New PAC vows to hold Democratic incumbents accountable

That’s the mission of the Accountability Now PAC:

“We need members of Congress to leave the bubble of Washington, D.C. and stand with their constituents,” said Jane Hamsher, founder of and co-founder of Accountability Now. “We need members of Congress to ask the tough questions about continued Wall Street bailouts that reward the donor class, two wars without seeming end, the ceaseless assault on our civil liberties, and other issues that separate the citizenry from the DC cocoon.”

“Accountability Now is an organization built around a single guiding principle: challenging the institutional power structures that make it so easy, so consequence-free for Congress to open up the government coffers for looting by corporate America while people across the country are losing their jobs and their basic constitutional rights while unable to afford basic health care,” said Glenn Greenwald of and co-founder of Accountability Now. “Accountability Now believes that members of Congress in both parties need to hear from their constituents, and that nothing focuses the mind of a politician on listening to citizens better than a primary.”

“Accountability Now PAC will recruit, coordinate, and support primary challenges against vulnerable Congressional incumbents who have become more responsive to corporate America than to their constituents,” said Accountability Now’s new Executive Director, Jeff Hauser. “By empowering the grassroots, Accountability Now will help create the political space needed to enable President Obama to make good on the many progressive policies he campaigned on – such as getting out of Iraq, ensuring access to affordable health care for every man, woman and child, restoring our constitutional liberties and ending torture.”

In 2007, grassroots activists banded together to oust Al Wynn out of office, and it shook House Democrats to their core. Similarly, we learned in 2006 how even a primary challenge that does not win could change behavior, as Jane Harman has been more accountable to the concerns of her constituents after a tough primary race against Marcy Winograd.

Out of these recent lessons, diverse and politically powerful groups have decided to support Accountability Now’s efforts, such as MoveOn, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), DailyKos,, and Democracy for America, 21st Century Democrats and BlogPAC.

On principle, I agree with the goals of this PAC. Like some guy once said, “the system in Washington is rigged and our government is broken. It’s rigged by greedy corporate powers to protect corporate profits. […] We cannot replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats […]”

However, I won’t get excited about the Accountability Now PAC until I learn more about the criteria it will use to determine which Democratic incumbents are “bad enough” to be primaried, and which primary challengers are “good enough” to be endorsed.

To my knowledge, Democracy for America was the only organization in the Accountability Now PAC that helped Ed Fallon in last year’s primary in Iowa’s third district (a D+1 district represented by Blue Dog Leonard Boswell).

How would someone thinking about a primary challenge know whether he or she is likely to get full support, like Donna Edwards in MD-04, or almost nothing, like Fallon?

Speaking of Democracy for America, it’s not too late to RSVP for their training academy in Des Moines on February 28 and March 1. Come meet noneed4thneed while you learn to be a more effective grassroots activist.

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Help save the system that runs this blog

Most people who read Bleeding Heartland have probably never heard of Soapblox. It’s an “inexpensive, community-building content management platform developed by Paul Preston and currently used by over 100 progressive blogs,” including several of my favorites: Open Left, Swing State Project, Progressive Blue, and La Vida Locavore.

Bleeding Heartland is among the two dozen state community blogs for Democrats that use Soapblox.

This week hackers got into Soapblox and wreaked havoc with some of the servers, forcing several blogs off-line. Although Bleeding Heartland was not directly affected by that attack, this blog could cease to function and lose all its archives if Soapblox security is not improved.

Preston has always charged low monthly fees to make the platform accessible for progressive bloggers, allowing many new community blogs to get going in the past few years.

BlogPAC has also helped by providing grants to state community blogs, including Bleeding Heartland, to cover Soapblox expenses.

From time to time I get an e-mail or a comment posted here offering to donate to Bleeding Heartland. I appreciate the offers, but we are doing fine. (We wouldn’t say no to more advertising, which can be purchased through the Liberal Blogad network.)

If you appreciate this and other community blogs, the number one thing you can do to keep them going is to help BlogPAC save Soapblox.

Chris Bowers gives some background in this diary and explains what Soapblox needs “to become safe and secure once again.”

He has set up a special ActBlue page to raise money for Soapblox. They need $17,400 to complete the security measures.

Goal Thermometer

On a related note, BlogPAC has done wonderful work supporting progressive change. For that reason, I have donated my share of the Bleeding Heartland advertising revenues to BlogPAC since I started writing here nearly two years ago.

In addition to raising money for Soapblox, BlogPAC is helping Tom Geoghegan for Congress in Illinois’s fifth district (the seat vacated by Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel). You can read more about Geoghegan here. If you can spare a few extra bucks in this tough economy, please consider throwing them his way.  

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BlogPAC Progressive Entrepreneurs Contest Winners

Over at OpenLeft Chris Bowers has announced the winners of the First Annual BlogPAC Progressive Entrepreneurs Contest.  Here is how he summarizes what they’ve been doing:

“Five weeks ago, BlogPac put out a call to “find the five best new, grassroots progressive infrastructure projects in America, and provide those projects with the money, exposure, and connections necessary to get off the ground.” Originally, I had scheduled the announcement of the winners for the contest on Thursday, August 2nd. However, due to the sheer volume of submissions, over 100, and to the high quality of many of those submissions, it took us a much longer time to reach a decision than I had originally envisioned.”

This has been an amazing endeavor and a lot of great applications went through and the winners are very deserving.

However, the reason I’m posting the link to Bowers’ post is to get you all to go over and look at the winners’ project descriptions but I also wanted to highlight one of the winners.

“The Candidate Source internet video project, submitted by Brian Amos on behalf of Candidate Source is a project to transcribe and catalog political content found on video sharing sites like YouTube, including stump speeches, debates, and interviews.  It will be launched on September 1st, and create a free, large, fully searchable database of political video featuring speeches and interviews with both Democratic and Republican candidates. Anyone will be able to search for video by the candidates who appear in it, topics discussed, or quotes contained in it.  Once launched, progressive activists will be able to find particularly eloquent or explanatory speeches from her or his favorite candidates, and also to check for inconsistency in opposing candidates. Further, bloggers, mainstream media, or even an average citizen will be able to easily compare candidate stances on a certain issue. This project will help further engage people-powered activism in American politics.

Brian Amos is the brother of a good friend of mine from Drake and I’m really excited that this project is coming to fruition and hopefully going to take off.

Brian’s brother first introduced me to the proposal last spring and I told him it was a great idea and to go forward with it.  I haven’t heard from him much over the summer, as the brothers Amos have been on a student-run film tour across the country this summer called Student Films Across America.  Hopefully, as classes start up I’ll be able to offer you some more information about and hopefully will be able to invite the brothers to come to Bleeding Heartland and talk about the project.

As I learn more about the project I will make sure to fill you in.  But keep your eyes on the site–it should hopefully uncover another “macaca moment” for the Republican candidates.

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BlogPac Progressive Entrepreneur Contest

This post comes from Chris Bowers of OpenLeft and BlogPac.

  For the past year, as part of our ongoing effort to support the progressive blogosphere and movement, BlogPac has delivered over four-dozen targeted, no-strings-attached grants to progressive activists, organizations, campaigns, and media outlets around the country. Now, we would like to both expand and open up our grant making process, and give your progressive movement building idea a chance to receive one of our grants. As such, today BlogPac is launching a nationwide contest to find the five best new, grassroots progressive infrastructure projects in America, and provide those projects with the money, exposure, and connections necessary to get off the ground.

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