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Late Night FDL: Thoughts Before Tuesday’s CT-Senate Primary

Last night my partner and I saw the Dixie Chicks in DC.  It was awesome.

The show wasn’t very political, but Natalie got in a few digs here and there.  They took the stage to the tune of Hail to the Chief.  She pointed out the presidential box at DC’s Verizon Center (screw Verizon:  SaveTheInternet!) and jokingly welcomed the Bush family.

The crowd was totally stoked for Not Ready to Make Nice, but they did a lot of stuff from their work prior to the most recent album.  People stood up and sang to Not Ready to Make Nice, fists in the air, and big cheers after the line, "It turned my whole world around, and I kinda like it!"  After the song was done, Natalie and the sisters just gazed out at the sea of fans standing and yelling. . . the Dixie Chicks just soaked it in.  I’ll bet they enjoyed that in DC of all places.  One person had a sign that said something like "Maines, 2008!"

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about tonight.  I just wanted you to hate me for being there, while you weren’t.  Heh.

Here’s what I wanted to say:  Remember Ciro?  People got pretty depressed after that one.  Jane was away and I was on pinch hitting duty, doing my earliest front page work.  Some night to get started!  Anyway, everyone was depressed, so I wrote about the big picture of movement building.  I followed that post up with some stuff about social networking and politics. 

I bring those up because I want to point out what everyone has done since the Ciro loss.  The grassroots and netroots have outpaced even the optimism I expressed back in March, and people gave me some serious grief at the time for being so upbeat (the comments are somewhere back in the old Haloscan threads). 

What happened?  After the Rodriguez loss, most of us got up off the mat.  We weren’t ready to make nice.  Instead, we got angry.  We got organized.  For example, around here, we’ve since begun and almost completed the first ever social networking site for progressives all across the country, through the Roots Project.  Since March, YearlyKos has been a huge success and a movement building milestone.  Come 2008, mark my words, there will be on the ground operations all over the country like what we’re seeing now in Connecticut.  No matter what happens, with each fight, we learn pretty fast.

Tuesday night or Wednesday morning we will either be very happy or very sad.  The Lamont versus Lieberman race matters, but no matter what happens, we still keep learning and fighting.  We’ve learned a tremendous amount about about organizing, campaigning and fund raising since March.  We gave Rodriguez money too late to make a big difference, but now look at what Blue America and the other Netroots ActBlue people are doing, getting good people early money.  Collectively, we’re institution builidng at a terrific rate.  We’ve come a long, long way since Ciro lost on March 8.

Chris Bowers examines the whole expectations game in Connecticut today.  I’m honestly on the same cautious, guarded, paranoid side of the spectrum for this one.  Atrios thinks there’s no way to spin a loss positively, but for me, losing will suck if it happens, but I’m focused most on organization and movement building.  I see huge growth in the movement in the Connecticut laboratory, and I further see that every time we lose, we get madder and smarter.  Hell, I’m perversely tempted to be even more paranoid about the possibility of winning:  will we get complacent if we win, take undeserved credit for and joy in triumph, and thereby lose our fighting edge?  Will we stop learning and think we’re more powerful than we are?

No matter what happens Tuesday, I guarantee you, I won’t be ready to make nice.  I expect you won’t either.  Let’s get out the vote for Ned, but if things don’t go our way, my advice is, be sad for a day or two, and then let’s get back to work.

Those of you who were with us back in March, are you surprised by what we’ve accomplished as a movement since then?  What successes since March can you point out for the community in the comment thread, not just for the FDL community, but for the progressive netroots/grassroots as a whole? I think it would be highly instructive to take some time to highlight our collective successes, not so we can gloat, but so we can keep learning.  In my view, the best way for us to learn is to identify what’s working, and then capitalize on it.

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Pachacutec did not, as is commonly believed, die in 1471. To escape the tragic sight of his successors screwing up the Inca Empire he’d built, he fled east into the Amazon rain forest, where he began chewing lots of funky roots to get higher than Hunter Thompson ever dared. Oddly, these roots gave him not only a killer buzz, but also prolonged his life beyond what any other mortal has known, excluding Novakula. Whatever his doubts of the utility of living long enough to see old friends pop up in museums as mummies, or witness the bizarrely compelling spectacle of Katherine Harris, he’s learned a thing or two along the way. For one thing, he’s learned the importance of not letting morons run a country, having watched the Inca Empire suffer many civil wars requiring the eventual ruler to gain support from the priests and the national military. He now works during fleeting sober moments to build a vibrant progressive movement sufficiently strong and sustainable to drive a pointed stake through the heart of American “conservatism” forever. He enjoys a gay marriage, classic jazz and roots for the New York Mets.