Activist Tutorial: Introducing the CFAR to a Populist-Progressive Candidate

Do you know a populist-progressive candidate who wants to run for Congress in 2018?

This could be an independent, a third-party, or a “renegade” major-party candidate who wants to primary a centrist-establishment, neoliberal member of his or her own party.

Whatever the case, this individual will be at an enormous disadvantage in every aspect of engineering a successful campaign.  There’s the lack of money, media coverage, and basic support from the corporate-owned major political parties.

This is where my candidate contract strategy comes to the rescue.  Now that the strategy has evolved to the point of generating a comprehensive contract which embraces a set of major populist-progressive initiatives backed, according to reputable, highly-reliable polls, by 62% – 90% of the voting public, I’ve offered it as a “template” for populist-progressive candidates to build their individual campaigns around.  I call it the Contract for American Renewal — or CFAR.

The CFAR and the strategy which it anchors has been adopted by two sister organizations:  Citizens Against Plutocracy and Revolt Against Plutocracy.

I prepared the above tutorial video for Revolt Against Plutocracy to prepare and instruct activists in their approach to populist-progressive candidates who could use a successful framework for their political campaigns.

Since the whole candidate contract strategy is completely unprecedented, it requires some explanation; being able to anticipate the fear of the unknown, flawed preconceptions and prejudices; and counter some of the recurring objections which I’ve experienced over the years developing and promoting it.  I think the video does a pretty decent job exploring the potential of the approach, and deflecting most erroneous but predictable concerns which arise when something this radical and outside-the-box comes along.

If you know a populist-progressive candidate who you want to see in office but suspect is struggling with how to combat a rigged game and overcome every other obstacle that our current skewed system uses to marginalize good, decent potential public servants, please show them this video, or study it yourself, then present the CFAR concept to that person, as instructed in the tutorial.

The entire text for the video presentation at the head of this article now follows:

[ When a completely new idea comes around, predictably there is misunderstanding and apprehension.  The more unique and original the idea, the greater is the reluctance to see it for what it is and recognize its potential.  Call it the shock of the new.

A populist candidate will typically be inexperienced, tentative, suspicious, and especially frightened by the “idea of a contract”.  This is to be expected.  This requires right from the outset being positive, reassuring, confident but sensitive, sincere and open.  The strategy must be offered — not demanded — and framed in the most flattering manner exactly for what it is:  It is a unique but powerful, unprecedented but decisive, rock-solid methodology for replacing our current corrupt pay-for-play congressmen, with good decent individuals who will represent their constituents with integrity, honesty, transparency, and accountability.

Here step-by-step is how the contract should be presented to a prospective populist-progressive candidate.  Take your time to understand and embrace the message.  Then put it into your own words.  This is not a script.  It’s what should be communicated, but it should come from YOU, reflecting you as a person and your thorough understanding of and genuine commitment to the CFAR strategy.

The subject you are addressing is numbered and appears here in italics, and our suggested language as to what to say follows. ]

1 — Why are we doing this?

As you know, we’re up against a brutal, well-organized, well-funded, ruthless enemy.  The establishment — the plutocracy which now owns and controls both major parties — has all of the money, they have the media in their pockets, they marginalize dissenting opinion, they have all but crushed the minor parties, and any “renegade” candidate not towing the establishment line is ignored, often even vilified and demonized.

There’s really only one way to fight this.  We must unify across the entire populist-progressive front, in every single district and state, and nationally assemble an enormous bloc of voters to challenge the manipulative and deceptive messaging, the cynical use of money, power and political machinery which both major parties wield to isolate and destroy populist-progressive campaigns — campaigns by good decent people just like you.

2 — How can we challenge such monolithic power?

The good news is that we have huge majorities of citizens agreeing with you as a populist-progressive, on a whole host of issues.  Granted, you wouldn’t know that from watching the news.  But it’s true.  It’s an indisputable fact, we already have the voting public on our side, on key issues.  We’re talking percentages of 62% – 80% agreement.  What the establishment candidates do to keep getting elected is confuse the public with a lot of babble and empty promises.  In a nutshell, we’ve come up with a bulletproof way to “unconfuse” everyday Americans.  We’ve come up with a device which used properly will make YOU, the populist-progressive candidate look like a hero — a savior!  And it will expose your establishment opponents as the frauds, hypocrites and phonies they really are.  The voting public will run the other way.

3 — What is the CFAR?

The device I’m talking about is the CFAR.  That stands for Contract For American Renewal.  Yes, it’s a contract.  But before you panic, let’s be clear exactly what this contract is designed to do.  First, it’s not there to restrict, regulate, or police you.  It’s designed to discredit and defeat your opponents.  It’s an electoral strategy, not a legal strategy.  You have to understand and remain clear about this.  While you will be signing the contract, your opponents won’t — they literally can’t — sign it.  In the eyes of the voters, because you’re willing to give a firm commitment in writing, guaranteeing that you will serve them faithfully, honestly, transparently, and your opponents can only hem-and-haw and spew out more slogans and sound bites, YOU will not just get the attention of voters, they’ll know with absolute certainty that you are serious, that you are willing to lay it all on the line, and PROVE TO THEM beyond a shadow of doubt that you are worthy of their trust, and thus deserve their votes.

