A note from DemocracyFest:
I wanted to post these comments here because I found out about DemocracyFest in April on truthandhope.org
And I got to gush at Eugene on Saturday of the Democracyfest conference! When things felt bad at the end of January for the Dean campaign, truthandhope.org really made me realize there are other ways we could make a difference.I got to thank Howard Dean on Sunday.
I am not sure he knows exactly what I was thanking him for, although I tried to explain it as best I could in the limited amount of time I had. I don't know if he realizes how much it meant to me to thank him and tell him a little bit about why I wanted to thank him, but here is the story.
This weekend was Democracyfest. When I first heard about the conference my reaction was "wow - that's my birthday weekend! I can get to see Howard Dean on my birthday." It promised to be a chance to met with other people who had worked on the Dean campaign, but also to met with other progressive activists and get a chance to learn and improve skills to keep the progressive movement in the democratic party rolling ahead.
So I signed up for the conference and volunteered to do some helping out too. Through various trials and tribulations, I managed to make it to the conference. The training sessions - largely done by Latinos for America - were excellent. The socializing during the weekend was wonderful.
When Sunday came, I had very little voice (I've been struggling with a sinus infection for over two weeks and I keep getting laryngitis). I was a little bummed on Sunday because some things I had hoped would happen didn't, we weren't able to get together with friends we hoped to see, and well, sometimes birthdays can be a little overwhelming (especially being away from family and most of my friends.)
All I knew is that I wanted to get my picture with Howard Dean as my birthday present. As the time before Howard Dean's speech got closer, the chances of getting to see him seemed to be fading. If I wanted to physically see him speak, I would have to stand for a long period of time (very difficult for me, due to arthritis and fibromyalgia). It was hot. There was a large level of disorganization on that day, which was throwing a sense of chaos into the air. But Howard Dean did arrive and spoke on-time.
The speech was great. It motivated us to work to continue to support progressive candidates for all positions: school board, state legislature, at all levels of our local and state governments. As always it was a reminder that we have the power to enact change.
There had been (at some point) a plan for a place where Howard Dean could sit and sign autographs, etc. But as you can image for a conference which was initially titled "DeanFest" Howard Dean was mobbed the second he stopped speaking.
I went around to were I thought the Governor would be signing autographs. But no, he was there in the crowd (by the way, kudos to Howard for not being overwhelmed and being so nice to so many people - I can not image what it is like to be swamped like that.) I left the crowded tent feeling unhappy and unwell.
My husband Jim encouraged me to go back and make my way towards the throng. The only way to get to Gov. Dean was to go through the sound system, which wasn't possible. But the crowd was pushing him in that direction. When the governor finally got close enough I yelled (in my horrible, laryngitis-sounding voice) "it's my birthday - can I get a picture with you?!"
The governor noticed, but he was signing many books and pieces of paper that people put in front of him. One person kept getting Howard to sign more and more things (if those items show up on E-bay I am going to be very annoyed.) Howard Dean got a little closer and so I barked again "it's my birthday - can I get a picture?"He said something like of course, and came close enough to where I was (with a bit of table and sound system between us) and posed for a picture with me. I got the picture taken (it's not developed yet!) I hope it comes out.While I had the governor there and his attention for several seconds I told him I was a volunteer in New Hampshire and that I wanted to thank him: I can sincerely say the Dean campaign really changed my life. I have gotten involved in politics in ways I never did before.
Governor Dean said thanks. He shook my hand good-bye and turned away (please understand this was all happening very fast).I asked him to wait just a moment. It was then that I felt that time slowed down.
I spontaneously pulled off the Pentagon September 11th pin that I wore on my badge. It is a nice pin: not over the top, not hurrah we are great - just a reminder. Of a friend. Of others who were killed there and in New York and Pennsylvania. Of the fear of trying to track down friends and family here in DC and in NYC on that day. Of what has happened since.I wear this pin on my purse everyday and when I attend political or other events where it is appropriate I wear the pin so it is visible.Without planning it, I pulled the pin off my badge. "I want to give this to you" I squeaked in my laryngitis voice.
