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November 21, 2008

Major Progress Made

Special Note: Jim Babka is scheduled to appear on Straight Talk, w/ Jerry Hughes, this afternoon at 3:06 PM Eastern. Listening details are available at our blog.

Quote of the Day: “The essence of political action is a compromise over who wins and who loses. The essence of politics is pretending that such actions benefit everyone.” — Russell Roberts

Subject: Your Downsize DC has made major progress

A majority wants smaller government and lower taxes. It’s been that way for a long time. We demonstrated this last weekend using a variety of polls conducted over several decades.

It’s frustrating. We ought to be able to get what we want — smaller government.

Instead, we are faced, in election after election, with a choice between two candidates, both of whom want larger government, in one way or another.

In terms of what the candidates say . . .

* One of them always seems to want to trash our economic liberties
* While the other one always seems to want to trash our civil liberties

And in terms of what they do when elected, as opposed to what they promised in order to win our votes, everyone we elect always seems to trash all of our liberties all of the time.

The choices before us in electoral politics are always bad ones. We can either choose a candidate who is only promising some of what we want, but who is likely to deliver all of what we don’t want, or we can vote for a minor party candidate who is so overwhelmed by legal and structural impediments that his or her vote total will always be microscopic.

Things are the exact opposite of how they should be.

But to change this we must focus on the central problem.

How do we turn the majority that favors smaller government into policies that achieve smaller government?

Once upon a time, those of us who run Downsize DC tried to do this by building a new party. Over time we discovered that there was something about the human mind that places great importance on issues of identity. If one is a Republican or a Democrat it is psychologically difficult to conceive of becoming something else.

An R wants to remain an R, and a D a D, no matter how bad the legislative policies of the elected office holders who represent those brands. After all, the alternative is much worse. At best, an R or a D may decide to become an independent. But a new party, that must necessarily be small at the start, and win few votes, is very hard for most people to adopt as their new self-image.

A Red Sox fan does not become a Yankees fan, and neither is likely to switch to the Tampa Rays.

There has to be an easier way of organizing the majority that favors smaller government into a large and powerful force capable of causing the changes that ought to be possible for a majority position. We think there is.

We need to offer people an additional identity they can wear at the same time as their R and D and independent identities. We have chosen for this purpose the identity of the DC Downsizer. In addition . . .

We must focus on areas of agreement instead of trying to force unified loyalty to partisan labels and candidates. In other words, we must learn to take yes for an answer.

If a huge majority, or even a powerful minority, agrees with us on a given issue, then that issue is a tool we can use to build a large and powerful constituency, capable of fighting and winning. Individual issues are the way to recruit and mobilize the majority that favors smaller government. Individual issues sidestep the challenge of partisan identity change.

Many issues qualify in this regard, but none more-so than the “Read the Bills Act” (RTBA) and the “One Subject at a Time Act” (OSTA). These are two issues to which most of the majority that favors smaller government can say a resounding yes, without any friction related to partisan labels or preferred political personalities.

To hear this yes spoken often, it only remains for us to let people know that . . .

* RTBA and OSTA exist
* These ideas are being promoted by a new kind of organization offering a new kind of non-exclusionary identity
* People can join this organization for free, simply by subscribing to an email newsletter
* The means for promoting RTBA, OSTA, and other downsizing issues, are quick, easy, inexpensive, and potentially overwhelming

And incredibly, if a massive constituency could be built on such a basis, then candidates seeking to tap that constituency might also appear, in both major parties.

Build the constituency first, and the candidates will come. Do NOT try to build the parties and candidates first, hoping that the constituency will come.

Build the constituency first.

The next tactic we want to use to execute this strategy is also, like everything we do, simple and direct. We want to . . .

* Rent lists of politically engaged people
* Send them a letter describing RTBA and OSTA 
* Ask them to join Downsize DC for free, by subscribing to the Downsizer Dispatch
* Make a pitch for funds so we can send more RTBA/OSTA letters to more potential recruits

Two major donors have pledged a total of $50,000 to help make this happen. In return, they want other downsizers to come up with another $39,000 so that our entire operating budget of $186,000 will be completely funded for 2009. This will enable us to devote most of the additional funding that comes in to recruiting new Downsizers at a rapid rate.

At present, we raise $97,000, annually, through monthly pledges (and the rest through one-time donations, with little to spare for advertising outreach).

To get the $50,000 in major donor pledges, and to achieve the goal, all we need is the help of our supporters to “Close the Gap” of $39,000.

We’ve already made major progress.

Since our last report we’ve received large commitments (Top Down) and new monthly pledges (Bottom Up) totalling $5,051. Combined with what we reported to you on Monday, this reduces the amount we still have to raise to only $29,323.

You could help two ways . . .

You could Close the $29,323 Gap from the Top Down by making a larger pledge. Could you pledge something on the order of $1,000, $2,500, $5,000, $10,000, or $20,000?

If you choose this route, with a minimum $500 donation, you won’t have to fulfill your pledge until we have all the money raised. That way there is no risk you’re contributing a large amount and then wondering if the goal will really be met. When the goal is met we’ll tell you, and only then cash your check or process your credit card.

Better yet, we’ll use your pledge as a matching fund to encourage smaller donations to help Close the Gap from the Bottom Up. If you want to join our top donors by making a larger pledge please go to our secure contribution forms and choose the page for Top Down pledges.

On the other hand, if the above amounts don’t fit your budget, could you help Close the Gap from the Bottom Up by making a smaller cash donation, or by starting a monthly credit card pledge? You can do this using the special secure contribution form we’ve created for this fundraising drive. Pick the Bottom Up page.

Please note, smaller Bottom Up contributions and monthly pledges are immediate donations, not pledges to be fulfilled later. It’s a cash or credit card contribution now.

In return, we’ll send you a special gift as our way of saying, “Thanks.”

Everyone who makes . . .

* A one-time donation of $76 or more, or . . .
* A new monthly pledge of $12 or more, or . . .
* A $5 or more increase to an EXISTING monthly pledge . . .

We’ll send you our new “I Am Not Afraid” t-shirt (you can see a picture of the t-shirt on the Close the Gap contribution page).

Thanks to the help of our enthusiastic donors we’re suddenly only $29,323 away from being able to . . .

* Tap into the vast majority that favors smaller government
* Benefit from the wide appeal of RTBA and OSTA
* Grow at a very rapid rate

We hope you can help.

Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

Jim Babka
President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

P.S. There is also a Downsize DC lapel pin available for higher levels of support. And, IF YOU’RE CURRENTLY PLEDGING MORE THAN $50 PER MONTH, just tell us your T-shirt size, and we’ll send you one as our way of saying thanks for all that support. See the special Close the Gap contribution form for details.

P.P.S. In terms of closing the gap, a monthly credit card pledge is worth the amount of the pledge times 12 months, so this is a particularly powerful way to help Close the Gap.

P.P.P.S. If you’re going to send a check please print out one of the forms for this in our secure contribution pages. Our mailing address is located on both the Top Down and Bottom Up form. 

If your comment is off-topic for this post, please email us at feedback@downsizedc.org

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