Leaving Las Vegas
As the YearlyKos participants make their way home from Las Vegas, flush with attention from the same media types we have been trashing for months and the confidence that the center-left blogosphere can make a difference in remaking the Democratic Party, perhaps a critical opportunity was missed a scant five months before the most important election this party has seen in recent years. Make no mistake, Jerome and Kos took their well-deserved bows this weekend for getting the center-left blogosphere to the point of gaining some respect from both the mainstream media and the Beltway Democrats. And they graciously allowed other bloggers to claim the spotlight and portray themselves as relevant to the national debate, and as sources of information just as credible as the mainstream media we all poke at every day.
But Vegas victory laps less than six months before the midterms, or high energy efforts to bag Joe Lieberman as the first center-left blog hunting trophy frankly are diversions from what should have been the priority all these months: getting all the parts to work together in taking back the House and Senate this November. We are only five months away from Election Day, yet no significant work has been done to identify how the DSCC, DCCC, the blogs, Move-On, other fundraising operations, the unions, and the center-left think tanks will coordinate their activities and responsibilities to win House and Senate seats this fall. You can bet the GOP has already settled on a game plan for who will do what, and how. But the Democrats have yet to settle on what 20-25 races are the high priority targets; train the candidates and their staffs on how to deal with GOP campaign tactics and messaging; and work out how the blogs and the fundraising outfits can focus attention, manpower, and cash into those races. At a time when the national committees have done a great job raising money, precious little seems to have been done to date on how to use that money effectively in each high-priority district and Senate race. And again, we now have less than five months.
This is not the fault of the blogosphere, except to the extent that we have focused our energies on complaining about the Beltway for ignoring us; bashing the media, DINOs, and rightwing blogs and pundits; rather than forcing the DCCC and DSCC to sit down with us and develop the plan of battle for this fall. It hasn’t been for a lack of trying. In several private emails, I suggested to larger bloggers that the center-left blogs and Move-on partner on an effort to raise $10 million for the top 20 Democratic House pick-up opportunities this fall, with a goal of successfully getting 12 of those 20 elected. I also suggested exactly a year ago that a campaign planning conference be put together for the center-left blogs, the national committees, and the campaign staffs to learn how to defeat the GOP in 2006 and set a plan for victory. Being a C-list blog, my call was ignored by the A-list blogs even after Atrios said someone should just do it, and when I pressed the matter, I was told that something like this was in development already and that I should wait for that. That event apparently turned out to be YearlyKos, but it remains to be seen if such coordination and campaign education comes out of Vegas. I can only hope that the attention and energy that this weekend generated yields a willingness by the DCCC and DSCC to reach out to the blogs and fundraisers to make up for lost time and get to work.
The surest way for the center-left blogosphere to be treated seriously by both the Beltway Democrats and the mainstream media is to show itself as a force towards a Democratic victory this November. We need to trade upon the comments of support from Harry Reid at Vegas and get the DSCC and DCCC to open the door to us. The center-left has the opportunity to leapfrog decades of costly GOP campaign finance, operations, and message management work if it can convince the national committees that we can work with them and the fundraising outfits to deliver victory in November through effective messaging, tying issues to values, and providing voters a real choice and reason to vote.