No blank check for Wall Street: an open letter to the Presidential candidates

(original draft 10/6, revised 10/7)

also posted on Pam’s House Blend and Oxdown Gazette

no blank check for Wall Street logoExecutive summary

  • Help write an open letter to the Presidential candidates asking them to explain their support for the bailout during their debate on domestic policy.  Using the collaborative writing tool at MixedInk, you can rate different versions of the letter, leave comments, edit and remix other people’s submissions, and write your own.  We’ll send the top-rated version to the candidates and the press next Monday – so please get involved now!
  • Prepare for publicizing the open letter next Monday: accept the event, forward to your friends, and check your Facebook updates Sunday night
  • And while you’re at it: thank and spank, and let Nancy Pelosi know how you feel.*


Collapsing confidence and buckling financial markets sparked talk Monday that Congress may need to resume work soon on emergency measures to shore up the economy.

— Alexander Bolton, Doubts grow over rescue, The Hill

Unsurprisingly, the energy on No blank check for Wall Street had tailed off a lot by the end of last week.  One example: in It’s not over on Friday, I pointed about the thank/spank threads we had set up on Facebook to give feedback to members of Congress about their vote here and here.  Over the weekend they got a grand total of zero repsonses.  One of our members met with Senator Ron Wyden on Saturday and wanted to know if we had anything to show him … all I could say was “not yet”.  Ah well.  If changing the world was easy, everybody would do it.

In the cold light of the week after, though, with the market plunging in response to the bailout, challengers using incumbents’ “yes” votes as a campaign issue, and the Obama campaign bringing up past crises and bailouts, it’s clearly not over.  And people are still angry.  So perhaps we’ll start to see more energy.  The threads aren’t going away, so please thank or spank at your leisure; and, while you’re at it, let Nancy Pelosi know how you feel.*

And we’re also going to try to crank things up by working with MixedInk on an open letter to the presidential candidates, asking them to discuss this issue in next week’s debate in domestic policy.  From the introduction:

Both of them supported the bailout; why?  And just as importantly, how would they prevent similar situations from occurring in the future?

On Monday October 13, we’ll send our letter to a number of newspapers and blogs – and to each of the candidates. If enough of you get involved, we can get a lot of attention in the blogosphere and media and have a real impact on the debate!

Learning from our experiences on our first open letter, I started this one off with an initial draft as a basis for others to remix.  One of things I really like about MixedInk is that it’s easy for others to edit my letter, create their own completely new drafts, and merge the best ideas from multiple versions together.  You can also rate every version on a scale from 1-10, which provides a great path for getting involved: a lot of people start out by rating others’ versions, and then add comments, before getting to the writing and editing.  At the end of the week, we’ll take the community’s highest rated letter and send it to the candidates and press.

We’re far from the only ones trying to raise the level of discussion in the debate — for example, the Institute for America’s Future’s a debate worthy of a nation in crisis campaign has run full-page ads in the New York Times — so the question is whether anybody will listen.  The answer, as usual, is “it depends”.  If we come up with a good letter and start circulating it for signatures in a way that goes viral, and get some blog and media attention, we have a chance.  In preparation for that, I set up a Facebook event, and we’ll start it circulating around.  If all goes well, by the time the letter’s ready, we’ll have a bunch of people interested in signing on — and helping to get the word out about the “signature threads” we’ll set up.

The idea behind a signature thread is somewhat similar to an online petition: people can add their names, and a brief statement of their opinion, to the letter.  An important difference is it’s a public statement that everybody can see — so over time it becomes a more and more powerful statement, especially in an environment like Facebook where you can see the faces of the people who have signed on.**

Whether or not you’ve ever been involved in a collaborative writing project like MixedInk’s Netroots Platform before, it’s a great opportunity to try it out.  I’m sure the general topic of the bailout will come up in the debate; if we let the candidates know ahead of time the specific issues we want them to discuss, they’re more likely to be concrete.  It’s worth a try.

So please get involved!


* yeah, I know.  Politicians don’t check Facebook.  Once enough people weigh in, they will.  And from their staff’s perspective, a single cleanly-laid-out thread like this is a lot easier to deal with than dozens of email messages and phone calls.

** as a special added bonus replies to the signature thread on Facebook will also go out in people’s feeds — viral marketing!

No blank check for Wall Street is a group of people demanding accountability for Wall Street for its role in the 2008 financial crisis. We welcome those who oppose a bailout as well as those support a bailout with accountability. Please see our website for more. Our Facebook page and #bailout on twitter are the best ways to follow events. For earlier posts in this series, please see Jon Pincus’ page on Pam’s House Blend. Help get the word out!