February 09, 2004
It's surprising that the press, which never understood the Dean campaign's use of the Internet, now believes it's in the position to decide whether what the campaign has done is a success.
Broadcast politics has failed the country miserably. The War, DMCA, Patriot Act, etc., were all passed without debate and without discussion in the mainstream media. The Dean campaign was [yes, past tense] about making a real change, fixing a system that's broken and corrupt.
The change today is like that of 1960 when TV entered politics. But no one expected then that TV would become about money, about providing one-way communications.
You can't expect to turn this around in 13 months. (Dean still has an excellent chance, btw.) There's only way the change will come: Through the Internet. It's not going to happen on CNN.
We don't have health care because interests in Washington will knock it down. This was not a dot com crash. It was a dot com miracle. We started last January with almost no money and 436 known supporters. In Iowa, Dean was a 0. The third quarter record had been set by Clinton when he was president. Dean broke that record handily. Dean didn't do it; you did it. This wasn't about one guy. It's about understanding that no one is going to change America for you. You have to you it yourself. The American people now have the beginnings of the tool and the people. The voice of the people will be heard. There will be debate in this country again.
We tried everything. We started using MeetUp because I read about it on Armstrong's MyDD.com blog. The media never figured out that the campaign wasn't happening on the Russert Show (Meet the Press?); it was happening around the water coolers of America.
We learned a lot from MoveOn.org. They shared their best practices with anyone who wanted them. Zack Exley from MoveOn was instrumental.
The pollitical press doesn't understand the Internet. The Internet community by and large doesn't understand the harsh realities of politics. Take the Scream tape. It played 900+ times on the mainstream media. The media's portrayal, out of context, was really damaging. Now they're apologizing. Those are the same peopel saying that the campaign didn't work. But it did. Dean taught the other candidates how to be an opposition party. Suddenly there was a debate in this country about whether there were WMDs or not. That happened because the grassroots and the netroots gave Howard Dean the voice. Everyone in the party is echoing Dean's themes, including getting rid of the special interests, because the Internet enabled Dean to be heard.
There's a reason Bush is vulnerable today. It's because of the blogs.
The media jumped the shark. First on the war in Iraq, and then with the Dean campaign.
I think our democracy is really threatened right now in ways the American people haven't grasped yet. You cannot have as sytem that's all about the big money. Look at which party raises more money in contributions under $100: The Republicans. The Republicans raise more money in every price category...except in contributions over $1,000,000. For the party of the people to get to that point is a betrayal of the party. The Dean campaign turned that on its head.
That's sometimes hard for the Internet community to uunderstand. It is about the money. That is what it's about. when you have a bunch of powerful interests fighting over the health care bill and the energy bill, when pharmaceuticals write our drug bills and energy companies write our energy policy...We had REvolution 1.0 in 1776. Now we're at 2.0. The American people finally have the tools to say: Enough. And the people who will give them those tools are the people in this room. This is not over. It is just the top of the iceberg.
It will be the money, though. The day isn't that far off. It only takes 2M Americans contributing $100 to save their country changes the entire thing. Less than 1%. If they decided we're going to change this country, we're going to have real debate, we're going to demand health care. Ean got about 670,000, so we're a long way off from that, but I believe it can happen in this cycle.
This probably couldn't have happened earlier. The Internet wasn't mature enough. MeetUp., GetLocal tools. DeanLink (friendster-like). Those weren't there in 2000. You needed people to buy at Amazon or eBay to get to using their credit card on the Net. Finally, in 2003 we're at a place that's mature enough to later the Democratic Party.
There's one thing I want you to understand. Right after Carter became president and left, the Party pulled together the Hunt Commission. It's sole purpose was to make sure that that never happened again. Carter got there without Party support and without bowing to the special interests. They devised this cycle's calendar on purpose to make sure that no insurgent can ever get this party's nomination. That meant that insurgents have to win Iowa and NH. We did a pretty damn good job of it. Given the Party rules, we should never have been able to get to where we were 3 weeks before Iowa: Ahead in the polls, etc. We did it without the Party. The American people did, using the tools provided by the Internet.
