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Sunday, March 28, 2010

 
What Good Were They?

by digby


One of the dumber moves the Democrats made in recent times was allowing ACORN to go undefended because those silly costumed miscreants doctored some tapes to portray the ACORN workers as idiots and criminals. Its destruction may end up being the most important conservative movement action of the era because of what it did to Democratic infrastructure:

A Summary of Recent Accomplishments (pdf)

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is one of the nation’s largest and most successful community organization of lower income families. Since 1970 ACORN has been building solidly rooted and powerful community organizations that are committed to social and economic justice, and have taken action and won victories on thousands of issues of concern to our members. Our priorities include living wages for low income workers; an end to predatory financial practices and foreclosures; decent and affordable housing, for first time homebuyers and tenants; public schools that work for all students; voting rights, and full participation in our electoral system; a path to citizenship for new immigrants to this country; and an equitable response to natural disasters such as Katrina. ACORN achieves these goals by building community organizations that have the power to win changes – through direct action, negotiation, legislation, and voter participation.

The following report describes some of ACORN’s major accomplishments in these areas over the past decade. In addition, every day local ACORN chapters are taking action and winning on issues as diverse as getting traffic lights at dangerous intersections, increasing police protection in their neighborhoods, and forcing landlords to make necessary repairs. These activities are the building blocks that help the organization recruit new members, teach the skills of public engagement, and build the power that allows ACORN to take action and win on the critical issues that face our constituency:



The first few listed are all laudable community organizing activities. But it's the final one that made them a long standing GOP target:
More Income for Poor Americans
Taking on the Predatory Lenders
Passing Laws to Stop Foreclosures
Preserving and Creating Affordable Housing
Rebuilding After Katrina
Improving Schools in our Communities
Stopping RAL Rip-offs and Providing Free Tax Prep

Bringing New Voters Into Elections

ACORN’s non-partisan voter registration drives have successfully helped build an American electorate that is beginning to look more like America — with more African Americans, Latinos and young people voting in 2008 than ever before. ACORN has collected and submitted nearly 3 million voter registration applications since 2003: 1.152 million in 2003-4, 540,000 in 2006, and close to 1.3 million in 2007-8. Based on our knowledge of voter registration drives, we estimate that 70%—more than 2 million—of these applications resulted in a successfully registered new voter or a necessary address change to keep a voter on the rolls. Our best estimates indicate that ACORN’s 2008 voter registration and GOTV work, combined with the continuing impact of ACORN’s registration drives from 2003 through 2006, helped bring approximately one million voters to the polls last year.

In 2008, ACORN’s Get Out the Vote and voter education programs made more than 470,000 contacts with voters, mostly African American and Latino infrequent voters, with strong programs in states including NC, OH, NM, and MN. ACORN also ran a successful Get Out the Vote program as part of the We Are America Alliance, targeting immigrant voters in CO, AZ, NM, FL, and WA. In 2004 ACORN’s Get Out the Vote program made an estimated 2.3 million face to face contacts in low income and minority communities, and in 2006 made and well over a million voter contacts, speaking to a universe of 580,000 people one to three times.

Finally, ACORN’s voter mobilization methodology has been scientifically tested – and it works! Yale Professor Donald Green and team conducted a controlled experiment to evaluate ACORN’s person-to-person voter mobilization program and concluded: “ACORN’s campaign ranks as the most successful voter mobilization experiment involving more than 1,000 voters. Among Latinos in the targeted precincts, voter turnout more than doubled when voters were mobilized by ACORN canvassers. This campaign illustrates the powerful effects of an intensive, personal approach to voter mobilization.”

Promoting and Protecting the Right to Vote: ACORN has worked to improve enforcement of the NVRA’s public agency voter registration requirements throughout the country. The greatest success to date has come in Missouri, where, after research by ACORN and Project Vote indicated that the state was failing to implement the NVRA, ACORN successfully sued Missouri to force the Department of Social Services (DSS) to live up to its obligation to help register low-income residents. As a direct result of that suit, more than 100,000 Missourians will register to vote at the DSS by the fall or winter of 2009.

Throughout the 2008 election season ACORN played a leading role in protecting voting rights: In New Mexico, ACORN joined the ACLU and other partners and filed suit to stop partisan operatives from intimidating minority voters in direct violation of the Voting Rights Act. In Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg ruled in favor of ACORN, denying the GOP’s attempt to stop ACORN’s voter mobilization in the state. And ACORN played a part in other 2008 voting rights victories in AZ, FL, GA. MD, MO, and OH, which blocked voter caging schemes or otherwise protected the right of all citizens to register and vote.

A Note on Collaboration: In many of these campaigns, ACORN worked closely with critical allies, including other community organizations, research and public policy groups, labor unions, churches, and elected officials. Credit for these victories should be shared with our partners: social change is a joint venture, dependent on a dense infrastructure of progressive organizations. What makes ACORN unique, however, and a critical actor in these important campaigns, is the organization’s base of low and moderate income members in cities throughout the country, and its ability to mobilize that base in a coordinated, strategic set of activities. ACORN often provided the “juice” that helped convince policymakers to enact these reforms.


Maybe the Democrats didn't think all that matters, but the Republicans certainly did. They worked for years to take out ACORN and that little jackass finally got it done. Believe me, it wasn't because they were worried about "voting integrity." They were worried that in the new white minority world, too many people of color would vote. We know what that means. (They tend not to vote for the racist party.)

The Democrats showed no instinct for self-preservation on this one, which isn't surprising.

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