Thursday, November 30, 2006

Meta Say No To Pombo

So what is to become of Say Said No To Pombo? That was the question VPO asked privately in the week after the election. There was one suggestion that it be renamed Say Yes To McNerney and start working towards Election 2008, another that it continue on with the same name and be enlarged to cover all the political races in the geographic area encompassed by CA-11. The inclination shared by both Matt and me was to simply end it and leave the archive behind as an artifact of the 2006 CA-11 race.

But VPO and, to a lesser extent, Delta have continued to post, visitors continue to check in and leave comments, and at last glance we still had 364 subscribers. And the realization has slowly sunk in that SNTP is, in a very real sense, a shared community that transcends just the handful of writers who appear on the front page. I can’t help but feel that for Matt or I to peremptorily shut it down would be pretty autocratic. So the question that I’m asking of you as SNTP readers is what do YOU think should happen?

First, though, in that context, I’d like to share with you the underlying vision that has propelled me forward over the last 13 months. Early last fall, kid oakland introduced me to Matt Lockshin. Matt was deeply interested in activism and the CA-11 race against Richard Pombo, and I knew quite a lot about the political history of the district. We started talking regularly about the various campaigns. In early October, in a wide-ranging discussion, I asked him point-blank what he was hoping to take away from this race. Here is his answer:
I'm taking a rather long look at this campaign, and this is kind of where I'm at... If Jerry McNerney wins the primary, that's a black eye for all the people who want to co-opt the Democratic Party and make it an insiders’ game. But it doesn't belong to them, it belongs to us. People like the DLC and Ellen Tauscher have systematically separated the Democratic Party from the ideals that gave it nobility and vigor. Money might make the world go round, but there aren't enough mercenary political operatives in the world to fight the battles we need to fight. We need to take our damn party back, and this is a chance for us to stand up to the forces that be and tell them they can't push us around. Furthermore, even if McNerney doesn't win against Pombo, we (broadly speaking the grassroots volunteers) need to work to ensure that his campaign is an organizational tool. The wind should whisper in our ears, "Organize, organize, organize." I've made numerous contacts over the net in the last two weeks, and so, so many people are ready to help fight Pombo. Too often the Democratic establishment has laid down without a fight. Let us show them and the Republicans what we're made of. Let us marshal our troops and show them that there are lions among us. To do this we need to start creating the overarching connections between disparate groups of like-minded individuals that the DLC has created. We may be the underdog in some sense, but the truth is that there are a hell of a lot more people who will fight for this cause than will fight for the status quo. Maybe that's not the case in certain areas, but goddamnit this is the Bay Area and if we can't do this, nobody can.

To be honest, I am more interested in Jerry McNerney as a symbol and a rallying cry than a candidate. It is not that I am disinterested in his candidacy. I deeply hope that he wins. But he needs to understand that he is part of something bigger than himself and act in light of that fact. He needs to be a fighter. Regardless of his strategy, he needs to be bold and be strong. He also needs to take the initiative. I am concerned that the people he has surrounded himself with will try to play it safe and make him boring and unremarkable. In fact, I have heard from others that this is the case. Even you seem to suggest as much.

The real argument against those people is our own efficacy. If you do not want to put yourself in a position to have to kowtow to the safe and boring style of organizing, then do what you can to help McNerney in your own way. I think that the internet provides great opportunities to do this. We could create an all-volunteer rapid response group independent of the campaign. We could raise money through outreach to the netroots. I am already planning on establishing an anti-Pombo blog. There are many, many things we can do. Sure, at some level all of our efforts need to get funneled back into the campaign. But every gift you give also gives you a bit of leverage. I don't mean this in a sleazy quid pro quo way. But really, if we do something powerful and effective, both McNerney and other politicians ought to notice. And the efficacy and the power will speak much louder than anyone else.

Also, I suppose that at bottom I am motivated by a need to not watch this train-wreck unfold while I stand idly by and watch. If we try and fail, at least we can take solace in our effort. It is time -- past time -- for me to take a stand for what I believe.

We have the power to create something that is deeper and more enduring than Jerry McNerney. Howard Dean lost his bid for president but he created a tide of new activists. We can do something similar in CA-11, and lay the groundwork to turn it a hell of a lot more blue. You need to find your own way to express the passion and concern you obviously have. I will not judge the choices you make. But I hope you find a way to express your own agency in a way that is authentic and empowering.
That is what we’ve tried to do here over the last year. And even though we did Say No To Pombo, our work is far from done. So where do we go from here? And is SNTP the vehicle to take us there?

8 Comments:

Blogger Matt Ortega said...

Just my two cents but I want to make sure I don't come off as making, or dictating, executive decisions. I was fortunate enough to write here at SNTP, in addition to organizing at the grassroots level, and damn proud of everyone involved. And fortunate to have met so many incredible people -- people all kinds of political stripes -- bound together in a righteous cause.

I am warm to the idea of expanding to include other races, but in terms of SNTP, in its present form...

It's best to go out on top.

Every time I visited SNTP -- including long before I joined this incredible cast of writers -- I was always greeted with the "mission statement," as I grew to know it:

"A blog dedicated to removing Congressman Richard Pombo (R-CA) from office."

And dedicated we were. At every level.

No matter how many articles of Pombo weeping tears of anger while boxing up his office appear in the press, I have yet to fathom what was achieved in our humble corner of the world. Though when I do, as a Danville resident, it will be extra sweet.

