Tag Archives: 21st Century Democrats

21st Century Democrats endorses Mike Lumpkin for Congress!

Today 21st Century Democrats is proud to announce our endorsement of Mike Lumpkin for Congress. Lumpkin is a progressive leader and is needed to help future President Obama pursue a progressive program.  We stand behind him in this campaign and will do whatever we can to ensure that on November 4th, voters make the progressive choice and send Mike Lumpkin to Washington for the 111th Congress.

21st Century Democrats endorsed 24 candidates today. You can find the entire list here.

Lumpkin wins over my brother – a Republican

Cross-posted at our blog

No Time for Jet Lag:

The good news is that my body clock may be naturally set on pacific time – always the night owl.  California is as sunny as advertised, and my lack of exposure to any significant amount of sunshine in my usual daily routine left me vulnerable to sunburn on my 30 minute stroll around the San Diego pier on Monday.

This whirlwind trip to the coast provides me with a delightful fringe benefit.  My youngest brother, Dave, and his family live in San Diego and are welcoming hosts to my visit.  Dave was kind enough to take a few days off work to be my driver and tour guide around the area.  Unlike me, Dave is usually on the far right hand of the political spectrum.  We’ve had many direct conversations over the years about what he wants me to tell “those Democrats in Washington” about what they are doing wrong.

Lately his tune has changed.  Don’t get me wrong – Dave will never think of considering himself a Democrat.  But like thousands of voters across the country, he has switched his voter registration from GOP to Independent.  He continues to be skeptical about whether any politicians can be trusted to “do what’s right.”

Here’s the best part of the story.  Dave did some research on Mike Lumpkin (our endorsed candidate in California CD-52) before I got here.   As an Army veteran, Dave was interested in Mike due to his military career.  To my surprise, he wanted to wait at the campaign HQ so that he could meet Mike even though he lives outside the district (by less than 1 mile).  

Impressed with Mike’s leadership as a naval commander and knowing that being a Navy SEAL means that one has courage and determination, Dave’s shield of skepticism started to weaken.  He chatted with Mike’s campaign field director, Jessica, and volunteer coordinator, Pat, while waiting to meet Mike.  Dave was talking about how he wished politicians would stop partisan positioning and fight for what’s best for all Americans; after all, on the field of battle soldiers don’t look at their platoon mates as Republicans or Democrats.  At that moment, Jessica walked over the shelf and handed my brother one of Mike’s lit pieces.  The photos were of soldiers in position for battle, and the caption was “in a foxhole, we’re not Democrats or Republicans, we’re Americans.”  

To my delight, he left sporting an “I like Mike” sticker on his red Mustang.   I thought he had gone back to his side of town, but he stopped in to visit an old friend in Santee.  He called a couple of hours later to see if Mike was available and came back by to meet him.  His conversation with Mike verified his instincts that his man wasn’t a “typical politician.”  This time, Dave left with an envelope so he could send Mike a check when he gets his next paycheck.

I have to admit that I am usually skeptical that even the best candidates can truly move strong GOP voters.  My brother may think he’s a swing voter, but I know that he will always lean to the right.  He was moved by Mike’s gravitas, experience and common sense approach to Washington.  I’m even more passionate about helping Mike’s team craft a top notch field plan because when voters of all stripes here his story and message they are inspired to action!  Let’s work to get his message out.

Stay tuned for news about the San Diego “GO Team” and some unique constituencies that Mike plans to engage.

We’re rallying early for a huge 2008 victory

Twenty-First Century Democrats is in the middle of our Annual Youth Leadership Speakers Series. We put on this program in order to provide a chance for the interns who flood Washington DC during the summer to hear real progressive leaders. These young people come to DC with high idealism and a desire to change the world, yet too often they only find cynicism and complacency.

At a time when bad news about the war dominates public dialogue, it has been energizing to hear from progressive leaders with integrity and courage. We encourage our speakers to talk about big ideas and their bold vision in America. One of our endorsed candidates from 2006, freshman Representative Chris Murphy (D-CT), really cut to the heart of why we don’t hear big ideas any more, why as a public we aren’t inspired. It really made me think.

“I have this feeling in general that today there are so many politicians that are so afraid to go out there and talk about big ideas, right, I mean we have become so addicted to incremental change and so scared of failure that nobody really talks about change in revolutionary terms any longer.”

Chris went on to talk about what I think is one of the major barriers to seeing real leaders talk about big ideas – money in politics.

“What is happening is that the bar to becoming a candidate for office, certainly for federal office in Congress, but also to a certain extent even to run for local office is not how hard you’re going to work, is not how many good ideas you have, is not how committed you are to public service. It’s one simple question. Can you or can you not raise the money?”

Chris first ran for public office at 24, barely older than many of the people in the room. But it is near impossible to repeat that kind of success with out deep pockets or pandering to big money. Nevertheless, hearing this freshman congressman and his colleagues in the House talk about big ideas – like Chris’ work to make fundamental changes in the way campaigns are financed and pass comprehensive ethics reform was important to me and the young people who gathered around.