And then we ran straight into broadcast politics. Here's what happened: Al Gore endorsed us. Alarm bells went off in every news room and in every campaign. The alarm said: "Kill Howard Dean right now. Because if we don't kill him right now, he's going to be the nominee." The press corps said we have to put him through the wringer that every nominee goes through, we have to hammer him. The media do it because they think that's their responsibility. They really do. You have Gephardt saying that have to kill Dean. They called it a murder-suicide pact. Scaring old folks about Dean on medicare. It wasn't a dot com crash, it was a dot-com miracle being shot down.
Now they say it failed. Why do they want it to fail? What's so scary about the American people actually getting involved in their democracy. It's an easy story to tell, but it's too easy: Dot coms are supposed to make money, and the Dean campaign made more money than anyone. And, yes, Dean gave them ammunition on occasion. But God help us if the mistakes of Howard Dean and Joe Trippi is used to stop this change. You have done something amazing. The Internet is the most powerful tool ever put into the hands of the average America. The system has taught them that they don't care, their $25 check doesn't matter, that the 4 hours they spent working in a precinct is a waste of time. That's the biggest hurdle we have to get over. We have to get over the average American's disbelief that they can make a difference, The Internet taught people that $25 bucvks by itself, you're right, it doesn't make a difference. But put it together, people working together for the common good — a phrase that's gotten lost — is powerful.
We are just at the first stages of this, if we continue to fight.
There was an email that said someone had sold her bike for democracy, donating the money to the Dean campaign.
We put up 50 posters online, Iowa for Dean, NY for Dean, etc. Within minutes, we got an email from Puerto Rico saying we forgot them. We put one up 2 minuts later. We get 8 thank yous. Then someone in London says he's a Dean supporter spending 3 months overseas; we put up another. Someone writes from Spain ... In a matter of minutes we did what would have taken months before.
Another story: Bryant Park speech. The blog comment say it'd be cool if the Gov came on stage with a red bat to show the grassroots had hit $1M donation goal. Trippi has an aide get one. Dean picks it up as he goes on the stage. The blog contributors knew that it was their idea. This is ownership of the campaign. This is the first campaign really owned by the American people. And now we have to create a movement owned by the American people.
We know, we didn't know what we were doing. We tried everything. Did it all work? A surprising amount of it did. Did SMS text messaging work? Nah. Do I buy this garbage that these 3,500 orange hats going to Iowa were negative? Nah. I ran Iowa for Mondale in 1984 and he sent in 1,000 "Fritz Blitzers" and no one was worried about that. [So what did go wrong in Iowa?]
The one frustration I had was: Given what we were trying to do, up against a system that was rotted and rusted, we didn't have the luxury to say some of us go off and be for Dennis Kucinich or go blog for someone else. That's everyone's right and I'm a big fan of that. But given what we were up against, there has to be some way to get a unity movement going. No one's going to change the country for us. We're going to have to do it ourselves. It's us. The American people. It is the Internet that gives us the power to come together and take outr country back.
[Loud applause. About 25% of the audience, including me, stands.]
Posted by self at 11:59 AM
This is Internet Mannifesto? (replaces Karl Marx' job?) Who are these Americans with plastic in their hands? Yuppies and artsy technophiles? Yeah, read the Dean blog about the hair stylists and little old ladies all being for Dean. They love the Mannifesto, not taking back their country. Hype. New kind of hype. Political potential? Sure. Lots of things can affect a political campaign directly or indirectly. Title should be more like "Intellectualizing of the Internet" and possible uses thereof. "Power to the People!" (with PCs). Phoney balogna. Dean a good guy? Certainly. "Movement" was a fraud. New kind of hype. Only big surprise is that there weren't more weirdos. Being part of a movement is fun.
"There's a reason Bush is vulnerable today. It's because of the blogs."
It's because of the blogs! What on earth are you guys smoking?
It's NOT because of 2.2M lost jobs?
It's NOT because David Kay says there never were any WMD?
It's NOT because of a half-trillion dollar deficit?
"It's because of the blogs."
You guys really need to step out into some fresh air and take some deep, deep, cleansing breaths.
Dave Rogers -
Don't interrupt someone busy constructing a new mythology.
I agree with Dave, and I have to applaud Steve -- this is getting ubsurd.
Dean lost because Dean did not, could not connect with the people. People listened to him in debates and in interviews, and he did not connect. He had opportunties, but he did not connect. He was warned about this, you all were warned, and he made mistake after mistake. That was the joke the last two months -- Dean's okay, as long as he doesn't talk.
