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Why I Founded UniteBlue.

by Zach Green on February 25, 2013

in Uncategorized

I founded 140elect in 2011 to help political campaigns engage on Twitter. Each time the issues changed after a week or a month. During this experience I began to look beyond the controversy du jour and recognize the underlying relationships that fuel all activism on Twitter. We may be working on gun control today and immigration reform tomorrow, but the same people will be the ones fighting.

In August of 2012 we launched UniteBlue.com to connect the Left on Twitter. I wasn’t interested in another top-down organization. UniteBlue is a bottom-up attempt to empower activists to push their agendas. Recently it has come under attack from both Right and Left, letting us know we’re doing something right. Every day there are new smear campaigns. We’ve compiled a list of them below. Every one has actually been asked.

Are you funded by Karl Rove and other GOP groups?
No. Every dollar spent to build UniteBlue has come out of my own pocket. Every hour spent has come from turning away other work and clients. It has been more than worth it.

Are you a trick by conservatives to infiltrate and silence the Left?
If we were, I guess we’re doing a crappy job. Over a million new connections have now been made between folks on the Left thanks to UniteBlue. We couldn’t control them if we tried. We give constant advice on how to prevent suspensions and create backup accounts so nobody can ever be silenced.

Aren’t you a political consultant?
Yes. We consider that a plus. Other folks have tried cracking the problem of organizing thousands on Twitter and failed. It just can not be solved without technology, expertise, and an incredible amount of hard work. We do a lot of work with Twitter development, and putting software behind this movement is essential.

Why do you hide the fact you are a political consultant?
I don’t. It’s on my Twitter biography, and UniteBlue.com points to 140elect.com in multiple places, including the Homepage and About page.

Why did you appear out of nowhere?
We didn’t. UniteBlue launched six months ago, it has just taken off recently. See our initial press release here.

Do you work for the Right?
No. We work solely with groups on the Left, and independents who fight for issues on the Left. For example, if a moderate wants to push for immigration reform and get both parties on board, we might help them out. We believe in expanding the base and pushing folks to the Left, not only preaching to the choir.

Do you support Ron Paul?
No. There is another Zach Green in Jacksonville FL who does, according to Google searches. I have a pretty common name. I feel like I have mocked Ronulans enough to avoid this criticism.

Did you work for Buddy Roemer?
Yes, when he ran for President under the Reform Party, seeking the nomination of Americans Elect. We were also working to support Occupy Wall Street at the time, and Buddy Roemer only had one issue: get money out of politics. He actually visited Zuccotti Park a few times. We liked that. We fought to curb the influence of Wall Street, special interests, and millionaires. It is true he was a Republican for a few years prior, but he was also a Democrat for 8 years in the House of Representatives and as Governor of Louisiana. In the end he joined NoLabels, and we agreed to jump on board to push an issue firmly on the Left. We don’t agree with everything Governor Roemer believes, but we agree our government is being bought.

Are you trying to make money?
Yes. An incredible amount of technology and time goes behind UniteBlue, and that takes some level of funds to maintain. So far, we’ve done it all out of pocket. We are growing rapidly, would love to bring others on board, and that takes a couple things like salaries. UniteBlue will always be free to join. If you want, use everything we build for free. We are also in the process of becoming a 501c4 non-profit.

Are you going to sell our emails?
We will never share, sell, or rent your email address with anyone without your advance permission or unless ordered by a court of law. Learn more at our privacy page.

Why do I need to give you access to my Twitter account?
In order to use the internals of our website such as following, you need to authorize your account. All Twitter applications require authorization in order to Tweet and follow on your behalf. However, you do not need to use our website to join UniteBlue.

Are you tracking us across the Internet with cookies?
Before people started asking this I didn’t know it was even possible. Our CTO says it is apparently. We’re not doing it, nor do I understand why we would.

Did you steal ConnectTheLeft’s Lists?
No. Every member of UniteBlue has to tweet “I want to join @UniteBlue” to get on our Lists. It started from scratch. Others can feel free to use our Lists how they like. They are public.

Did you hack or steal ConnectTheLeft’s account?
No. When I decided to build UniteBlue, I contacted @EileenLeft to see if we could work together on the ConnectTheLeft project. After months of no response, I moved ahead. Shortly before launching, @SayethSimon agreed to help with our project. He gave us the account that he registered and owned outright. It had not been used for a full year. We again asked Eileen if we could use that name, and she said no. At that point we adopted the UniteBlue name instead. The account had under 500 followers at that time, and we posted we were changing the name at that time. @SayethSimon posted this public letter to address this issue.

