Feb. 25, 2004
The thought of four more years of President George W. Bush — and the possibility of seeing him actually winning the title of president in an election! – sends chills up the spines of many Americans. The passion with which people oppose this unelected president has helped to create a wild ride of a Democratic nominating process. We’ve seen some good candidates generate a lot of activism, bring new people into politics, and then lose out.
The nominee will be the favorite of many Democrats and a strong second choice, far preferable to Bush, for almost all the rest of us. And he will be seen as preferable to Bush by a large portion of that vast majority of Americans who take no interest in the primaries, including the half of our country that doesn’t vote even in general elections.
While neither Senator Kerry nor Senator Edwards was my first choice, I strongly prefer either of them to Bush on education, the environment, energy, immigrants’ rights, veterans’ rights, gun laws, the minimum wage, Social Security, and the “PATRIOT Act.”
What would be really useful right about now would be a movement that could keep newly active Democrats active and involved while generating new voters to ensure victory in November. Can we put a Democratic victory beyond the reach of third-party spoiling or Bush crony shenanigans? We can if we register enough new Democrats to vote. And doing so can become a more satisfying activity for those eager for change than supporting a campaign in the primaries has been.
One new effort that takes exactly this approach is that of a new political action committee called the Committee to ReDefeat the President. The group (which I work for) has created a website called www.ReDefeatBush.com and is generating money by selling large quantities of stickers, buttons, condoms (yes, condoms), lawn signs, posters, t-shirts, and inflatable George W. Bush dolls complete with flight suit and Pinocchio nose.
ReDefeat Bush plans to register a million new Democrats by convening – first in DC on March 2nd and then expanding around the country — weekly Tuesday night gatherings of volunteers with cel phones and pens who will phone and write to unregistered citizens in highly Democratic areas of key battleground states. If 20,000 volunteers register an average of 50 new voters each, that’s a million. And that could be decisive. Anyone asking what they can do for their country has a clear answer right now: register 50 new Democrats to redefeat Bush.
When you arrive at a ReDefeat Bush Tuesday Night Democratic Club, you will be handed a clipboard with a script, instructions, a voter registration form from the state you’re calling, and about 100 index cards with names and phone numbers of unregistered citizens. If you have brought your cell phone, you will call and ask people if they want to register in time to vote in next month’s Democratic primary on April 27 (in the case of Pennsylvania, for example). You will complete the registration form while you are on the phone and include a personal note in an envelope. If you don’t have a cell phone, you’ll write brief letters to the people on your list and enclose a voter registration form.
To support this effort, just buy some ReDefeat Bush stickers and other paraphernalia. To get involved if you don’t live in D.C., visit www.ReDefeatBush.com and send us a note. We can provide merchandise to be used for fundraising purposes, and the funds raised will go into the creation of more non-voter files and more activities, including trainings.
This effort should not be seen as a substitute for door knocking and other in-person get-out-the-vote efforts, but it is a way to tap the millions of available volunteer hours and recruit some of the available tens of millions of unregistered potential Democrats.
Most Democratic political professionals believe that registering voters is too difficult and that money should be spent mobilizing the people who have already registered. Even more focus is, of course, placed on raising money. But we need to tap into the huge number of Americans who have been turned off by politics and show them what they can do about it, namely redefeat Bush! In the process, we might take some of the overemphasis off that much smaller number of people: the registered centrist swing voters.
If you’re going to be in Washington, DC, on Tuesday evening, March 2nd (or if you can forward this to anyone who is and can come learn the ropes and report back to you) please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-329-7847 and plan to meet at 6 p.m. in Adams Morgan at the Spy Lounge, 2406 18th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. Following the voter contact activities, we’ll watch the Super Tuesday primary returns on television and plan for victory.