On to the second round of “Ideas for Change in America”!

Update, January 3: Facebook and MyBO events are up;
please accept and forward!

Happy new year!

My idea Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties finished #2 in the Criminal Justice category of change.org/MySpace’s Ideas for Change in America competition, and so has advanced to the second round.

We can revise the idea over the next couple of days (suggestions please!) and then second-round voting runs from January 5 to January 15.  We’ll be promoting it actively, of course.  There’ll be a press conference on January 16 to introduce the top 10, change.org will work with each of them to help build and promote national advocacy campaigns. With change.org’s 200,000 members, proven ability to attack media attention, and a great list of partners for Ideas for Change in America, it’s a great opportunity …

And some really tough competition.

We finished the first round in the #10 overall, with 2171 votes; Pierre Loiselle’s Repeal the Patriot Act also made it into the second round at #2 in the “Other” category with 2068 votes, so there’s clearly a lot of support for civil liberties. However, during the last week of the contest it was clear that a lot of other ideas organized much more effectively than we were, sending mail out to existing networks and getting prominent blog posts.* And as Open for Questions on change.gov has clearly shown, advocates for for drug reform and a special prosecutor are very well organized.

So we’ll need to get creative — in terms of reaching out to our existing members (how many of our 23,000 can we get to vote?), forging new alliances, and getting the word out. We’re about to launch our TV ad President Obama, please get FISA right, and that should get some publicity. Change.org CEO Ben Rattray’s “congratulations!” mail has some other good suggestions:

4. You may edit the text of your idea anytime before the beginning of voting on Monday, January 5th.
5. We strongly encourage you to consider adding a short video (30– 90 seconds) describing your idea and its potential impact.
6. We also encourage you to recruit bloggers and nonprofits to indicate their support for your idea. These “sponsors” will be listed on the right column alongside your idea and can be used to help raise awareness about your idea and to provide additional credibility.

We already do have a video up, our Don’t let our Constitution die from last July which I think is the most succinct statement of what’s wrong with the FISA Amendments Act. It’s certainly worth taking another look at our idea; suggestions welcome on how to improve it. And other ideas for promoting are welcome as well. Our work’s cut out for us …

So congratulations to all for getting us this far … now, let’s get to work!


* a couple of examples: Jori Manske’s Bridging the Empathy Gap – Yes we can! went from nowhere to the #1 spot in Government Reform with 2361 votes in the last week; Ed Ciaccio’s END CORPORATE “PERSONHOOD” (which had been submitted over a month ago but was languishing in #13 in Other) made it to the top 3 after a diary on Daily Kos; and DreamACTivist’s Final push for pro-migrant ideas led to a late surge in the Immigration category.


15 Responses to On to the second round of “Ideas for Change in America”!

  1. Harry Waisbren says:

    Glad to hear it made the second round Jon! I think we should be particularly focused on taking up Rattray’s suggestion of “recruit[ing] bloggers and nonprofits to indicate their support for your idea. These “sponsors” will be listed on the right column alongside your idea and can be used to help raise awareness about your idea and to provide additional credibility.”

    Seems like that could be a big benefit to the bloggers involved. Despite a lack of coordination during the summer work for GFR, I bet that prominent blogs working on FISA issues like Firedoglake, Open Left, Unclaimed Territory, and Hullaballoo would still like to help out. A few of those blogs are already pushing the Fitzgerald torture/accountability question, but I can see them being willing to support both as I’m sure that all parties would agree that both questions should be asked.

  2. This is the first time I’m posting but have followed the emails. One problem I had was I could never log in. My blog is not well known,
    but I am a political junkie and animal rights advocate (I know, we are not well liked, and for good reason, they’re nuts) but I would be happy to post a link. Please send it to me at … and I will include it. You guys are great for being so committed.

