Let the Rebooting Begin

By Elizabeth Leventhal of Portland, Oregon. [Editor's note: This past weekend, the Bus Project held the Rebooting Democracy conference for progressive Oregonians. We'll post several guest columns early this week with round-ups and thoughts on the conference.]

Saturday - The Bus Project's Rebooting Democracy conference got off to a fiery start today out here in Welches, OR, on the Western slope of Mt. Hood.

For those here bright & early, the day began with a service project, re-glazing the windows of the Zig Zag Forest Ranger building, followed by several cozy and informative Leadership Luncheons around town.

Back at ‘The Resort', the weekend gathering opened with speeches by Senators Rick Metsger (D-26) & Ben Westlund (R-27) explaining the history of Oregon's Ballot Initiative System and the virtues of the Direct Democracy it allows the citizens of this state to practice.

I first learned about OR's unique political history while a 3rd year law student at Willamette University, in a Law & Democracy class taught by the brilliant Oregon Supreme Court Justice Hans Linde. It was in this course in which I initially came upon the ideas and utopian dreams of William U'ren, the father of Oregon's citizen initiative process

However, it was not until three years later, at the first Engage Oregon conference in Hood River, that I saw U'ren's thoughts put into action via vigorous debate and several robust rounds of ‘sticker' voting

Back then, I walked away with a new appreciation for the job state legislatures do on a daily basis. Deciding what's best for a state of 2 million people is hardly an easy task, especially when forced to choose among several different worthy options.

This afternoon, I walked away with a different appreciation, one for the commitment and courage shown by people like Senator Westlund and Bus Project Chair Jefferson Smith - the commitment to fight for the public good, no matter how daunting or difficult a task, and the courage to rise above partisan politics.

As our evening speaker, David Sirota, reminded us, partisanship has cut a hole in our democracy - a hole big enough to drive a Bus through. But instead of taking advantage of the partisan climate in Salem, the Bus Project has chosen to rise above and beyond it, bringing folks from various parts of the state together, to discuss and vote on 11 progressive ballot measures.

It looks like this weekend's gathering would indeed make Mr. U'ren proud of the legacy he left behind and the hope it holds for a better Oregon.

Consider democracy officially re-booted.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    I've been mighty fascinated by the conference and look forward to hearing the reports. Thanks!

  • (Show?)

    Great writeup Elizabeth. I'm planning to sit down and write up my own item today. Wish I'd had a laptop there with me, though. Hopefully this year I'll get one.

  • Jesse O (unverified)
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    So, what are the results from the vote on the 11 ballot measures?

  • (Show?)

    Apollo was the iniative that won. I'll write up an item later today on how it all went, how things ranked, number of votes, etc. I just have to pull out all my notes.

    I was extremely disappointed in the vote and many of the people there, though.

    Apollo seemed to have more money, volunteers, etc. than any of the other measures. They were already doing well. If I remember correctly, they already have more than 10,000 signatures and $40K in the bank. They've had enough funding and help that they had nice colorful stickers printed up. They didn't seem to need the help from the Bus Project as much as some of the initatives, such as payday loans or health care did.

    Also, all of the items that were brought up had an organized group that historically fought for them-- environmentalists, labor, education organizations, etc. However, there was one group that has historically not had a group specifically fighting for them-- the poor.

    I really thought we should have picked the payday loan initative as the one we should have helped. It's the one that will definitely pass if it gets on the ballot, but is going to need feet on the street and money to get it there. After all, poor people can't afford to give to the cause, and they have no organized group that is working for them. All the other groups I mentioned above can give volunteers, money, etc. towards their causes.

    People seemed to be voting on the item they liked the most, as opposed to the one that truly needed the help and support from the Bus Project and its volunteers the most.

    This was the opportunity for progressives to show they give a damn about poor people. Sure it did fairly well (third, if I remember correctly), but it should have done better. Many people seemed to be against us voting to pick it because it wasn't something new, wasn't something that we could be the first to do. Therefore, it wasn't progressive. However, that attitude is the wrong one to have.

