"We've tried nothin'... and we're all out of ideas!" -- Ned Flanders' beatnik father, The Simpsons
As DuPage County's preeminent psudonymous liberal blogger, I was asked a while ago for my opinion of Operation: Turn DuPage Blue, Michael in Chicago's PrairieStateBlue post about OTDB and Amy Tauchman's follow-up.
After taking some time and giving it some thought, here are my observations:
First, I think the idea of a schism among DuPage Democrats may be overstated. It seems that the goal of OTDB is to create a grassroots ground force of precinct workers who can work together to elect Democratic candidates in DuPage County. If this is their goal -- and I've seen no reason to believe it isn't -- then no Democrat in DuPage County should have a beef with them.
Second, the idea that any divisions among DuPage Democrats were caused by a Cegelis cabal clandestinely undermining the party organization is simply absurd.
I like and admire Christine Cegelis. She is one of my political heroes. The courage and character that she demonstrated in her runs for Congress should serve as a model for every Democratic candidate -- DuPage County and around the nation. And, yes, I do think she was screwed over. Royally. But I would never undermine DuPage Democratic candidates as part of some misguided revenge plot. And I don't think that any other Cegelis supporter would. And I can't imagine Christine would want them to.
And the facts back me up.
Some lazy thinkers in Washington and the DuPage Democratic organization continue to peddle the idea that Roskam won because Cegelis supporters didn't get behind Duckworth. I must admit, that is a tempting excuse for not winning an open seat in a year when Democrats otherwise ran the table.
But let's dare to consider the facts:
- Christine Cegelis endorsed Tammy Duckworth for Illinois 6th House seat.
- A coalition of Cegelis and Scott volunteers reached out to the Duckworth campaign in an effort to work together to defeat Roskam. Bridget Dooley, who's efforts to unify 6th District Democrats are well documented, gave a contemporaneous and heartbreakingly thorough account of that meeting.
- Cegelis volunteers, who didn't stop reaching out to the Duckworth camp, tried -- with varying degrees of success -- to link the Congressional campaign with local candidates. And regardless of the unfortunate lack of coordination of the campaigns, every vote that a Cegelis or Scott voluteer raised for a local candidate translated into another vote for Tammy Duckworth.
- And finally, regardless of our differences on the issues, Cegelis supporters backed the Democratic candidate in the 6th Congressional race. Yes, some supporters made strong statements right after the primary, but I am unaware of any who didn't work against Roskam when the election was looming.
And so, finally, we get to the question, "What do I think of Operation: Turn DuPage Blue?"
OTDB has a clear goal: To beat Republicans by getting more Dems on the street. Amy T says OTDB is "incredibly committed to doing just that and will continue to work in concert with anyone or any group who shares that goal."
So, as an advocate of grassroots politics and Howard Dean's 50 State Plan, OTDB is certainly speaking my language.
And it seems that they are actually putting actions behind their words -- OTDB is one of the sponsors of Camp Wellstone at the College of DuPage. OTDB is hosting a training program -- based on the successful strategies of Saint Paul Wellstone -- that will teach progressives how to win on issues and elect good candidates.
And they're doing it here in DuPage County!
One could easily look backwards and ask, "Why hasn't someone done this in DuPage County before?" But I'd rather look forward and ask, "Who got this done? Who's making a difference? Who's working now -- RIGHT NOW -- to elect Democrats in DuPage County in 2008?"
Operation: Turn DuPage Blue is laying the foundation for '08 Democratic campaign victories right now.
And if you haven't yet decided whether or not to get behind their work, I offer this reminder:
"All that is necessary for Republicans to triumph is for Democrats to do nothing."
It's Time To Do Something.