Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Progressives retool; it's never over until it is over

Okay, time to get back to the business of changing the country for the better. The Obama administration can't or won't do much unless there's a pack of pesky progressives nipping at their heels. So the progressive online infrastructure has picked out a target, hooked up with local activists and organized labor, and got itself a political campaign. The netroots was built for this under Bush -- it is finding its role again under Obama, though it still may take awhile.

Arkansas Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln made herself the target of this demonstration project by consistently sounding and voting more like an obstructionist Republican than a loyal Democrat, in particular indicating she'd never go along with reforms of labor law to help level the playing field for union organizing. She was slippery about her positions: at one point she endorsed a public option for health care reform on her web site while arguing against the measure on the Senate floor.

Lincoln is up for re-election this year and every poll of Arkansas voters says she is in trouble. In 2008, Arkansas was the only state that voted more Republican than previously as the Obama coalition nudged a new electorate into being. So the Republicans are gunning for Lincoln -- and now so are progressives who found a legitimate primary challenger in Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

[:31] He's a little cheery for my taste -- but hey, being a candidate takes monomaniacal focus and energy. Blue Arkansas blog touts the guy's progressive issue positions, with sensible cautions:

Now I fully expect him to have a few issues that we're not going to agree with. Expecting him to support marriage equality is unreasonable for instance, and I'm sure there are others. But the point is never to elect someone who's perfect, it’s to elect the best person available, and Halter is looking awesome from the progressive viewpoint (and a number of others I imagine).

The netroots is doing one of the things it does best: raising money for Halter. The result is impressive.

As of Tuesday night, the combined efforts of four liberal groups --, Daily Kos, Democracy for America and Progressive Change Campaign Committee -- had raised $1 million for Halter in just 36 hours. (MoveOn was responsible for $900,000 of that.)


Labor has promised additional millions in independent expenditures for Halter.

Looks like we're getting to the part where we stopped mourning and are ready to organize. They are going to hate that in the White House (Obama has spoken up for Lincoln!) Fun time.

To support the folks who are supporting Halter to stick it to Lincoln, check out the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. They aren't the only outfit in this, just one of the best.

UPDATE: The Sierra Club is out for Lincoln's scalp too.

UPDATE 2: Add EMILY's List, the fundraising women, to Lincoln's defectors.

"Since she wasn't there for us," [Ellen] Malcom wrote, "we won't be there for her."

Clearly a lot of groups have decided to make Lincoln, who is likely to lose in any case, an example of what happens to wavering Democrats. This seems to fit the "can't hurt; might help" category.

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