Friday, July 31, 2015

Zephyr Teachout's conundrums

Prof. Zephyr Teachout is taking over from Lawrence Lessig as CEO and Board Chairman of MAYDAY.US.

Prof. Teachout's tweets announcing her appointment said she is "getting ready for 2016" and she wants to "start building ASAP for the 2016 corruption fight."

Thus far in 2015, MAYDAY's activity has been limited to contacting current members of Congress to ask them to commit to reform.

Now that MAYDAY is going to turn its attention to the 2016 elections, I think Prof. Teachout will have some difficult conundrums to figure out.

Conundrum #1

MAYDAY's object is to elect a reform minded Congress by 2016.

But will MAYDAY be able to allow Congressional candidates to come on the MAYDAY social media in order for the candidates to tell about themselves, and for MAYDAY supporters to learn about the candidates and make decisions about which candidates to support in the elections?

The reason there is a question is the "coordination rules" under Federal campaign finance law that are applicable to superPACs, such as MAYDAY. MAYDAY is going to have to decide how MAYDAY will interpret those rules and to what extent Congressional candidates will be allowed on the MAYDAY social media.

It would seem that MAYDAY's preference would be not to ban Congressional candidates from the MAYDAY social media, but MAYDAY may have to ban Congressional candidates.

If candidates are banned, MAYDAY supporters would need to go elsewhere to interact with candidates, and that would reduce MAYDAY's role.

That's conundrum #1.

Conundrum #2

The campaign finance reform issue is not left against right, Republicans against Democrats; rather it is us voter outsiders against Washington insiders.

MAYDAY has said this repeatedly, including in this tweet yesterday:

This view calls for unity of voters to elect Congressional candidates who will take action on behalf of reform.

The conundrum is this:

Voters have differing views on important issues, such as climate change, immigration, and privacy versus security in the war against terrorism and battling crime.  If a Congressional candidate takes positions on other important issues, many voters may not support the candidate on that basis, and this undermines the needed unity in the struggle of us voter outsiders against Washington insiders.

On the other hand, a Congressional candidate who stands firm that Congress must be fixed first, that voter unity on that must not be undermined, and for that reason the candidate declines to take positions on other issues, in all likelihood, is going to attract little or no voter support.

This is such a conundrum that Prof. Lessig seems nearly ready to abandon the effort at the Congressional level and is propounding an almost "Hail Mary" at the Presidential level, with his idea of a trustee President. See Frodo Baggins for President and On the Trustee President: Not EITHER/OR but BOTH/AND.

I look forward to seeing how Prof. Teachout sorts through this conundrum on behalf of MAYDAY, in the form of MAYDAY making, or not making, advocacy or recommendations relative to achieving the goal of electing a reform minded Congress by 2016.

Conundrum #3

I don't know if this is a conundrum, but consider how MAYDAY's announcement launches with:

Fight against corruption in the 2016 elections.
Contribute now. We need you. We need to build power so we can demand that politicians do something about how private money is destroying democracy.
* * * *
We are up against some of the most powerful anti-democratic forces in the world, and need people power to fight. 
* * * *
Show your power and contribute.

On the matter of money power or people power, I think it is fair to say that MAYDAY, in 2015 thus far, has stimulated very little grassroots action. Will that change now? Does MAYDAY believe that meaningful grassroots action is even possible to stimulate?

Banning Congressional candidates from the MAYDAY social media would, I think, lessen grassroots interest in what MAYDAY is doing.

I look forward to seeing what Prof. Teachout comes up with on the "people power" front of grassroots action.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The tweeting plan

I have been trying for months to push forward tweeting campaigns to advance the cause of campaign finance reform.

I believe I have made progress in getting people interested, and it is worthwhile to lay out a plan for them.

Some things should be indicated. These are:
1. I have endeavored to get campaign finance reform organizations to promote my idea for tweeting campaigns, but none has stepped forward to do that yet.
2. In my idea of the tweeting campaigns, I think it is necessary to push beyond tweets (and retweets), which go only to one's followers, and beyond the use of hashtags predicated on people knowing about the hashtag in advance and having an interest to look at tweets under the hashtag. The messaging about campaign finance reform needs to be much more aggressive. My idea is for numerous volunteers to send massively thousands of directed tweets to various categories of recipients, which categories would be systematically selected. The tweeting would done over an extended period of time. The tweeting would be such that 30 to 40 tweets could be sent by a single volunteer in 15 minutes. An hour or two a week by a volunteer would be meaningful. The tweets need to have something to link to, which link would contain a fuller message tailored for the particular category of recipients
3. The Twitter world is a gigantic and daunting cacophony to register even a minuscule effect in. I think a focused effort in small geographic areas should be done initially. As a suggestion, I would pick a single Congressional district to start with. If ten to twenty volunteers did coordinated tweeting into a single Congressional district for a couple of weeks, I think notice could be gotten, and a tweeting campaign could grow from there. If a Congressional district is picked, I think there needs to be a volunteer from the district who would be the "public face" of the tweeting campaign in the district. 
4. A place for volunteers to discuss the campaign, and how it is working, is needed. In March, I created this Tweet to Defeat the Money Monster in Politics Facebook Community. Take a look and tell me what you think of it as a venue for volunteers to communicate.
5. Let's call ourselves the "The CFR Tweet Squad."

