To help define what role Firedoglake should play in the 2012 election and beyond, on Wednesday, May 11, at 7:00 pm EDT, I plan, as part of the FDL members webinar series, to examine four basic electoral strategies that have been used by groups or organizations to influence the political process. They include:
- Balance of power (Where a group decides to make its support totally contingent on a single issue, the goal being to make a candidate’s willingness to endorse that issue the deciding factor in a close election.)
- Direct democracy (Ballot initiatives, recalls and referendums.)
- Third parties
We will look at how several different groups in the past have used each of these four strategies, and try to understand both their successes and their failures, their advantages and their shortcomings. The discussion will focus on both the strengths and weaknesses inherent in each tactic, and, importantly, from FDL’s perspective, on what is required for an organization to make them work.
After talking about electoral tactics, the discussion will then focus on addressing some of the problems inherent in our electoral system that stack the deck against progressive activists:
- Campaign financing
- Election laws that favor exclusively two-party systems
- The Electoral College
- Multiple veto points
The goal of the discussion is to get people thinking tactically about elections. To both address what is theoretically possible using elections and what is actually possible in this environment for an organization of FDL’s current size and resources.
I eagerly look forward to hearing the opinions and ideas of our members. Ideally, this will form a basic foundation and begin a long dialogue that shapes not just how FDL is involved in elections, but also informs the work of many other grassroots organizations.
[Note: To keep the discussion on point, this particular webinar will focus specifically on using the electoral system. There are many other non-electoral tactics that have also historically been effective (such as using the courts, economic action, and civil disobedience), but they will be dealt with in a seperate event.]