Saturday :: Nov 29, 2003

Howard Dean: New Politics for a New Century

by paradox

Posted by paradox

It would be a grave mistake to look upon the Dean candidacy through a lens focusing purely on the candidate, as is usually the case in American politics. To be a Deaniac and work in the Dean universe of activism is to believe and participate in a new, better process of politics as much as it is to believe in Dean personally.

Crucial to understanding the Dean phenomena of 2003 is the campaign management’s ability to recognize, communicate and organize local and regional political actors through the web.

Very early campaign headquarters in Vermont realized that if they just read a range of blogs and read the comments an incredible gold mine of knowledge, insight

and feedback was available if they were just patient enough to look and listen.

This lead of course to the famous story of Jerome Armstrong and Mathew Gross, the latter who simply marched into campaign manager Trippi’s office and was hired on the spot by announcing “I want my DD!”

Dean HQ instantly saw that not only could they listen and talk to the grass roots through the screens, they could use the potential tools too. Many commentators still wonder why Dean’s Meetup numbers went supersonic while everybody else’s sputtered.

Simple—the Dean campaign had been listening and talking to people through the ether, and when they found the tool the news spread like wildfire because they were already in the ether in force.

Much to the local political group’s delight, they found that if they presented their ideas to the campaign with tangible ways to get their ideas accomplished with web tools they were immediately accepted.

The Dean campaign realized early on the could never, ever match the ingenuity and thinking power in an engaged community, so they cherry-picked the best ideas that came along.

Create a customized Dean poster that still retains the campaign style font and colors. Get local tools to seed local databases. A rockin’ shockwave events calendar, an excellent distributed file application (letter-writing to Iowan voters), photo uploads, a cool linking database application for local groups that doubles as a personals sheet (single? Cruise DeanLink and romance is yours, no lie), Meetup, and of course, The Bat.

The Dean campaign is guided by experienced consultants and professionals, but it is not run by them. Ordinary Americans run the Dean campaign—and also finance it. They know it and trust headquarters they’ll be heard and listened to. Just leave an intelligent comment on the blog or show some hustle and Dean campaign will be delighted to take you in and utilize the smarts and work.

How does a candidate come out of nowhere to become the frontrunner and shatter fundraising records? Howard Dean and Joe Trippi are showing that contrary to the sheep-like televison-traumatized pod-people they’re often interpreted to be, with the right leadership skills Americans can be a brilliant, energetic political force.

paradox :: 7:45 AM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!