You know what the Big Media did that was bad? It gave Dean airtime. Same with the President yesterday -- no one shot him in the mouth, he did it himself.
You're basically saying that every American is an idiot and a puppet of the Big Media, and I for one and fed up and tired of it.
You guys are no different than Dean -- you're not connecting, either. Real people out here David. Try talking to us sometime.
Better yet, try listening to us.
Sorry, David. Thougt this was you talking, and realize it's a transcript of Trippi.
Just substitute David with Trippi in above comment.
But one other thing: first campaign owned by the people? You all need to take a look at history before you all claim to have invented independence.
Hey again, Shell...:-) (Ooooops, forgot you hated the smileys...;-)
Personally, I believe you went pretty easy on Mr. Trippi because you thought he was Dr. Weinberger, but icbw.
This thing is not only NOT about a campaign owned by the people (which has been claimed so, So, SO frickin' often throughout Blogaria that nobody can hear that it's being said, thus it's not challenged).
The Deaniac BM is not only NOT against special-interest groups but is so STRONGLY in favor of the geek/techno/Linux/"Open" Source special-interest group that if you're not mind-teathered to a boob-tube (primarily computer, but includes TV and/or Radio).. Well if your brain isn't "wired", then the notion that this is about ALL THE PEOPLE getting a say is alarmingly quaint.
Look at the DFA blogroll: (Did it always say "UNOFFICIAL Dean links" or is that new??)
"Catholics for Dean" right next to "Deadheads for Dean".
The "Republicans" FD next to the "Independents" FD. The "Dykes" FD right next to the "Christians FD" and "Jews FD".
Next to the "Kids for Dean" and "Optimists FD" and "Punx" FD. It goes on and on, forever.
So what kind-a platform is going to appeal to all of these folks?
A virtual platform for one, (so it appears some people don't like the chameleon-like nature of Dean) and one that promotes the meme that geeks have All the answers.
Plus the "there is no just cause for war" meme, because war IS a horrific thing whether necessary or not..
..And you have a "coalition", or "too-loose pseudo-democracy" that hangs almost entirely on ONE SINGLE meme and the notion that DEAN MUST WIN, BECAUSE HE *MUST* WIN (anybody that doesn't see that just doesn't get it, because they don't have "a full and active digital life").
(I posted to 2 or 3 comments at Mr. Jarvis site along these lines. The Deaniac campaign was and is about NOT-Democracy, primarily. Over there I said that the campaign WAS an Extraordinary Success in a few respects, but hardly a miracle. (Sheesh.) But to say that it is NOT a dot-com Deanic crash of monumental proportion is..
..well, it's WAY overly-optimistic, and also false. About $forty (40) MILLION was spent before the first IA and NH, reportedly, which is how many times? the TOTAL of ALL other candidates put together??)
Btw, can anyone correct my recollection of history:
"There's one thing I want you to understand. Right after Carter became president and left, the Party pulled together the Hunt Commission. It's sole purpose was to make sure that that never happened again. Carter got there without Party support and without bowing to the special interests. They devised this cycle's calendar on purpose to make sure that no insurgent can ever get this party's nomination. That meant that insurgents have to win Iowa and NH."
My understanding is that former-President Clinton was a Governor of Arkansas and was elected, in part, based on being outside of the special interests?
And that he lost IA and NH, iirc??
The statement is playing to this particular audience, either way, because if it was so Kucinich wouldn't have even been allowed IN the race, afaikt (as fer as I kin tell...;-).
Most of Blogaria, apparently, will believe ANYTHING they see, as long as it appears on somebody's blog (a REAL somebody, not a nobody who doesn't even have a blog).
I believe a snip from this post off of the Dean blog sums it, better than I have said above or over at the "BuzzMachine":
"Dear Roy Neel:
Despite being surrounded by family members and friends who are Kerry supporters (I've tried to change them... they've given some money to Dean, but still won't budge) - and my brother who is steadfastly for Kucinich - I still believe. I have managed to wake two non-committed friends up to Dean, which felt great, BUT I am worried about not having the chance to VOTE!!! I am a former PA resident who has just moved to NYC and either way, I am pained by having to wait to vote (this system is ridiculous)!
I am invigorated by the pouring in of money, and all I can say, is that this needs to be full steam ahead for the media and the (brainwashed) people to begin to BELIEVE again too. We know hope exists, but we all have to believe there is hope ahead - starting with those at the top."
