America Coming Together closes shop

While the rest of us were busy celebrating Paul Hackett's non-victory -- and fighting with each other for credit -- one of the leading stars of progressive politics quietly burned out this week. Ladies and gentleman, ACT has left the building: "[T]he group this week began sending e-mails to most of the 28 people who make up the remaining ACT staff warning that their paychecks would stop at the end of August. All the state offices have been, or are soon to be, closed." [LINK]

ACT's demise -- which now in retrospect seems all but inevitable -- calls into question much of the talk about creating a progressive version of the Republican noise machine. Sure, Steve Rosenthal's grassroots strategy of air-dropping outsiders into rural America proved to have a fatal flaw -- and ACT may not the silver bullet that we'd all hoped for. But now we're left with Dean's organization and ... right!

Most importantly, ACT's predicament makes clear that wealthy progressives and their foundations continue to ignore the one crucial ingredient of political success: financial security.

Rosenthal yesterday put an upbeat face on the turn of events. "We are still forging ahead; we expect to be doing very serious research in Virginia on exurban and infrequent voters," he said.
"It has proven much tougher to sustain this as something year-round than we had anticipated," Rosenthal said. Now, he said, the task he and others face will be figuring out "just how to ramp up and ramp down" as donor interest rises and falls. Rosenthal will continue to work with ACT, but he said he now plans to start his own consulting company.
There's no reason why the story will be any different for any other organization. More things change ...

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