The ‘Team of Rivals’ road trip: change.org => change.gov

Executive summary

If you were in the finals of the change.org Ideas for Change competition and have (or know of) an equivalent idea in the Citizens Briefing Book on change.gov, please leave a link in the comments — and look for opportunities to co-promote with other compatible ideas.  Also please leave other suggestions for how we might work together moving forward.

Media note

Wow!  Less than 24 hours since the change.org competition ended and the competitors are already collaboratively building on it to influence government policy via change.gov’s similar system!  It’s almost like they’ve been practicing — and building a coalition!

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w00t, w00t! Get FISA Right finishes #5 in Ideas for Change! Congratulations and great job all!

With a late rush, Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties squeaked into the #5 position in the change.org’s Ideas for Change in America competition with 12285 votes!

Alas, even though our other endorsement Bob Fertik’s Appoint a Special Prosecutor for the Crimes of the Bush Administration picked up over 500 votes this morning, it appears to have fallen heartbreaking short by just 19 votes. Still, overall, wow, what a huge success for Get FISA Right — and civil liberties!

Just think about it: despite virtually no help from the progressive blogosphere or 501(c)3s, we more than held our own against some really tough competition: big mailing lists, political allies.* It’s an incredible validation of the power of our grassroots approach and social network advocacy. Yay us! And it’s yet another clear sign that no matter what they think in Washington and the mainstream media, Americans do see the Constitution and the rule of law as a priority right up there with health care, peace, sustainability, and drug law reform.

So thanks to everybody who was a part of this. Once again, I’d especially like to acknowledge Democrats.com and DreamActivist.org for including us in their last-minute mailings … it made a big difference. Neocons’ worst nightmare, indeed! Thanks also to Jason Rosenbaum of The Seminal for a big endorsement this morning. Within Get FISA Right, it was definitely a team effort, so thanks all around — with extra thanks to Thomas and Patrick who really stepped forward in the last 24 hours.

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Neocons’ worst nightmare: net movements intersecting in Ideas for Change in America

DREAM Activists and undocumented youth, the Stonewall 2.0 LGBTQ movement, Get FISA Right and civil libertarians, peace activists — together again for the first time, along with a demand for accountability for the last 8 years.   Scary stuff.  🙂

Read on for more … and please digg it!

It’s been surprising to me how little attention change.org’s Ideas for Change in America competition has gotten.  David Herbert mentioned it in the National Journal and Nancy Scola on techPresident; of course the competitors have blogging a lot (for example me, at Liminal States, Get FISA Right, and Pam’s House Blend, promoting my idea Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties and the others I’ve endorsed).  But in the broader political, progressive or technology-in-politics blogospheres?  Very little.

Here’s my attempt to describe its importance.

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Stonewall 2.0: Repeal DOMA!

civil equality now

The vibe under the sunshine at the corner of Castro and Market was positive and determined — a few hundred people maybe (I’m horrible at estimating), just the right size for the location.  The immediate purpose was to organize for signature-gathering for the Open Letter to President Obama, with people fanning out afterwards to BART stops, busy street-corners, the Gaza protest … in the broader context, it’s another building block in the “Stonewall 2.0” wave of activism catalyzed by groups like Join the Impact and Courage Campaign that I’ve blogged about in Petitions are soooooo 20th century and Taking social network activism (and LGBTQ rights) to the next level.

One way to take action now: gather signatures for the open letter.  There’s a very short deadline of Monday but that’s still plenty of time to help — even “just” hitting the friends-and-family circuit the way we are can make a big difference.  And of course help get the word out about the effort.

Another way you can help: vote in change.org’s Idea for Change in America competition. Jen Nedeau’s idea Pass Marriage Equality Rights for LGBT Couples Nationwide is in fifth place so far.  The top 10 ideas when voting ends on January 15 will be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day and will be supported by a national lobbying campaign run by Change.org, MySpace, and some great non-profit partners.  There are a lot of other great ideas there being promoted very effectively* so any assistance here would be greatly appreciated.

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Apologies to DREAM Act advocates everywhere …

For the last six weeks of change.org’s Ideas for Change competition, I’ve been consistently impressed by the advocates for Pass the DREAM Act – Support Higher Education for All Students.

The network of activists promoting the idea are giving the rest of us lessons in how to do it effectively.*  And they and their supporters seem to really get the strategic importance of a potential partnership with change.org, MySpace, and a raft of excellent non-profits.

With the complex political situation around the DREAM Act, social network activism could be a wild card that helps tip the balance and gets Congress to prioritize the DREAM Act — and puts them over 60 votes in the Senate.  Of all of the ideas in the competition, it seems to me it’s got one of the best chances of having an impact.  I voted for it (please consider doing the same) and have been trying to help promote it as well as others.

So when I was talking when I was talking with David Herbert of the National Journal on Monday, as well as discussing my idea, I brought the DREAM Act as an example.  It worked very effectively from the promotional side (David’s article Move over, change.gov discussed and linked to their idea as well as mine) but I certainly wish I had said things differently:

Web strategist Jon Pincus, whose idea “Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties” is currently ranked No. 2, argued that combining grassroots politics with the power of a social networking site like MySpace could prove a potent combination, even for issues that have already been debated ad nauseam.

The online vote could also help push legislation with some congressional support — like the DREAM Act, which would give undocumented high school graduates a path to citizenship — over the finish line. The only obstacle to the DREAM Act, Pincus said, is that it lacks vocal advocates.

“Who’s going to prioritize undocumented minors?” he said. “Nobody.”

Clunk.

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Mutual guest-blogging 2.0: an idea for “Ideas for Change”?