Read the whole blog/post, from tori at February 7, 2004 12:54 AM, with which I agree with most of the rest (and would agree a nationwide runoff-primary would be nice, from above).
Read the entire thread if you have a strong stomach for pathos.
And I agree the world WOULD be a better place if we could just change everybody's mind in each area where they disagree with us.
That may be this world some day, but I wouldn't want to see such a uniform, bland, monoculture with only one "Right Way" for each person and each country to act, m'self. Btw, many don't need "awakened" to the reality that this isn't the world we live in, currently, regardless of of the question as to whether that would be a better destination or not.
It's not that way in Blogaria, either, although it is virtually a place where everybody agrees and there are no strong disagreements allowed.
(Tired, forgot link.) http://blog.deanforamerica.com/archives/003584.html
As a committed Dean volunteer, working at many levels, it came as a surpise to discover how disconnected the campaign management was, not only from America but from the grassroots volunteers themselves.
For example, since September, we've had 40 expert moderators, all volunteers, discussing Dean policy on the Dean Issues Forum (http://www.deanissuesforum.com/).. The DFA (campaign HQ) not only didn't help, they firewalled us from the resource-strapped official policy operation. They promoted our availabilty not at all (yet we accumulated 600 registered members by word of mouth.) Similar treatment was accorded other grassroots groupings for media, materials, outreach, etc. People are pissed. Still for Dean, but really worried about our leadership.
At the moment, survival is a matter of the DFA acknowledging the grassroots better than it has, exploiting it for more than letter writing and phone calling -- and giving money. 600,000 very bright, energetic minds are a terrible thing to waste. If Dean goes down, internal factors will have played as much a role as external ones.
Trippi's comments this morning were thoroughly disappointing, though not surprising by this time: ours has been a headless campaign run by an inner circle, through circumstance or intent doesn't matter, pragmatically. It was a shame that Trippi didn't use the occasion, in a friendly audience, to take responsibility for his failures and talk about how the campaign can recoup or future campaigns do better. I don't believe he understands IT or communications phenonema yet.
By comparison, at the same conference, in smaller sessions, we heard from Kerry's CTO, Sanford Dickert. He may or may not be representative of the Kerry campaign overall, but his presentation was excellent, He was in touch with the practicality of campaign IT as well as deeper theory of social motivation and organization -- and he was inclusive, open, and acknowledged that he didn't have all the answers. Dicket's appearance was a refreshing change noted by all present.
Interesting comments on Kerry's IT guy, although as you say Mr. Jacobson they "may or may not be representative of the Kerry campaign overall".
"It was a shame that Trippi didn't use the occasion, in a friendly audience, to take responsibility for his failures and talk about how the campaign can recoup or future campaigns do better."
This IS scary. If you can't even admit that maybe, just maybe, there were some HUGE mistakes made in a Friendly audience.. Well...
"600,000 very bright, energetic minds are a terrible thing to waste."
First off, the 600,000 is an inflated number just like the $40 MILLION collected didn't turn out to be a good indicator of widespread grassroots support. Just like Tori's parents above, when all it takes to indicate support is the (patented, spit) one-click method of buying something, in this case a Presidential candidate, then it doesn't mean as much as it used to. Plus, people wouldn't go to the trouble of removing their name if they changed their mind, even if there was a mechanism in the system to allow it (and I doubt the systems were that sophisticated). Secondly, these would be the people that encouraged Trippi, all the way down that fateful road. Reality being harsh: Yes, these minds Should be wasted.
"They promoted our availabilty not at all (yet we accumulated 600 registered members by word of mouth.)"
I'd like to put that into a couple or three perspectives. What was the IT budget of the issues group? "Apparently" the clerisy in the Blogdom who said the Dean campaign was All About Issues were incorrect. (Or rather, they didn't try very hard to get THAT message out, and focused almost All their attention almost exclusively on one thing: getting money.) The data shows that .1% of the 600K came through the issues website. And given the culture of the Dean campaign, I'm guessing they used Linux which is expensive and antiquated gear, built by and for gearheads, even if you don't factor in volunteer labor in monetary terms. I've not seen ANY estimates of how much of the $40 million was spent on systems, and again, that dollar amount wouldn't even include volunteer labor so it would be hard to calculate how much was paid for each of these 600K supporters. (My recollection is that Salon went through something like $1000 to $1500 per their initial 15,000 subscribers.)
