dean dangerous. It is precisely what his campaign is trying to do. This is what Kucinich is copying, and it's why he was able to keep Dean from winning the Moveon endorsement. (This is not to minimize their issue differences, which are real. But Kucinich' is now an Internet campaign, which got 76,000 votes.)

The question is, can any of this scale? I'm not just talking about scaling in the computer sense -- that challenge is hard enough. I'm talking about scaling in the personal sense.

Combined, Dean and Kucinich drew about 200,000 people to do the same thing on the same day. It was impressive for this early in the campaign. But can they get 2 million to do the same thing on the same day, 20 million, 100 million?

Can they do this, mainly using the Internet, while those who might join them are bombarded day-and-night by TV advertisements from the other side?

That is the question, and the challenge, before Democrats today. And their success could truly restore democracy. Because if a Democrat can win, using mainly the Internet, they will spend one-tenth what their TV-tied opponent does. And if that can happen, then campaign finance reform becomes unnecessary, a dead letter. It doesn't matter.

On the other hand, if a radical, far-right Administration can crush the Democratic Party, crush them with advertising, with a vast, intensive media campaign, crush them despite a collapsing economy and an unwinnable war -- then where lies democracy -- with a small "d"?

This Internet campaigning I'm doing right now means everything. It means more than the fate of Howard Dean or Dennis Kucinich or any other politician.

These Internet campaigns are an attempt to do nothing less than change the rules of the political game. And until those rules change, democracy (small d) does not exist in the United States of America. Not because Bush is radical or evil, but because he has twisted the present system so that no Democrat can compete within it, requiring that a new system be created.

Will you help create that system, an interactive politics in which you are really heard, where you really participate, and you are not merely part of the audience? Or are you going to watch TV instead?

Posted by Danablankenhorn at June 28, 2003 3:56 PM