@UniteBlue: Developing Revolution or Business Development Scheme. (Updated)
A new twitter account and hash tag called Uniteblue has suddenly appeared on twitter, and progressives are already fighting about this self-proclaimed “leader” of the left. But the background of the players behind the effort, their tactics, and their ethics already suggest that something smells really bad about this “revolution.”
There is always strength in numbers, and a strong constituency with a strong message can often be the deciding factor in who wins and who loses in politics. But unlike conservatives who “get in line” behind a message like the Tea Party’s, Liberals are a more diverse and wide-ranging group with special interests that can often divide what would otherwise be an unassailable political force. Indeed, in 2010, enough of that divergent left sat home and watched teabaggers sweep into power and create a Republican-dominated House of Representatives; one that has brought governance to a halt.
Many have wanted the left to act with more common vision and purpose, but many savvy progressives know you can’t just claim to have the answer, or many progressives run in the opposite direction. Real unity requires vision, patience, and a talent for coalition building, and it is a mission that daunts even the seasoned political professionals. But that doesn’t mean well-meaning people don’t try. For example, in a 2011 effort to forge the Twitter Left into a more unified force, the savvy progressive, @EileenLeft, created a project replete with website, Twitter, and Facebook account called “Connect The Left” that attempted to bond Democrats, Progressives, and liberals into an electoral force that might pay dividends in the 2012 elections. Many knew and loved this effort as it was honest, organic, and came without any agenda.
But it now appears that that effort has been usurped and co-opted. Over the past couple of months, and especially the past few weeks, a new group has emerged on Twitter, seemingly out of nowhere. They have a fairly large following for an unknown project, and few have been able to understand why their “UniteBlue” account was suddenly showing up in their Twitter streams. The answer is simple: They managed to seize control of EileenLeft’s famous @ConnectTheLeft (CTL) account, and renamed it “UniteBlue.” Thus, anyone who had been following CTL was now a member of @uniteblue, whether they wanted to be or not.
How did they seize the account? Because @EileenLeft accepted assistance in running the group by a “caretaker,” and for whatever reasons he had, financial or otherwise, he handed off the account password to the UniteBlue people. This caretaker’s name is being withheld until he has had a chance to explain his actions. Whatever his motive, EileenLeft, who actually owns a trademark for ConnectTheLeft, was never consulted, and the caretaker has yet to respond to DMs, emails, or phone calls from her. She is understandably furious. But wait, there’s more. Eileen herself was only made aware of these people when someone asked if “ConnectTheLeft.com” was her website. It was not. Hers was connectTheLeft.org. When she went to ConnectTheLeft.com, it redirected to uniteblue.com.
Obviously, this “progressive” effort to unite liberals was using some very unprogressive tactics from the outset.
But this is just the beginning of this strange and troubling saga, which many already have serious questions about. Questions that must be answered, such as ‘What is UniteBlue?’ ‘Who is behind it?’ “What are their credentials and motives?’
To begin with, UniteBlue appears to be little more than a resume builder for an enterprise that bills itself as a “full-service Twitter consulting firm.” A sub-unit called 140Elect, and its parent company, Dev140.com, are both owned operated by the father and son team of Adam and Zach Green. It advertises itself as a pioneer of political campaigning on Twitter that says “We work with businesses, nonprofits, and political campaigns to build communities and mobilize them to act.” Apparently, this includes Republicans, Teabaggers, Libertarians, and anyone willing to pay for the service. The Greens are clearly in the business of operating a social media promotion service and are in business to promote any candidate, regardless of their political affiliation. Past clients have included Republican Buddy Roemer, and the dubious and discredited AmericansElect. Zach Green can be found on the web, enthusiastically supporting Ron Paul. They are hardly the credentials or track records of people expected to start the next big thing in organizing progressives on Twitter.
Regardless of who they have worked for, none of their questionable roots are openly disclosed on UniteBlue’s website. A casual visitor there would think it was an established and credible site produced by well-established progressives. The clue that it was not is the absence of any clear mission statement, nor any road map, advisory board, endorsements, press releases, or most other trappings of a well-grounded and credible voluntary sector effort to “unite” the left.
To even begin to be credible, UniteBlue’s “founders” need to fully and properly disclose their affiliations, business or otherwise, with various candidates of mixed political stripe, and clarify where their allegiances lie. It is beyond the pale that thousands of Liberals, Progressives, and Democrats are involved with what appears to be little more than a follow-back scheme designed to give instant credibility to a “full service Twitter consulting firm.” In addition, the hijacking of the ConnectTheLeft accounts needs a thorough investigation.
This is a rapidly developing story, and there will be further investigation that may incite some acrimony on the left, but full disclosure, and brutal honesty is what the Left expects from its candidates and causes, so demanding it from a “movement” claiming to represent them is well within reason, and frankly, mandatory. If this effort and its founders are well intentioned and capable of their self-appointed role as leaders of the left, they should have no trouble appearing in Google Hangouts and accepting questions from serious and well known progressives. If they want to lead, let them prove it by being open to questions about who they are and what their real plan is.
Also please remember that thousands of liberals looking for something to believe in cannot be blamed for jumping on something that sounded promising. But what sounds too good to be true, often is. Our country, and the progressive movement, is both too important to be left to some self-promoters trying to get more new business for themselves.
Please explore the links on this page, and discover just who these people are (and are not). If you have information to share, please post it below as a comment, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction: In the article, it was suggested that Zach Green had been seen “enthusiastically” supporting Ron Paul. This was a factual error, and I apologize for it. It should have been to fact-checked when it was told to me as it seemed plausible given the extremely odd choice of Green, a reputed progressive, being handed a Twitter contracting job by the Teaparty. With all the conservative media contractors vying for such business, it is particularly curious, to be kind.