The Tide is Turning?
This is kind of an interesting development. I just got a fundraising letter from Francine Busby, who is set for a rematch of her narrow June loss to Congressman Brian Bilbray.
It starts off as your basic fundraising letter, highlighting some of Bilbray's more egregious votes and making the pitch for a contribution. Then it veers off into some uncharted territory:
My pledge to you is that you will be astounded at the campaign we run.
The Washington, DC consultants are gone, and with them, the negative attack ads. (that's interesting, since the first half of the letter is a negative attack ad -ed.) This is a local campaign, and it WILL be run the way I want it to be run - by giving voters a practical, common-sense alternative.
Our passionate, local staff is in place, and we are more inspired than anyone can imagine. We know that the voters were turned off by the June election and the relentless negativity associated with the Washington, DC money. That will change.
She then ads some bullet points about what she would do in office (ending the "madness" of the Iraq War, implementing a national energy policy based on innovation and conservation, addressing affordable healthcare), explains that Bilbray received under 50% and really is vulnerable, and closes the letter. Then, as if to cement the point, she adds a postscript:
P.S. I know you were disappointed that DC consultants had too much control in the June election. I pledge to you, it will never happen again. Watch me. You will be astounded.
Now, I donated to Busby in April, and I did it online, through ActBlue, and I think I added the extra $.01 to let the campaign know it was a netroots contribution. So this could be a targeted, tailored letter designed to make me say "Hell yeah, time to stop listening to the perennial losers and be your own candidate" and send me running to my checkbook. And no candidate's ever gone wrong projecting an outside-the-Beltway image.
But that attack is usually against the elected officials in Washington. Since when does a candidate in a campaign pitch attack "the consultants," not once but three times?
Since Crashing the Gate, that's when.
I believe in the power of media narratives, which are typically used to push along some BS about weak and bickering Democrats or strong tough guy Republicans. But here's a narrative that seems to be slowly taking root: the consultants are part of the problem. And it has the added benefit of being borne out through years of electoral losses and reams of evidence, as Kos and Jerome deftly pointed out in the best section of their book.
Two years ago a prospective candidate wouldn't know that "the consultants" would be a bugaboo that they could use in fundraising letters. They wouldn't even know there was another way to campaign to win without DC consultants at their side. They would have welcomed DC money. They would have welcomed the visibility. Because a couple years ago, the time-honored notion that "all politics is local" would have been met with blank stares.
All the blogosphere has ever asked for in campaigns is that the candidate be true to themselves, rather than boxed into a strategy of "don't make waves, don't get disagreeable, hope the Republican implodes and play to the middle." That's a relic of the political past. It takes a LONG time before major organizations like the Democratic Party figures this out and implements the necessary steps to changing the culture. It's like changing a corporate culture in a huge multinational, or more to the point, like changing the conventional wisdom that rules modern-day sports franchises. Everyone's afraid to innovate because their job's on the line, and they end up copying whatever other team is successful and hope that works. This move by the Busby campaign shows that maybe the conventional wisdom is changing. And the results, I believe, will be positive for my party and my country.
And even if this is a cynical attempt to get this blogger's attention, I'd say that's a victory. It means, of course, that we're being taken seriously.