The governor turned around. I pushed the pin in his direction and he put out his hand. Knowing that I would have several seconds I tried to explain."I wear this pin to remember our friend, David Charlebois. He was the co-pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon. David was gay and was involved with the gay pilots union. It really bothers me that President Bush uses the death of a person, a gay person to justify the war in Iraq, even though according to Bush, someone like David is marginalized in our country. Someone like David does not have the same legal rights as everyone else."
I thanked Howard Dean for speaking out against the war. Governor Dean asked me again which flight our friend was on and I told him. He looked at the pin and put it in his shirt pocket, and said he'd remember.The Governor really listened to what I had to say.
He thanked me - he then gave me a huggy handshake [we couldn't really hug with a table between us] and then he turned around because he need to deal with the 300 other people who also really wanted to see him. But I did get to tell him thanks. But I don't know if he understood the full reason why I said that more than once. So I will try to explain it now.An open thank you to Howard Dean.Thank you for speaking out against the war in Iraq. You spoke out against it early and continue to talk about it. Only a few other people in positions of authority initially spoke out against the war.
If I should die in a terrorist attack, I don't want my death (nor the death of anyone else) used for political gain or for an unjust, uncalled for war, such as the one in Iraq. Yet the deaths of nearly 3,000 people have been used to justify invading another country, causing the deaths of over 900 U.S. service members [here are their names: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/iraq/forces/casualties/
]; and the deaths of unknown number of Iraqis [please see these two sites for reasonable research on the numbers: http://civilians.info/iraq/
] Howard Dean was right when he said that we are not any safer once Saddam Hussein was captured.
Now more people in positions of power are saying the same thing.The second big thank you to Howard Dean is for getting me off my butt and really doing something. We had always done small bits for campaigns before (my husband Jim more than I); distributing flyers, putting up signs, attending rallies, handing out sample ballots on election day, making some minor financial contributions. But I was never really a part of a campaign. And without becoming a paid staff person on a campaign I didn't feel there was much I could do.
But I did many things with the Dean campaign. Without having to give up my regular job, I was still fully involved. I went up to New Hampshire as a volunteer for a week and a half before their primary! And after the Virginia primary came and went in February, I am still involved in the political process. At the national level, at the state level, at the county level, at the precinct level.
For the first time since I began voting at the age of 18, I attended my state democratic convention. I am making a difference in the political process. Howard Dean made it not just about the candidate, but about the progressive movement. About working within the Democratic party, energizing it to fight the battles at the local, state, and national levels that make a real difference in people's lives.And it is not just about talking - it is about doing. It is about getting involved at whatever level I can.
To use the quote that Howard Dean frequently tells Democracy for America supporters "You have the power!" I want my country back. And I am willing to work for it. So thank you Howard. Happy Birthday to me indeed. :-)Terilee
Here is a great article from The Nation which speaks about the weakness' within the GOP & how they could be targeted in this election not only to help Kerry win the presidency, but also to inspire long term reform. The article states:
While attempts to harness "Anybody but Bush" psychologies and to attract voters without saying much that is controversial might win Kerry a narrow victory, this strategy would be unlikely to create a framework for successful four- or eight-year governance. Deconstructing the Republican coalition is a better long-term bet, and could be done. The result, however, might be to uncage serious progressive reform.
It is worth reading the article in it's entirety here:
I pulled this quote from the July 7 Sun-Sentinel in South Florida: The area is home to the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee and many other deep-pocketed GOP donors.Yet, as the Nov. 2 election approaches, Southwest Florida also appears to be a growing ground for born-again Democrats and party converts."I voted for Bush the last time, but I have mixed emotions right now," Greg Davenport said. "A lot of people vote their pocketbook, but the war troubles me because there doesn't seem to be a clear exit strategy."
This reminded me of a time recently when I was invited to speak at a meetup in San Diego. While talking about the new strategy for TruthandHope, and the particulars of speaking the proper language to disgruntled Republicans some in the audience were appalled that approaching the Iraq war from the standpoint of it's being built on lies would not sell to the average conservative. However, I pointed out that the same subject (Iraq War) was still a selling point in the battle to strip GOP support from Bush, if approached from the point of view that we clearly had no exit strategy or plan for after the taking of Baghdad, something that goes to the core of conservative belief. Gulf War I, with it's policy of overwhelming force & vast coalition was the ultimate strategical victory in their eyes, but although many conservatives support the ousting of Saddam Hussein, the clear lack of exit strategy is unforgivable.