    Oregon used to be first, or at least one of the first, to protect its people and its land. Now we're well behind other states in protecting our poor from payday loan companies. The idea that we shouldn't pick this item because it isn't "new" was absolutely ridiculous.

  • (Show?)

    I've posted my run down on the first day of the conference over at Blog for Oregon. I also have some pictures I shot here.

    Currently only pics from Friday are up, and there are none of the dinner speakers since I was volunteering at the registration table at the time.

    I plan on doing write-ups on Saturday, the initative voting, and adding more pics later today.

  • (Show?)

    Jenni;

    Thanks for going and thanks for the write-up. I just want it be clear that every measure there found some volunteers. The only way to vote for anything was to agree that each vote carried with it a obligations to volunteer for 3 hours, get 20 signatures or give $50. The top four which included Payday Loan reform and Fair Deal for Schools will have a ton of volunteers and quite a bit of money in donations from the attendees. I think that while neither was the "big" winner they certainly didn't get the shaft with each getting hundreds of volunteer hours and getting to vet their arguments in front of a fairly friendly crowd.

    Let me also add. Everyone that missed it should feel bad, oh so very bad.

  • (Show?)

    Joe--

    Thanks for posting that. Guess I should have mentioned that through the voting process everyone picked up volunteers and well as pledges for signatures and money.

    I was talking about that Apollo came into the event with a certain amount of support.

    While I heavily supported Stand for Children's education funding initiative, I knew it would pick up a good amount of support from all the education-focused groups and unions.

    I am very happy that each of these measures walked away with a good amount of pledged support. While I put 7 of my 10 stickers on the payday loan measure, I also gave one each to the homeowner bill of rights, increased lottery funds to schools, and the developer fees to schools. I mostly gave signatures to the payday loan initiative, as all it'll take is a few canvasses out in areas like Gresham for me to easily get those signatures.

    Hitting up apartment complexes and areas of town that are historically low-income will be a great way to pick up signatures as well as potential volunteers. Getting low-income people involved in the process is a huge step in getting things changed for the better. If they participate and vote, they're a lot harder for the elected officials to ignore.

    And I agree-- everyone who missed it should feel very, very bad. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. While everything was a bit crammed in, it was definitely an example of how a conference should be done/run.

  • (Show?)

    It may be that the person speaking on Apollo meant they had pledges for that many signatures, as it hasn't been filed yet. I had in my notes that he'd mentioned a certain number of signatures they had already, but it must've been pledges.

    Things got a bit hectic (and sometimes loud) as we got closer to the end, so sometimes it got hard to follow everything correctly. Wish I had an audio tape of all of these to go back and listen to.

  • (Show?)

    Jenni and Elizabeth,

    Thanks for the updates. I was disappointed none of you "live blogged" it! Maybe for the future.

    Glad to hear it went well.

  • (Show?)

    Paul--

    Yea, I'd love to. Maybe next time I'll have a notebook and will be able to. I'm hoping to get one prior to the DFO Progressive Leadership Summit so that I can blog live from there.

  • Progressingwhichagenda?! (unverified)
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    So..... which direction were we actually "progressing" this weekend? Keynote speaker, Ben Westlund (R). "Hosted" by Sen. Rick Metsger (HARDLY a D). Initiative speaker, Billy Dalto (R). Hmmmmmm.

    Not right, not left, but BACKWARDS?!

  • (Show?)

    Of course Metsger was the "host"-- we had the event in his district and hometown.

    Westlund is sponsoring several bi-partisan initiatives that are quite progressive. Just because someone has an R next to their name doesn't mean their a wacko conservative. You should sit down and talk with him-- Westlund gives a damn about the people and this state. He's tired of all the partisan bickering and is considering re-registering as an independent.

