Welcome Jamie Court, author and president of Consumer Watchdog, and Host, Jerome Armstrong, founder of MyDD.com.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell: How to Win Grassroots Campaigns, Pass Ballot Box Laws, and Get the Change We Voted For

Jerome Armstrong, Host:

Don’t Hope– Get Mad and Do Something!

The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell might struck you first, as it did me, as a sort of ‘path not taken’ over the past political cycle, but its also a path forward. Jamie Court understands the political landscape, exactly what happened, and how it could have been avoided. This is not a book that wallows in being right, but instead focuses on where to go next. Ballot measures play a large role. Many of the activists here, having just come out of activist participation in the Marijuana initiatives, will gain from the insights of this book.

How To Win Grassroots Campaigns

The main thrust of the book is to provide the reader/activist with the understanding of political tactics that work. How to win the battles over public opinion. Though Court comes at this from a progressive viewpoint, the truths and tactics he presents are non-ideological in their application and success. For this alone, for activists looking to make an impact, the book is worth studying as a textbook.

In short, Court provides the antagonist with tactics that have proved successful. There are tables and systematic approaches laid out (here’s one example that I blogged about recently ), such as “five steps necessary for any campaign to succeed at creating change” and “ten rules of populist power” that turn the tables against a powerful opponent. Court provides from his own experience for examples; most of that happens in California.

Tipping Point: How Obama lost the popular support

Healthcare is not the only focus of the book, but its a big one, and though Court talks about a lot of other issues, his insight around the healthcare issues is the passion. There’s been a lot of print about how in the world Democrats managed to lose popular support this past political cycle. Court points to the mandatory purchase of corporate healthcare as the tipping point. It was a tin ear moment when Democrats sided with the corporations over people– the ‘third rail’ of populism.

Following Scott Brown’s victory in MA, partisans embraced the unpopular mandate with a maddening suicidal tribalism. Obama had stridently campaigned against the unpopular mandate, but now it was necessary “to save Obama’s presidency” they argued. And to make their point, they threatened exile to naysayers and a primary to any obstructionists.

Excerpt:

Not the Change We Voted For

This is the most anti-corporate environment in modern history, and yet the health insurance industry has occupied a central seat at the table on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. The industry’s demand that all Americans be forced to buy private health insurance policies turned President Obama against his campaign promise of not imposing such a mandate to purchase private policies. The insurers demand that the public not even have choice on their purchases, of a public option to the private market, won over the Senate, and President Obama. Insurers are the enemy. Public opinion polls prove it. Obama lost a lot of public support for his healthcare position because he spoke out of both sides of his mouth. Public Enemy No. 1 cannot be tarred and feathered in the court of public opinion, then allowed to write the reform plan in the back rooms of Congress and the White House. Its not authentic, and the public has perfect radar for the lack of authenticity.

Polls consistently show Americans have been very clear in their resolve for strong reforms of the insurance industry and a public alternative to it, but not for being forced to buy private insurance. My consumer group polled Americans on whether they should be required to buy health insurance, and less than 15 percent supported the notion. Somehow, though, this is the centerpiece of the new federal law.

There is some interesting background information on Candidate Obama exploiting the popular opinion against the mandate, that begs a lot of questions, given the flip-flop. Writes Court:

“California was on the cutting edge of the debate, and some of my arguments in a Los Angeles Times op-ed about the parallel to mandatory auto insurance laws later became the basis for Obama campaign statements. Obama said, “The reason people don’t have health insurance isn’t because isn’t because they don’t want it, its because they can’t afford it.” Obama had a platform. We had a populist message. The public had a strong opinion that turned out to be a defining difference in who became the Democratic nominee.

Flash forward to January 2010… the populous campaigner had given in… while he railed against the power of Washington on the campaign trail, he bowed to the big money donors at pivotal moments once he occupied the Oval Office. These critical turning points not only guaranteed healthcare reform, as written by Congress, would not be cost effective, but confirmed for the watchful public that Obama was not an authentic reformer.”

In hindsight Obama looks the candidate driven to win no matter what he has to say, and was willing to co-opt a progressive message because it was a winner. Hoping for change from Obama is pretty hopeless.

Left with that reality, Court proposes, as an alternative to candidate-driven politics, bringing about reform through ballot measures.

