A small advocacy group in Colorado is betting that it can take one state-of-the-art Web site, add half a million dollars or so and end up with a potent tool that will enable it to organize the state’s entire community of liberal activists.
….The goal is to create a go-to site for Colorado activists — a sort of online hub for everyone from environmentalists to abortion rights advocates to those concerned about the direction of their school boards. The group hopes liberals will use the site — ProgressNowAction.org — to find each other, organize and meet people working on other issues. In the process, it hopes to assemble a statewide network of activists and, ultimately, give Democrats a new and easily replicated model for local political organizing.
The website, largely run by former Dean activist and Progress Now Deputy Director Bobby Clark, offers a lot of valuable tools.
The site, much more sophisticated than the state Democratic Party’s site, features a range of tools that will be familiar to anyone who followed Dean’s presidential bid. There is a knockoff of the Web site Meetup.com, which helps the like-minded find each other and that the former Vermont governor used to rally thousands. There are tools to set up your own Web log, or blog. There is a database of Colorado voters and their addresses, so that activists can write them letters urging action on some issue. There are profiles of individual activists. Soon groups will be able to set up their own fundraisers on the site.
Oddly, the most negative comment comes from Colorado Democratic Chairwoman Patricia Waak who snipes:
The fact is that they’re going on a premise here that worked for Howard Dean when he was running and was pretty effective for him,” Waak said. “But in the end, it still only picks up a certain group of people. There are still tons of people out there who don’t even have a computer and who could care less what blogs say.”
I hope Waak loses her myopic view of netroots soon. Blogs are daily reads for those engaged in politics and the mainstream media, which reports daily on them. With or without a computer, what bloggers are writing filters down to the electorate. Their fundraising capabilities are well-documented. They are a potent force, and Colorado’s Democratic party ignores them at its peril.