The one word Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and President Obama all need to say: Volunteer
Democrats didn’t randomly pick the Kochs from a lineup of anonymous right-wing billionaires. They’re not just the perfect example of a plutocrats subverting the electoral system to improve their bottom line.
“In all but one key Senate race so far this year, Koch-linked organizations like Americans for Prosperity, Concerned Veterans of America and the American Energy Alliance have spent more on issue-based ads attacking Democratic candidates than all independent Democratic groups combined have spent on similar ads criticizing Republican candidates,” the Huffington Post‘s Paul Blumenthal reported last week.
In North Carolina, the Koch network has already spent $8 million, more than doubling Democratic groups.
The Tar Heel state is the petri dish to study how the Koch’s rampant, largely untraceable flooding of cash can influence an election. As their network wasted hundreds of millions of dollars with microscopic success in 2012, it struck gold in North Carolina, a state President Obama won in 2008. They delivered the state’s electoral votes to Mitt Romney, and with the help of the Koch’s fellow billionaire Art Pope, the GOP took over the governorship and both houses of the legislature for the first time since long before the Koch’s father was working for Joseph Stalin.
The GOP majority has gone on a right-wing rampage, turning the state government into an internet comment board. They passed the an offensive laundry list of voting restrictions that no only single-handedly proved for the need for the Voting Rights Act but also raised the question: If voting had been so corrupt before, how did you guys win?
(Of course, allegations of voter fraud in North Carolina are as bogus as there as they are everywhere with two — two! — cases of in-person voting fraud in the state out of more than 30 million votes cast since 2000. And the law makes it easier to vote by absentee, though there have been 47 cases of fraud using that method.)
Obviously, the Kochs, Art Pope and the GOP are waging a war against demographics by trying to shrink the voting rolls while appealing to the base with an extreme agenda that humiliates and discourages the poor.
This strategy was made for years like 2014 when millions of voters who showed up to vote just two years ago will likely not even be aware an election is taking place.
President Obama recently said, “In midterms, we get clobbered.” He’s sounding the alarm — which needs to be done right now — even though in the past, this hasn’t been consistently true.
In 2006, Democrats — enraged at the Iraq war and six years of Bush/Cheney incompetence — did the clobbering.
But it may be true that in a post-Citizens United world, Democrats will get clobbered perpetually because the right’s dark money means so much more when the left doesn’t have its not-so secret advantage: volunteers.
Volunteers drove Bush back to the presidency in 2004 and they helped President Obama twice. Though it wasn’t until August of 2012 when the volunteers really began to show up.
There simply is no more cost-effective way to mobilize a voter than a committed volunteer knocking on doors. Thus, they’re the most precious commodity in politics — thus, if you’ll allow me to be a extra pompous, American life.
Democrats will not be able to compete when it comes to cash in 2014. But this next election will determine the fate of the Senate for at least two years, perhaps much longer.
By appealing to their base without regard for public opinion or even future elections, the GOP has appealed to its donors and its base. And that might be enough.
But Democrats still have one advantage: there are far more of us than there are of them.
Everybody has ideas about what everyone else must do. I know that this year I’ll donate all that I can of my time and money because the idea of Republicans being rewarded for their assaults on health care, the long-term unemployed and voting rights sickens me.
And I hope the leaders of this party who aren’t on the ballot this year — President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Deval Patrick, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julian Castro… — will all say the one thing that could make a huge difference in 2014: Volunteer, if you can.
[Image by Nick Gulotta | Flickr]