This is an example of speaking the proper language to exploit the real weakness we have today in the GOP and their ability to close ranks & win elections with what is typically a minority of registered supporters. Myself & the creative team are made up of former Republicans who can speak this language, hit the hot buttons & shave some support from the Bush re-election campaign. Remember each Bush supporter that votes Kerry is two votes, but even if they are only encouraged to vote Libertarian, Constitution or Conservative party, for they cannot come to the other side completely is still a win & still counts against Bush's expected totals, as well as offsetting the 'Nader Factor' which will be a reality come November.
Please help us get this campaign off the ground by contributing at: www.truthandhope.org
The DemocracyFest is coming up soon, July 24-25 in Great Barrington, MA. Purchase your tickets straight away at www.myvoteismyvoice.com
. The cost is currently $35 for the entire event, but will be raised to $50 on July 19, so this is the last day to buy tickets at the advance price. I look forward to meeting you there!
Thank you for all that you do,
If you haven't visited it lately our website www.truthandhope.org has been changed to a more concise format highlighting our new campaign. By no means is this the full revision we are looking forward to producing, but it removes the outdated material & briefly covers the pertinent aspects of our new focus & should be a simpler navigation for those seeking that information and/or to contribute or join the group. One bug I have detected is that when I click on the blog link it often pulls up the unavailable page, but upon refreshing the blog appears. If anyone has a clue as to why that is, I would love to hear it!
A quick story: I just returned from the Glastonbury Festival in England & there are a couple things made an impression on me. First was the vast amount of people wearing shirts with messages such as "Change America" or "Not with my money" (a reference to using tax dollars to fund wars based on lies) and a very popular "F*CK B*SH" shirt with a picture of our favorite President on it. I have a photo of a nine year old boy wearing the "F*CK B*SH" shirt & his father standing proudly by, happy that I would want the photo & hoping I would share it with other Americans. along with a multitude of banners reflecting the same messages. I engaged quite a few people with these shirts and others in conversations & none of them were from the US. It occurred to me that our President was a very honest person when he stated that he is a 'uniter' and not a divider. In fact, I was impressed at how tightly he has united a great portion of the world with his actions. Unfortunately, I was also clearly reminded of Governor Dean's often used lines of dialogue where he described an America that was once looked up to in the world, a world where you would be hard pressed to find anyone who looked up to America anymore.
The people I spoke to all had a similar look, as they described their fears & asked me as if I had the only vote if we were making a change in November. It was inconceivable that the election should be close at all, as they see so clearly the frightening force for conflict our nation is becoming under President Bush. Having themselves grown up admiring America, many expressed a sure conviction that we must be about to oust Bush in a landslide because they could not believe that Americans would truly support such a President. Their fear & helplessness that we would not was palpable. There is a strong support of American music and style among the youth of England, ironic to me as I grew up listening to English music & appreciating their style. It is a flag waving culture (literally) and across the expanses of tents set up for the event which was attended by 180,000 people there were a great deal of flags set up, most English or British, but I also noticed Italian, German, Canadian, South African, Australian, etc. along with football clubs and others. Although I never had the slightest bit of animosity directed at me during the event or my conversations, and there were no incidents that I was aware of, despite the drinking & other activities going on all through the nights, it did occur to me that if I would have posted an American flag outside my tent, it would be reasonable to expect it may well have been vandalized due to the emotions running so high & inspired by our President.
It's not just a matter of 'I want my country back.' I want our place in the world back. I want to turn away from the unilateral preemptive policies that are dividing us from our friends around the world. Friends who so desperately want to welcome us back into the world community as a partner, not a bully. I do not want to have to pause to consider before declaring my nationality while abroad. This trip which was to be a vacation, a moment to take my mind away from these issues, has served to reinforce the powerful reasons why this fight is so important.