Last year I proposed an experiment on OpenLeft that involved “mutual guest-blogging“: four great bloggers who didn’t usually hang out there making front-page posts, and in return the OpenLeft front-pagers posting on the other blogs.  The idea was to expose bloggers, readers, and commenters to new perspectives, and hopefully build some connections that could lead to potential alliances.  It didn’t all work out exactly that way, but the underlying idea is a good one, and I think this could be a useful technique for the change.org/MySpace Ideas for Change in America competition.

A quick recap on the competition: second-round voting is January 5 to 15, and the goal is to finish in the top 10 overall.  Along with email and social network, blogs were one of the most effective forms of promotion in the first round; in the second round, bloggers (as well as non-profits) can sign up as “supporters” of an idea so their influence is likely to be even larger.

My idea, Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties has a decent shot (it finished #10 in the first round despite virtually no exposure in the blogosphere), and we’re going to be doing a lot to promote it.  (Discussion here — please join in!)  Both for Get FISA Right in particular and the civil liberties advocacy community as a whole, this is a great opportunity to reach out to a much more diverse audience than usual.  And the same’s true for any of the other ideas — many of which (for example Pass the DREAM Act Now!, End the Global Gag Rule The Family Union Foundation for Obama, Stop NAIS! ) involve situations where privacy and civil liberties issues are critical.

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Ideas for Change in America: heading into the homestretch

Executive summary

  • things are still in flux in the change.org/MySpace Ideas for Change in America as we head into the last week of the first round
  • civil liberties (six ideas), drug reform (five ideas), and education (five ideas) dominate the top 30
  • my idea, Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties, hanging tough at #5 overall, #2 in Criminal Justice
  • there are a lot of duplicate ideas, for example multiple variants of legalization.  How will change.org deal with this going forward?

The current top 10 is in the first comment for those who don’t care about the analysis.

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Turning the Page on FISA (guest-blogging on change.org)

I’ve got a post Turning the Page on FISA on change.org’s Criminal Justice blog today. Here’s the beginning:

The coming year will present a unique opportunity for a broad-based activism campaign to restore our civil liberties and begin rolling back key pillars of the national surveillance state institutionalized by the Bush Administration and Congress over the last eight years. By first pressuring President Obama to follow through in the first 100 days on his campaign promises to uphold the rule of law and protect Americans’ rights and privacy, and then gearing up for a 50-state strategy to pressure the House and Senate to repeal the PATRIOT Act and reform FISA, we can turn the page on this shameful chapter in our country’s history.

It’s an unusually succinct post for me (500 words!) and describes the overall situation, including the progress the anti-FISA forces made in 2008 and the value of a partnership with change.org and MySpace.  And of course it encourages people to vote for the civil liberties ideas in the Ideas for Change competition:

So please consider voting for Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties and the similar ideas such Donovan Caesar’s End the Patriot Act and Dave Warden’s stop all warrantless wiretapping (in Government Reform) and Pierre Loiselle’s Repeal the Patriot Act in Other.

Check it out! And thanks to Matt Kelley for the invitation!

jon

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Get FISA Right: quick update

Executive Summary

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Even though it’s the holiday season, it seems like the group’s energy is really starting to ramp up after the election, so I just wanted to take a moment to update people on what’s happening.  I realize that our communications are very, um, challenging right now and appreciate everybody’s forbearance.  One of the important things going on is a plan for improved communications in 2009; please have a look and see what you think!

Our short-term priorities are the Ideas for Change competition, working with SaysMe.tv on our next round of cable TV ads, and continuing our 2009 strategy planning.   And there a bunch of civil liberties questions on change.gov’s new Open for Questions, including a FISA-related idea with a great backstory.

Read on for more …

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change.org/MySpace “Ideas for Change in America” top 20

Updated info available at the top ideas list on the change.org site

Ideas for Change in America is a citizen-driven project that aims to identify and create momentum around the best ideas for how the Obama Administration and 111th Congress can turn the broad call for “change” across the country into specific policies….

The top 10 rated ideas will be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009 as the “Top 10 Ideas for America.” We will then launch a national campaign behind each idea and mobilize the collective energy of the millions of members of Change.org, MySpace, and partner organizations to ensure that each winning idea gets the full consideration of the Obama Administration and Members of Congress….

The Ideas for Change in America FAQ

A week after the official launch of the site, and with a month to go until the first round of voting ends, it’s still early days for the contest … but as any sports fan knows, you don’t have to the wait until the playoffs to start watching the standings!

The top three ideas in each category advance to the second round, and the site makes it easy to see who’s leading in each category — for example, the Criminal Justice page currently has Jose Torres’ Legalise the Medicinal and Recreational Use of Marijuana in the #1 position,* followed by my Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties and Paul Lange’s Fair Investigations of Bush Administration, with change.org blogger Matt Kelley’s Provide Alternatives to Incarceration only a few votes out of the top 3.

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Get FISA Right and Change.org’s Ideas site: Rupert Murdoch as civil rights sugar daddy?

Nancy Scola’s Ideas for Change, and a Roadmap in techPresident’s “Daily Digest” discusses Change.org’s Ideas for Change in America:

The social-action hub has just announced that the project now has the backing of MySpace and a broad coalition of supporting partners, including techPresident, the Sunlight Foundation, Netroots Nation, VotoLatino, GOOD Magazine, Change Congress, Campus Progress, and People for the America Way…. once the top ten ideas are identified, “we will then build a national campaign to advance each idea in Congress, marshaling the resources of Change.org, MySpace, and our dozens of partner organizations and millions of combined members.”

Sounds intriguing.  It’s hard to know just what the “national campaign” will look like, but these are certainly great groups to be partnering with. If Get FISA Right (and all the other pro-civil liberties groups out there) can get our act together and Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties is one of their top 10, then we’ll recruit some significant allies.  Seems worth a try.

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