More than anything, though, I am excited by what I hear from the interns that are attending the series. These are the young people making things happen right now, on the ground. They are the campaign volunteers of today and the leaders of tomorrow.

It was a great event. My only regret is that we didn’t have even more time to spend with the representatives. – Kendra Jackson (intern with Rep. Bob Filner)

Nice to have the opportunity to hear from congressmen, on leadership and other issues that affect youth today.” – Ann Shikany (Cincinnati, Ohio)

It was really encouraging to hear from current congressional leaders that were young when they first ran for office.” – Shannon Goldberg (intern with Rep. David Price)

Chris Murphy was not the only speaker in our series who connected with our group:

Rep. Brian Baird on what guides him – “Something we never talk about in politics is character… character is the embodiment of values, putting values into action. And those values would be honesty, integrity and responsibility.”

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton on her tireless effort to obtain a vote for the people of DC in Congress – “Eleanor Holmes Norton has a vision all right, it is not to make the whole world perfect but to make our country more perfect by making the citizens who live in our home capitol first class citizens.”

Rep. Henry Waxman on encouraging people to never give up on what they believe – “I hope you will leave with a renewed sense of commitment to fight for these ideas…fight for things that are more than what is in your own self interest but in the interest of all us.”

This is why Twenty-First Century Democrats does more than just endorse candidates with a “D” next to their name. We find real leaders, with big ideas and we help them get elected with boots on the ground field work, trainings, and strategic advice.

This is why we recently made Darcy  Burner our first endorsement for 2008. Within days we will announce the full list of our first round of candidate endorsements. We had an overwhelming response to our call for applications and we found outstanding candidates running for all types of office. Our goal is help them win election and provide leadership to enact bold policies rather than incremental changes.

This Thursday we have another great line up of progressive leaders: Senator Sherrod Brown, Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Jon Tester and Representative Paul Hodes.

If you haven’t lately, stop by the 21st Century Democrats web site where we’ll be adding more information about the speaker series as well as announcements about upcoming endorsements and events. I’ll be at YearlyKos this week, and I look forward to seeing everyone there. We’re excited about the 2008 election and we hope to see you on the campaign trail.

Better Leaders, Fewer “Benchmarks”

I saw an article in the Washington Post recently that really caught my attention. The author writes:

We used to have goals. Remember goals? Sending a man to the moon? Or how about ending poverty or balancing the budget?

Now we have “benchmarks.” Like “surge” or “insurgents,” it’s become part of our everyday language when we’re talking about Iraq.

Benchmarks are an important component of any plan – they help you measure progress, and they clue you into what is and is not working. But benchmarks absent any underlying plan or final goals are meaningless – nothing more than empty talking points meant to create the illusion of a plan that doesn’t really exist.

The Boston Globe also recognizes the empty rhetoric of Bush’s benchmarks:

The most obvious deficiency of the benchmarks is that Congress provided no penalties for failing to meet them. Bush opposed such penalties; the absence of any explains why he felt free to praise the bill as reflecting “a consensus that the Iraqi government needs to show real progress in return for American’s continued support and sacrifice.”

Even if Congress had persuaded Bush to agree to punishments for unmet benchmarks, however, the belief in benchmarks as instant therapy for Iraq would still be obtuse.

Real progress comes from bold leaders who have identified not just near-term benchmarks, but a robust plan for achieving visionary, progressive change. 21st Century Democrats has supported real leaders in the past – leaders like Ted Strickland, Keith Ellison, and Sherrod Brown. We’re proud of the men and women that we helped in 2006, and we’re looking forward to helping more progressive leaders in the 2008 elections.

At 21st Century Democrats, we believe that there are too many people in government who are more concerned with meaningless benchmarks than real progressive change. We’re looking for more visionary progressive leaders, so if you know a great progressive candidate that could use our help, tell them to fill out our candidate questionnaire. If you believe we need proposals instead of benchmarks, sign up for our email newsletter and stay in touch with us as we move forward towards real progressive change.

Will Democrats Enact Tough Ethics Reform, Or Prove They Don’t Get It?

It’s been more than 7 months since voters took control of Congress away from corrupt Republicans, and more than 5 months since Democrats took over  – and still we are waiting for real ethics reform to improve accountability in Congress.  We at 21st Century Democrats ask, “are there enough reform-minded Democrats with strong leadership to convince the foot-draggers that the party will be over if they don’t enact real ethics reform?”  Sadly, the answer may not be what we want to hear.

The House leadership started off on the right foot in January by enacting rules restricting meals, travel and gifts from lobbyists, but some of the strongest measures, like requiring lobbyists to publicly disclose when they bundle campaign contributions for federal candidates, were passed over due to the resistance of some Members who don’t get it.