Finally, as a metric, in May 2001 IBM launched a similar effort, called the iSeries Nation, which gathered 10,000 registered members in the FIRST WEEK or two, iirc. There was no advertising/promotion by IBM other than offering a small gift for registering. The site became known Entirely by WOM.
The grassroots of the Dean campaign, as well as the Lords of the Blogdom AND Dean and the Management and everybody in between.. Well, they All sure Wanted to Believe they were doing something new and powerful, thus the end-result, afaikt (as fer as I ken tell...;-).
Having had some bit of actual experience in IT, I know how impolite it is to "trash" someone else's systems and methodology, Mr. Jacobson. Apologize in advance (and I guess a bit in arrears...;-).
I saw Mr. Lieberman regularly trashed on DFA, when he was called "just a Republican" and nobody noticed the factual error, nor the implications and corrected... And I saw the comment "the hayseeds in IA" and "the idiots who get there news from a boob-CRT" said and implied all too often.
I don't know your political persuasion, Mr. Jacobson, but the fact of the matter is that the Naderites and the non-voters of the past election have attempted, and continue to attempt, to co-opt the Democratic party and the Presidency, both.
In the grand tradition of "Open" Source: The OSI site (at least at one time, couldn't find a link), advertised that one of the ways they keep the cost of OSS so low was by co-opting companies engineers to help "donate" their expertise. (Maybe the OSI site has changed their marketing tactics, because it now says for example "The open-source model allows software shops to (in effect) outsource some of their work,..." Yeah, like to India. I recall the phrase "co-opt company's engineers" from the site, at one time. http://www.opensource.org/advocacy/case_for_business.php
There is SO MUCH blantant FALSE ADVERTISING on the OSI site that I'm surprised the FCC hasn't ever stepped in. Like the claim that "Open" Source is a programming methodology.
The site clearly and specifically states:
"But the real reason for the re-labeling is a marketing one. We're trying to pitch our concept to the corporate world now. We have a winning product, but our positioning, in the past, has been awful. The term "free software" has been misunderstood by business persons, who mistake the desire to share with anti-commercialism, or worse, theft.
Mainstream corporate CEOs and CTOs will never buy "free software." But if we take the very same tradition, the same people, and the same free-software licenses and change the label to "open source" – that, they'll buy.
Some hackers find this hard to believe, but that's because they're techies who think in concrete, substantial terms and don't understand how important image is when you're selling something.
In marketing, appearance is reality. The appearance that we're willing to climb down off the barricades and work with the corporate world counts for as much as the reality of our behavior, our convictions, and our software."
Iow, it's another Cluetrain-type marketing scheme rather than "a 'new' programming methodology" as it is claimed.
The reason the Dean campaign failed is that Open Source has not been scrutinized as closely as Mr. Howard Dean was, to this very day. This from the group that CLAIMS peer-review is essential to quality (which it is). But then, who wants to challenge ESR (Eric S. Raymond) when he has his cute little "Guns for Geeks" club?
I've not been overly eager, m'self, and I grow weary.
Again, I may mis-recollect on the Salon numbers.
"Mainstream corporate CEOs and CTOs will never buy "free software." But if we take the very same tradition, the same people, and the same free-software licenses and change the label to "open source" – that, they'll buy."
And, the Way the Blogdom works:
For being "a genius", and getting this part absolutely correct, ESR gets a lifetime, non-revokable whuffie-pass.
People will say, "I read ESR and I don't buy into muchawhat he says, a-tall". But they read him.
And/OR they're INFLUENCED by people that read him and DO buy into Most-All of his factually incorrect memes.
AND/Or they read, and ARE influenced by people that read people that buy into ESR's verifiable incorrect memes... (I do not know, but believe it goes out about three layers of the concentric spheres of influence, which is where the voodoo math of 6-degrees fails, miserably.)
There is never a time when clarity is not useful, but sometimes it's lacking...;-)
In case I wasn't clear about the connection between the Linux cult and the Deaniac cult:
"Bazaar-mode development seems to reverse our normal expectations about software development;"
The bizarre-mode develop reverses our expectations because there are NO PAYING CUSTOMERS who are allowed to give input. There's multiple disconnects, starting with ESR's article called (approx) "How to ask a question". In order to ask a question "The Right Way" (tm?) in the Linux cult, you have to understand that (again approx.) "programmer's SHOULD be ARROGANT" (emphasis mine).