But our stated purpose to organize against a corrupt anti-environmental extremist has been fulfilled.

Should Pombo return in two years to try to regain his seat, however, an SNTP revival would be necessary.

As for Jerry -- I think he has a lot of work ahead of him between inauguration and Election Day 2008. If Jerry maintains his promises, keep his nose clean, and works to deliver for CD-11, among many things, widen the 205 and working to build the alternative energy hub that he spoke of at the Tracy Press Forum, I think he will do okay.

In a way, I have to thank extreme GOP politicians like Richard Pombo, for waking me up from a political slumber I was in up until a couple years ago or so. When I was 18, I had originally registered as a (moderate, at best) Republican.

Now at 22, I am a bit older, much more wiser, and a better citizen for it.

1:26 AM, November 30, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

Thanks for posting that, Babaloo. It is a good question. However, I think it is premature to take this blog down, because the rumors are strong that Pombo will run again. There was an article indicating this in Roll Call (I do not have a subscription, so am not sure of the exact contents of the article). Also, the political editors I have conversed with post-election seem to believe Pombo will run again.

I think we should at least keep this going until first of all, Pombo is entirely out of office, which is still a few weeks away. And then we should keep a careful eye on what he does with his PAC and campaign committee. I believe he had something like $900,000 that he did not spend.

I think the work of this blog is not over by a long shot. Pombo could quite likely spring back from the dead, just like in those horror movies where you think the bad guy is down for the count, but then suddenly they spring back to life.

The "Say No To Pombo" effort may be needed much earlier than we think, since the 2008 election season will start up very soon. Then we should see if Pombo will try to run once again, or if he is happy to stay with Annette and the kids over on his ranch.

Seems to me it ain't over yet...

7:25 AM, November 30, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Claire here,

SNTP became a communuity for me in our fight to get Jerry elected and, what is more important, to dislodge a really bad guy, a symbol of all that is wrong with our present system of government. A newbie to politics, I was part of calling for Jerry's write-in votes for the primary and the recount which put him on the ballot.

Honestly, I didn't know about Mr. Pombo before this but, as an ardent enviromentalist, I gave the McNerney campaign the best of my volunteer skills; we had just a few months to
present a viable candidacy

Jerry did not let us down. With his determination and intelligence, he has earned my eternal admiration.

SNAP: The great and thoughtful posters here educated me to the problems of the Central Valley which are endemic to most of our state and the country. I would like to cotinue to read the comments of Delta, Babaloo and VPO, the Matts, et al, marking the progress of change which WILL HAPPEN.

Thanks to all of you for your perspective and insight. I hope you all don't just go away!

Claire Nelson

7:27 PM, November 30, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's in a name? Plenty! (Contrary to what Shakespeare said - he did not live in a media era.)

Thus "Say No to Pombo," even if changed to "Said No to Pombo," doesn't quite make it.

The key point was made by VPO: we need to keep watch over this corrupt SOB to ensure that if he ever decides to attempt a political comeback, we're here to slay him.

Accordingly, I vote to keep the site up as the archive of material is too valuable NOT to have it remain accessible to visitors, the media, etc. The question becomes - what would be the best name?

Mr Rolley has it right: POMBOWATCH. Or something like that that accurately reflects the new mission of SNTP.

Again, VPO is correct in that the best way to gauge Pombo's intentions is to keep your eye on his finances. Will he continue to raise money? If so, then we need to be here to put the dagger through the heart of the beast should it ever rise to try to make the sequel: "Night of the Living Pombo."

9:41 AM, December 01, 2006  
Blogger MorganHill Yahoo said...

As a frequent reader and sometime contributor here, I would hope that you keep it going and just change the focus away from Pombo and toward suport for McNerney. The Howard Dean campaign in '04 morphed into Democracy for America, and we need to have a way for these 350 activists in this widely dispersed district to stay in contact. As a Morgan Hill resident, I was especially appreciative of your constant scanning of the media in other parts of the district. It energized me to the point that I went out canvassing with my sons to over 300 homes. Please find a way to keep this going. Our work is not limited to a single election. Last month, we changed America, and we have to fight to keep it moving forward.

9:44 AM, December 01, 2006  
Anonymous JohnMac said...

VOP says,

I think it is premature to take this blog down, because the rumors are strong that Pombo will run again. There was an article indicating this in Roll Call (I do not have a subscription, so am not sure of the exact contents of the article). Also, the political editors I have conversed with post-election seem to believe Pombo will run again.

Give me your email address, I will send it to you. I subscribed to Roll Call when I read a few comments about Jerry, and whenever he or Pombo was mentioned, I emailed the article to Eden, who worked for his campaign.

john-at-mcnerney-dot-com

1:10 PM, December 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether Pombo runs again or not, there is no doubt that there will be a strenuous attempt to take down Jerry McNerny by the Republicans in 2008.

SNTP made a real contribution to winning this election in 2006. It could do the same in 2008. If you all pull the plug on it now, somebody else would just have to recreate the wheel in two years.

I urge you to take a well-deserved vacation for however long you feel you need it and then gear up to protect McNerny in two years.

2:49 PM, December 02, 2006  
Anonymous Tom Benigno said...

Protect Jerry from who? I hope your not thinking what,I think your thinking. I have something to say about that.


Tom Benigno
The Dragon Slayer

3:23 PM, December 06, 2006  

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