On a sunny Sacramento afternoon I walked into the Take Down Dan Lungren campaign headquarters on Fair Oaks Blvd. to see half a dozen volunteers diligently working the phone bank. They were calling folks in the 3rd Congressional District to invite them to a Medicare Town Hall meeting to learn about the Ryan plan for Medicare that Congressman Lungren supports. Whereas most folks would be out enjoying a rare balmy July day, these volunteers were dedicated to, well, taking down Dan Lungren.
Show me the money
The Take Down Dan Lungren campaign is sponsored by Creedo SuperPAC (Political Action Committee). Super PACs can’t make donations to political candidates, but they can spend unlimited amounts of dollars for or against a candidate, ballot initiative or other issue. The Creedo SuperPAC is focused on defeating ten Tea Party-affiliated members in the House of Representatives in the 2012 election cycle.
It’s a new ball game
In general, I am not fond of PACs. I find they tend to distort messages and often times have hidden legislative agendas. But with the Citizens United decision in 2010, PACs are part of the political campaign landscape we live in. The concept of a PAC is not necessarily evil. They can provide valuable information to voters that the candidates or traditional media can’t or won’t offer.
What’s in a name
To be honest, I was a little leery of a campaign with such a bold title that implied metaphorical physical aggression. However, their name is upfront and there is no guessing about their purpose. This is in contrast to organizations like American Crossroads, Restore Our Future and American Action Network whose names have been carefully crafted by marketing professionals to evoke that warm fuzzy patriotic branding while obfuscating their actual nature.
Roll up the sleeves
I spoke briefly with Sam Briggs and Mark Hefflinger, campaign organizers, about the operation and future events. True to a grassroots organization, these two casually dressed young men are juggling lots of balls while keeping up the energy and message. There is nothing worse than walking into campaign office and seeing lots of suits and ties. Only the candidate, if there is one, should be wearing a tie, everyone else should be comfortable, relaxed and engaged.
Battle of the messages
Is the Take Down Dan Lungren campaign on the congressman’s radar? Probably. His challenger Ami Bera certainly won’t contest the efforts of the Take Down Dan Lungren campaign. Since I have seen advertisements on behalf of congressman Lungren from the American Action Network and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it’s fun to see a counter message to the money these other organizations are spending. As a big proponent of Medicare, I will certainly attend the town hall meeting to lend my support against the Ryan plan.
No arm chair quarterbacks please
As the volunteers politely invited voters to the Medicare Town Hall meeting, I couldn’t help but revel in American democracy at work. We may not have a perfect system, but it allows ordinary folks to get involved and get active with the process. Will Dan Lungren get tackled? Will you be the linebacker hoping to get a sack or the guard trying to thwart the rush? Either way, I hope you get in the game. There is a position for everyone.