    I also didn't see him as being a keynote speaker-- he was the speaker at a plenary session about initiatives. To me, the keynote speakers would have been the speakers at Friday's dinner (David Sirota and Les AuCoin), Saturday's lunch (Bill Bradbury), Saturday's dinner (Andrei Cherby and John Kitzhaber), and Friday closing (Jim Hightower).

    And yes, Dalto spoke. He is the chief petitioner on an initiative that had bi-partisan support-- Mitch Greenlick and Dr. Alan Bates (both D's) are also sponsors of the item (Family Health and Wellness Act) in addition to Westlund.

    There are Republicans out there that can be progressive on topics or issues. In the case of these two, they have helped to create and are the main endorsers on initiatives that are progressive. They shouldn't be left out of the process just because they're registered Republicans. If they were, then the Bus Project wouldn't be non-partisan, would it?

    Let's not bash the R's who are willing to work together with D's to do what's best for Oregon.

  • Mari Anne (unverified)
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    Jenni, thanks for your post but let me correct some errors regarding the Oregon Apollo Project to make Oregon energy independent. We do not have any signatures and no money in the bank. We have some pledges of help. Dan Carol who founded the National Apollo Alliance and now lives full time in Oregon and myself (native Oregonian) have been working on this with no pay - just a lot of heart.

    Unlike many of the initiatives being considered at the conference, we do not have an infrastructure for support and signature gathering. The AFL-CIO and Our Oregon (payday loan) have a huge membership base as does 1,000 Friends and others pushing ballot measure ideas. Oregon Apollo is just starting up in Oregon and is not backed by any particular organization in Oregon. In the last 6 months after talking to many different groups and individuals in Oregon we are making progress but still lack the infrastructure that is needed to be successful in the initiative process. The Bus's support is critical and much needed to set Oregon on course for energy independence and to reduce global warming.

  • (Show?)

    Mari Anne--

    Apparently someone mispoke at the conference (or it during one of those times when I was interrupted by someone coming over to talk to me and I wrote down the wrong initiative), as I have those numbers on my notes as coming from someone speaking on the Apollo Project. As I said in a correction above, it could have been that the money/signatures was pledged, but that wasn't stated.

    Our Oregon is actually made up of a bunch of organizations that will be spending much of their time on other initatives. They also have more than one that they're working on for 2006 (more lottery money to schools). They put forth the payday loan initative, but the fact remains that they're not an organization that is there for poor people.

    Apollo will be able to draw from the environmental community. There are plenty of people out there who have been awaiting a bill like this and will give money once they know the initiative is there and how to give. The people who have been awaiting a payday loan change are lucky if they can put food on the table and pay the rent-- they can't afford to give to the campaign.

    To me, the one that needed the most grassroots support was the payday loan initiative because it deals with a group of people who are least likely to be able to help. They're working multiple jobs, make very little money, etc.

    Other initiatives that aren't fully organized yet will do so over the next few weeks. They'll get money from organizations that work on their issues (environment, labor, education groups, etc.). Those groups will put out e-mail blasts to their members who support those issues, and they'll get a good number of signatures from those people.

    Thank God Our Oregon was the one to put the item on the ballot, or we wouldn't at least be lucky enough to have a group that is organized to help us out. But the fact remains that there's no organized group, no group of supporters that we can easily bring to our aid.

    Sure, people who aren't poor will sign the petition as well-- once they've been fully explained what the problem is. But that takes a lot of time-- time that isn't there during this process. Once it's on the ballot we'll have time to show the voters on the news, through the mail, etc. how bad the system is and how it needs to get fixed. But the average person who has likely never dealt with a payday loan place has no idea how bad it is and has the attitude that if those people are stupid enough to get the loan, then they'll have to deal with the consequences (which of course they don't think are near as bad as they are).