Who is smearing you?
Everyone. The best part is: nobody tries to contact us or ask questions. They don’t seem to want answers. That’s the true sign of a good smear campaign. A few folks who founded ConnectTheLeft years ago have made a recent push to discredit UniteBlue, led by @EileenLeft. I will note she became a user of the UniteBlue.com website on August 13, 2012, and waited until now to say anything. She has my personal phone number, email, and I continue to follow her, yet I have never received any requests or concerns. I like Eileen, and suggest you follow her. Hopefully she decides to help bring the Left together. Looks like it may take time.

Why are you doing this?
I believe in the cause. UniteBlue is the most satisfying project I have worked on, and I would love to close down 140elect consulting and focus on it full time. I’ve lost a good bit of income from turning away clients to work on UniteBlue already. My whole life I have been someone who brings people together and gets things done. Today #JobsNotCuts has been trending because of UniteBlue, and President Obama joined in again. Watching President Obama join our last three Twitterbombs has been incredible. Together, we are actually changing the conversation. MSNBC and others have begun to take notice. I know I can make more impact growing this movement than consulting for anyone else, so I am going to keep on the good fight in the face of the endless smear campaigns ahead.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

jenekool February 25, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I joined twitter in 2009 never paid any attention, I became a member of uniteblue b/c it give me ppl who have a whole lot in common with me, I have been frustrated b/c I don’t see the change we want this is the best chance to move the needle for the left, thanks for starting it

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Jesse Undem @JesseUndem February 25, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Excellent article. #UniteBlue is an amazing organization. Kudos to Zach, @SayethSimon, and all others who contribute to this invaluable platform for collective activism. Long live the Left!

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alexa_v February 25, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Thanks for the explanation, Zach! After seeing some tweeps bashing UniteBlue and not knowing what exactly was going on, I am so glad you addressed this issue.

And I hope that those members who backed away from UniteBlue based on the negative comments that were put out there will reconsider because it’s true that we are stronger together.

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MarlboroStan February 25, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Thanks for the explanation, Zach. Keep doing what you are doing. Stronger Together!

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Schnitzerella February 25, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Let’s remember that we’re all human, and folks on the left being a truly big tent, are not immune to conflicts or misunderstandings. We don’t have to pretend to be, either. What matters are the cause(s) and results. #UniteBlue, nothing succeeds like success.

I’m satisfied with the connection between Zach, Roehmer and Occupy. God knows, Occupy, for all it has achieved and continues to achieve, was full of ideological conflicts. So long as #UniteBlue stays true BLUE and anti-bigotry, I’m on board.

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@soaked2thebone February 25, 2013 at 7:12 pm

I didn’t engage with the person who tweeted a negative link nor did I believe you have any ulterior motives. Wanting to make UniteBlue your career is not a bad thing; I support your efforts. Thank you!

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WebAntOnYouTube February 27, 2013 at 5:17 am

I engaged someone with negative remarks that covered all the things Zach Green covered. I told them I hoped things would be worked out and ConnectTheLeft and UniteBlue could work together. They responded that that would be good or make the left stronger or something like that. That was the end of it. I am so glad this has been cleared up but I never was going to leave Unite Blue. It has been great for me in terms of building a stronger account with more followers and engaging in awesome conversations with fellow left wingers. Thanks for everything, Unite Blue.

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@BulldogBen February 25, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Appreciate the info, did not know the full story. It is sad when progressives cannot stay together. Let’s leave that “circular firing squad” strategy to the Repugs. It’s working so well for them right now! *smirk!* I’m for anything that moves us #forward. Thanks #UniteBlue for your part facilitating that progress.

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WebAntOnYouTube February 27, 2013 at 5:22 am

I am happy that the right is so fractured right now but I hate that as it goes down it is dragging America with it. We really need to crush the right in 2014 and when the time is right I will volunteer to help some Democratic candidates if I have time.

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@mtmurphy7 February 25, 2013 at 7:14 pm

THANKS Zack. I love the people I have met through #UniteBlue

Every time I click on the profile of a new Follower from UniteBlue I am amazed at the talent, passion, vitality and diversity of the members of the group.

Cheers! Great group folks – love you all!