4 — What does the CFAR require?

Let’s get into the details.  The CFAR requires what you will be doing anyway if you’re running as a populist-progressive candidate.  What appears on the contract is what you already stand for, why we assume you’re running for office as an “outsider”.  It includes the kinds of things that any populist-progressive worthy of calling themselves that, wants to fight for on behalf of the majority of citizens.  Look at these poll numbers …

[ Show the candidate a printed sheet of the following poll results. By the way, this is available as a PDF file called CFAR_Initiative Polls, as well as the CFAR contract template, and the entire text of this tutorial, on the CFAR tutorial web page. All are available for you to view and download.  We’ll provide a link to that page at the end of this video.  Now here are the poll results you’ll be showing the candidate. ]

63% of Americans want a federal minimum wage of $15.00 per hour.
75% of voters want fair trade agreements protecting jobs, workers, the environment.
76% of voters want a cut back on military spending.
76% of voters want the U.S. completely out of Afghanistan.
79% of voters want no reductions in Social Security, 70% support expanding it.
79% of voters want no reductions in Medicare.
80% of voters oppose the “Citizens United” U.S. Supreme Court decision.
68% of voters think taxes on the wealthy should be increased, and corporations should be required to pay their fair share.
71% of voters support massive infrastructure renewal.
65% of voters want laws to combat climate change.
62% of voters want tuition free public colleges and universities.

Are you with the voters on these issues?  These are the major crises of our times.  This is what people care about, not Trump’s tweets or whether Melania uses henna to streak her hair.

[ Now have the candidate indicate which of these items are the focus of his or her campaign, what seems most important.  Next show the CFAR contract template.  As just mentioned, it is available as a download at the CFAR website page. ]

Look at this!  You can see what we’ve done here.  The contract perfectly parallels the polls.  Therefore, the contract represents what the vast majority of everyday citizens in this country want done.  The exact things which never get done with our current Congress of ruling class puppets.

5 — Is the contract written in stone or is it flexible?

So we have a great start here.  Very popular initiatives across the entire nation.  At the same time, we realize there are variations in each voting jurisdiction.  So the contract is not written in stone.  It’s flexible, designed to meet your needs.  You may decide to use the CFAR as written.  Or you may want to tweak it, drop some items that are not crucial to your future constituents, AND maybe feature a different populist-progressive initiative that’s not listed here.

Let me give you an example.  Let’s say there are a lot of underwater home mortgages in this district.  This not only affects those home owners but it’s driving the property values down across the region.  You might consider including in your CFAR a mortgage relief initiative.

Here’s another example.  A very recent poll just indicated that nationally the support for single-payer health care is around 58%.  As the controversy builds, this will probably keep going up.  But let’s say we find that this district has already had a lot of problems with insurance companies, or people are finding a poor range of choices for health coverage — and they’re really upset about it!  Then that’s an item which based on your own sensitivities to your constituent’s needs, you might want to put in your CFAR for the voters here.

Understand that in the end, the only items that you have in your CFAR are those which make sense for your campaign and which you can wholeheartedly commit to when you go to Washington DC.

Having said that, signing your personalized version of the CFAR should be a no-brainer.  The initiatives in your CFAR are the items you’ve decided are the centerpieces in your campaign, and have determined will be decisive in defeating your opponent.

6 — How does a candidate fulfill the obligations of the contract?

Okay, you’re signing this as a “legally-binding” contract.  That’s what the contract says.  That means you are signing it with every intention of honoring it to the letter.  This might sound ominous to you.  I respect your concerns.  But fulfilling your obligations under the contract couldn’t possibly be simpler.  The contract says you will introduce, sponsor or co-sponsor, and support legislation for those items in the contract.  That’s it.  Go to Congress, draft legislation and make every effort get it on the legislative agenda within 180 days of taking office.  Then if it comes up EXCLUSIVELY for a vote, you vote for it.  What does ‘exclusively’ mean?  It means if they attach an amendment to kill all the penguins in Antarctica or to require everyone to wear polka dot pants on Thursday, you don’t vote for it.  If it comes up as a standalone bill, you vote for it.  You also publicly and on the floor of Congress promote it.  That’s it.  If you can’t handle that, you probably shouldn’t be running for office.  It’s the basic job description for a legislator.

7 — How does the candidate decide what to put in the “personalized” CFAR?

So how do you decide what to include in your CFAR?  This is a critical decision and we’re here to help you.  To cover general questions, we’ll have an entire tutorial devoted to this and I’ll share that video with you.  To handle your specific questions, we’re here to walk you through, each step of the way.