A Direct Democracy Toolkit: Ballot Box Laws

Court has been doing ballot measures for many cycles now, and he’s boiled a winning strategy down to 15 pages in a chapter entitled Direct Democracy (what a terrific name). If you ever want to get involved in a ballot measure, or give concise yet fantastic strategic input to one, then get a hold of this chapter. The “Rules of the Ballot Box Road” are given, “How to Write and Pass Your Own Ballot Box Law” are explained, and “The Five Steps for the Art of Change” are detailed.

Court’s solution to the healthcare debacle is to take up the issue of health insurance reform in 2012 and beyond, through ballot measures. He states that he is currently working on a public option ballot measure in California, two year prior to the mandatory health insurance laws taking effect.

The precedent he cites, for reforming healthcare, is the mandatory car insurance laws that were passed in the 1980′s, and the successful California ballot measure in 1988 by Harvey Rosenfield. Proposition 103 was a populist ballot measure that rolled back excessive rates, enforced refund checks to consumers, required insurance companies rates to conform to regulation thereafter, ended zip-code based auto insurance, and subjected the industry to anti-trust laws.

Jamie Court:

“Two dozen states with ballot measure processes offer Americans a similar opportunity to reign in private health insurers now that a national discussion of their vices has been aired, and mandatory, private health insurance will be the law of the land in 2014.”

Jamie doesn’t spell out beyond that, what sort of language and policy that such a ballot measure would take, so I’d be interested in hearing how he’s progressed along those lines.

I’d also like to point out that the analogy to car insurance is often made by proponents of the law, as a means of stating precedent. Libertarians though, will point out the obvious that owning a car is a choice, but becoming an adult is not. In Congress, Democrats argued that the individual mandate was not a tax, however, Obama’s administration, in attempting to argue the constitutionality of the law against its many challengers, now argues that it is a tax, enforceable by the IRS. The notion that a person will be succumbed to being taxed, merely by becoming an adult citizen, is certain anathema in the arena of popular support.

Its tough to guess how this Supreme Court comes down on the individual mandate, but that also is a major question mark of the law. On the other hand, establishment Republicans in Congress might just as likely be counted on to defund the measure from of its progressive taxation, while maintaining the individual mandate to buy corporate insurance. Obama’s already signaled his willingness to re-approach the law with Republicans to ‘make it better’ so, at least Court has the same thing in mind.

Repeal of mandatory health insurance is something that Court believes that progressives need to consider an option. He doesn’t bring it up in his book, but did in an email to me and in this Consumer Watchdog blog post.  As a regressive taxation, it it the least popular provision of health reform, with between 70-80% in some polls showing opposition. I doubt Obama would have the stomach to veto such a repeal, but wonder if Republicans in Congress, or SCOTUS, really want to repeal that specific pro-corporate portion of it either.

I’m looking forward to hearing about the ballot initiatives, and in particular, hoping that Jamie has an update on the ballot process he’s embarked upon for 2012. He’s blogged recently on this issue, by pointing to the California election in 2012, where progressive populism won the day.

81 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Jamie Court, The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell: How to Win Grassroots Campaigns, Pass Ballot Box Laws, and Get the Change We Voted For”

BevW November 14th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Jamie, Welcome to the Lake.

Jerome, Welcome to the Lake and thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Please to join you and the inhabitants of The Lake.

Jerome Armstrong November 14th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Thanks Bev, glad to be here.

egregious November 14th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Welcome to Firedoglake – glad you are here!

dakine01 November 14th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Good afternoon Jamie and Jerome and welcome to FDL this afternoon.

Jamie, I have not had an opportunity to read your book but do have a comment based on Jerome’s review.

I for one, as a liberal/progressive, would have no problem with a repeal of the mandate and some of the other portions of the Health Insurance Reform (since it really didn’t reform and make available health care)

And would like to see something simple like “Medicare for All”

How do we get through the noise machine and the upcoming congressional turn even further to the right?

Jerome Armstrong November 14th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Jamie, let me know your thinking on the individual mandate. Is it too much of a lost cause, via lack of popular support, to be reformed?