This is why 21st Century Democrats stopped supporting just any old back-bench Democrats and decided to focus on finding real progressive Democrats who will be leaders within the party.  The fundamental principle of our approach is that we need more leadership within the Democratic Party to actually make substantial changes in the direction of public policy.

Electing a Democratic majority is not an end in itself – it is the means to the end we seek:  an accountable government that responds to the people who demand a change in direction.  That’s why our group – which is not an arm of the Democratic Party, but an independent progressive political organization – has as its mission to catalyze massive change in policy by finding and electing visionary progressive Democrats.

We look to find broadly progressive candidates who demonstrate real potential for leadership and help them get elected.  We don’t require candidates to pass litmus tests on hot button issues.  We do ask candidates what their vision for America is what their bold ideas to achieve that vision are.  We have only 7 questions and they are different than any PAC questionnaire you have ever seen.

While we remain committed to electing progressive Democrats, we care more about a candidate’s ability to lead, and a willingness to stand by their convictions.  Majorities matter, but without true leadership within those majorities, true change is simply not possible.  We’re working to develop and empower the next generation of visionary progressive leaders. If you have a favorite candidate who you think has what it takes to move America forward, tell them to check out our endorsement application.

We’ve been searching the nation for candidates to endorse in our first round of endorsements. So far we’ve asked for help from bloggers in Ohio, Michigan, Florida, California, Arizona, Minnesota, Texas, Alabama, Massachusetts, Washington, and Illinois. And we’re continuing to reach out to more and more state blogs.  We endorse candidates for all levels of government and from all states – great leaders like Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, and State Senator Andrew Rice from Oklahoma.

We don’t just pass out checks to candidates – we train and place grassroots field organizers into campaigns to do the hard work of door-door, person to person campaigning.  We take the vision of the candidate to the voter – a winning formula – in 2006, we won 72% of the competitive races we played a role in.

We want to harness the power of the netroots to the power of traditional field organizing.  We’re convinced this will be a winning combination to elect progressives who will be leaders inside the Democratic caucus.  The fight over ethics reform is a perfect example of why we need leaders inside our party’s caucuses.  Voters voted for change in the last election and we all know that a government dominated by special interests is incapable of enacting a true progressive agenda.  Unfortunately, some in our party have decided that protecting lobbyists is more important than standing for integrity in our elections.

This is a critical time in this fight, and a critical fight within our party.  Speaker Pelosi, to her credit, is trying to do the right thing.  Let’s get her the help she needs before it’s too late and voters lump us with the crew they threw out last year.  Please take a moment to send a note to your Member of Congress.

We’re Looking for the Next Debra Bowen

(Believe us, so are we! : ) – promoted by atdleft)

21st Century Democrats released our new 2007-2008 candidate questionnaire today.

Here at 21st Century Democrats, we think too many organizations endorse candidates based on a checklist of surveys of incremental policies that won’t do much to fix what is wrong in this country. Checklist questionnaires tell you if a candidate supports your issue, but they don’t tell you whether a candidate is actually going to do something about it if they get elected.

Political strategists and consultants tell our candidates to support incremental policies which will not offend voters. The strategy is to play it safe and wait for Republicans to fail so badly that voters will elect Democrats. This is exactly what happened in 2006.

This strategy doesn’t inspire people to vote. When you act like a Republican, you fail to build the political will for making the massive policy changes we need. We believe electing a Democratic majority is not an end itself, but rather the means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to create a real progressive society – one that is just, fair, tolerant, and sustainable. So if you really want to get there, you need to identify and elect candidates who want to build a progressive society and have the leadership skills to take us there.

Leadership is about offering solutions and building the political will to support them. That’s why we work to elect Democrats who will be leaders inside the Democratic Party on Capitol Hill, in state Houses, counties, and cities across the country – Democrats who will take us to the next level.

We think the best way to find visionary candidates to support is to skip the standard checklist that a lot of DC groups use and, instead, to engage in a conversation with candidates about their vision and bold ideas. Most candidates find this very different and very refreshing. Filling out our questionnaire is the first part of this conversation, a way for candidates to introduce themselves and their ideas to us. And in the process, they learn we’re not business as usual.

In 2006, we were proud to support a great slate of candidates, including Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown in the Senate, and Keith Ellison and Kirsten Gillibrand in the House. And 21st Century Dems were fighting in the trenches of state and local races, too – Ted Strickland for Governor of Ohio, Mark Ritchie for Secretary of State of Minnesota, Jamie Raskin for the Maryland State Senate, and Ike Leggett for County Executive in Montgomery County, Maryland. We supported Andrew Rice for State Senate in Oklahoma and Gabby Giffords for Congress in Arizona. We helped candidates all across the country, up and down the ballot, some targeted and some who were not. And we won 9 of 11 primaries we were involved in.

We’re excited about the 2008 campaign season, and we’re looking forward to working with more visionary candidates. Last time around, 21st Century Democrats helped get some big wins for Democratic candidates, and this time we’re looking to do even more.