Something to consider: it was expressed repeatedly to me that miracles are not expected from John Kerry, as our next President, but just sending a message to the world that Americans do not support a President like Bush, that we are not seeking to build an empire to bully our friends into submission and that we will make a change from such a path at the first opportunity would be in and of itself a powerful symbol and message to those around the world who hold fear in their hearts where once there was admiration.
That said, I hope you can help us to do our part to engage the soft Republicans in this matter. If there was any doubt that this group is in play for the Bush reelection effort, the highlighting of John McCain that is beginning shows they are well aware of this vulnerability. Please help us reach our goal of $20,000 to pay for producing the new media we have scripted for this effort, revamp the website in it's entirety (and far more dynamically to appeal to our target audience) and a test market of the new spots once produced at www.truthandhope.org. The contribution tab is now clearly placed in the upper right of each page.
Lastly, the DemocracyFest (formerly DeanFest) of which we are a lead sponsor & will have a special area (I hope to meet many of you there!) has secured it's location in Great Barrington, MA for July 24-25. They need help to raise funds for their necessary deposits, but more urgently to air some radio advertising of a spot being cut this week. Please visit http://www.myvoteismyvoice.com/html/deanfest_2004.html for more information on the event, to sign up for workshops being held there and to contribute to their effort. This is a wonderful opportunity for advertising of our organization, as well as DFA itself just before the convention.
I promise one day I'll send out an email that is only a few sentences...maybe if I emailed more often instead of saving up!
Thank you for all that you do,
Greetings from Joanie Benoit
Greetings to all Truth and Hope members!
I am Joan Benoit, and I’m leading a group of people working with Eugene on the next Truth and Hope media project: Swing State Radio. The goal is to, as Howard Dean says, get George Bush a one-way ticket back to Crawford Texas.
Those of you who jumped on board with the first of our Dean ads may remember me from the Blog for America boards, begging for money the very first time, three days before the WA caucuses. We had ads produced and running within 36 hours of the original idea, thanks to your and Eugene’s willingness to jump in with both feet. We all learned a lot about each other with that effort, and we all learned that the grassroots CAN make a difference. Although Truth and Hope made Dean’s Vermont victory possible, I often wonder what would have happened if we had begun our efforts earlier.
Well, we will have no regrets come November, because we are gearing up NOW to take on George Bush.
Here are the details of the project to date.
Radio Ads in Swing States….
Why radio? It’s cost effective and surgical. Different stations appeal to different demographics, and the data telling us who listens to which stations, and when, are readily available. We can select a target and hit it efficiently. We can deliver different messages to different demographic groups in the same market.
Radio is cost-effective. In some markets you can buy 60 seconds of air time for under $200. Forward buys and full-schedule buys bring the costs down further.
Not all Republicans, but fiscal conservatives who are not overly swayed by religious issues. Why Republicans?
First, current ad efforts from the other anti-Bush 527s and PACs appear to be targeting swing voters, not Bush’s base. Targeting Republicans avoids duplication of efforts.
Secondly, this sub-group of Republicans is ripe for our message. News stories in the media have focused lately on Bush’s trouble with parts of his base. This is not surprising: Bush is a bad Republican.
Bush’s deficits, his wasteful and unnecessary nation-building experiment in Iraq, the threats to privacy posed by the Patriot Act and the costly Medicare Bill bait-and-switch are all among issues that are causing some long-time Republicans to balk.
With humorous, engaging ads.
Most of us are tired of the shrill, negative ads saturating the media. We believe that the best approach is to show respect for the values of these fiscal conservatives, and help them see that voting for Bush is not consistent with those values.
What we need
We need funds to produce the first ads. Once the ads are produced, we will ask you all to pass the word and we will approach maxed-out Kerry donors for funds.
We need to test the ads in the markets in which we will advertise. We cannot afford to air ads that are ineffective. We also need a professional website redesign. The ads will direct people to the site and we need to be sure we have plenty of content there that reinforces the message. Eugene and I have put pencil to paper and we think that $20,000 will accomplish all three goals.
We are soliciting support from groups that have voter attitude databases and we have a pollster helping us make the decision on where the ads can do the most good.