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

To get to “Medicare for All” the route is the state ballot measure processes. That is direct democracy that will take a couple of years for activists to seed with public option ballot initiatives. To repeal the mandate, I think we as progressives need to start raising the issue and putting it on the map as a challenge to DC. Progressive groups in DC won’t raise it, so we who do will be heard and there will have to be a response

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Mandatory health insurance is opposed by 80% of the public consistently. Standing against 80% public opinion is definitely a ticking time bomb for Democrats. There’s not a poll in the world that’s ever showed it to be popular, so it’s got to go.

dakine01 November 14th, 2010 at 2:06 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 7

As a technical issue, there is a “Reply” button in the lower right hand of each comment. Pressing the “Reply” will pre-fill the comment number and commenter name to whom you are replying and makes it easier for all to follow the conversation.

Note: some browsers don’t like to let the “Reply” work properly if there has been a hard page refresh until the page completes loading

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:08 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 9

Thanks, good point.

To get to “Medicare for All” the route is the state ballot measure processes. That is direct democracy that will take a couple of years for activists to seed with public option ballot initiatives. To repeal the mandate, I think we as progressives need to start raising the issue and putting it on the map as a challenge to DC. Progressive groups in DC won’t raise it, so we who do will be heard and there will have to be a response.

The response from Republicans will be the most interesting…

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Mandatory health insurance is opposed by 80% of the public consistently. Standing against 80% public opinion is definitely a ticking time bomb for Democrats. There’s not a poll in the world that’s ever showed it to be popular, so it’s got to go.

The questions is what do you replace it with? I would say there has to be a deterrent to people buying insurance only after they are sick, so there could be a once per year open enrollment period that people must buy within or lose the provision that prevents higher prices based on medical condition. It’s preferable to taxing people 2.2 percent of the their income for not buying expensive insurance policies.

Teddy Partridge November 14th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Thanks, Jamie, for this great book — and thanks to Jerome for the terrific intro and for hosting. Looking forward to this great discussion!

Jerome Armstrong November 14th, 2010 at 2:11 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 8

So if the individual mandate does wind up going away, lets say via either repeal of that in Congress, or through SCOTUS, what role could you foresee there to be in the ballot box measures for 2012?

November 14th, 2010 at 2:12 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 11

…there has to be a deterrent to people buying insurance only after they are sick…

Hi there – I would say there has to be an attractive option to purchase, and that there isn’t any. So part of this choice argument has to include real competition.

Of course the whole thing is obviated with Single Payer.

Jerome Armstrong November 14th, 2010 at 2:13 pm

ie, the role of a ballot measure in regards to healthcare. Is there one?

Funnydiva2002 November 14th, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I’m looking forward to hearing about the ballot initiatives, and in particular, hoping that Jamie has an update on the ballot process he’s embarked upon for 2012. He’s blogged recently on this issue, by pointing to the California election in 2012, where progressive populism won the day.

typo, I think. hopefully not just wishful thinking!

Thanks for being here, Jamie and Jerome.
Thanks for this constructive follow-up to yesterday’s discussion, Bev.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Good strategic question. With the mandate in place, we will have 80% support for ballot measures to create a public option because we can argue the government says you have to buy insurance so you should have an option of a public insurance system. Without the mandate, it might be harder to get overwhelming public support, but I suspect it will still be a winner at the ballot by a big margin.

However, if SCOTUS repeals the mandate, the Republicans argue in their Florida briefs asking for its repeal that the courts must invalidate the whole reform law if they take out the mandate. It’s not clear they are right legally, but they have a legal leg to stand on. The insurance companies made sure there was not “severability clause” in the bill so it’s not clear that taking away a central provision in the courts won’t allow SCOTUS to strike down the whole bill, subsisides and market reforms etc. That’s a good reason for Democrats who care about keeping the full law to support repeal of the mandate in Congress rather than the courts.

bigrock November 14th, 2010 at 2:18 pm

for me the issues are the following

1. not being able to negotiate for lower prescription drugs.

2, being mandated to purchase crapy insurance from the same crappy companies that have screwed us for so long

and

3. not being able to purchase the same gold plated insurance that the congress gives itself and public workers….

when the best medical care is to bok a flight to mexico to cuba to get care,,weve got a frikin real problem….

