What is the Online Organizing Equivalent of the Hover Car?

In an ideal world, we would all have hover cars and progressive activists would have a credible plan for pursuing a progressive agenda in a Democratic trifecta. Alas, we live in a fallen world, bursting with imperfections, not the least of which is a utter lack of hover cars.

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I want his car and his moustache

So the question remains, how should progressives treat the incoming Congress and President, and how should we organize online to maximize the progressive policy outcome. I have already criticized both the President’s new organization and unaffiliated leftists who are already harping about problems with Obama policies. The trick here, as all else in politics, is to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. As our patron, Wallie Von Bismark has been known to say: politics is the art of the possible. Recognizing and maximizing what can be accomplished is the foundation of political judgement.

Progressives should recognize this moment of opportunity, but must also be savvy enough about the process to work it properly. The lack of channels for this kind of activism is why I really liked Chris Bowers idea of monitoring legislation before it reaches a committee vote, which allows for concerted pressure and media exposure prior to the calcification of voting decisions by members of congress. It is a proactive, proscription platform for action that provides progressive activists an avenue into the legislative process. I propose an expansion of this project that allows for wikified, Digg-style legislation/issue tracking platform that would channel grassroots opinion to inform elite discourse without management by party officials. This platform, lets call it Onward.org, would aggregate all the information (blogposts, news stories, issue group statements, Facebook and Myspace postings) by issue area and particular bill in a manner similar to OpenCongress. Each issue and bill node would contain links that provided ways for interested citizens to get involved and connect with organizations working on their issues. The platform would provide members with the opportunity to promote issues on the group’s agenda and promote popular knowledge and participation on issue campaigns. The wikified nature of the group would generate for peer production of content, which would greatly increasing the amount of content available on the site.

Certainly MoveOn would be the organization most capable of pulling off something like this, but from a branding perspective one way to do it would be to tie it to Obama’s stated agenda. The organization could track Obama’s progress towards achieving his campaign promises and take the necessary action to reign him in when it looked as if he was defecting from previously stated policy preferences. The group would give Obama plausible deniability by virtue of it’s independence from the party and could extend the terms of the debate leftward by bringing pressure to bare onĀ  democratic and republican officials. You could also knock up a fancy tracking infographic that would allow you to visually see the progress of the liberal agenda and where it was caught up.

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