No, it is coming. Despite our best efforts, Christmas is still coming.
We are gathered here today for what we are calling our War on Christmas fundraising drive. Technically this is not correct, but the more accurate version would be that we are here to seek funds for the War on the War on the War on Christmas. The "War" part is cubed. The War on Christmas, you see, technically does not goddamn exist. But the War on the War on Christmas does exist, and is fought by panicked and paranoid twice-a-year Christians everywhere, with more than a little assistance from Fox News and other, narrower interest groups that only gain influence and rich, delicious money when the larger conservative base is in an absolute frothing panic about something. We are now called to battle for the sake of that war. No, we must wage a new campaign, a new war against the conservative war on the liberal war on Christmas that does not exist. Oh, and ACORN may be involved somehow, it is difficult to say.
Instead of doing Christmas things, we will give each other gifts. Instead of decorating in outlandish Christmas colors, we will decorate in red, celebrating socialism, and green, celebrating RAMPANT VERY SCARY ENVIRONMENTALISM. We will sing sappy little songs about caring for our fellow man, and about our own religious preferences or lack of them, and when we go the supermarket we will not treat some poor, half-starving cashier like dirt for not saying happy birthday to the baby Jesus to each and every last person who walks by, even though not having a supermarket cashier affirm their own religious preferences is quite possibly the worst possible thing that can befall someone. It will be a very subtle war, admittedly. Launching a war against a phony war on an invisible war on a holiday, of all things, tends to get a bit self-referential. This may not have been well thought out.
(Continue reading below the fold.)
December is perhaps not the best time for launching fundraisers. There is Christmas to think about, and Christmas counter-counterinsurgencies to plan, and it is cold out, and at this given moment we have just come from a miserably long and drawn out election season in which it seemed like one out of every ten people in the country was (1) running for office and (2) needing our money to do it. I am very, very glad the election is over; we may have a rest of three or even four months before the 2016 presidential election starts in earnest, so that will be a nice break. Still, the non-election fundraising has to happen sometime, and there's no damn way to do non-election fundraising in the middle of election fundraising, so December it is!
Markos already mentioned that the site has gotten too big to support with advertising anymore. The community is too large, the site itself is too complex, and there are all these writers to support. Writers who write things. Writers that write things that, for the most part, the people who appear in the papers and on the teevee do not like to write about, sometimes said in ways far too mean (shudder) and dreadfully partisan to muster when it is not (two shudders, here) in the broader service of explaining why the common folks ought to just shut up and take whatever they are given. We seem to have gone from the Two Wars Forever phase of our national angst to the Wealthy People Are Our Nation's Gods phase without much even in the way of transition. I suppose perhaps the wealthy person one had always been there, so it was not that one replaced the other, it was just that one had better television footage.
The larger point is, however, that we have actually done pretty darn well for ourselves (we as in the netroots, or as in liberals in general) in building a movement not dependent on a political party to prop it up, and not dependent on the media acceptance or coddling. This ought to be recognized as an amazing thing, right there, and this particular site has been right in the middle of it. It was the first Yearly Kos that became Netroots Nation, and it was Netroots Nation that held one of the first meetings between the Democratic candidates in 2008, and it was a writer for this site that asked each candidate questions, questions about things actual progressives cared about. In the last few years the site has hired progressives just to write (for example, me), and actually paid them to do it (for example, me). Daily Kos has helped sponsor polls. It has begun to more aggressively launch petition drives and other straight-up activism. There is a daily radio show dedicated to the community. We have editorial cartoonists, and damn good ones. The community continues to grow, and community members continue to use the site as launching point for their own activism campaigns. Liberalism itself was roundly vilified in the supposedly liberal media, during those years when sites like this one were first set up. No more. Organizations like Fox News (or the Wall Street Journal, or the Washington Post's editorial stable, etc., etc.) may still shriek over our presence, but they cannot, anymore, simply ignore our entire side of the debate.
That is what we want. We want to be our own movement, not a begrudging offshoot of somebody else's. We do not want to be reliant on the whims of a political party as to what we "should" or "should not" say, lest we irritate the wrong parts of the donor base. We do not want to simply sit twiddling our thumbs while a bare handful of national news sources decide how little of the liberal or progressive viewpoint they can get away with including, and which tiny set of voices ought to "officially" represent it. There is just too much to do, and the entire concept of political punditry as was done before the internet is an archaic one, and has often been an insulting one, and anyone reading this is reading this because they are sick of all of that and wanted, at long last, something different.