  • askquestions1st (unverified)
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    So here's a few questions that would appear to be fundamental in this election cycle:

    1. What are the specific values that define "progressive"?

    2. What distinguishes "progressive" values and politics from "populist" values and politics?

    3. Looking at a few of the initiatives, and picking just a few, how do the "Open Ballot Campaign", the "Child Health Care/Tobacco Tax", or even the "Apollo" initiatives actually measure up against the articulated values defined as "progressive" above?

    It is not at all clear that several of these measures conform to any coherent definition of progressive, and a few appear to be downright anti-progressive. More of them appear to fit traditional definitions of populist, but populism is not at all synonomous with progressive. And several of them appear to be outright elitist and/or classist, which is neither progressive nor populist.

  • (Show?)

    ...and a few appear to be downright anti-progressive. More of them appear to fit traditional definitions of populist...

    Can you be more specific on this? Which do you see as being anti-progressive and which do you see as being populist?

  • LT (unverified)
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    As I understand it, progressive means opening up the system (postcard registration and vote by mail could be seen as progressive); populist means "for the little guy" (payday loan measure would qualify there) although there was always a "dark side" of populist exemplified most recently by Pat Buchanan's campaigns.

    "Elitist" usually means people with good homes and good salaries who don't understand working class realities. When I worked in retail there were co-workers who would say of certain broadcast personalities "Just let them leave their comfortable studio and do my job for a day or a week and see if they see things differently".

    If someone else has a different meaning for those terms, please post them here.

  • sasha (unverified)
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    Quote: "Editor's note: This past weekend, the Bus Project held the Rebooting Democracy conference for progressive Oregonians."

    If it was for progressive Oregonians, what were Democrats doing there?

    Oh, you mean SOCIALIST!

    I get it now.

  • (Show?)

    Here are the definitions of progressive I've always used in regards to politics (taken from the American Heritage Dictionary):

    • Moving forward; advancing.

    • Promoting or favoring progress toward better conditions or new policies, ideas, or methods.

    According to the same dictionary, a populist would be:

    • A supporter of the rights and power of the people.

    So by these definitions, an item could easily fall under both categories-- such as when it leads towards better conditions in relation to the power/rights of the people. I can see payday loans as falling under both of these categories.

  • (Show?)

    I was involved more actively in the Bus Project a couple years ago, and I recall the careful attention the organization made to being nonpartisan. In a country as sharply conservative as ours, this means that liberals almost always back Democrats, and the Bus is definitely liberal. But I admire its (apparently continuing) effort to remain true to a higher calling--and find progressive solutions wherever they may be.

    Liberal policies will never emerge if we continue to remain partisan purists. For conservatives, that trench warfare is great--it "conserves" the status quo. (Which looks pretty bad, by the way.) The great progressive era of Oregon politics was distinct from this era in one key way--liberals worked with both parties to see landmark policies become law.

    Being a partisan is easy and psychologically satisfying, but it's a great way to make sure nothing changes. Kudos to the Bus Project for showing the way to a big tent.

  • Brandon Rhodes (unverified)
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    Re: progressive definition.

    Jefferson Smith mentioned offhand to me on Saturday that we can't keep expecting to resurrect FDR, that's just not what is going to happen. The big programs of the New Deal and Great Society were products of their day, how those generations approached poverty (my interpretation: these days, big centralized programs are not going to cut it, at least not very often). New answers and news solutions must be found.

    I think that is a beginning, at least according to the OBP founder, of a nuance between a progressive and a liberal or Democrat. Essentially the same positions on what government should act on, but progressives prescribe different means to them.

    And I have to underscore, it was a hell of a weekend. There were more partisans in the crowd than I would personally have cared for, though. Still darn good.

  • (Show?)

    This is far from definitive, but after struggling with definitions for a long time, this is what I posted on the About BlueOregon page:

    What do you mean, "progressive"? Well, ideology is always in the eye of the beholder. Contributors to BlueOregon will likely disagree with each other a lot. That said, we generally believe in the power of people to organize themselves for the improvement of society, through government and other institutions.