But the short answer is you choose those initiatives which are decisive in making you look good and your opponents look bad.  Meaning, you want issues which are popular right here in this district with the voters, which ARE NOT supported by your opponents.  The idea is to make sure they WILL NOT be able to sign this contract.  That way the voters will see if they elect you, these great things will get done, but if they vote for your opponent, they can expect more of the same excuses, chuck and jive mumbo jumbo, and none of the things you’ve included in your CFAR will get through Congress.

Remember, there’s a reason your opponents can’t sign the CFAR.  That’s because if they sign a contract guaranteeing all of these wonderful things for the voters, they’ll lose their campaign donations from fat-cat donors, AND they’ll lose the support of whichever major party they belong to.  We only have to look at the Bernie Sanders campaign to see what the establishment Democrats thought about his progressive agenda.  Both parties support basically a conservative centrist regressive agenda.  They might talk a good story but, as you well know, neither major party walks the walk.

8 — How much time does the candidate have to decide?

Listen, we understand this is an important decision for you to make.  It’s important to us as well, because the sooner we get candidates like yourself on board, the sooner we can organize both our local and national campaigns around the CFAR, and get started putting together a solid populist-progressive Congress.

So how much time do you need?  Four days?  A week? You tell me.

[ Do not give them more than a week. ]

Please understand, I know as you’re thinking about all of this, you’ll have questions.  Just give me or anyone with my organization a call.  We’re more than happy to address any concerns, walk you through this step-by-step so you are completely satisfied.  This is a bulletproof plan for winning elections and getting good people like yourself into Congress.  The strategy has been thoroughly thought through and I’d be surprised if there were any real obstacles to you yourself playing a critical role in our attempt to save our democracy.  But we recognize.  This is coming out of nowhere, it’s completely unique, nothing like this has ever been tried, so you’re going to want to have everything on the table, out in the open, so you’re comfortable with it.  So study it, ask questions, let’s work together.

Let me make an important point:  Yes, it’s coming out of nowhere, it’s completely unique, nothing like this has ever been tried.  And THAT’S precisely why it’s going to work!  It’s going to catch the establishment completely flat-footed.  It’s doing something they forgot about and haven’t tried for decades:  Being up front and straightforward with the public and guaranteeing voters honest and genuine service.  The major parties will be scratching their heads saying:  “Now why didn’t we think of that?”

9 — What if after the agreed upon time for deciding, the candidate says he or she won’t sign the contract?  What’s the final pitch?

Recognize that the only way this strategy will work is if we implement it across the nation in all 50 states and all 435 congressional districts.  Which is exactly what we’re going to do.  We will have a candidate in all 33 senate races for November 2018, and candidates in all 435 congressional districts, every one of whom have signed a CFAR.  We have an entire network of organizations which are now being organized and networked to work tirelessly for those candidates.  We’re dead serious about this and have one simple goal:  Make sure every single populist-progressive candidate running in November 2018 wins their election.  We’re talking about a complete takeover of Congress.  Anything less than that and you can kiss American democracy good-bye forever. The rich will keep getting richer, the everyday citizen will become serfs, the wars will keep going until our once-great nation is bankrupt and has collapsed.

I have to be entirely candid with you.  As much as I admire you, as much as I see that you want to do the right thing, as much as I’d like to believe you have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning your bid, we can’t take any chances.  Republicans now control the Senate, the House, the Oval Office, the majority of state legislatures, and the majority of governors are now Republican.  To rub salt in our wounds, most of the Democrats are nearly as bad — certainly on the issues in the CFAR — as the Republicans.  You’re one person and you’re going to take on the most well-organized, well-funded army of cutthroat corporate stooges in our history.  I wish you luck.  The way we see it is we have to all stick together or none of us will survive.  We believe — no, we know! — that by UNIFYING OUR FORCES — the populist-progressive forces which have been shoved aside and beaten down now for decades — we can win this.  The CFAR puts us all on the same page, UNIFIES US AND THE VOTING PUBLIC into an unstoppable juggernaut.  The CFAR demonstrates to the public that there are good, decent candidates available who are unquestionably, unambiguously committed to honest, transparent, loyal service.  We’ll crush the establishment candidates at the polls and Americans will get a government that works for all Americans, not just the rich and powerful.

Let me be blunt . . . if you don’t sign the contract, you’ll probably lose.  Therefore, we’re forced to look for another candidate who will sign the contract, a candidate who has an infinitely better chance of winning.  We’ll put all of our time, energy and resources behind that candidate.  It’s nothing personal.  It’s the only way this thing will work.  The contract is your friend, not your enemy.  If fact, it’s the best friend and ally you could possibly have given the way the game is stacked against you.  This may be hard for you to accept.  But it’s the truth.

I know this is a lot to think about.  I want you to succeed.  So take two more days.  If I don’t hear back from you within 48 hours, I’ll assume you’re not interested and we’ll move on. Regardless of your decision, thanks for your hard work on behalf of progressive causes.


Here are the download links for the materials mentioned:

CFAR Initiative Polls  –  PDF

Activist Tutorial: Introducing the CFAR to a Populist-Progressive Candidate – PDF

CFAR House of Representatives  –  PDF

CFAR Senate  –  PDF

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