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@TylerKathy February 25, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Wow! Where do I start? #UniteBlue if used as a tool could allow us to make tremendous gains in 2014 & 2016! I am encouraging @MichiganDems & @LonBJohnson, @OFA and other progressive groups to join and engage! Twitter was a huge part of my contribution to 2012 election. I was so proud when Dems “crashed” Twitter twice during Democratic Party Convention! Thanks to you Zach, we have an awesome, awesome tool!

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@DanielBeerthuis February 25, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Thank you for your explanation. I will continue to engage with other #UniteBlue twitter accounts and hope that others will, too. We are #StrongerTogether!

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ClarissaSmith2 February 25, 2013 at 7:48 pm

By the way, our radio/tv-heroes: Steph Miller, Hal Sparks, Norm Goldman, Ed Schultz etc/etc… also make MONEY. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m an amateur, but I know we need pros.

Progressive Talk-Radio also has some commercials running that make my blood boil…. But that’s business: As an amateur I can afford to be choosy, as a pro you frankly can’t in things customers (and Huntsman isn’t actually all that bad, he just came out for marriage equality–happy he didn’t run for president, for he’s not a nut at all).

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Zach Green February 25, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Ha, we never worked for Jon Huntsman either. Heard that yesterday because we did an interview with The Hill once. Forgot to add that one to the list.

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@mama3cubs February 25, 2013 at 7:53 pm

So appreciate you, Zach. As if the party that brought us George W. Bush could organize anything like UniteBlue. This makes me feel plugged into the process every day and for that I am so grateful.

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bigal953 February 25, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Thanks Zack for starting #UniteBlue. I’ve met many wonderful people here and I’ve even learned a few things. Connecting the Left. Can only be a good thing. Keep up the good work.

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Stonermom February 25, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Great article, Zach. I think we started following each other during the summer, and I joined UniteBlue before the logo was created. I’m delighted it has taken off so well, sorry to hear of these smear campaigns against you, and wish you total success!

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@bannerite February 25, 2013 at 8:53 pm

I have personally had only good results since I connected with #uniteblue I have encouraged others to join and will continue to do so.

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@rsemry1 February 25, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I love being part of @UniteBlue! I’ve met people that maybe I wouldn’t have without @UniteBlue! Keep going Zach! a lot of us are In your corner! thank you for explaining what you and your wonderful @UniteBlue is all about!

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@RezOKC February 25, 2013 at 10:51 pm

UniteBlue has done a tremendous amount of good for the liberal/progressive community on Twitter.

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@missLtoe February 25, 2013 at 11:27 pm

You need a “like” button for the lovely comments here. :) I have not had the misfortune of encountering any twitter account slamming @UniteBlue. Left-leaning/Progressives/Dems/Liberals run a wide spectrum- I don’t expect to agree with everyone on everything- but I do feel it’s important keep people engaged. Elections matter. We want our votes to matter. Our elected officials have an obligation to us- and WE have an obligation to get and stay informed on a daily basis. People frequently ask: whatever happened to those 60′s protesters and radicals? Many, like myself, got elected to office- working to create the changes we needed, bringing attention to neglected issues and people. It’s what we do, as Americans. Anyone can complain. Don’t just sit there- do something. BE the change you wish to see because we ARE the ones we have been waiting for. Unite Blue is a terrific vehicle for all of us. Carry on!

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mr militant negro February 25, 2013 at 11:38 pm

I’m in until the end. Your response was perfectly enough to combat the haters and misinformed. #UniteBlue

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ClarissaSmith2 February 26, 2013 at 8:14 am

The very best of this whole UniteBlue thing is to me: Zach actually taught me how to start something new! When I began on Twitter in January 2012 I saw at once Twitter is an amazingly effective propaganda machine. Nonetheless, I was unable to use it in a really effective way. It took me months to get 20 followers and after a year I still had under 50. If someone destroyed my Twitter account, I would be able to start a new one much more effectively and possibly even my own movement. If Zach’s intend was to harm us, he wouldn’t make us so smart.

When I saw those complaining tweets yesterday, it reminded me a little of black helicopters and blue helmets invading. It actually kept me from Twitterbombing, so I started 7 mins late.

I had doubts the day when I joined UniteBlue. I asked myself, “Can I really trust this guy?” I came to the conclusion I had nothing to loose, but a meaninglessly pitiful tweet-machine that never got ahead. But why should I mistrust now, after I learned so much? If someone cared to harm a liberal like me, he wouldn’t make me so much smarter.

