Friday, June 11, 2010

Kamala Harris: We Like Your Status

A note from Generation Y

Dear California Attorney General Nominee Kamala Harris,

We would like to formally congratulate you on your decisive primary election victory on Tuesday. You have led a robust campaign built on your strengths as a sharp leader and a resilient crime fighter. The grassroots efforts launched by your campaign mobilized over half a million votes in your direction, and you should be tremendously proud of your effort.

We understand that your next opponent, Steve Cooley, means business; and you will need every weapon in your arsenal to defeat him in November. As we all saw in 2008, and even back in the 2006 midterm elections, voters aged 18-30 are turning out for elections in droves not seen since the Vietnam War. Chalk it up to demographics (we are, after all, about 20% of the population here in California and growing), a renewed sense of civic pride, or just plain old dissatisfaction with the government: we Gen Y’ers are voting – and we must be heard.

Facebook, the social networking behemoth that employed your main primary election opponent, Chris Kelly, as its Chief Privacy Officer, has recently come under fire for some profound issues in guarding the privacy of its 500 million+ users. The company now makes public record of our activity in the Facebook world, and shares information about which websites we visit. We have witnessed anti-Facebook push-back in the past when interfaces have changed or audiences broadened, but never envisioned the issue becoming a politically-charged topic of contention. And although you defeated Chris Kelly by beating the drum of online privacy rights, we hope we have not seen the end of your fight against those who violate our personal space on the web.

Internet privacy issues are a cause that matters to more than just us Gen-Y’ers. Your crusade against sexual predators that use Facebook to coerce users as young as elementary school will resonate with their parents in the voting booth. If consumers of online markets – many of which are based in California – begin to sense a lack of discretion on the web, this could have tremendous impacts on this state’s fragile reputation in the business world.

For Generation Y, privacy rights is a highly mobilizing issue. Beyond the ebbs and flows of our largely superficial use of social networking, you will inspire confidence in Generation Y’ers who worry that a lack of privacy online may mean doomsday for their reputations in the business world or credit market. For those of us who may be unaffected (or uninspired) by the politics of criminal justice in this state, Facebook policy – the road less traveled by politicians – will spark the attention of many young voters.

We thank you for acknowledging this vital issue and resonating with your youngest constituents. On the verge of Generation Y yourself, you already have over 23,000 Facebook “fans” that need your protection. Our needs for privacy protection have now extended far beyond the rallying cries of Facebook groups and fan pages. We hope you continue to offer valuable solutions throughout the campaign season, and into your term as Attorney General of California.

Generation Y

PS: BTW, my friend request is pending…

Sunday, January 24, 2010

David Plouffe: November Doesn't Need to be a Nightmare for Democrats

I think DP's got it right. I think much of what he says is especially true of the California races - mantras like 'We need to show that we not just are focused on jobs but also create them,' 'Make sure voters understand what the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act did for the economy,' and most importantly, 'No bed-wetting.' A good Sunday read.

David Plouffe's Washington Post Op-Ed: November doesn't need to be a nightmare for Democrats

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mass. Election; Supreme Court Decision Spell Trouble for Boxer

On Tuesday, Massachusetts voters made the historic choice to elect State Senator Scott Brown, the state's first Republican US Senator in almost half a decade. The implications of this election cannot be understated. Just before Christmas, a poll placed State Attorney General Martha Coakley with an unsurprising double-digit lead over rival Scott Brown. It's true that Martha Coakley had her fair share of gaffes on the campaign trail, joining the legacy of embarrassing female politicians in the Bay State. Also true is the flawlessness of Brown's well-fought campaign to narrowly defeat "Yankees Suck" as a write-in candidate.

But this election has served as a signal of the new reality for Democrats facing re-election around the country: even in the bluest of states, no Democratic candidate can rest on the laurels of past party loyalty.

Barbara Boxer, the junior Senator from California, is no exception. A recent Rasmussen Poll shows Boxer with a narrow lead over Republican contenders Carly Fiorina, Tom Campbell, and Chuck DeVore. But after Tuesday's previously deemed unattainable feat in Massachusetts, Republican donors will be more inclined to present a newfound faith in Republican candidates. Moreover, a Field Poll shows Obama's poll numbers slipping in California - proving that vulnerable Democrats in this state can no longer rely on the coattails of Obama's expected campaign stumps on their behalf.

In addition, a new ruling by the US Supreme Court will open the floodgates of corporate funding for candidates in 2010, much to the benefit of Republican candidates. Today's ruling will upend federal campaign finance laws, allowing limitless spending from corporations on behalf of political candidates. With a frustrated and angered electorate in California, expect those interests to gain funding like never before. This also means those with corporate ties to former CEO Carly Fiorina can open the corporate coffers without limit, much to the chagrin of both Boxer and Republican rivals alike.

Although support for the Obama healthcare plan is higher in California than it is nationally, Boxer's legislative agenda may prove difficult to justify come fall. With the fate of the healthcare bill still undecided, Boxer will have to rely on her other legislative achievements to fulfill the challenging wishes of independent voters seeking change in Washington.

Boxer's major initiative this legislative year, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, may prove to seal Boxer's destiny. Fortunately for Boxer, the bill has been sufficiently watered down enough that even the likes of Shell, General Motors, and General Electric have signed on with their support. Proving himself as a further thorn in Boxer's side, Scott Brown has announced that he questions the validity of global warming, and has stated his opposition to climate change legislation such as cap and trade.

And as of this morning, Boxer became the latest 'no' vote to the nomination of Ben Bernanke to a second term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Using carefully crafted language, Boxer's statement read,

"It is time for Main Street to have a champion at the Fed. Dr. Bernanke played a lead role in crafting the Bush administration's economic policies, which led to the current economic crisis."

Boxer, not usually known for her political dominance on economic issues, will have to prove herself a 'middle of the road' candidate come November to handle the likes of any of her major Republican opponents.

But with so much of her political and legislative destiny out of her hands, one thing Boxer can work on is being especially careful to avoid emulating Coakley's campaign blunders and missteps. Although Boxer has always maintained her status as a fearless pitbull, this has by no means excused her from some of her past speaking errors and brusque behavior as a politician. For instance, when asked her opinion about state initiatives Propositions 1A-1F this past spring, Boxer snipped,

"Our plate's been so full we haven't looked at it. You may have noticed that we've been a little hectic and very involved in our work in Washington."

Coakley, too, had a tough time following the legacy of Massachusetts icon Tip O'Neill's famous words of caution, "All politics is local."

Boxer has indeed acknowledged the tough road ahead for her. In a Washington press conference, Boxer asserted: "Every state is now in play, absolutely." The lesson from Massachusetts, she said, is "never, ever, ever take an election for granted." In the coming months, Boxer supporters can only hope that she isn't defeated by those local details.