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August 2, 2005
Americans Coming Together Falls Apart

John Fund notes in OpinionJournal's Political Diary (e-mail subscription only) that the grassroots organization Americans Coming Together has quietly closed its doors. I have not yet seen any press release announcing this; in fact, the ACT website says nothing at all about a cessation. However, ACT last updated its blog almost a month ago. Given all the political tussles this summer, it sounds as if no one's home at ACT.

Fund writes:

Last month, ACT quietly shut its doors and went out of existence. Remarkably, its demise attracted almost no media attention. But that doesn't mean it didn't teach its backers some lessons. Privately, some Democrats admit that ACT's emphasis on using paid workers to gin up voter turnout was eclipsed by Republican efforts to motivate volunteers to do the same work for free. In the end, ACT will stand as a monument to how big money in politics -- such as the $37 million spent by Mr. Soros in 2004 -- isn't nearly as important as having a candidate with a coherent message and supporters who believe in their own nominee rather than merely disdain the opponent.

Fund also mentions the embarrassment and dismay that ACT caused the Democrats when the AP reported that ACT hired convicted sex offenders to do their door-to-door canvassing for the voter registration drives it conducted. It turned out that the hiring couldn't even be blamed on poor oversight, but a deliberate attempt to rehabilitate the worst offenders by sending them to people's homes in an effort to collect their personal information. Their spokesman made this policy clear when asked by the AP:

ACT does not believe the felons it sends door to door pose a threat to the public, said Mo Elleithee, a Washington-based spokesman for the group. "We believe it's important to give people a second chance," Elleithee said. "The fact that they are willing to do this work is a fairly serious indication that they want to become productive members of society."

ACT later found more suitable tasks for their contingent of second-chancers, but the damage had already been done. In the end, as Fund notes, the Democrats spent millions on ACT and its shenanigans, while the Reublicans did the same work with volunteers, managing to avoid sending felons and sex offenders to the doorsteps of families. The Republicans also fielded candidates with coherent political messages rather than a presidential contender who offered up memorable quotes such as, "I voted for the eighty-seven billion -- before I voted against it."

If ACT has closed its doors, it won't be missed, not even by deep-pocketed Democrats looking to rescue failed campaigns.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 2, 2005 12:29 PM

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