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May 06, 2011

Your Own Private Ryan
[Michael Smith]

Bumped Again by Ace, with a Short Intro: Last fall, I asked Michael to write an article about how to politically organize, and how to take over your local district. Or at least have a strong say in your local party's decisions, which are usually stupid and you know it, and badly in need of correction from outsiders.

The big problem with asking him to write that in, what, September?, was that it was too late to actually do anything about it.

But it's not too late to do something about it now. I encourage you to read his post on Hijacking Your Party Grassroots Organization (For Morons), and seriously think about doing it.

And I'm bumping this post, of course, because his point is critical: You can choose whatever candidate you like, in 85% of all districts, if you get 5% of the district's voters behind your candidate. Or -- yourself, if you decide the candidate you like best is you yourself.

While teaching me how to pull a stump, Daddy said the most important part was where you stick the crowbar.

That's true anytime you need to move something big. And right now, we have a lot of Congressmen (and state legislators) who don't want to move. They resist bold action, based on the increasingly strange idea that their re-election matters. They appear to be concerned about which of them will have the privilege of sleeping in the Titanic's radio room.

Maybe you are currently represented by one of these passenger Republicans in a "safe" seat. Maybe he nods to the Tea Party but does nothing in office that could actually change the course of government.

What he probably hasn't considered is that if he doesn't get radical on spending, he may get dumped anyway. Not in November 2012; with Congress in the hands of the nominally responsible Republicans, there's no good argument for going with the other party. Change, if it is to happen, will come in a primary.

That's easier than you think, or easier than your rep wants you to think.

As the filing deadline approaches, he'll brag about his war chest to scare off any serious challengers, figuring no one's heard of the Kasten Plan, where he who spends wisest -- not most -- wins.

Even smart primary challengers tend to play the incumbent’s game, wasting money on yard signs, radio spots, and billboards. Many consultants encourage this because they get a cut of the spend. Others know better, targeting the 1 in 10 registered voters who shows up for the primary with personal visits, mail, and calls -- the stuff that can actually defeat a well-financed incumbent.

The incumbent knows that once the primary's over, he's set: His district is so red, he cannot be defeated by any Democrat -- assuming one bothers to file.

I recently summarized the situation in a talk called "The Three Open Secrets of Electoral Politics."

Ace also let me preach here last summer. And right now is the time for primary challengers to start raising funds and planning their 2012 campaign. (E.g., Texas' primary filing closes at the end of December, 2011. Early voting begins less than 60 days later. Raising $2,000 a week starting today, that's only $88,000 for mail, phone banks, and other expenses. A serious primary candidate must start collecting checks right now.)

The short of it is, we are in a dire situation. The 2012 General Election won't save us without a rockin' 2012 primary to set the stage. The primary matters because:

  • 85 percent of districts cannot change parties. (They didn't in November 2010.) For those districts, the only way to get a better, bolder rep is in the primary.
  • Only 10 percent of voters participate in primaries. Half their votes = win.
  • The winner of the right primary wins the general.

In sum, just over five percent of voters choose 85 percent of the House of Representatives and the state legislatures.

That's an excellent place to stick a crowbar.

Would you like to have your own Paul Ryan, or Michele Bachmann, or Eric Cantor?

All one has to do is win the right primary. Five percent +1 of your district's registered voters can make it happen.

Your local Tea Party may already be working on this. If not, get them moving on it now.

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posted by Open Blogger at 10:25 AM

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