"more programmers are better (at least, as long as the capacity of the project leader or project core group to handle integration isn't exceeded)."
Ah, reality rears it's ugly head for a sec.
"Even a small open-source project can muster more brains to improve a piece of software than most development shops can possibly afford."
Not in the development shops I've worked in. And oddly, I code programs for a retail business, not "world-class" development shops, (so maybe my experience needs broadened...;-).
(sigh...) The Linux cult could stand same and not just technically, btw.. As arrogance generally leads directly to incorrect thinking and is closedly followed by disasters eventually if not corrected, again in my somewhat-limited experience.
I just re-read David Weinberger’s quotes from the Trippi speech last week, because something felt funny the first time I read it, and this time I found it, where Trippi says:We did a pretty damn good job of it. Given...
Read the rest...
Dean and the Last Internet Campaign
I just re-read David Weinberger’s quotes from the Trippi speech last week, because something felt funny the first time I read it, and this time I found it, where Trippi says:We did a pretty damn good job of it. Given...
Read the rest...
I only wish that the pin-headed media conglomerates that are hell-bent on
sampling (and re-sampling ad nauseum) an enthusiastic candidate's
moment of exuberant hoo-hah (the British
might say "stiff upper lip" in the face of dejection) would dazzle us with equal time for
Bush's perpetual dalliances with "Porky Pig-speak" concerning most any subject he tackles. Now, that's entertainment!
Why did the Dean campaign suddenly collapse? I believe that the failure was not caused by errors made by campaign strategists nor was it caused by any misstep of Dean. I also believe that external problems: the hateful misrepresentations of the Media and the vicious unanimous attacks by other candidates were certainly part of the problem. They were probably not the major causes. What is left?
There are three keys to this riddle.
1. Dean’s huge popularity last year.
2. His remarkably sudden loss of support.
3. The Kerry’s meteoric rehabilitation from being an object of ridicule to his anointment as Mr. Momentum.
Assuming the polls have any validity, and they do seem to be reasonably accurate in measuring short range voter tendencies, a sizable number of Dean supporters switched camps. Why did these people, who were astute enough to resist the media’s support of Bush and his war, switch? I think the switch had much to do with their view of Dean’s message.
The message has two basic ideas:
1. Militant opposition to Bush and his war.
2. Open government involving popular action. That is to say bottom up government.
In addition, Dean is a remarkably honest and straightforward man. He is peculiarly devoid of political theatrics.
At first Dean was alone among the serious candidates in opposing Bush/war. (I don’t know why Kucinich wasn’t taken seriously, but he wasn’t). Many people, certainly most Democrats, are furious with Bush. They had nowhere to go but to Dean. Yet at the same time I don’t think all of them were enamored of bottom up ideas. Certainly many candidates have railed against Washington insiders but as we have seen it turns out to be baloney in almost all cases. Dean really meant it. His honesty shows through and the very nature of his campaign corroborated the point.
Many of Dean’s erstwhile supporters are new voters. They are not ready to participate actively in the political process. They haven’t even voted before. Despite all the rhetoric, many of them want an insider who will take care of things for them. Moreover, there’s such a thing (in their minds) as too much honesty. Suggesting that they can’t have their cake and eat it too is not welcome news. The media’s efforts in dumbing down the American population (necessary to get us to buy all the crap advertised over the airwaves) may have more to do with the behavior of voters, in this case, than any explicit political bias on the part of the media (although there is plenty of that). I must note that I empathize with political laziness and fear of responsibility. I take a back seat to no one in my escapism. It is only the horrifying path that Bush and others are taking us on that has made me overcome my normal inertia and galvanized me into action.
After Dean’s success, Kerry became another candidate who was willing to attack Bush. But why would Dean supporters switch to a Johnny –come-lately? Military heroics have surprisingly little resonance among Americans. Moral courage to oppose the War in Vietnam has even less. Kerry is demonstrably inconsistent. Nobody is fooled by his attempt to cover his erratic behavior by talking you to death instead of answering your questions. The concept of abstract electability without a reason for electability is nonsense. If you believe that then maybe you should be concerned that Kerry may spontaneously combust.
