Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Hopeful Eulogy for Draft DeFazio

Most readers know that Carla and I led an effort to draw attention to a potential Peter DeFazio run for Senate, and to induce him to consider it. He did not enter the race, which was certainly the better money bet, but we thought it was well worth the try. The I-told-yous are still trickling in (I owe a certain Capitol Hill denizen multiple pints of porter), reminding us of the quixotic nature of it all, and wondering why one who needs to be coaxed into a race is worth coaxing in the first place. I'm not sure that's always true; some people are simply indecisive on such matters, and DeFazio certainly has that history. If he'd declared we'd still be crazy busy, but it was at least very helpful to the race in general that he finalized his decision early in the process.

So we feel a bit like Arlo Guthrie, paying $50 and picking up the garbage, but there are always hidden benefits to negative outcomes. Forgive me for not pursuing the provenance, but a successful man was once asked how he became so successful. He answered, "Experience!" The questioner followed up with, how do you get experience? The success story responded, equally firmly, "Failure!" And thus we bask in the successful experience.

It really was a successful venture, especially in the initial buzz and media interest. Certainly Loaded Orygun is a better known brand name from the press mentions and radio interviews; we can't say we're displeased about that, but of course we didn't do it for the money (we made $20 somebody donated, which is very nice indeed).

And let's review what was substantively accomplished:
  • Draft DeFazio created a nationwide buzz for progressive politics in Oregon.
  • It put more heat on Smith, probably sooner than he wanted/expected.
  • It advertised Smith's vulnerability.
  • It got people active and involved by contributing, distributing fliers, blogging, and word-of-mouth (including some that weren't active before)
  • It certainly created national/statewide momentum that was there for both Novick and DPO to tap into.
  • And we raised some bucks for Pete.
None of that is trivial, but it's not enough. What is great, however, is the group of contacts made and people spurred into action. And once you express your will on the process, however small, it's hard to go back to just sitting and watching it all pass you by without being involved. So I think the donors and people who did actual ground work for Peter should be proud of themselves, and realize that the work isn't done but you CAN make a difference.

Thanks again to everyone who gave their time, money or publicity to the effort to bring DeFazio into the race. It didn't work, but in the meantime Democrats have a solid if lesser-known candidate in the race, and others may well follow. If you did give money, look for an email pointing to a quick 1-question poll on what--if you were willing to suggest, and knowing he can do whatever he wants with it legally--Peter should do with the over $3,500 raised for his Senate run. Stay alert, stay active, and stay committed. It's a big ship to turn around, but we've definitely turned the corner on these disastrous times, I believe.