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:18 pm

With Tuesday’s election we have begun work toward a 2012 California ballot measure that does two things 1)create a state public option 2) strictly regulates private insurance rates. The legislature and Jerry Brown could put it on the ballot for us, which would save us collecting the 700,000 signatures. But either way, game on, using many of the tactics on the book to pass it.

Jerome Armstrong November 14th, 2010 at 2:19 pm
In response to Funnydiva2002 @ 16

heh, yea (2010), or maybe foresight?

dakine01 November 14th, 2010 at 2:20 pm
In response to Funnydiva2002 @ 16

Except for the failure of Prop 19, I think they did win.

They repealed the measure that required a super majority to pass a budget, putting it back to a simple majority
They defeated the oil companies’ attempt to roll back CA environmental laws
They passed an amendment to do away with at least the most egregious levels of gerrymandering.

That seems to be a fair success rate for progressives.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:20 pm
In response to Funnydiva2002 @ 16

We are moving forward…..The issue is whether the legislature and Gov Jerry Brown will sign a bill to put it on the ballot, or whether we collect the signatures. First step, the legislative route right after January. Plan B, the signatures if the legislature won’t comply, and I suspect it won’t. Our allies at the mighty California Nurses Association are ready to roll with us again!

dakine01 November 14th, 2010 at 2:21 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 21

Oops. Missed that 2012 bit. :})

carmenb November 14th, 2010 at 2:22 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 11

How can progressives debunk the conventional wisdom from pundits – and increasingly the President – that says Obama has to compromise even more, move more to the ‘middle’, to save his presidency?

One interesting factoid: The New York Times reported today that 24 “Blue Dog” Democrats – close to half the caucus – lost their seats in the midterms.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:22 pm

2012….That’s the next opportunity for ballot measures, sorry for confusion. Every two years is our only chance so the 2012 primary is next opportunity, unless there is a special election before then, and there may be on our budget mess. But we would try the legislature for the initiative in 2011 and gather signatures if they fail us.

Cujo359 November 14th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

One notion I just had is that it should be possible to write a state ballot measure that allows anyone who wants to buy into Medicaid. States seem to have some discretion where eligibility for Medicaid is concerned, as long as they’re willing to pay for it. (I haven’t heard of this being true for Medicare.)

Medicaid may not be the best option out there, but it’s better than a lot of them, and for the most part it’s a known quantity.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:23 pm
In response to bigrock @ 18

Bulk purchasing of prescription drugs is something that could be rolled into a state ballot measure too, we are considering it….

Cujo359 November 14th, 2010 at 2:25 pm
In response to Cujo359 @ 26

Oops, just saw Jamie Court’s comment about the CA public option thing.

eCAHNomics November 14th, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Well, this looks like a promising approach.

My Q is: in the latest two prominent ballot measures in CA, pot & Prop H8ate, powerful special interest groups poured a ton of money & organizers in to make sure their side won.

My objection to most of the other ideas I’ve seen, like 3rd party, is that the progressives (who are really middle-of-the-roaders, in the sense that the policies we want all poll at over 50%) is that we don’t have the money or the organizers.

Won’t we have the same problem with ballot initiatives now that the PTB have figured out we’re taking that route?

bigrock November 14th, 2010 at 2:26 pm

when you can get a 4.00 drug at Walmart,,that Walgreens bills medicare 38.00 for, its no wonder, the gig is up,,,,

My mother has medicare, blue cross and tricare,,,,

Which do you think pays last?????

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:27 pm
In response to Cujo359 @ 26

Subsidies are a problem though. There is a provision of the federal law that insurers secured which prevent subsidies under Medicaid to go to a state public option til 2017. So unless there’s a federal waiver, a state could not tap into Medicaid funds for a public option until 2017. The mandate takes effect in 2014. There’s really no hope for anything approaching a single payer until 2017 unless there’s a federal waiver. However, you could create a public option for those who can pay, tough premium regulation that lets states say no to premium increases that are excessive and bulk purchasing at the state level for prescription drugs before then…..Single payer, or anything approaching it, is off all tables until the 2017 deadline when states can tap into public program funds and reallocate them.

GeneralPudding November 14th, 2010 at 2:29 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 17

Jamie, do you think large majorities are against the mandate because they don’t want to be coerced into buying an insurance policy from a private health insurance company, or because they don’t want to be coerced into buying any insurance policy at all?