To get volunteers to participate, the tweeting plan must be agreeable to the volunteers.

I have received "indications of interest" from persons I have previously tweeted to. I am going to tweet again to those persons, with a link to this blog entry. I wish for those persons to indicate whether the above plan idea is agreeable to them, whether they have any suggestions, and whether they are willing to do volunteer tweeting in fact.

I will try to recruit other volunteers by tweeting links to this blog entry.

If you want to email me, my email is

I sure hope this flies.


EDIT 8/1/15

Let me expand in reaction to replies I have received.

I have a year's worth of experience with how hard it is to have impact through tweeting, massive or otherwise. I have managed to get my name known in the Alabama 6th Congressional district to a degree. It has brought me to having some public credibility in doing this past week that which is described in Who will debate this?

Subject to hearing other ideas, I would propose tweeting campaigns in other Congressional districts that use tactics I endeavored to employ in the Alabama 6th Congressional district.

The tactics are premised on the view that the struggle is not left against right, Republicans versus Democrats, but rather of us voter outsiders against Washington insiders. To the extent that is correct, the consequence is your Representatives in Washington probably don't want to talk about the matter, and the starting point is to try to establish in a public way the unwillingness of Representatives to be forthcoming with their constituents.

I initiated my tactic 15 months ago, and have continued it ever since. You can trace some of my efforts through my blog entry Just answer the question, Gary Palmer, and Who will debate this? exhibits the tactic continuing just this past week.

If you are thinking about participating in the proposed tweeting plan, you should decide whether you think my tactic has value in advancing the cause of campaign finance reform that is worth spending time on.

If you don't think my tactic has worthwhile value, you need to propose a different tactic for the tweeting plan.

If you think the tactic is worth expending effort on, the next step is to think about whether the tactic can be speeded up in having effectiveness in other Congressional districts. I think it can be speeded up in other Congressional districts, but let me hold up on discussing that for the time being, pending hearing from volunteers that they think the tactic is worth spending time on.

EDIT 8/3/15

The Florida 17th and 18th Congressional districts have been picked to initiate the tweeting plan. See FL 17th and 18th Cong'l districts picked.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

MAYDAY'ers: Read the big announcement

MAYDAY'ers: You need to read the big announcement from yesterday.

This was the post on the MAYDAY.US Facebook yesterday:

BIG announcement today at MAYDAY.US!

This is copied and pasted from the link in that post:

We're here to Fight

A well-connected few are pumping billions of dollars to hijack your government. Contribute now to take back our Republic.

Fight against corruption in the 2016 elections.
Contribute now. We need you. We need to build power so we can demand that politicians do something about how private money is destroying democracy.
At MAYDAY.US, we believe that the root issue in American democratic failure is the way politicians raise money. Every other issue is connected to privately financed campaigns.
We are up against some of the most powerful anti-democratic forces in the world, and need people power to fight.
Public elections are a feminist issue. They are a race issue. They are a democracy issue. They are a power issue.
Show your power and contribute.
“Zephyr is a rising star in our movement who spearheaded a bold campaign against the establishment in her bid for Governor of New York. I first met her when she entered politics as the director of online organizing for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. That campaign showed the world the potential for online organizing. A proven fighter with a spirit that is not afraid, Zephyr is an extraordinary leader for MAYDAY and the entire reform movement. This change couldn’t make me happier. I will of course remain deeply involved with MAYDAY.US, serving on its board and as Zephyr’s minion. But we need you as well.”
- Lawrence Lessig
“Corruption is the issue hiding in plain sight in the 2016 campaign. Together, we’ll continue the MAYDAY.US spirit of dreaming big, trying new things, and striking at the root of corruption with large, unafraid actions. With all hands on deck, we can overcome legalized bribery and achieve political equality. We’re asking you to re-commit. Your donation will ensure we can address a big problem with bold action.”
- Zephyr Teachout

Monday, July 27, 2015

To #revolvingdoor tweeters

I am looking at the Rootstrikers/DemandProgress petition Tell 2016 Candidates: Pledge to Fight the Corrupting Revolving Door and at your tweets under #revolvingdoor.