    That is, as opposed to "conservative" - those who believe that society advances best when every man (or woman) seeks prosperity on their own, and government works best when it gets out of their way.

    Fighting over definitions could be a three-day conference all by itself, though, and I think we can all agree... Progressive: we know it when we see it.

  • (Show?)

    Kari--

    Yea, it can be a hard thing to define. I definitely know it when I see it. When I'm asked to define it, those above are the descriptions I usually use, as it's pretty much what I'm thinking when I see something as being progressive.

  • Andrew Hall (unverified)
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    The conference was great, but because I was photographing the event for the Bus Project (I took something like 1500 pictures!), I didn't stay put in most of the workshops and sessions for very long. We hope to have some pictures on the Bus website soon (not 1500 don't worry!).

    The speeches were terrific, though. Kitzhaber was great, I thought. There were five TV cameras there from the Portland stations, all hoping he would announce/not announce in the governor's race. He had a great time with this; he started speaking by saying (I paraphrase): "Before I begin my prepared remarks, I would like to make this announcement...there's a tan Ford, license number..[laughter]". The camerapeople all had to get their individual little wireless mics onto his podium, and the pile must have distracted and annoyed Kitzhaber. In the middle of his speech, he picked up a huge mic that annoyed him, saying, "I don't know who this belongs to, but sorry - you're outta here, buddy" and removed it from the podium. And of course, he gave no hint of his intentions.

    Humor aside, Kitzhaber's speech was great, reiterating his pet topic of health care reform but also reminding us about how destructive the current partisan political climate has become to good public policy. The night before, David Sirota spoke passionately and castigated Democratic leaders for not standing up for what they believe in, for example on the Iraq war. Bill Bradbury told us that the biggest threat to Democracy today is not electronic voting machines but disenfranchisement of voters by adding stringent new requirements just to register. Jim Hightower ended the conference on just the right mixture of humor and hope.

    The ballot measure sessions were cool - more of a "put your money/time where your mouth is" (by pledging time/money to any measure you supported) instead of just some theoretical exercise. There were some great "brainstorming sessions" where people broke into groups to debate the merits of the measures and tried to agree which ones to support and reach some sort of consensus, then report back to everyone the result.

    There was also plenty of time for people to ask questions of the ballot measure supporters (with Joe "Phil Donahue" Smith ripping the mike out of your hand with relish one second after you'd gone past your 60 second answer time limit). As usual in these situations, my mind locked up when it came time for people to offer comments and ask questions to the measure supporters, so I asked and said nothing and instead struggled to understand why the autofocus on my fancy new Canon digital SLR camera doesn't seem to work as expected. I've since had a number of "what I should have said" flashes...oh, well, maybe next time!

  • (Show?)

    My autofocus was driving me crazy all weekend. I never did figure out why.

  • (Show?)

    LT,

    Hope you won't jump on me for being an academic ( ;-) ) but my understanding. One of the best articles that attempts to discriminate between elitism, "democracy", and pluralism is the first chapter of Dye and Ziegler's classic American government text. I can get you a PDF if you're interested.

    Populist: generally understood to mean someone who advocates for greater levels of popular control (though that is almost a tautological definition) over elite or centralized control. Also sometimes understood as advocacy for policies which result in the greatest good for the common man (variously defined). Sometimes understood as anti-capitalist, anti-centralization, anti-Eastern money (that's going way back). I'd describe Oregon as a populist state, given the strong level of public support for referenda and initiatives.
    Among current political leaders, I might describe Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot, Howard Dean as somewhat populist.

    Elitist: someone who advocates for elite or (sometimes) expert control of public policy. Some link this to bureaucratic specialization (Max Weber) and non-partisanship of the progressive era (making for sometimes uncomfortable link between progressivism and elitism). Some link elitism to current theories of rational choice, since these theories tend to be skeptical of the ability of mass democratic forms to work without elite direction.