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:30 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 29

Legalization didn’t have 70% support to begin with. I argue in the book that if you want to succeed in a ballot measure with little to no money you have to stand on 70% public support. The public option and premium regulation have that in the context of the mandate to buy existing, prescription drug purchasing in bulk for a state too… but you always need some money for a populist fight in a ballot battle. We’re still estimating it will take $3 million to $5 million to win this 2012 ballot measure. With the nurses and other allies it’s doable, but insurers and drug companies will give us everything they go.

eCAHNomics November 14th, 2010 at 2:32 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 33

Aha! 70%+ support. Good point.

That is a limiting factor, but I’d be willing to do those first & then see what can be done next. No doubt, organizing for the really popular measures, winning those, will result in momentum & infrastructure for the more difficult issues.

Thanks.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:33 pm
In response to GeneralPudding @ 32

Polls show they don’t like being forced to buy an insurance policy they don’t want or cannot afford. Kaiser Family Foundation poll in August 2010 found only 16% of public supported mandate in this scenario. It has to do with private policy, but there is of course much anti-any-policy sentiment too. However, in Massachusetts, the first state with mandatory insurance, some local ballot resolutions found big support for single payer health care — and when extrapolated state wide the support was 60%. I think mandatory insurance sows the seeds for single payer. And so do some Republicans, like Mitch McConnell, which is why they oppose it. But we have to balance that with compassion to those being forced to buy a policy they cannot afford, and deal with it now.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:35 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 21

Progressives won, and the reason was they exposed corporate power grabs. California was one of the few places we could show progressive populism worked. The question is how to do we export it back to DC?

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:37 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 34

Successful ballot measures often take time and repetition. Normalization will probably happen in California within a few more general elections. One of the benefits of ballot measures is that they are public education campaigns. The tax revolts in California, conservative revolution, took a few ballot measures to enact before successful. The same for progressives.

bigrock November 14th, 2010 at 2:41 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 35

that is why the new health care reform has failed,,,they took everything that was popular with the american public off the table to start with,,then made sure that nothing would be implemented untill 2014,,after obama gets his azz kicked in 2012,,,,

The health care companies love the law,,,,and will succeed in limiting the positive parts of it,,,we will be required to purchase crappy insurance thanks to the dems,,,,that is a losing message for the dems and a winner for the repugs,,,

as biden said,,this is a big fu#$^% deal,,,,if this thing goes through as written,,the dems have lost most of america for decades…

it should be called the republican takng control of government act….

eCAHNomics November 14th, 2010 at 2:41 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 37

Looking forward to reading more about it in your book.

I live in NYS and I notice that Cuomo fils is no chip off the Cuomo pere block. Much more conservative; I haven’t read up on him, but guess it’s the usual suspect: he’s a corp whore. Sigh. We’ve GOT to do something.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:46 pm
In response to bigrock @ 38

Agreed. How Dems cannot a read a poll to see how screwed up this is for them is beyond me. The fact is they bought the inside beltway BS that you cannot force insurance companies to sell policies regardless of preexisting conditions if you don’t force all people to buy insurance policies. Shredding this argument is really important for progressives

1) Massachusetts has mandatory insurance and high premiums and bad budget problems vs. New York, which has a take-all-comers law and no mandate with high premiums. Both states are embracing premium regulation — which is the answer, not the mandate

2) Forcing people into high deductible, low benefit policies doesn’t give them health care, but creates obstacles to using hte system.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:49 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 39

Little Cuomo is looking for some populist issues to propel him — online do not track me list etc. Populism is the only hope for Dems that want to be president since corporations can spend unlimited amounts now and Republicans are their preferred brethren. Little Cuomo definitely wants to be president, we’ll see how far the apple falls in the Big Apple. Should be very interesting…

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Jerome, what do you see as the next great populist online fight coming our way?

eCAHNomics November 14th, 2010 at 2:57 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 41

Luv ‘little’ Cuomo.

Any idea what kind of populist issues he’s interested in & what kind of ballot measures might spur him?

