Tuesday, August 09, 2005

America Coming Together Falls Apart

Already, there have been numerous posts about the demise of the 527 organziation, America Coming Together (ACT) and its potential impact on Democratic politics in 2006 and beyond.

This article from the New York Times suggests that apathy and demoralization among Democrats is the reason for the failure of ACT. I would argue that it is more the embracement of a new idea that doomed the Democrats on this matter.

Democrats took to the idea of the 527 organization like ants to sugar, believing it to be the silver bullet to counteract the loss of soft money as a result of BCRA. However, the joy of the 527 was not accompanied by a clear thought of what role the organizations would play in Democratic circles absent some sort of coordination of efforts with the Democratic party.

The rapid embracing of the idea and vapid fundraising meant that mission was left out of the planning. Failing to adhere to a basic principle of politics, that of if it doesn't support a solid plan, any effort is a waste of time and money, the Democrats wasted the funds of the donors to ACT. Like the embracing of technology that does not support basic sound political principles, a 527 is only as good as its mission.

Now ACT had a valid mission, to mobilize Democrats to vote and to register voters. But in doing so, I have heard and witnessed, ACT did not do it in a politically sound way that would lead to victory. Despite their large numbers of offices, and 6,000 paid staff, ACT and Democrats generally failed to recuit at the grassroots. They did not get precinct or neighborhood level operatives from the local area, instead they brought in paid outside staff who created an immediate air of distrust among the very communities they sought to target.

As disillusionment over the failed mission of groups like ACT comes home, Democrats are left without a plan for these large groups. How will they fit into the scheme of attempting to break the GOP hold on government? Groups like ACT, on both sides of hte aisle, need to focus more on organziation than on money. But without solid foot soldiers for their fight, the Democrats have always looked to money as the substitute for organization. ACT was swimming in funds ponied up by people who were Anti-Bush, but not necessarily pro-Democrat. No surprisingly the effort failed.

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