We have a team of accomplished advertising professionals working with us on strategy and copy. At this point, it is an all-volunteer effort.
We hope we can count on your support as we work to stop the damage George Bush and his cronies are doing to America and the world. It has never been more important to act.
Please help us out by clicking on the "General Fund Challenge" located to the right!
Thank you all!
New Update from Eugene Hedlund
Eugene just sent out an email update for those who may not have seen it yet:
It has been a while and I hope your energy has fared better through the past weeks than mine. I did not anticipate such a drop off from when Gov. Dean endorsed Senator Kerry, but alas lethargy set in, as well as my taking the opportunity to catch up on business and personal issues which had been neglected, during our run. I had the initial thought of quickly creating and airing anti-Bush media, but such a multitude hit the airwaves from various large and well established groups that it seemed a waste to throw more money into the same pot, without a new or different approach. Admittedly at times I was content to accept it as a great and inspirational period in my life, and let it go at that returning to 'business as usual.' Mistakes that were made along the way were clearer in hindsight, as the desire to leap into the fray took hold with state votes coming up so quickly that we jumped in to the races without the necessary infrastructure, support teams and elements being established. Through these last few weeks however the emptiness or hole for lack of better term that has developed without the aspects of TruthandHope.Org in my daily life has also becomes apparent. Day to day business with the profit motive just does not compare in fulfillment, albeit a necessary evil. Because of this the desire to carry on in some sense was strong, but the different approach and official support were still necessary. These aspects have come together.
I have been in continual contact with Joani Benoit and we have developed an approach that is not being used at this time, and may not be feasible for most groups. Most importantly, she and others have agreed to be on the Board of Directors for TruthandHope.Org, should this get off the ground. I am tempted to introduce the board and tam members now, but the email would become overly long, and may as it is. The target audience of the campaign we would like to create is one that you are probably aware exists, but the how of how to approach them effectively would not be ascertainable to most organizations. That group being the multitude of disenchanted and disillusioned Republicans.
I could post many op-ed links, statements of officials such as Senators McCain and Lugar along with others which demonstrate the growing rift within the GOP, however you probably know individuals who are upset with the Bush administration on various points, but are not keen on voting for Kerry, and over the next few months if left to their own devices will most likely vote to re-elect out of habit. On the left dissent comes easier than the right. We would like to embark on a campaign to create a safe place for discussion and open dialogue with disaffected Republicans, who do not feel the current administration is upholding their core beliefs. Beliefs such as smaller government which are cast aside in favor of new ineffective programs such as the prescription drugs bill and Patriot Act. Belief in supporting our military and learning lessons from the past such as Vietnam, which are ignored as this administration leapt to war without a clear exit strategy. Beliefs in a government that upholds the separation of church and state. The far right would make it seem as though all Republicans are religious ideologues through their control of policy, but the truth is that most Republicans are more moderate and either disagree with many social and environmental policies currently being pushed through, or at the very least support the belief that the federal government should not be making policy based on religious ideals, a founding principle of our country. Keep in mind that many gun owning, freedom loving constitutionalists are considerably right wing in their ideology, and if they supported either major party it would be the GOP, however this administration is not upholding their beliefs in any sense either.
Ron Reagan Jr subtly expressed the concerns of many in his fathers eulogy when he stated: "Dad was also a deeply, unabashedly religious man. But he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians, wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage. True, after he was shot and nearly killed early in his presidency, he came to believe that God had spared him in order that he might do good. But he accepted that as a responsibility, not a mandate. And there is a profound difference."
Joani and I are both former Republicans. My conversion was far more recent, but the point is that we can create media and speak the language that will not come across as lecturing or demonizing. When such things are approached from the wrong angle defenses rise and the desired effect is not achieved, but rather the opposite. The conservative community does not promote individualism, but rather a strict loyalty. However these are individuals with genuine concerns. These people need to understand there are choices other than rubber stamping an administration that does not govern as they would wish, a party that has gone to extremes, while it's majority are moderate. They need to know that there are many others just like them with the same concerns.