If, as you say, he wants to be prez, it’s well worth my while trying to figure it out. The U.S. could surely use better prezes that the current & last one.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 2:58 pm
In response to carmenb @ 24

House of Reps is going to much more progressive as a minority…..which means resistance to many of the Republicans’ worst tricks is the future.

greenwarrior November 14th, 2010 at 3:02 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 33

Would it be more helpful to have ballot measures on just a few states at a time to focus all efforts in those states or more helpful to have as many as possible to force the insurers to use more resources to fight them?

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:03 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 43

We have toyed with an online “do no track me” list to curb the Googles and Facebooks sale of our private data on the Internet, and Cuomo is said to have some interest in being the first out of the gate with a state “do not track me” list. He also had a big legal case against health insurance companies with “reasonable and customary” charges in the state. I would think he might want to create a state public option, but it’s speculation. If you can show him 70% support for an idea, my guess is that he goes for it.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:05 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 45

The insurance company have no shortage of resources, so I don’t think it’s about splitting up their money. But having ballot measures with strong public support on multiple state ballots sure does point to a movement, and possibly a movement that can make Washington move. As I mention in the book, after property casualty insurance regulation passed in California, other states adopted it. A few bell weather states on the public option and it suddenly becomes acceptable for America.

bigbrother November 14th, 2010 at 3:10 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 19

Jamie
SB810 passed CA state leg 3 times and was vetoed by the Terminator Gov.
It will pass again and is there a reason to think Jerry Brown will veto it?
That would not require a ballot measure.

TomR November 14th, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Thanks Jamie and Jerome for being here today.

Jamie, what are your thoughts about progressive messaging and coming up with a viable way to combat conservative false framing? George Lakoff continues to mention the need to build similar infrastructure to what the conservatives have, e.g. think tanks, media, etc. Also, we have a messaging battle within the Democratic party, the DLC/Third Way attempting to reframe progressive values.
http://www.progressivefix.com/

- Tom

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:13 pm
In response to bigbrother @ 48

This is the single payer health care bill in California. He may sign it, if it gets to his desk, but the problem is there is no financing mechanism included, so it’s largely symbolic. Unless you determine how to pay for single payer, which will take a two-thirds vote, you cannot have it. The larger problem is states don’t have this flexibility to enact single payer until 2017 under the federal health care reform until waivers are granted. It will take a ballot measure to redraw the health care system in CA because of the two thirds hurdle needed for new taxes to enact a single payer system. Largely the bill was a symbol. And if Brown is going to veto it anyway, likelihood is Dems won’t deliver it to him. That’s how the game is played in Sacramento, which is why I urge the outside game in the book.

Funnydiva2002 November 14th, 2010 at 3:14 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 45

Dayam, GW!
I love the way you get to strategy!

eCAHNomics November 14th, 2010 at 3:15 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 46

I should bone up on his cases as AG. Besides reading your book, you’ve given that to me for homework.

Sounds like Cuomo has much better political instincts than O, who seems to think all you need is good rhetoric & a ton of money & the voters will be fooled. It certainly worked for O in 2008. And I’d guess that’s what his handlers are continuing to tell him.

Trouble with little Cuomo is that he had no opposition in the guv race, so voters garnered no evidence about what he would do in a pinch.

eCAHNomics November 14th, 2010 at 3:16 pm
In response to TomR @ 49

Just about all think tanks, like the 2 parties, have been taken over by corp $$$.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:17 pm
In response to TomR @ 49

George Lakoff and I are having a public discussion about the future of health care reform and messaging around it Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles at the California Endowment. It’s open to the public, so we will explore more there.

My gut is Democrats have a bigger problem that messaging. You need a goal and strategy before a message is developed to succeed in getting it. You cannot be only message, or the public smells a rat. The reality is Democrats today have lost touch with their 2008 mandate from voters and so messaging is the least of their problems. Let’s get a populist goal, then focus on the populist messaging to accomplish it.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:22 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 54

The truth is the public leads and politicians follow. Sure the think tanks develop the play book and how it plays best with public opinion. It’s packaged for the rightwing and ready made. The problem is it’s often inauthentic because its selling an unpopular concept, like giving corporations more power.

