Who's got two thumbs & a demonstrated commitment to electing Democrats up & down the ballot? This gal.
Guest post by TobyRocksSoHard
I’m not going to sugarcoat it- the latest smear from the Sanders campaign makes me sick. It isn’t just an attack on our nominee for President, it is an attack on the very basis of a modern campaign that elects Democrats not just to the White House or federal office, but to state legislatures and governorships.
Accusing Hillary Clinton of “money laundering” through the Hillary Victory Fund because she is raising money for state parties (that is allocated and distributed by the DNC) is one of the ugliest, most pernicious lies I have seen come from either party this cycle. It is a smear that goes beyond desperation and speaks to a deficiency of character that is quite profound. The reason why is simple: the ability of a state Democratic party to run a coordinated campaign in the fall is the only way we will make the gains we need in the Senate, House, and state governments to impact legislation and redistricting going forward. How does a “coordinated campaign” work?
There are many candidates who want to identify and turn out Democratic voters in most locations in the country. There are candidates running statewide (Presidential and Senator) in large districts (House) and smaller districts nested inside those districts (state senate, state house, etc.)
There are, simply speaking, two ways those candidates can reach voters- communication (mail, television, radio, digital, and the like) and field (door knocks, phone calls, literature drops, etc.)
There are, also simply speaking, three major finite resources that campaigns make use of- money, time, and volunteers.
A coordinated campaign streamlines the expenditure of all three resources in order to reach the largest number of people through communication and field programs.
The basic way these things work is this: three entities basically exist in a battleground state: the Presidential campaign, the coordinated campaign (run by the state parties), and the individual candidate campaigns. If the coordinated campaign did not exist, the Presidential race and the various individual candidates for federal and state office would be competing for volunteers, reaching out to the same voters multiple times, and expending tremendous resources on field programs that take money out of their communication efforts.
The coordinated campaigns, however, combine field efforts between the Presidential campaign and the downticket candidates. In a battleground state, the Presidential campaign will have their own field program and staff of organizers who will work directly (often out of the same offices) with the organizers from the coordinated campaign. They run a slate of candidates so that volunteers they recruit will go out and talk to voters about the Presidential candidate all the way down to their state assembly candidates.
This means that Democratic volunteers in the state have a one-stop shop and don’t have to divide their loyalties. It means that state Senate candidates do not have to fund a field program and pay the salary of a field organizer out of their limited budget (they aren’t cheaper just because you have a smaller district, after all).
You end up with a coordinated field program that allows sophisticated targeting of voters, speaking to them about all of their Democratic candidates. The targeting and messaging resources that a Presidential or US Senate candidate can bring to bear are available to candidates for state legislatures. The right voters are getting spoken to with the best messaging at the doors and on the phone, and they’re hearing about all the Democrats we need to elect.
That is a very good thing. And there is a flip side to the coin that is also very good.
Because the state party and the Presidential campaign are raising the money for the field program, it is good news for the fundraising and spending priorities of the downballot candidates. People who have donated the maximum to the Presidential and state party committees can still choose to donate the maximum to the individual state candidates under state laws. There is a list of donors clearly dedicated to downballot races who these candidates can tap for individual contributions to their campaigns.
More important than that, though, is these candidates have freed up resources that would have been spent on field to tailor their communication message to their district. They know the best use of those dollars, whether or not television is worth the investment, whether radio reaches enough people, whether mail pieces will reach rural voters in a large district without much density. They know the issues local voters care about. They know the familiar faces of endorsers to stick in a commercial or plaster on a mail piece. And now they have more resources for getting the best message out in the best way to the largest number of people.
Funding state parties to be able to run a coordinated campaign is one of the single best investments Democrats can make if we care about not just the White House and the Supreme Court, but control over redistricting in gerrymandered purple states, assaults on women’s rights by state governments, voter suppression tactics being passed around the nation, and every other issue from local to global importance.
Does Hillary benefit from the coordinated campaign and the state party money spent? Sure she does. But not nearly as much as other Democrats on the ballot do. The investment that the Presidential campaign itself will put into these states not only bolsters the coordinated campaign, it will likely be larger than the state party spending anyways. Clinton is raising money for these state parties and will be dumping more Presidential money into many of the states that will help the entire ballot, as well.
To be completely fair, though, there are winners and losers in this scenario. The way this is set up is that most of the money goes back to the DNC to be allocated strategically as the November race shapes up. States that are Presidential battlegrounds AND have Senate races AND have state governments that could flip in time for 2020 redistricting will obviously get some priority when it comes to resources. Places like Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio will see money come in not just because of their importance in Presidential politics but because control of the US Senate (and therefore the Supreme Court) could hinge on these states and huge redistricting battles are on the horizon in these places. Other states may not be so strategically crucial, and may get the shorter end of the stick. Part of the issue is- we may not know what states are more or less important in terms of strategic allocation of our resources right away. With Trump likely leading the Republican ticket, the Presidential candidate may be competitive in states we were not expecting, and that could make more races competitive in the modern era of very low ticket splitting.
The DNC has an interest in pushing those resources to where they will have the largest impact. That calculus will shift as the race takes shape. State parties will need to do a great job of completing candidate recruitment and candidates will need to do a great job of building their campaigns so that they can make a strong case to the DNC as these decisions are being made.
The ludicrous lie being spread by the Sanders campaign isn’t just an attack on Clinton’s character. It undermines the ability of Democrats to compete at all levels. It is a vile and disgustingly self-serving attempt to gin up false outrage in a way that undermines progressive goals. It undermines our ability to have control over the Supreme Court. It undermines our ability to have a seat at the redistricting table in states across the country in four years.
In order to make himself feel better about losing the nomination Sanders is undermining the chance at progressive progress for a generation. This is worse than “unqualified,” worse than the ambition attack. This is the most destructive and despicable attack we’ve seen in this primary campaign and it isn’t even close.
The accusation of “money laundering” is false and offensive. It is meant to cover up Sanders’ own despicable refusal to raise money for more than a handful of Democrats (running in primaries against other Democrats). He has not raised a single dollar to be spent fighting back against Republicans. The Bernie Sanders campaign is about one man’s ego ahead of the good of the Democratic party, the progressive movement, and the country. This latest trip into the mud will only serve to help not just Donald Trump, but Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Republicans at every level of government intent on dragging us back on every issue Bernie claims to care about.
If Bernie cares about anything beyond his own ego, if he cares at all about progressive change in this country he will not only walk back this despicable attack, but he will dedicate the final months of his failed Presidential campaign to raising money in the same way the Victory Fund is. He still has a chance to do some real good for the country by leveraging his supporters to help elect Democrats who can continue the fights he claims to care about.
Instead of counting on the ignorance of his supporters to whip up anger based on lies and smears, he has the opportunity to take their enthusiasm and energy to raise money for Democrats in numbers he simply won’t have the opportunity to once he is no longer a Presidential candidate.
The question is if Bernie is going to do the right thing or if he is going to continue down his destructive path that serves no one but himself. Will he fight for progressive change or will he continue to make everything about Bernie Sanders?
Time will tell, but so far Bernie seems far more interested in keeping a rabid following loyal by lying to them than he is in actually doing the hard work of making change that is good for everyone.
I hope he changes his path.
I have previously worked as a volunteer and field organizer with state party coordinated campaigns in a couple of states. I am not currently working for or with any state Democratic party or candidate.
(Originally posted at Daily Kos)