    Progressivism: now this is a tough one, because in the past 10 years, "progressive" has been adopted by erstwhile "liberals" because liberalism has a bad name among the mass public. In it's late 19th century definition? Means someone who advocates positive social change in the context of defending individual liberties. Positive social change=addressing the social inequities caused by the industrial revolution. Generally opposed to what is viewed as corrupt, centralized, overtly partisan actors (political parties, corporations), thus has an alliance with populists; at the same time tends to advocate for non-partisan expertise, thus has an alliance with progressives. Today? I'd say actually not all that different from 100 years ago: someone who advocates for active public sector efforts to address social inequalities. In contrast to the progressives of a century ago, racial inequalities are part of the mix, and current progressives are much less moralistic and religious (e.g. today's progressives aren't also prohibitionists).

  • Sid (unverified)
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    Was David Sirota "sexy sexy"?

  • Andrew Hall (unverified)
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    The only comment I heard about Sirota from a woman was that he was a lot younger than she thought. Someone else said he looks like Ben Stiller. I guess he's a pretty handsome guy, but I'll let others be the judge of that. We'll have some photos of Sirota on the Bus Project website. He is a more dynamic speaker than you would guess after merely hearing him on the radio.

  • (Show?)

    I can't say anything about Sirota, as I was volunteering at the registration table at the time and didn't actually see him. I ended up with a huge headache (probably because I'm not used to be around that many people at a time anymore) and ended up going to bed right after my shift was over.

  • Jesse O (unverified)
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    "It's the one that will definitely pass if it gets on the ballot"

    Boy, if I had a dime for every time I heard that. GMO labeling polled 93% in favor and went down in flames. And so forth. Great ideas can be overcome by huge amounts of money. Which is what the payday loan industry has. And if they're not organized enough to get on the ballot, they're definitely not rich enough to spend multiple millions of dollars to pass a measure in the face of virulent opposition.

    You can imagine the ads now, "Government red tape" (GMO attack), "Limiting poor people's access to money when they most need it" and so forth. Sigh.

  • (Show?)

    I never said they weren't organized enough to get on the ballot. I said that unlike other groups, there is no group that historically has been working on those types of issues. Therefore, there's no way to just shoot e-mails out to a big group of people and say "we need money and your time."

    However, if we can get people out on a few large canvasses, we'll get those signatures.

    And I truly believe it will pass once on the ballot. And it has nothing to do with polling.

    This is something that is much simpler than genetically modified food. This is about not being able to charge 400%+, having the loan be payable in a month as opposed to no longer than 2 weeks, set limits on fees, etc.

    For example, I had a short term loan once for $2000-- it paid of a credit card and was Christmas money. I paid no more than $200 in interest and fees. My sister had a $250 loan that ended up costing her almost $700 once you added on fees and interest.

    It's easy to understand.

    You also have the fact that there was 700,000 payday loans in 2004-- that's a lot of people who are likely to be disgruntled with the system.

  • (Show?)

    I noticed one sure sign of the maturation of The Bus Project as a viable organization:

    On Friday (the only day I was able to attend) Jefferson Smith was everywhere but center stage. To me this indicates addational depth to the organization that allows for new stars and new skillsets to be in the limelight.

    <hr/>

    Politically, a Progressive would be the opposite of a "regressive". Progressives want to try new stuff, discard what doesn't work, use what does work, think of new ideas, repeat.

    A regressive holds that anything worth thinking about, has already been tried. If it hasn't been tried, it ain't worth thinking about.

    and no, I won't defend this last bit in debate but it does seem to fit.....

  • (Show?)

    Pat--

    That's why I didn't see you this weekend. I had a few people ask me if I'd seen you, but I'd only seen Christine.

  • Jesse O (unverified)
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    Having food labeled if it is genetically modified is not complicated to understand.