So then, to the fundraiser. Specifically, we are having this War on Christmas fundraiser so that people like me, like Meteor Blades, like Joan and Laura and the rest of our professional writing staff can continue to write. It is to keep the servers paid running, and keep the tech team running, and to keep our new poll and activism efforts running. It is like a public radio pledge drive, but with considerably more swearing.
So, what's in it for donors? Aside from all that stuff I said, here are some of the many more concrete reasons why you might want to donate to keep this site running. You can buy a site subscription, or buy a site subscription for another member of the community, or just donate money for the sake of our efforts, period—your choice. Why should you do it?
If you buy a site subscription, you can turn off site ads. This may sound trivial, but sweet merciful crap, having just a few scant places on your daily internet rounds that are not littered with advertisements turns out to be a wonderful, calming thing, and possibly soul-saving besides. (And wherever you go on the internet, it is always those same ads, mind you: my current post-election selection suggests that Google now thinks I have a profound interest in renting cherry pickers, joining a dating site for Asian singles, and playing some internet game plastered with the faces of Mary Kate and Ashley Olson, after which I shall refinance my home and apparently live on a beach somewhere with the implausibly large proceeds—I have no goddamn idea what sort of lifestyle Google is suggesting for me, but thank the Lord and Abraham Lincoln that I also have a chance to participate in some omnipresent conservative faux-poll about whether or not I hate Obama and all he stands for, because that will certainly set things right.)
If you purchase a subscription for some other member here, they can turn off site ads. That might be even more soul-cleansing than doing it for yourself. If you want my advice, pick someone who you truly cherish, in the community, but who seems just unhinged enough that you suspect they may benefit more than most people from at least not having to see that damn advertising.
By giving money to an unabashedly liberal, progressive, Democratic outlet, you can piss Republicans off greatly, and there is nothing on this planet more soul-cleansing than that. The knowledge that progressive outlets exist, and will continue to exist no matter how often faux-civility-obsessed plutocratic gobs moan about it, seems to irritate certain quarters more than any other single thing in their otherwise well-tended lives. If sites like this one did not exist to cater to liberals and progressives, we would have to invent fake versions just for the entertainment value of seeing the other side complaining about it.
If I can personally raise enough money for the site, there is some possibility that the site editors will not make me write about Allen West so often. The dynamics of this are not fully sketched out in my head yet, but involve me somehow using some of that money to bribe site editors into letting me not write about Allen West anymore. I promise you, it is soul-draining. For the better part of half the year I was tasked with probing the inner thoughts of Mitt Romney, do not think that did not have long-lasting traumatic effects. Having to pay attention to putative tea party heroes in particular ranks among the lower possible circles of hell, and while I'm definitely not saying I don't want to write about them, mind you, I do hope to someday have a workplace rule in place saying that for every three weekly stories about politicians with single digit IQ scores, I should get a free coffee or something. Throw me a bone here.
You get e-books. Since so many people wrote to say they hoped the Chronicles of Mitt, the aforementioned extended look into Mitt Romney's soul that very nearly cost me my sanity, would eventually make it into book form, we're editing it together into just that. Now you can relive all the drama, the complete lack of passion, and the incredibly awkward campaign moments with common folk. No, really, Mitt Romney was awkward as hell. That may have been the strangest presidential campaign since Nixon.
We want to do more. More polls, more activism, more comics, and more first-person reporting. A few months ago, the editors intended to dispatch me to Arizona to report in person on a Sheriff Joe Arpaio birther-o-rama event that he and other like-minded crazy people were having. Alas, that particular event was cancelled due to lack of interest even among the birther crowd, but there are many other crackpots out there who get bigger, less flighty audiences, and places like Rolling Stone and the like should not be able to hog all of the fun of going there, observing those crackpots in person, and producing long, densely written articles about how absolutely batshit crazy some of these people are.
There are probably some other reasons to give, but in the spirit of the War on Christmas, and more importantly all the various supersets of Wars based on that War, I think the most important ones are definitely (1) to avail yourself of the possibility of not seeing advertising on this site, your site, and (2) personally pissing Bill O'Reilly off. The whole Fox News crew, yes, but him especially, because he is perhaps the most prominent tool promoting the whole idea that Christmas is doomed if everyone in the nation does not celebrate it in his demanded way.
That is, after all, the reason for the season.