THE BLOG

Gillibrand: Who Cares, Stop Whining, Organize!

05/25/2011 01:00 pm ET

Look, true progressive friends: you can spend time complaining about the atrocious appointment in New York state...or, you can organize...it's your choice...more below...
Intro

No one should be really surprised by the governor's appointment. Remember, this is a governor who has completely lost his moral compass and would rather cut health care and education than raise taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers.

A network of people anticipated that the caretaker appointment to fill the Senate seat from New York would be someone who would not be a progressive. Rather than focus on the individual, we started a campaign to make sure we could field a progressive candidate in 2010.

So, I'd just say: get out to your lists, to your blogs and to your other networks and urge people to sign up here and here.

If people do that, I can guarantee this: the caretaker appointee will not be the Democratic nominee in 2010.

I should add something to the above sentence. One reason we focused on issuing a statement (below) early on is that we believed that whoever was appointed could actually be supported by progressives in 2010 BUT only if we had built the movement first. If we can show the candidates in 2010 that there is a serious movement, then, s/he will respond. Need I point out that prior to the Democratic presidential race in 2008 (meaning, before the primaries really got under way), it was a forgone conclusion that a certain NY Senator would be president in 2009...eh...that didn't quite work out--and it was a movement that changed it all.

By the way, with very little effort, the campaign drew in scores of people prior to the caretaker appointment. Here was the original statement signed by a network of people throughout the state:

A Progressive Senator for New York State In 2010

We, the undersigned, believe that New York State deserves a progressive United States Senator. By progressive, we mean someone who will: articulate a substantially different foreign policy than most "liberal" Democratic politicians support; someone who will aggressively push for single-payer health care; and someone who fights for a different economic strategy that favors people over corporations on the whole range of issues from trade to unionization to the power of corporations.

As it stands now, it appears that such an individual will not be chosen to occupy the soon-to-be vacated Senate seat in New York.

We, therefore, declare that we will support a progressive challenger for the Democratic nomination in the 2010 Senate primary in New York State. We make this statement now so that it is clear that we are not coalescing in opposition to a specific candidate who may be named to the Senate seat. Rather, the primary race will be entirely about presenting a dramatically different, progressive vision for the country. In the near future, we will work together to identify the strongest possible progressive candidate.

We believe the prospects for a progressive Senate primary challenger in 2010 are quite good for three basic reasons:

1. A progressive candidate will be facing an opponent who was not elected to the seat by the voters, and could be facing a candidate who has actually either never run for public office or someone who has never run statewide.

2. Because of #1, a progressive candidate could raise a significant amount of money, in part, because of the maturation of the power of the Internet and the role of decentralized fundraising and message projection.

3. Most important, the country and the state face a crisis not seen in generations: worldwide armed conflict and a worldwide economic collapse. As a result, a progressive candidate, and a progressive message, will have a huge audience yearning for deep, systemic change.

To be sure, a progressive candidate will likely face significant intra-party opposition to his or her candidacy. There will likely be pressure from the party machinery to unite around the replacement and that party machinery will likely work to raise huge amounts of money to create the impression that the replacement is a shoe-in.

However, we believe that the people deserve a choice. We believe primary contests are a time to debate the direction of a party. We believe progressive ideals represent views held by the majority of the voters of New York State. We pledge to support a strong, progressive candidate and we believe a progressive candidate can be elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Initial signers*

Chris Agee, City University of New York
Larry Beinhart, author, "Wag The Dog"
Eleanor Bell
Reverend Billy, activist, Church of Stop Shopping
Robert Browne, Port Washington,NY
John Caminiti
Tim Carpenter, national executive director, Progressive Democrats of America
Kathleen Chalfant, actor
Jeff Cohen, Progressive Democrats of America, Woodstock
Eugene Colon
Savitri D, activist, Church of Stop Shopping
Philip DePaolo, President, The New York Community Council
Kevin Downes
Barbara Ehrenreich
Lance Evans, Creative Director Graphlink Media/NY
Brian Fairbanks, Senior National Political Correspondent, Nerve.com
Gillian Farrell, Woodstock, NY
Will Fudeman, Progressive Democrats of America, Ithaca
Jonathan Geeting
Frances Goldin, Literary agent, activist, Manhattan
Carl Gutman
Robert Harding II, Blogger, The Albany Project
J E A Herendeen
Flora Huang, community activist, Manhattan
Katherine Jacobson
Thomas Janowski, Organzier, Progressive Democrats of America, Rochester
Sally Jones, Peace Action, New York State
David Jones, Peace Action, New York State
Michael Krasner, Professor, Department of Political Science, Queens College, CUNY
Lucy Koteen, First Vice-President, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats
Charles Lenchner, democracyinaction.org
Tim Lillard, Ithaca-Tompkins Progressive Democrats of America
Fred Little
Alfredo Lopez, Co-Director, May First/People Link
Doug Lowe
Marty Luster, Former State Assemblyman, Member, Tompkins County Democratic Committee
Sharon Lynch, Progressive Democrats of America, NY CD-8
Victor Mendolia, Chair, Hudson City Democratic Committee
Daniel Millstone, Attorney, NY, NY
Chris Owens, president, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats
Sam Pratt, activist, Taghkanic, NY
Al Ronzoni, Progressive Democrats of America, 14th Congressional District
Maida Rosenstein, president, United Auto Workers Local 2110
Kate Ryan
Robert Sacco
Andy von Salis, Attorney and Democratic County Committee member, Brooklyn, NY
Michael Singer, Consultant,Medley Capital Partners
Josh Skaller, former president, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats
Alice Slater, Chair, Progressive Democrats NY CD 14
Patric Stanton, Professor, New York Medical College
Robert Stauf, Yonkers Community Activist
Wayne Stinson, Peacemakers of Schoharie County
William Stricklin, president of Village Independent Democrats
David Swanson
Jonathan Tasini, executive director, Labor Research Association
Levi Tooker
Brian Torby, Labor Democrats
Yayoi Tsuchitani, activist
Roberta Wallitt
Marc Weiss, creator, PBS' P.O.V.
Ellen Zaltzberg

(*organizations listed for identification purposes only)