People Power v. Power of Money

By Cowtales

In 2006, a movement fueled by young people, Native Americans and the netroots swept through state and national Democratic politics and gave Jon Tester the surprise win over the candidate long assumed to be the “one.” Most party poobahs (with a few notable exceptions such as then-Party Chair Bob Ream) did not believe those young and Internet-savvy activists. Yet from on the ground, those actually working the Tester campaign felt the tide going to Jon as they knocked doors and made phone calls. Meanwhile, the powers-that-be were so sure of John Morrison’s ascendency, the national party establishment placed their staffers in jobs in Montana as Morrison for Senate general election campaign staff-in-waiting. Oops.

These same 2006 Tester believers now see the same in Rob Quist and again, no one believes them. Yes, it’s true that Greg Gianforte has had the massive advantage of million-dollar dumps by Republican and right-wing groups and Quist is just now getting some national funds I hope aren’t merely token. But there are also two major differences from 2006 to now, and in less than a month, we’ll know which force is greater.

One, on the plus side, is the awakening of women and men who are not going to let a Trump-type victory happen again. Not on city commissions, school boards, legislature or congress. They’ve marched by the thousands and showed up at airports to ask Sen. Daines questions. Yet they’re more than protestors. These activists make phone calls, write postcards, send money and talk to neighbors and friends about their support of Rob Quist. It’s a vital, organic movement hidden in plain sight, right there on the Internet and came out of the women’s march.

2nd, will the old-school corporate money persuade enough to go with Gianforte? Or will postcard writing, persuasion call making Montanans prevail? I’m sticking with the union of folks who have banded together to fight the rise of the right. As an old labor hymn says,

“In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
Greater than the might of armies, multiplied a thousand-fold.
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old
For the union makes us strong.”


15 Comments on "People Power v. Power of Money"

  1. I liked your post immensely, Cowtales. I’ve been wondering the same thing: can a grassroots, person-to-person campaign beat a multi-million dollar media blitz? History tends to side with the multi-millionaires, but there have been exceptions. The negative, tabloid-like press isn’t helping the Quist campaign, either. Still, I’m looking for an upset. It would be great to send the message that Montana isn’t for sale.

  2. I agree with Pete re: the negative tabloid-like press. It sure seems like Lee Enterprises has a personal vendetta against Rob Quist.

  3. Geoff Badenoch | May 3, 2017 9:58 AM at 9:58 AM |

    Political pendulum swings are usually rooted in both young people and in disaffected people who are motivated for change. Establishment entitlement stumbles because these groups are failed again and again. I see my generation’s hold on things loosening but I welcome with great hope and enthusiasm the energy and heart of young citizens practicing politics as if something matters, for it surely does. They will make mistakes–every generation does–but odds are, if they engage while young, they will be engaged for a lifetime. That’s good because the struggle for “a more perfect union” is never over.

  4. boB AKA @Gyrogyrloose | May 3, 2017 1:21 PM at 1:21 PM |

    I’m beginning to see a few younger volunteers at the Flathead Democratic Party meetings but the majority are still my age. I’m going door knocking in a bit and work to expand my precinct rolls if I can but my luck so far has been abysmal. How do I reach the 20-35 year-olds outside of Social Media. Canvassing gets me door slams over conversation by a 10-1 margin. I’m not giving up but it sure gets frustrating. Civility. I feel like a fuddy-duddy but people are just fucking rude when they have no need to be. Trump has been bad for America on that score alone.

    • You’re trying, that’s what matters! Hopefully the young ones will be pushing hard on Social Media. I’ve seen a lot of pro Quest arguments online. And yes, rudeness is taking over.

    • “I’m going door knocking in a bit and work to expand my precinct rolls if I can”

      THANK YOU!!!! Everyone needs to do what they can!

      For how to reach 20-35 year-olds: Do the younger volunteers at the Flathead Democratic Party meetings have any ideas?

  5. I am still wondering where Sweitzer, tester, and other Democrats are?

  6. How ‘generous’ of Gianforte who says who won’t take a paycheck (like he needs one?) just like his ‘Master Mentor, Shutdown Steve’ Daines, his former bagman – if Congress doesn’t balance the budget?!! HA, HA!

  7. Update on legislator and GOP Chairman Jeff Essman who tried to downplay the announcement last week that Gianforte’s portfolio contains significant Russian stocks. Essman replied that the Montana Public Employee Retirement Administration has a trust fund with investments in Russia. Now Essman should know, being a legislator, because the criteria for investments are established in Montana law. Turns out the MPERA trust contains S&P500 Index Funds. One of the S&P500 is Blackrock, Inc. which has a small holding of International Stocks — one of the countries being Russia. The two situations are not at all comparable but it’s the ONLY reply the Republicans can float. As President T would say “SAD”

  8. Uh-oh! GInatfart got busted

    “G.O.P. House Candidate in Montana Is Caught on Tape Praising Health Bill”

  9. Where’s Brian Schweitzer, Max Baucus to counter visits by Pence and T=rump’y ‘Junior’? Where’s Bernie? We need the ‘BUZZ’, not whimpers!

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  11. I must respectfully take issue with the following characterization of the 2006 race:

    “In 2006, a movement fueled by young people, Native Americans and the netroots swept through state and national Democratic politics and gave Jon Tester the surprise win over the candidate long assumed to be the ‘one.'”

    This is an inaccurate oversimplification of the 2006 win. This was not a progressive movement win that people like to yarn about; it was a combination of a unique historical circumstance in which the national party had motivation to pour tremendous talent and resources into Montana and Virginia to take back the senate. It was a sophisticated hybrid of the DNC and DSCC’s traditional field model, merged with the Wellstone model. It was also a time when the state party had alot of unity between Schweitzer’s hand-built organization, Baucus’ money-built organization, and alot of ground-level cooperation in the state party. I say this because we don’t have these things anymore, and this worries me about the current race, and state of the state party generally.

    Baucus’ behind-the-scenes aggression towards all things Schweitzer led to his exile in China, the Messina Machine’s exit, and Schweitzer moving on to better things in the private sector after being sand-bagged by Baucus during his national roll-out.

    Who lost? The people of Montana, and our state party. Naive storytelling about the 2006 race can mislead us from the real lessons we must learn to rebuild the state party and start beating republicans again. They are gaining strength and we are not.

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    for Comments like the one from Ohsixer.

  13. Not A Revisionist | May 6, 2017 12:22 PM at 12:22 PM |

    “In 2006, a movement fueled by young people, Native Americans and the netroots swept through state and national Democratic politics and gave Jon Tester the surprise win”

    Wow! Talk about some historical revisionism. Not being said is the direct role of primary candidate Paul Richards and his thousands of followers who made an agreement with Jon Tester to swing support to him and away from John Morrison in exchange for Jon’s agreement to support some of their planks.

    Also unsaid is that Jon Tester went back on his promises to Paul and thousands of environmentalist across Montana when he attacked their positions on wolves and wilderness.

    But go ahead and believe it was all young people, natives and the netroots if that’s what democrats want you to believe these days.

    But if you want to know the real story, read it here from Paul Richards himself:

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