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Strategy Articles Challenge Dems

The first hump-day in April yields a trio of blogosphere articles of interest to political strategy-watchers. Start with the buzz about DLC Chair Harold Ford's pitch for Democratic consensus on a half-dozen key issues at TPM Cafe, and the broad range of friendly and hostile reactions to his overture. (New Donkey Ed Kilgore fleshes out Ford's proposal, and a progressives have at it.) The tone of discussion around Ford's proposals gets a little strident on both sides, but, hey, that's what Dems do.

Over at Slate, Joshua Glen has a provocative review article on Stephen Duncombe's book 'Dream.' Glen's review, entitled "Grand Theft Politics: Should Democrats look to video games for inspiration?" has this to say about the state of progressive activism:

In a new book, Dream, NYU media professor and political activist Stephen Duncombe laments that progressives have become well, tedious. The people who built the New Deal and led the civil rights struggle are now engaging in old-fashioned, top-down political practices. These days, whether you attend a rally, sign a petition, or forward a MoveOn e-mail, it can be a disempowering experience. Duncombe is not contemptuous of the traditional anti-war demonstrations against Iraq, but, he argues, obscured within these and other well-intended political actions is "a philosophy of passive political spectatorship: they organize, we come; they talk, we listen."

It does sometimes seem as if the day when big progressive demos were influential has come and gone, and the GOP is nowadays more imaginative with their political "spectacles." On the other hand, there is probably more creative grassroots activism going on now than ever before through netroots projects, which have proven to be quite effective, judging by the '06 elections.

Rob Richie and Ryan O'Donnell report on an innovative effort at electoral reform in their TomPaine.com article, "Making the Popular Vote a Winner." The authors explain how the new initiative works:

Today most states give their electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote, but they could just as easily award them to the national vote winner in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. If a group of states representing a majority of the Electoral College entered into a binding agreement to do so, then the nationwide popular vote winner would achieve an Electoral College victory every time.

...The National Popular Vote compact will go into effect only if in July of a presidential election year the number of participating states collectively have a majority of at least 270 electoral votes. At that point, the compact is triggered, with states accepting a blackout period during which they cannot withdraw from the agreement until the new president takes office. That new president is guaranteed to be the candidate who won the most votes from Americans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

National Popular Vote has had remarkable success since going public in February 2006. California 's Assembly and Senate in California passed the plan in 2006, as did the Colorado Senate, Hawaii Senate and Arkansas House this year. Nationally nearly 300 state legislators representing nearly every state have sponsored the plan or pledged to do so.

...While it's unlikely that enough states will be on board by next July to affect the 2008 election, we think it will be the last state-by-state election for president in our history. It couldn't come any sooner. In today's climate of partisan polarization, the current system shuts out most of the country from meaningful participation by turning naturally "purple" states into simple "red" and "blue."

Sounds like a plan which could prevent a replay of the 2000 debacle, and that's a good thing.