Announcing the Defend Democracy PAC
I registered NoTinyHands.com on November 9th, the morning after Trump's election. At first, I didn't know what I would do with it—I had a vague idea that it might be a way to communicate with friends about politics without being at the mercy of Facebook's algorithms. Then, as an experiment, I decided to try running some Facebook ads to promote the site.
It took some fiddling with the targeting, but I found pretty quickly that Facebook ads were a good way to generate sign-ups for the site's mailing list. Then I decided to set up a petition and try promoting that. After a bit more fiddling with the targeting, I found I could generate a petition signature for a dollar or two. Some simple statistical checks that for as little as $35k or so, I might be able to get 1% of the population in a couple of key states to sign the petition. A petition, of course, is not as effective as getting people to write or call their senators—but that's why I set up the petition to automatically send an e-mail to signers, asking them to actually pick up a phone and call their Senators.
Now, I don't have $35k just lying around to spend on an educated guess. But still, that kind of money is pocket change in the world of lobbying and political campaigns. That's why last week, I filed the paper work to create the Defend Democracy PAC with my spouse, Ozy.
I've decided to focus on the Sessions petition in the immediate future, for the sake of having a concrete goal, but hope to be able to play a major role in opposing every crony and Bush-era torture apologist who Trump appoints to top posts. I also plan on looking into other tactics, such as paying to set up a 800 number that connects people directly to their senators, a tactic recently used by Fight for the Future and their allies to support the Stop Mass Hacking Act. In fact, a large part of what makes me hopeful about these tactics is seeing how effective they've been in the hands of organizations like Fight for the Future.
For the sake of full disclosure, I do have to add some caveats:
1. There might be serious diminishing returns on online ads. We'll try to fight this by refining targeting, ad copy, etc. and branching out across a variety of platforms (e.g. Google AdWords and Twitter). But it's impossible to know for sure how much of a problem this will be until the campaign is well underway.
2. We don't yet know how hard it will be to get people to actually write or call their Congresspeople about issues. My sense is that this is something activist orgs are often quite successful at, but we don't have any hard data yet.
But if this is an experiment you think is worth supporting, please donate now.