Dean campaign

I meant to post this weeks ago – found it in a folder today and put it up. Better late than never…

Jay Rosen calls this Ed Cone piece the “definitive piece” on the Dean campaign. He may well be right (I recommend reading both pieces – they’re longish, but worth it). It is an excellent outline of why the Dean campaign is not only important, but why it is vastly different to previous campaigns. It seems that the campaign leaders have struck on a number of ways that they can engage the community, not only in the campaign, but in politics as well.

I saw an interesting piece on SBS the other day as well that re-inforced Cone’s and Rosen’s message. That there’s more to this campaign than just money and a promising candidate. And it is interesting, for a technologist like me, to see how the campaign is using the net to facilitate much of this activity.

The determined use of Internet tools alone won’t get the job done. Even after 10 years of growth, the Internet is used by just 59 percent of American adults, according to the Pew Internet Project, a research organization that has been tracking online usage since 2000.

But online organizing may help bridge the so-called digital divide. About one-third to one-half of meetup attendees don’t hear about the events online, coming instead after seeing a poster, article, or item in a community calendar, or being invited by a friend. “From organizing online, we create pods of people who can organize offline,” says Silberman. The campaign, for instance, has reached out to blacks and other minority voters in Philadelphia and parts of Georgia, Teachout says.

One of the things that I have pointed out previously is that all of the hype around blogs and the 2004 presidential election misses an important point – there are very few people using and/or reading blogs. They are part of the puzzle. Dave calls this a big insight, but it’s been obvious to me from day one.

I think the recognition of this fact by the organisers of the campaign is what is key to its success so far. Teachout is “obsessed with offline”. That’s a good thing to be obsessed about. It’s where action happens, whether it means letter writing, meetings, protests, voting. These are not an online activity (I think thankfully!)

The Cluetrain Manifesto is also mentioned:

“Cluetrain” describes markets as conversations, in which companies engage customers with an authentic human voice and respond to their needs, rather than pushing one-size-fits-all information out to them in mass broadcasts. “They are as close as I’ve seen to structuring a political campaign around the Cluetrain themes,” says Weinberger, who is working as a consultant to the Dean campaign. “They are quite focused on routing around the broadcast paradigm by enabling supporters to connect with one another.”

I have read this book and it changed my perspective on so many things. The book is focussed on marketing, but it is great to see the ideas it puts forward being used in other cultural contexts – in this case to build a movement. Very cool.

The closing quote in the Cone piece fills me with hope. We will have to see how the reality washes up, but with this attitude, I think there is as good a chance as any:

In a Nov. 12 email to campaign workers, Trippi put it this way:

“The pundits still don’t get it. They see your incredible fundraising numbers – and that’s all they understand. But our campaign was not built just by money – it was built by the full participation of you and thousands of others who believe that each of us has the power and the duty to participate in our democracy.”