The older I get the less I believe in coincidences. To take one choice example: Howard Dean showed the Left – and the world – that it was possible to fuel an insurgent, progressive political campaign with an outpouring of online donations. Barack Obama took that tactic to its logical conclusion: neither the Clinton nor the GOP machines could match the resources Obama drew from small-dollar donors. And so now the Supreme Court has green-lighted unlimited expenditures from multi-national corporations.
The first answer to the Left’s online fundraising prowess was the attempt to allow telecommunications firms to tier their services – that is, literally to slow the information feed to small-scale websites, sites like VDB. But the net-neutrality campaign, and the Democratic majority of 2006, stopped that effort, at least momentarily.
So the Roberts Court picked up the ball, and ran with it.
It was a troubling decision for everyone in America, but for me it was troubling in a fairly direct way. I’ve spent the last eight months talking about Entergy-Louisiana’s deceptive corporate behavior, and the need for Montpelier to rein it in. Part of the reason I want to represent Chittenden County in the Senate is specifically to introduce legislation that will affirm Entergy’s responsibility to pay for clean-up of the Vernon plant once it’s taken off-line. Because it’s either their bill, or the taxpayers’, and I’m not okay with the latter.
As the Senate President Pro Tem will tell you, the Senate votes will be close indeed.
And so now a split High Court has given Entergy the ability, should it so choose, to directly and overwhelmingly influence the election of the Senators and the Governor who will make the key decisions about decommissioning.
In fact, if you follow the Court’s logic – that corporate money is vigorous political speech, and democracy depends on good citizens speaking early and often – then Entergy would be ignoring its civic duty if it didn’t attempt to influence the coming 2010 elections.
So what do you do if your own speech is limited to one plain human voice? You go to house parties thrown by people with very big hearts. And extremely big dogs.
My wonderful co-hosts in the New North End of Burlington, Maggie Gundersen and Marie Lorrain. Marie baked the elegantly branded cookies at the top of the post.
The wonder that is Hobbes.
You go to pancake brunches thrown by devoted party committees in neighboring villages.
Good as her word, early supporter Sue Grab (with her son here) wore her fashionable long-sleeve campaign shirt to the Underhill-Jericho brunch. Thanks again, Sue.
This past weekend I did both. And it was great fun. But I’d be a fool to think that this race can be won simply by talking with people in living rooms, and eating home fries with people in middle school cafeterias. We’ll need the money to do direct mailings, and to advertise on a County-wide basis.
That’s expensive stuff. It can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 just to put a single piece of direct mail into the hands of the universe of voters you need to reach in Chittenden County.
So I sat down with my campaign advisors, and we came up with an admittedly corny idea: trying to raise $4,800 by the time I turn 48, which is to say by lights-out on February 10th. That gives us just 17 days from today.
Which is not a lot of time.
What we’re hoping is that if you’ve been planning to give to the campaign at some point, you’ll consider giving now, or consider nudging a like-minded friend.
The Act Blue link is here. Just click and it will take you through an unbelievably simple 3-minute process, a process that ends with a longish note telling you how much I appreciate your stepping up to the plate.
Given that we started this campaign very early – on May 18, to be exact – it’s now actually half-over, with the heavy lifting left to go. As we did with our first fundraising push, we’ll track this one over the next two and a half weeks on VDB, and let you know where we are, and how sunny or how dire the situation becomes.
And if you want to see where we’ve been so far, you’ll find that the campaign’s main website – Baruth2010.com – has been updated with new video, and a new navigation tab at the top. If you’re tuning in to the campaign for the first time, and you’d like to know what sort of wild-eyed insurgent drive you’d be funding, you’ll find most everything you’d need to know.
But if not, drop a line with a question, and I’ll do my best to answer it quickly. And if you visit please sign up at the top of the page, or join the Facebook group, so we can keep you in the loop.
And here’s the link to contribute quickly online again.
Elections are about to get much more costly, and much more contentious, because the biggest players will not actually be human beings. They’ll be far-flung corporate entities with no real ties to the community, and no hesitation about overpowering smaller opponents.
But even a pebble can stop a tank, if it gets wedged in there just right. That’s all we’re asking for really is the pebbles. And, if you have the energy come door-knocking time, a little help doing the wedging. More soon.