Today, you may have noticed, is the fourth annual Blogosphere Day, with a whole set of different voices of the blogosphere coming together to fundraise for a specific cause. I want to chime in here and do my part.
The blogosphere, the netroots, the online activists, however you want to name it, the overall change brought about by the activism online has already been enormous. Using these new communications tools, all of us, whether it’s Senators or everyday citizen activists, are able to pool our efforts to greatly enhance the power and effectiveness of grassroots action.
I got into politics as an activist, working to stop a misguided war gone terribly wrong and also, in the first Earth Day, just as a citizen in my community trying to achieve environmental protections we take for granted today.
Now, over 35 years later, a new generation of activists is, ironically and somewhat tragically, working to do the exact same things. From a horrifically counterproductive foreign policy that undermines our values and makes us less safe to a global climate crisis that is growing ever more acute, the challenges are enormous.
But I’m enormously optimistic, and a lot of that optimism has to do with the blogosphere. When I was in my 20’s as an activist, we had teach-ins, phonebanks, letter writing campaigns, and rallies — and, yes, I went to jail one night to make a statement about ending the war. Now you have access to bigger numbers of fellow activists and progressives than we ever dreamed of. The megaphone is bigger. Internet activism has already had great successes, from big things like moving the conversation on Iraq toward deadlines for redeployment to specific issues like insisting on a filibuster of the Alito nomination (I think we together look more prescient by the day on that one) and getting the US Attorney scandal into the public eye (thank you Josh Marshall.) Just to give an example on the first of those, when Russ Feingold and I introduced Kerry-Feingold to set a deadline to remove troops on Iraq, we only got 13 votes. We were pariahs. But, with the help of massive pressure from the netroots (and the resulting success in the elections last year), today it’s an issue that unites the Democratic caucus.
It’s a strength of the blogosphere that each blog and community has its own focus and attitude. From the activism of a place like Daily Kos to the great legal coverage here at Firedoglake to the intense focus on political process at a place like MyDD, each blog brings its own contribution to the greater whole. But, on days like today, when many of the blogs unite around a common effort, that’s when the power of the netroots is strongest.
And one important vehicle for the exercise of that power comes right out of Massachusetts — it’s ActBlue. The fundraising mechanisms ActBlue have set up have been a major story of the growing power of the netroots. From supporting a little-known Senate challenger named Ned Lamont to making possible the early stages of Jim Webb’s candidacy, the fundraising on ActBlue has changed the face of the Senate, in addition to making possible online fundraising for candidates across the county. And, through the tools available for activists, it’s possible for those activists to pool efforts around certain candidates and track how those efforts are going.
Just a few months ago, we made the strategic decision to partner with ActBlue on all of our fundraising. One reason for that was that we wanted to take advantage of some of the innovative possibilities ActBlue make possible, such as our ?Roadblock Republicans’ campaign. We’ve already raised nearly 100K targeting ActBlue’s Democratic nominee funds for the opponents of some key Republican Senators. The idea that someone could raise funds in a pressure campaign like that targeting specific members was pretty new, and it got a lot of attention on the Hill. And, hopefully, gave my Republican colleagues another factor to consider when they think of blocking more legislation to really change course in Iraq.
The other reason we partnered with ActBlue was to support the overall efforts of the netroots. And that’s why I’m writing today to support Blogosphere Day, and it’s drive to raise funds for ActBlue. The time to build infrastructure for next year’s election is right now, and ActBlue will bring in tens of millions of dollars for Democratic candidates and progressive causes over this cycle. They are the largest vehicle for the expression of the financial power of the netroots, and that power goes a long way towards bringing about a new progressive future for our country.
The next 18 months will have a major impact on the future of our country and the world. We need to get moving to repair the damage of the Bush Administration, and the need to take action on the climate crisis grows more urgent by the day. I’m really excited about the possibilities we have for bringing about that change — and I’m excited about the partner we have in ActBlue to get it done.