Thanks, Zach — and keep up the great work!

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NyleEvans@comcast.net February 26, 2013 at 8:58 am

Thank you for bringing so many liberals and progressives together under one banner. #UniteBlue

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MarlboroStan February 26, 2013 at 2:50 pm

I tend to have very good spidey sense.

When UniteBLue came on the scene, my senses didn’t tingle. I am totally satisfied with this response. Like I have always said, sometimes the idea is bigger than the person.

I don’t know Zach. But I do know the message is bigger than Zach. He is just the messenger.

Most of the people trying to smear him make money off twitter. Heck, I wish I could make money off twitter. So I don’t fault the man for trying to make a buck the old fashion way. Nor will I cast aspersions on the basic idea of uniting the blues for a common cause.

Keep doing your thing Zach.

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@CodingForever February 26, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Thank you for a great idea and all the work that went into developing #UniteBlue. Because of UniteBlue, I have connected with many great people. It is nice to know that I am not alone in my dreams of a stronger, united America. Twitter bombs are fun and inspirational!

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laureldavilacpa February 26, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Excellent recap of the situation. I love Eileen for #ctl and I love Zach for #uniteblue. More importantly though, now the Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives have smart tools to network with for political activism. Let’s get to work. FORWARD 2014.

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ssandee51 February 26, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Who is smearing you?
Everyone.
wrong, Zach. not Everyone. I’m not. Of course, I’m not an everyone. or a nobody. or somebody.

Just appreciate your hard work.
Stay strong!
#UniteBlue

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@DianeMNRN February 26, 2013 at 6:30 pm

I like Unite Blue. Thank you for communicating with us in an open and honest way. The nasty remarks made by a disgruntled few make me trust them less. Keeping an open mind.

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@MaryRocco February 26, 2013 at 8:53 pm

I don’t know why you insist that we follow back every other @UniteBlue member. It makes me uncomfortable to be expected to give blank check approval to anyone who post that #UniteBlue hashtag. And, I don’t trust people who try to make money on Twitter. I am a strong liberal Democrat and I only want to support what benefits that cause. It is so easy to get suckered on the Internet. I’ve already followed more people than I’m comfortable with, based on @UniteBlue. All it does, so far, is make it more difficult to read my timeline because there are too many tweets coming in at one time. I’d prefer quality to quantity. I don’t care a whit how many followers I have.

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Zach Green February 27, 2013 at 3:37 pm

You can follow however many people you want on UniteBlue. We make it easier to find interesting and engaged folks to follow on the Left, and in your state if interested. When you follow more, you tend to get more followers.

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Welcome Back Trotter February 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Zach,
Do you know how I get my twibbon?
I don’t know who/where to ask?

Thank you.

WBTrotter

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Zach Green March 7, 2013 at 10:43 pm

You can get the UniteBlue Twibbon here: http://twibbon.com/support/uniteblue :)

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@marciarusso March 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I don’t know Zach personally, but I am satisfied with his explanation. I don’t see anything wrong with his connection to Buddy Roemer, after all Buddy appeared frequently on MHP, Maddow & Up. Everyone loved his “get money out of politics” message. As Progressives and Independents, we’re never going to agree on everything, but together we can make a big impact on the things we do agree on. The money aspect doesn’t bother me either. It takes resources to produce an effective organization. I hope @uniteblue continues its success because I have made many interesting, like-minded connections!

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emiliana March 5, 2013 at 10:32 am

Well there you go! Whatever it takes to organize us the better. I will not listen to the naysayers trying to discredit this movement/tool. I’m tired of fighting with TCOT that I don’t need it on the #p2 side also. Of course it takes resources to create the tool UniteBlue has produced. From what I’ve seen of the UniteBlue tool thus far is pretty damn good to start with. I can find people, I can see stats, info about upcoming events etc. It also does NOT have a primitive look and feel. It’s actually functional and nice to look at. Just wanted to pop in and show my support. :) Let’s all work together.

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@chp3120 March 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I was very upset the last few days when Uniteblue came under attack. I was very surprised at the bombardment of negative hateful statements by PN an account I was following (not anymore). It made me feel Zach and all UniteBlue members must be getting people worried of the power of many compared to a few. Zach I don’t really care what else you do or who else you have worked with. I just thank you for starting UniteBlue so I could find people who have the same political passions I do. Zach stands strong for UniteBlue and I will stand strong for Zach.

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