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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Time is Ripe for Dems to Tap Celebrity Power

I’m liking the latest fund-raising email I got from the DSCC. (See full text after the jump) Instead of a dreary old politician begging for money, it comes from a top actor, Morgan Freeman, with a thoughtful appeal, based on a sober recognition that,

…We’ve only taken the first step. As President Obama said on election night, “This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change.” In many ways, our work didn’t end at the ballot box, it began there….That is precisely why we need your support – not just on the eve of an election, not just when the airwaves are crammed with negativity, and not just when the sense of urgency is palpable.
We also need your support now, at the beginning of a long journey together to reclaim and rebuild the American dream. It will be a difficult slog measured in months and years — but the journey will be worth it if, in the end, we are able to say that we have left a better country and a safer world for our children.

Freeman goes on to ask for a “click here” contribution to the DSCC. The wise oracle of many a good film, Freeman has to be the perfect choice to make the pitch for long-haul party-building. You can almost hear his mellifluous baritone working the room.
Freeman’s letter got me thinking that now, while hopes are at an all-time high, really is the time for the Democratic Party to aggressively recruit celebrities for fund-raising promos. And it’s not just about money. It’s also a great time to get celebrities and other public figures on record as supporting the Democrats as the party of hope. Despite all of the GOP whining about Democrats and Hollywood, I’m struck by how little we have used performing artists to raise consciousness and funds directly for party-building, as opposed to supporting candidates. There’s never been a better time, while Obama rides the high tide of popular good will. No doubt many celebrities who may have been a little reluctant to “out” themselves as partisan Democrats are more comfortable with the idea now.
Freeman may be in a minority in his profession, in that he gets it that Obama isn’t going to be able to pass much legislation without a few more Democratic Senators, or at least that a couple more senators could make a huge difference in America’s future. But there must be others. Let’s not miss the opportunity for a full court press in recruiting them. It’s not likely that we will see a better time.
And speaking of a full-court press, think about how limp the Democratic effort to tap the appeal of professional athletes has been. Obama’s cred ought to provide unprecedented leverage for promos from the top NBA super-stars, with professional football all-pros and baseball all-stars not far behind. Who better to get the attention — and support — of millions of young people?
I’m not saying here that celebrities are the key to success in long-haul political organizing. But in this culture particularly, they do command a lot of attention, and Dems would be negligent if they don’t make the most of it.
In The Shawshank Redemption, Freeman’s character, Red, tells Andy (Tim Robbins), “Hope? Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing.” Very true. But when it is backed up by organized action, hope can also be a powerful force for positive change.


The text of Freeman’s DSCC email appeal follows:
Dear (Name)
This son of Memphis wasn’t sure he’d ever live to see the day, but it has finally come.
When Barack Obama placed a hand on Abraham Lincoln’s bible and was sworn in as America’s 44th president, it was one of the most special moments in my life, and the life of our nation.
I know you feel the same way.
But we’ve only taken the first step. As President Obama said on election night, “This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change.”
In many ways, our work didn’t end at the ballot box, it began there.
Barack Obama won’t have to fix healthcare, our economy and America’s reputation around the world alone. But thanks to the outstanding efforts of the DSCC he’ll have 59 Democratic Senators to meet the challenges ahead.
In the last two elections, the DSCC has helped elect 14 new Democratic Senators, to give us our biggest majority in 30 years.
Now the DSCC has already begun the crucial work of recruiting the best candidates to make sure President Obama has strong Senate support throughout his first term. Starting strong today is essential to victory on Election Day. And they need our support now to do it right.
Click here to make a contribution of $5 or more to the DSCC to keep our Senate majority strong so Barack Obama has all the necessary support to deliver the change we need.
In his election night speech, President Obama said, “Even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime.”
That is precisely why we need your support – not just on the eve of an election, not just when the airwaves are crammed with negativity, and not just when the sense of urgency is palpable.
We also need your support now, at the beginning of a long journey together to reclaim and rebuild the American dream. It will be a difficult slog measured in months and years — but the journey will be worth it if, in the end, we are able to say that we have left a better country and a safer world for our children.
The next election may seem distant, but the DSCC will be working night and day for the next two years to make sure we build on the historic elections of 2006 and 2008.
Click here to make a contribution of $5 or more to the DSCC to keep our Senate majority strong so Barack Obama has all the necessary support to deliver the change we need.
On Tuesday, millions of us ended this presidential campaign season where we began it: together. We remain united by our vision, our commitment and the hope that even in our darkest hours, we can rekindle the American spirit.
Now is the time to keep fighting alongside our new president.
Sincerely,
Morgan Freeman

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