    It's basic: mothers should know what's in the food they feed their children.

    But, well, it suddenly BECAME complex thanks to the advertising.

    Payday loans can be confusing too.

    For example: "they're charging 300%"

    Answer: "Actually, very few payday loans are annual, so using an annual number is misleading. In fact, half our loans are paid back within two weeks. We usually get paid 20% for a service that many poor people find helpful in times of dire need. No one else is providing this service. Why would we limit services to the poor? And why not have the market -- rather than bureaucrats -- decide what consumers get. Are you implying the poor are too stupid to think for themselves? That's really insulting."

    And so forth.

  • (Show?)

    No, to people it wasn't that simple. It got into a whole level of science that they didn't understand. Many people I spoke with didn't even really know what genetically modified food was.

    Payday loans aren't near as complicated.

    Any topic can have info thrown out that makes it seem complicated.

    But the fact is that with a little information people can easily and quickly grasp what the issue is with payday loans. Even after talking to people over several minutes, they still don't quite grasp what gmf is, what it isn't, etc.

    I've spoken with the same people on both topics. Those people quickly get the problem with payday loans. They don't quite grasp genetically modified foods.

  • (Show?)

    Sirota was a God.

    Those retro sideburns. That bolo tie. The boots.

    Katrina Vandenhuvel for president, Sirota for veep in '08.

    <hr/>

    Jenni,

    One point on the psychological side of this effort to rein in legal loan sharks.

    Like you, I have been the guy hauling pieces of furniture and electronic gear around to sell or hock. I have sat red faced in front of some punk bully at these loan agencies, listening to them hectoring me as they saw fit while they readied their documents to legally screw me, because they could. It was decades back, but I still hate 'em as bad as you do.

    I know that you mentioned the whole "walking a mile in another person's shoes" already but it bears repeating. Even earnest progressives can suffer from a lack of empathy when pushing this through will gain them very little politically.

    Poor people don't vote. And they especially don't write checks to political causes, although come to think of it, maybe they'd write checks to political causes of they had all of that interest money that they saved.......nah....

  • Walt Trandum (unverified)
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    The highlight of the weekend for me was the “ask “on Saturday night. I don't know if they just got lucky or if the Bus Project is really that good, but they seemed able to combine the enthusiasm of a revival meeting with the timing and precision of a Mafia hit. It was as if the entire weekend, up to this point, had been an elaborate set up. They raised several thousand dollars, in about 20 minutes, right before my very eyes. It was awesome to behold!

    On the other hand, the big disappointment for me was the lack of serious attention and support given the issue of Campaign Finance Reform at this forum. Yes the issue got some lip service. No there was no serious attempt at meaningful discussion or reaching a consensus. This only reinforced my long held opinion that the people that are already in positions of power, regardless of their political persuasion, are about as interested in real Campaign Finance Reform as OJ is interested in catching the real killer.

  • (Show?)

    Yea, if I heard correctly, it was $12,000 raised during that ask. I was quite impressed.

    I wish CFR would have gotten some more time. I think a lot of people were unsure because they didn't like the one that had been circulating, but they didn't have the wording in front of them to see how this is different.

    That, and people were so interested in a few things (such as health care and alternative energy) that they never gave other initiatives any chance. They forget that if this passed, groups like the restaurant assoc. wouldn't be able to buy the legislature anyway.

    I had planned on giving in some votes, but after speaking to people all weekend it became evident that the lack of empathy for poor people was there in that group as well. Too many people there had never walked in another person's shoes, as Pat talked about above. For many, the only time they were "poor" was during college when they didn't have enough money for their beer. I don't think we had too many people there who had every had a payday loan or ever been on food stamps. So I pretty much threw all of my votes on the Payday Loan Reform.

    <h2>I'm very interested to see what Rep. Buckley and the others have come up with, though-- especially if my concerns about the first one that came out are taken care of.</h2>
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