Progressives start with some very popular concepts — affordable health care, reigning in Wall Street, ending the wars, cheaper-cleaner energy. In the book I lay out some populist strategies to attain each, but the messaging isn’t missing in Washington, it’s the spine of Democrats to stand up to corporate Democrats. It’s up to the public now to make our leaders move, and we can if we take on some discrete issues in the populist arneas we have — the state ballot measure processes, social media and online etc

bgrothus November 14th, 2010 at 3:23 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 45

Remember how the other side used god;gay;gun to promote turnout in 2004? I don’t think we have ballot measure option in NM.

eCAHNomics November 14th, 2010 at 3:23 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 54

Democrats have a bigger problem that messaging.

You got that right. Also the part about smelling rats, esp after O.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:26 pm
In response to bgrothus @ 56

Ballot Initiative Strategy Center has the full run down on state ballot measure processes. New Mexico has ballot measures but it’s not clear whether the public can put them on directly, or the legislature does. Worth some investigation. http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/List_of_New_Mexico_ballot_measures

Funnydiva2002 November 14th, 2010 at 3:31 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 57

yeah.
when the goal and strategy (profit uber alles, more power/wealth to the powerful&wealthy) are so clearly the opposite of their message (which is !@#$ wimpy to begin with) the smell of rat gets very hard to ignore.
especially when dealing with high-information, non-authoritarian, critical-thinking populists. you know, the traditional organizers and ground-troops of the Dems.

TomR November 14th, 2010 at 3:31 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 54

Let’s get a populist goal, then focus on the populist messaging to accomplish it.

I hear that! After defining a problem we’re attempting to solve (e.g. define our goal), I think we’ll need to pay attention to the following 4 stories around it.

1) How we frame the problem.
2) How we frame the solution.
3) How our opponent frames the problem.
4) How our opponent frames the solution.

IMHO, if we know our stories to tell in all four quadrants to counteract the conservative spin, we’ll be on track for success.

- Tom

bigbrother November 14th, 2010 at 3:32 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 54

Have you networked with CA legislator Leno who sponsored the bill. Collaboration is a power tool if used well and may boost your efforts for an initiative. My 2 cents. A local org has already been formed for several years and could work with you.

Jane Hamsher November 14th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Thanks so much for being here today, and thanks for hosting Jerome.

We reached much the same conclusion about ballot measures, and dipped our toe in this time to help marijuana-related initiatives across the country.

Question for Jamie: How do you feel about paid signature gatherers? One of the things we noticed was that when initiative sponsors used them, they wound up with a bunch of signatures, but no grassroots organization to pass the measure. It seems like the money is better spent building infrastructure to organize volunteers to collect signatures, because after the measure is on the ballot, you’ve already got the skeleton of a field organization in place.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:36 pm
In response to Funnydiva2002 @ 59

The take-away from the election should be that Democrats are not in touch with public opinion enough — they have to stand on the pure populist causes of the 2008 election — not that Democrats need to move to middle. This is the battleground in the short term, remind Democrats there is a progressive populism to rival the Tea Party’s counter. The book works to fill that space and spark that movement.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:39 pm
In response to bigbrother @ 61

I have been very disappointed with Mr. Leno on a capitulation to insurance companies on another front at the end of the legislative session. You can read about it here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-court/will-progressives-let-mid_b_699787.html
Sheila Kuehl, the originator of the legislation though, is a hero and friend.

Jerome Armstrong November 14th, 2010 at 3:40 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 54

You mention, Jamie, that progressives should demand from Obama, in return for support in ’12, that he end the war in Afghanistan. Do you think this is realistic? ie, is there even an anti-war movement on the left anymore? I’m a member of Rethink Afghanistan, but even that seems pretty small. What’s it going to take to revive the opposition to these occupations that are costing this country so much?

bigbrother November 14th, 2010 at 3:41 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 63

Thank you for the fast draw answers. I am better informed. Reading techniques you put into your book seem like an even more informative way to move our agenda along. Rinse and repeat does not work.

Jerome Armstrong November 14th, 2010 at 3:41 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 62

Hi Jane, I was glad to see Arizona’s initiative pull ahead in the last couple of days.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:44 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 62

It’s a great question. We tried to build an organization of volunteers to collect signatures statewide years ago at Ralph Nader’s suggestion called the Oaks project. It takes a lot of effort. The idea was 1,000 volunteers each collect 1,000 signatures and we have enough for a ballot measure. The problem was 80% of the signatures were collected by 20% of the volunteers — the 80/20 rule. We spent more on organizers to manage the collection than we saved on signatures. But the project qualified some valuable local conflict of interest measures and passed them, we just could not pull it off state wide.