  3. jonpincus says:

    Harry, totally agreed — and thanks for your post to that effect on FDL. I’ve set up a page on the wiki where we can start planning our outreach at http://get-fisa-right.wetpaint.com/page/Potential+sponsor+list — we’re still waiting for details on how this will work.

    Bonnie, thanks much … and apologies about the problems you had logging in; I know this has been an issue for a lot of people. One of our goals for 2009 is to simplify things and use off-the-shelf technologies: WordPress for a blog and Google Groups for email as well as Wetpaint. It’s still a work in progress — thanks to all for bearing with us!

  4. Rena says:

    The first link in this post is bad — you forgot the change.org part.

  5. jonpincus says:

    Thanks Rena, fixed now!

  6. Amy Harlib says:


  7. […] A quick recap on the competition: second-round voting is January 5 to 15, and the goal is to finish in the top 10 overall.  Along with email and social network, blogs were one of the most effective forms of promotion in the first round; in the second round, bloggers (as well as non-profits) can sign up as “supporters” of an idea so their influence is likely to be even larger. […]

  8. bob fertik says:

    I agree with Harry about the synergy between your Constitutional agenda and the Accountability agenda we’re promoting at Democrats.com.

    Towards that end, I’d propose we cosponsor a “Constitutional slate” consisting of our two questions and promote both through blogs, emails, etc.

    I just post this idea in draft form here – all comments are welcome:


  9. jonpincus says:

    Interesting idea, Bob. What do others think?

  10. psychicwars says:

    I like the idea of a Constitutional slate and working cooperatively. Ultimately, getting at least one Constitutional issue in the top ten would serve all our interests. I’m not sure it would diminish Get FISA Right’s mission(?).

    In any event, I commend Pierre Loiselle’s idea, “Repeal the Patriot Act” in the “other” category to everyone.


  11. Lloyd says:

    Please, exercise caution in linking up with other initiatives. For example (and pardon my harshness), but if “Bridging the Empathy Gap” received the greatest number of votes on the topic of Government Reform, I must question the wisdom of those voters – their ideas (e.g., establishing an Empathy Corps criss-crossing the Federal government) are inane.

    As for the constitutional slate, how can you link up this genteel “Please Get FISA Right” effort with one calling for a Special Prosecutor for Crimes of the Bush Administration,” which has nothing to do with Government Reform and would set a tone for divisiveness and gridlock?

  12. jonpincus says:

    psychicwars, I completely agree about Pierre’s idea — please vote for it and help promote it! I’m trying to touch base with Pierre so we can work together more effectively.

    A good point on the need for caution on linking up with other ideas, Lloyd (although personally I like the “empathy” proposal quite a lot). Specifically on the special prosecutor idea, we discussed this on one of the conference calls planning the ad, and a lot of other people also saw it as something that clashed with Get FISA Right’s tone. On the other hand some of our members (like Amy above) feel very strongly about this. It’s certainly a good topic for discussion; I’ll kick off a blog post on it later today and we can cover it on the phone call tomorrow.

    That said there are certainly some good opportunities for co-promoting with other ideas even if we don’t “endorse” them … for example, pitching a story to progressive bloggers and journalists who are likely to support both. Bob and I talked earlier today about possibilities and I’ll be posting more about this later today. Stay tuned!

  13. psychicwars says:

    Jon, I just posted a message to change.org under the Get FISA Right idea, and I touched on tone in it (I think). This is Patrick, by the way; psychicwars is my handle on WordPress.

  14. […] endorse the “special prosecutor” idea? By jonpincus Over the weekend, Bob Fertik proposed the idea of a “Constitutional slate” of Ideas for Change in America, including his […]

  15. Frank says:

    I really don’t care what the ‘means’ are, just continue the pressure on Obama to restore our Liberties and Freedoms that Bush compromised. And if the consent is for Bush/others to pay for their sins, then so be it. But let us not spend too much energy on this, we have to many other BIG issues to ensure America has a chance of maintaining its greatness as a beacon of hope for Freedom and Liberty around the world.

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