My passion is to push for a country where the GOP is more moderate, and the Democratic party more progressive. In a country of 300 million we should never again be faced with a choice between a candidate that fails to inspire, and one who is stripping the country of liberties and it can be said that if re-elected would take us on a road to ruin, thus the opposition party is galvanized behind whomever their nominee may be. In this election which is of such great import a few percentage points shaved from Bush's totals could have profound effect, especially considering that Nader will be shaving some from Kerry's. In a long term sense, I submit that not only is every Republican we can get to vote for Kerry effectively 2 votes, or each that abstains, votes Nader, a write in or 'none of the above' is still a vote for Kerry in a sense as it is detracted from Bush's expected totals, but that if we can encourage GOP voters to show an open mind and vote the other party for the good of the country, or at least not vote to re-elect it becomes easier the next time to convince them to vote with us again with good results, and ultimately I believe that is best for the country to both promote a movement of moderates within the GOP and also to promote free thinking. I believe that it is short sighted to expect that one party is always right, the other always wrong or that one should expect to agree point for point with their parties elected officials, and always vote based on (R) or (D). I believe that human beings are more complex than this, and we are all better off the more citizens that can be encouraged to conscientiously weigh each candidate, rather than simply rubber stamping elephants and donkeys.
We are also working in support of a group called 'Comadres for Political Progress' which will reach out to the Latina community, and is based here in Southern California. By co-branding we enjoy mutual benefits, as we have common cause. This group intends to reach out to Latina communities in swing states, and leverage the advantage we have in California, as it is not 'in play' with the Latina community by sending supporters to states such as Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada to galvanize support for progressives and the Democratic Party. This campaign is being created by TruthandHope.Org board members with backgrounds as activists within the Latina and other minority communities, and is headed by Irma Flores. We will follow with more information about this project as it develops.
So, there is the approach, now the nuts and bolts: Behind the scenes we have been meeting or conversing with various groups for support, and although the interest has been high the process is slow. I have been remiss in requesting funds, but it is clear that if we had the developmental aspects finished, coupled with our past media and track record the support would come through quicker. We have a target goal of $20,000. These funds are to pay the necessary attorney/accountant's fees which have never subsided. Additionally, these funds will allow us to hire and retain professional web designers to create the sites needed to support these campaigns, and finally to create the initial media spots. We have scripted media for our target audience ready for production, and have an expectation of support from a large national organization with polling data to most effectively target our desired audience & demographic.
There are future plans to expand our groups base not only through the web, but also direct mail campaigns utilizing the donor lists from both contributors to Democratic candidates whose ideals we share, but also those who supported more moderate Republicans candidates, for example John McCain supporters in 2000, who make up a large block of the disaffected Republicans. Your help now will allow us to create the foundation needed to solicit this support, as well as that from other groups and fundraisers. Part of the reorganization of TruthandHope.Org is the reintroduction of the 'non-federal' account, or what is typically know as a 527 (non-PAC) which does allow for unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations or labor groups, thus allowing us to with this foundation of new web sites and completed media solicit the monies needed and available for the creation of this campaign for change.
If you can help us out please do so by clicking on the 'general fund challenge' on the right column. I also look forward to hearing your feedback and ideas!
Thank you again for the wonderful support and encouragement in the past,
PS - We do still have a number of the DVD's with our previous radio and the Vermont television spot available.
By Way of Self-Promotion
I am posting a series of thought-pieces in the Daily Kos diary section
(and then reposted on my mostly dormant blog begemot
) on topics that I consider to be "taboo" in American political discourse. That is, these are things that are policies or issues that do not receive the attention they deserve because they are either politically difficult or have been shoved outside the parameters of debate. My intention in the series is to revisit them and to consider how they might be brought back into the discourse.
You can read the introduction to this series here
And the first entry on the elimination of agricultural subsidies here
I would love to hear reactions, thoughts, etc., either in the comments here or at dKos.
Here are just a few of the many people and groups working to get rid of Dubya:
Runners against Bush
Designs on the White House
Anyone But W Campaign Action Center
Take the Move On Pledge
Let us know if you have any more suggestions ...
Also, for those who want to:
Give to the DNC epatriots Boot Bush