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November 07, 2003

It's Over

If the AFSCME endorsement holds up (okay that's big caveat), Dean's essentially locked down the nomination. (Yeah, yeah-- I bought Kerry for a while, but Dean's shocked a lot of people.)

Combining Dean's own Internet-driven organization with the on-the-ground power of SEIU and AFSCME, combined with his Internet-driven funding advantage, it's just hard to see any other candidate's organization having a chance to challenge him.

We will no doubt see an "anyone but Dean" consolidation, probably around Clark assuming AFSCME's help allows Dean to knock out Gephardt in Iowa. But with Lieberman and Edwards dividing up some of the pot of votes down South, the consolidation may not go far enough.

And one thing to expect from the SEIU/AFSCME endorsement-- it will also bring in a load of civil rights leaders' endorsements for Dean, since the progressive union endorsement will both be a seal of good housekeeping on those issues and encourage a message of consolidation around Dean as progressives' best vehicle for the nomination. We'll see what the lingering effects of the Confederate Flag flap will be, but in the long run it may still faciliate Dean's intent-- patching together a coalition of folks of color with working class whites who like their guns.

And for the fight against Bush-- I'm left a bit stunned at what could be a consolidation quite early of Dean's innovative online organizing with the powerhouse on-the-ground operations of SEIU and AFSCME (along with the other unions that will soon fall into place). Janitors and computer jockies organizing together is an amazingly powerful idea.

And we ain't seen nothing yet. We are a year from Election Day, yet Dean is starting with an online organization of over 500,000 people, while the SEIU, for example, has already held multiple national meetings of thousands of their top activist organizers to be sent back into the field to mount the largest political mobilization in history. Thousands of SEIU members will be taking a one-year leave of absence to go organize in swing states on the payroll of the union's political operations-- a cross-state organizing effort that's never been done and being started orders of magnitude earlier than any previous political year.

And the SEIU/AFSCME marriage around Dean is incredibly important-- a few months ago, the internal union feud between the two unions led to a broader split in what was intended to be a unified cross-union operation around general national political work. Instead, the union movement ended up with two vehicles (527s in the new campaign finance argot), the Partnership for American Families (largely SEIU led) and the Working America Alliance (largely AFSCME led). While this joint endorsement (assuming it happens) won't probably end that formal organizational division, it will hopefully mean that cooperation and division of labor will go more smoothly. There's plenty of work to be done, so a little friendly rivalry could even be useful in the we-registered-200,000-people-this-month-what-about-you kind of way, as long as it's kept within bounds.

And let me state, I still fully expect, as I have since last year, that this combination of organizing and Bush's own terrible policies will mean his defeat at the polls next year. One thing I noted back then when he was riding high in the polls and before the Iraq war:

War is not a guaranteed winner for incumbents. There is a short rally around the flag period, especially if things go well, but prolonged conflict can be very bad. Lincoln almost lost reelection in 1864 and probably only won because of last minute victories just before election day...Bush may think he can go in cowboy style alone, but I don't think he can pull it off without a complete disaster, militarily and electorally.
Between an anemic economy, continued chaos in Iraq, booming budget deficits, and the massive labor mobilization Bush has inspired by his policies, Bush is going to be defeated.

I'm a contrarian that I think media is far less important than a lot of people credit it. Absent anything else, it can be a deciding factor. But I believe in organization and if we see the welding of the union and Dean operations, combined with the civil rights, environmentalist and other movement groups that will join the mass dump-Bush effort, we will have the organization to make any media bias irrelevent. Bypassing the media filter, this organization will be able to have one-on-one conversations with much of the American people, by Internet, on the phone, knocking on their doors, and in the workplace-- real conversations that go beyond sound bites and engage the deep reasons why Bush and his policies are destroying this country.

And with that reality, I'm completely confident we will prevail.

Posted by Nathan at November 7, 2003 09:50 AM