Can you up your game?

I propose that we form a "Tweet Squad." Our Tweet Squad will send massive numbers of tweets in a systematic way.

To give you an idea of what I am talking about, please check out:
Bird-dogging in NH today
Tweet To Defeat the Money Monster in Politics
MAYDAY'ers: Let's build #Leader4Reform
Proposed messaging re: Congress.
Does this appeal to you? Do you think it would make for increased effectiveness in your messaging?

Please tell me what you think.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Politicking and strategizing re Sanders campaign

Although MAYDAY seems to have no interest in "synergy" (or other interaction) with the Sanders campaign and its supporters, I have encountered reactions from two Sanders groups, which deserve reporting. How representative the reactions will turn out for other Sanders groups remains to be seen.

In the case of one state group, I was approved as a member. I made the post set out in Report on joining Sanders Facebook groups. A person in the group commented that campaign finance reform was central in the Sanders campaign and she did not see how what I was proposing would be a distraction. Thereafter, the administrator removed me from the group without any notice to me.

The second group is Wisconsin for Bernie Sanders 2016, which I discuss in To campaign finance reform organizations. The upshot of that is I have been removed from that group as well.

The extent to which other Sanders groups will not allow me to join and/or post or comment remains to be seen.

Maybe MAYDAY will continue to have no interest in synergy or other interaction with the Sanders campaign, but that could change.

Consider things that Prof. Lessig has been saying recently.

In Why No One Will Reform Washington (from this month), Prof. Lessig sets out his posture, to wit, first, Congress cannot take action about fundamental issues until Congress is freed from its "corrupting dependence . . . on campaign cash,", and, second, no candidate (including Bernie Sanders) is offering a credible plan, to be implemented immediately upon election of the candidate, to liberate Congress from its corrupting dependence on campaign cash.

Prof. Lessig's mantra to the Presidential candidates is, "Where is your plan?"

Prof. Lessig has come to the belief that the political real world will not allow for a  "regular" President to have and implement immediately a plan for the liberation of Congress. To deal with this, Prof. Lessig is putting forth a concept of a "trustee President," who would fulfill one promise (liberating Congress) and then resign. (For more on this, see Frodo Baggins for President and On the Trustee President: Not EITHER/OR but BOTH/AND).

Prof. Lessig considers the 2016 Presidential race to be different from the past because virtually all of the candidates are talking about the issue, and Prof. Lessig says it is important for campaign finance reformers to keep the candidates talking about the issue. (Listen to Prof. Lessig's talk about this on July 4th, which can be found here.)

Note particularly, in On the Trustee President: Not EITHER/OR but BOTH/AND, Prof. Lessig's recounting of his meeting with Bernie Sanders before Sanders announced, and Prof. Lessig's conclusion that Sanders agrees that Sanders, as a "regular" President, cannot bring about the needed reform.

MAYDAY, in 2015, has thus far limited itself to contacting members of Congress to ask them to commit to fundamental reform. This has included soliciting MAYDAY supporters to do Congressional contacting and to reach out to other voters to participate as well. The amount of grassroots activity going on in this effort appears extremely modest.

Whether continuation of the same by MAYDAY will contribute much to advancing what Prof. Lessig has been saying recently is dubious to me.

I think MAYDAY needs to expand its activities, including engaging with the Sanders campaign and other Presidential campaigns.

If there is engagement (call that "politicking"), consideration needs to be given to how best to go about it (call that "strategizing").

EDIT: Other campaign finance reform organizations have their own approaches for fixing the political system that is broken. I don't know how fussed the other organizations are about what Prof. Lessig is trying to advance on campaign finance reform, or whether the other organizations care much about "politicking and strategizing" relative to the same. There is no reason, however, not to inform them about this.

To campaign finance reform organizations

To: MAYDAY, MoveToAmend, Represent.Us, WolfPAC, Stamp Stampede, Take Back Our Republic

Copied and pasted below are a post I made on Wisconsin for Bernie Sanders 2016 and comments from the group made on my post.

Would any of your organizations care to reply concerning how your organization desires or does not desire to interact with the Sanders campaign and its supporters?


Edit: Requests have been made by group that commenters not be identified here. Accordingly, I am deleting commenter identification.

Thank you for approving me. I am trying to promote synergy between the campaign finance reform movement and the Sanders campaign. See below link. My object in joining is to get the idea in front of Sanders supporters for whatever interest it may attract. If you consider this a distraction and prefer me not to be posting, I will understand if you delete this post. Thank you.…/synergy-with…
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