John Hawkins Vs. MyDD’s Chris Bowers On Rightroots

Over at MyDD, Chris Bowers, one of the heavies in the netroots group, has weighed in on Rightroots. Here are some of the comments from Bowers, with mine following:

“Now, is a less official capacity, a collection of right-wing blogs has created something called “Rightroots,” which, as Kung Fu quip tells us, was created to counter Act Blue…

So I went to the Rightroots site to se if they really had created a counter to Act Blue. Immediately, I recognized that they had done no such thing. There was no way for people to start their own fundraising pages or create their own slate of candidates. Instead of being able to give to every candidate for federal office, every party committee, and to candidates in several states not running for federal office, the only options available to people not in control of the page were to give to a fixed slate of around 18 candidates. Further, there were no links available to local blogs covering the race, candidate websites / official blogs, volunteer pages, or lists of campaign events. In short, this page offers only one way to become active in the 2006 elections: donate to their officially endorsed candidates.

It quickly became obvious to me that this page was not a counter to Act Blue, but instead a counter to the Dailykos / MyDD / Swing State Project combined netroots page at Act Blue. After clikcin gon one of the blogs supporting the project, Right Wing News, my suspicion was quickly confirmed:

Now, I don’t know whether or not they are confused, and have mistaken the Dkos / MyDD / SSP page for all of Act Blue. It wouldn’t be the first time that an outsider to the netroots scene has considered the entire progressive netroots to be the same thing as Dailykos / MyDD.”

First of all, it’s sort of funny that he asks whether we’ve “confused” the netroots page for all of ACT Blue, because he has apparently confused Rightroots with ABC Pac. Rightroots is a slate of candidates selected by conservative bloggers to compete with the netroots Endorsed Candidates. We’re actually completely separate from ABC Pac, which wants to ultimately compete with ACT Blue.

Let me also say a kind word about ABC Pac as well. They could have sat this election cycle out, gotten some funding, and then gone live with every little feature that Act Blue has and more. However, when I came to them, they saw a great opportunity to make a difference in this election cycle and simultaneously get some publicity for themselves in a high profile effort. That’s why it made a lot of sense for them to jump in now, even though they’re not able to offer multiple slates yet like Act Blue. The money and publicity they’re going to get because of the Rightroots effort will put them in position to be the Republican answer to Act Blue next time around.

Also, let me add that most of the options that Bowers is talking about are useless. For example, Act Blue links to bloggers talking about particular races. Uh, OK. First of all, do people really care what a blog like a A Chicken Is Not Pillage has to say about the John Tester/Conrad Burns race? Even if they did, his last post on that topic is from July 28th. So, why clutter the page up with that nonsense?

Same goes for campaign events and allowing people to be volunteers. The people looking at these pages are going to be coming from all over the country, not from local sources. So, someone from, let’s say Florida, might kick in some money to the Lamont campaign, but are they actually going up there to man a phone bank? No. So again, for the most part at least, you’re talking about more wasted space.

The one thing that I was really interested in initially having up was the candidate websites, but the ABC Pac guys asked me if it really made a lot of sense to give people a link that would cause them to leave the page or become distracted while they were trying to give us money. That made perfect sense to me and that’s why I’d now prefer not to have the website addresses of the candidates on there.

Now, here’s more from Bowers:

“Demostrating a bit more both how conservatives are afraid of the progressive netroots and how much of a top down effort this is, it is important to note that many of hte websites involved int eh project are riding the conservative pundit welfare gravy train. At the very least, as I was told over email, “Patrick Hynes of Ankle Biting Pundits is a senior account executive at Marsh, Copsey & Scott, a Republican consulting firm. Townhall is an ‘independent’ subsidiary of the Heritage Foundation. Human Events Online is Mellon-Scaife. Right Wing News is written by a Human Events contributor.” These people are not grassroots–they are officially part of the Republican / conservative machinery.”

You know, I really, really, wish this had been a top down effort. I wish that I would have gotten a phone call from Karl Rove where he said, “Hawkins, I need you to set up a way to get the blogosphere to give money to GOP candidates. We’ll be sending you $25,000 dollars in walking around money to get it started and if you need any endorsements or links, just ask me, and I’ll put in a call.”

Instead, this project, which is unlike anything that’s ever been done before on the right side of the blogosphere, had to be put together from scratch in less than 3 weeks. Some people would have probably told you it was impossible.

To begin with, the right side of the blogosphere is smaller than the left side. Furthermore, my assumption was that at least 3 out of the 4 biggest blogs on the right, for various reasons, wouldn’t be on board and would probably never link us at all (PS: I really hope I turn out to be wrong about this). So traffic wise, we were starting in an enormous hole. (That’s part of the reason why I’d love to see some more conservative news mags and talk radio hosts involved. Email me if you want to help out.)

Then, we still had to find a place to host this project and handle the money and when I made a decision to get this thing started, I didn’t even know ABC Pac existed. So, I approached three other sources and asked them about handling the money end of things before I worked things out with ABC Pac.

Next up, keep in mind that I made a snap decision to do this on the 12th of last month. So, that meant a selection committee had to be assembled, we had to choose candidates to be studied, they had to be researched — then a slate had to be sent over to ABC Pac which had to prepare the page, and then we had to promote this thing to make sure it would have a decent debut — all in less than three weeks.

So yeah, top down would have been great because we would have had support from the top all along. But instead, this whole project was started by a B-list conservative blogger from North Carolina who managed to talk everyone else into participating (And thank God they did, because without Mary Katherine Ham, Robert Bluey, Erick Erickson, Ed Morrissey, Patrick Hynes, Lorie Byrd, ABC Pac, and the other people that have helped out, this thing wouldn’t have gotten off the ground. Now, let’s hope we can keep it in the air!)

PS: Since I’m shattering the liberal illusions here, let me add that from where I’m sitting, there isn’t much evidence of any “gravy train.” I know, I know, from all the stories you hear, you’d think there were Republican donors and conservative think tanks throwing around so many wads of hundred dollar bills that it would look like a green snowball fight. I wish that were the case because it would certainly be a lot easier than living on the small amount I make from my Human Events columns and advertising revenue, especially in the middle-of-summer, when political ads tend to just trickle in.

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