In theory, it’s a great concept but it’s very time and money intensive to sustain. The real possibility for this to work is if we ever started a digital signature collection process so that the signature gathering could be done online. We started working on this years ago and had some political problems with a bad secretary of state, but it would revolutionize volunteer signature gathering if we could get the effort back on track. The time may be ripe, and we would love to work on it with you.

Funnydiva2002 November 14th, 2010 at 3:45 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 63

I’d agree if you mean traditional Democrat(ic) voters.
I’m pretty sure the national Party Apparatchik Demacorats are a lost cause, and that “reminding” them of anything should be a by-product of the success of the sort of action you describe.
I think the big-D party label should be left out of the equation as much as possible, especially now that it’s so tarnished and weak.

Though I could be misunderstanding your comment.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

As I mention in the book, Glenn Beck is talking about the costs of the war and what could be saved at home. Pocketbook issues is what it will take to make the cost of the war clear. Robert Greenwald is doing great work on this at Rethink, but we need to make it the priority for Democrats, who may now be freer to part ways with the President. Bringing the troops back home is the best deficit reduction tool there is, and we cannot let Republicans take that moral highground, we must wrest it from them.

bigbrother November 14th, 2010 at 3:51 pm
In response to Funnydiva2002 @ 69

Seem these efforts can also be a step toward a third Party that could leverage a lot of issues for openers. And gather momentum by populist support.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Tactically, I think that every time there is a budget cut proposed or the cost of a social program raised, we progressives need to make it clear how much the cost is in terms of B2 bomber etc. It drives home our priorities and values,but of course we need to get our brothers and sisters with different progressive causes united in the strategy.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:54 pm
In response to bigbrother @ 71

Inevitably if the Democrats don’t answer their populist base an alternative will arise. My message in the book is, though, elections and electoral politics matter less than what happens between elections. Issues drive politicians, not the other way around. So we should seize the issues that have 70% public support and drive them at the politicians, whoever they may be. The public leads, politicians follow. So who the politicians are matters less to me.

BevW November 14th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

As we come to the end of this lively Book Salon,

Jamie, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with is discussing your new book and Progressives.

Jerome, Thank you very much for Hosting this lively discussion.

Everyone, if you would like more information:
Jamie’s website, book.
Jerome’s website

Thanks everyone,
Have a great week!

Funnydiva2002 November 14th, 2010 at 3:56 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 68

Might there be some way to allocate the money to both parts of the effort (sig gathering and organizing) that could get a more optimal outcome?
Seems that this is a thorny problem primarily because the money is such a limiting factor.

btw, I don’t want you to think I’m arguing or criticizing your work in any way. this is just the sort of nuts-and-bolts problem-solving that my li’l brain thrives on.
I’m actually thrilled that your work is giving those energetic and smart, but extremely discouraged, folk that have traditionally worked for big-D Democratic issues/candidates a way to use their skills outside the Party framework.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 3:57 pm
In response to BevW @ 74

Thank you Bev, I really enjoyed it!

Jerome Armstrong November 14th, 2010 at 3:58 pm
In response to Jamie Court @ 70

Alot of people on the left think its a pipe dream, but I do think there is a big potential to alliance with populist fiscal conservatives over getting out of Afhanistan.

In fact, popularizing the Afghanistan war as Obama’s war makes it easier for those on the right that only live through a partisan perspective.

30% of Republicans are against being in Afghanistan. Its an alliance worth making happen.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 4:00 pm
In response to Funnydiva2002 @ 75

There definitely should be significant money devoted to ballot measure organizing since ballot measures are public education efforts. That’s separate from signature gathering in my mind because volunteers are much more apt to canvass on issues or organize around them, than gather signatures on a regular basis in sufficient quantity to make a big difference in qualification. Thanks for tuning in!

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

I’m with you there.

Sharkbabe November 14th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Jamie Court, I am very impressed with your words here today and will make a point of getting your book. Thanks.

Jamie Court November 14th, 2010 at 4:02 pm
In response to Sharkbabe @ 80

Thank you.

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