On May 1, we launched a project (Mayday.US) to build a superpac powerful enough to end all superpacs, by electing a Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016.
When we launched that project, we announced certain principles, the two most prominent being (1) that the project had to be cross-partisan, and (2) the project would (ironically) use the very tools it hoped eventually to dismantle.
What follows from (1) is that we would be supporting people whose policies on some issues some of us were guaranteed not to like. That’s not a bug in the plan; that’s a feature. It is the test of whether this is a cross partisan movement to see whether we can join to the movement people who genuinely disagree on other important issues. (And if supporting (financially) people you disagree with was too hard, we gave people the chance to target their pledge. I was enormously happy that only 12% targeted their pledge. 87% left us free to spend the money in “whatever way helps.”)
What follows from (2) is that we don’t believe in unilateral disarmament. There are some great souls from this movement who have tried to demonstrate their commitment to reform by running campaigns in the way they would be run if we had a reformed system — my friend, Buddy Romer, for example, who ran for President as a Republican in 2012, taking no more than $100 from anyone. But not enough of those good souls win. So our view is to support people who have committed to fundamental reform, regardless of how they choose to run for election. If you can win without taking large contributions, good for you. But the objective is to get a majority committed to changing the rules, not a majority committed to living like angels.
The first stage of this project has been an enormous success. No one — certainly not I — thought we’d get more than 50,000 supporters pledging an average contribution of around $120. Somehow, fortunately, we touched a nerve, and many many have responded.
Bill Busa, aka DocDawg on Daily Kos, didn’t like our plan. Or maybe he didn’t really understand it. Originally he offered some strong but helpful criticism about how we could more effectively deliver on our commitment to transparency. We met his criticisms by adopting the plan he proposed. I was grateful for his contribution to that.
But when Bill saw that we were actually going to support Republicans, he went ballistic. In perhaps the most extraordinary email I have ever received from a sane person (an important qualification if you saw my file of crazy emails), Bill issued a threat to the Mayday.US project. Withdraw from the New Hampshire Senate race, or else. (“It’s on” the subject read, though he was kind enough to apologize for “the ultimatum-like nature of this” at the end of the email.)
As I tried to engage Bill on the substance (and not the threat), it was clear at each stage he was charging us with not living up to the standards of a TOTALLY DIFFERENT PROJECT. He demanded I acknowledge the “mistake” in endorsing a candidate who didn’t have the views on immigration that Bill (or I) did. I explained that was not a “mistake”; that was the plan: we are supporting people we disagree with on many issues, because we agree with them on the fundamental issue — corruption.
Again he demanded I confess our “mistake” in endorsing Rubens because of his support of the Koch brothers’ (absurd) pledge to oppose a carbon tax. I told him again, that wasn’t our issue, and anyway, (because I care deeply about climate change) I was happy to support the only Republican candidate for senate IN THE NATION to acknowledge the truth of climate science.
Then again he demanded we confess our mistake because Rubens had signed a no new tax plan. Same response.
Then again he demanded we acknowledge our “mistake” because Rubens was accepting support from the Kochs (a claim which I’ve not seen substantiated anywhere, but whatever). Here I explained again the no unilateral disarmament principle, which apparently, Bill had also missed. (Bill wrote: “This is a question of whether a candidate receiving your support will or will not continue to seek the support of and ally himself with folks like the poster children for all you oppose: the Kochs. This is the very question you were asking.” (emphasis in the original) But no, that wasn’t “the very question” we were asking. What we are asking is whether it is possible to rally voters to vote for candidates who commit to reform, so that in 2016 we can engage in a much bigger way to win a Congress that will enact fundamental reform. So much has been explained on our site from the start.)
Armed with his conception of what we should be doing, as opposed to what we said we would be doing, Bill has made it his mission to rally the opposition with misleading claims about how we are allegedly misusing the funds we have raised. But that charge is completely baseless: Again, 87% of our supporters indicated we should use their contributions to support candidates who are either Democrats or Republicans. We are abiding by that commitment 100%. I get how the title “SCANDAL!: MAYDAY.US IS DOING EXACTLY WHAT THEY SAID THEY WOULD DO” doesn’t inspire clicks. But it is the truth.
Criticism is important, as it forces people and projects to live up to their commitments. Bill’s criticism of the way we were meeting our transparency pledge was a good one; it helped us better achieve what we had said we were going to do.
But the criticism of our work based on the view that it supports people the Daily Kos would not is not a good criticism. We are doing what we said we would do. Bill writes “inconsistency is not something I have accused you of.” As someone who has experienced the product of his attacks, I can attest that’s not the impression of his audience — as they think, based on what he has written, that we have indeed betrayed what we said.
We have not. And as powerful and (so often) right as the Daily Kos is, we’re not going to back down from our support for Jim Rubens, the only Republican candidate for Senate in the Nation to openly and honestly address the corruption in the way campaigns are funded, and to offer his own Republican solution to solve it. About this, Rubens is right, and if New Hampshire Republicans can escape the pressure GOP-HQ, I’m certain more and more of those independently minded voters in New Hampshire will see this too.