Nobody has been able to offer a reasonable explanation for Kerry’s ascendancy. What explanation can there be? I believe that many voters prefer him because he is a Washington insider. Thus it is not enough for us to label someone an insider; voters will simply look for “good” insiders. The media support the notion that we need insiders or experts to determine policy. They constantly put out the message: “Outsiders are amateurs who have no business in politics”. But insiders are caught up in the reigning paradigms of Washington. Even the good ones have a distorted view of what’s going on in the country and the world. Look how long it took Kerry to revise his campaign. We have to convince people that politics cannot be left to insiders. The insiders are doing a terrible job.
The way the media view politics is illustrated by the following (true) anecdote: I happened to be listening to some press pundits on the radio a few years ago. Many of them complained about Jimmy Carter because he ordered the White House band to stop playing Hail to the Chief. They wanted an emperor not a president.
You may not agree that there is a causal connection between the political diffidence of the electorate and the Dean/Kerry switch (I strongly believe there is but I don’t claim to have proven it). The problem remains that most people do not want to spend much time, energy, thought or money on politics. The Dean campaign has made remarkable progress in democratizing politics but it has a long, long way to go. The Dean base is large as bases go but it still represents a small fraction of the electorate. We can be an effective pressure group, and we should be, in fact we have been; but that should not be our final aim. It is not enough to convince people to vote this way or that, or to lean on congress, our aim should be to energize and inform large numbers of people so that they intelligently take part in politics. To be content to be a pressure group is accept the idea of a political cadre. This has been appealing in the past (Lenin loved it) but the results have not been good. We call ourselves a movement. We must be one.
Even if we get Bush out of office we face unpleasant problems and the need to educate the citizenry. Exit polls at the Wisconsin and other primaries listed voters’ major concerns. The environment was not one of them. Few people seem to realize or be terribly concerned about the fact that we are on the brink of environmental catastrophe; we are using up mineral and biological resources at a rate that cannot be sustained for more than a few decades; we are filling up land, sea and air with our trash. We seem to ignore the fact that we live in a finite ecosystem. Various candidates and political “experts” were asked if they thought people would be willing to pay more for purchases if that were the cost of bringing jobs back to this country. (I don’t think Dean was asked this question.) Candidates and “experts” danced around the question. Obviously we have to pay more not just to bring jobs back; we have to pay more (probably much more) in order to incorporate the environmental cost of much of our production and consumption. The national debt will be nothing compared to the environmental debt we are going to leave our grandchildren. We blithely assume that the economic cure-all is job creation. Job creation means increased productivity and consumption. Unless this is very carefully directed so as to avoid environmental problems, this cure for our economic ills will be worse than the disease. (At least, to his credit, Kucinich has pointed out that the jobs we create should be socially useful.) The exit polls did mention but gave low ranking to the war in Iraq as a cause for concern. This despite the fact the conflict may well turn into a civil and/or regional war. The very format of these polls suggests the simple-minded idea that we can focus on a single problem and sideline others. We have multiple problems all of which require immediate attention.
You may or may not agree with what I feel is a real “gathering threat”. But you have to admit that facing facts is not popular. Certainly Dean has alluded to this on many occasions. But facts must be faced. Bush and Co. are so dogmatic and irrational that moderately wrongheaded people look wise by comparison. This is not good enough. It’s going to be very difficult getting people to face these issues. But since the major problems we face and their solutions involve everyone. So should the decision-making.
Time and time again Dean has told us that we have to change the Washington institutions. This is certainly true. But it is also true that we have to change the political culture of the whole nation. Dean has been derided for radicalism. In fact, we need to be more radical fomenting change. It’s an enormous job. We’ve started. We must continue.
Anyone who thinks that the media playing the scream video over 900 didn't impact on the consciousness of the voters must smoke dope!
Of course it impacted!!!
My take, however, is somewhat different, I don't think that media did this because they wanted to
hurt Howard Dean (although maybe they did..), I think it's due to the laziness on the part of the reporters and the journalists.
Remember when Sat Night Live kept re-running the Buckwheat is Dead video? It's the same thing! They're just too lazy to get real news and so they go for the sensational, then they re-play it ad nauseum.
Someone suggested that all of us turn off our cable for one day in protest of the stupid news programs.
I'm willing to do this.