Just read between the lines...

Red Text is the real story hiding between the lines.
Violet Text is a notable quote from a specific blogger.
Blue Text is my own personal commentary.
Gold Text is a link to the original sources.

One word of advice I would offer to everyone who reads this blog;

....Each and every day, take just a moment of your precious time to pray for Peace and Justice.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The New Face of Politics in the Information Age...

"Five hundred people gathered at one of Obama's preliminary meetings..."

THAT is impressive...

John Edwards has had similar roots-up "revivals," campaign events that fill book stores and high school gyms with adoring supporters, acting more like fans at a rock concert than voters on the campaign trail.

It's fairly simple to gather a crowd to listen to stump speeches if they get to watch a local band play, but when people show up en masse just to volunteer for the event, it speaks volumes about the depth of the commitment of the candidate's supporters.

The question remains, will all that grassroots enthusiasm be converted into a more-universal vote? We've seen before how enthusaism for a candidate can so overwhelm the undecideds that they are actually turned off by the wave.

Will it all translate into more support, or like the Dean campaign, will it become an overwhelming inundation by those volunteers of the early voting states, that inevitably turned so many people away from Dean, particularly in Iowa?

Back in the madhouse of the pre-Iowa-caucus Dean daze, Joe Trippi saw this wave forming, and also recognized, quite presciently, that there were potential negative consequences to such a sweeping enthusiasm, if it was unbridled. Joe posted this entry to his blog back before the Iowa caucuses, and it still holds so very true today:

"The other thing that is needed, is a campaign organization that 'gets it' or at least tries to get it. One of the other reasons I think this has not happened before is that every political campaign I have ever been in is built on a top-down military structure, there is a general at the top of the campaign, and all orders flow down, with almost no interaction. This is a disaster. This kind of structure will suffocate the storm, not fuel it. Campaigns abhor chaos, and to most campaigns built on the old top-down model, that is what the net represents, chaos. And the more the campaign tries to control the chaos, the more it stiffles its growth. As someone who is at least trying to understand the right mix, I admit its hard to get it right. But I think the important thing is to provide the tools and some of the direction, stay in as constant communication as you can with the grassroots , two way/multi-way communication, and get the hell out of the way when a big wave is building on its own."

In this post, Trippi recognized there would be both positive and negative aspects to a campaign rising up from a popular firestorm. While it burned hot, and spread quickly on the internet, it would also become a nuisance factor to those slower-moving voters who take their time to make their political choices. The constant, pleading calls into Iowa from those thousands of outside supporters, the door to door armies of determined, sometimes over-passionate advocates, and the unending, identical emails circulating in a furious swirl of last-minute reporting-cycle desperation, turned many Iowa voters to other candidates.

Obama's house parties will establish his nationwide base. What they eventually do with that base will determine their future success.

The Edwards campaign, too, has tapped this roots-up model, one more wave in a sea-change in the very nature of politics. As volunteers reach out for volunteers, these new, roots-driven open-source campaigns, with their homemade YouTube ads and extensive email trees, may well transplant big-money and the MSM as the political fuel and venue of the future. In this age of instant information and internet access, some future candidate will eventually figure out how to build a support base from the ground up, instead of from the top down.

But in the end, how that core group of supporters presents itself to the rest of the voting public will determine any candidate's future support, even more than ads or stump speeches. This is the new challenge in the age of 21st Century online politics, and open source campaigning: to make the myriad members act as one.

Dean learned the hard way, as Joe prophetically noted in his post, that a maelstrom of chaos is at the core of every populist campaign.

Managing that chaos may well be the key to future political campaigns, even more than managing mainstream media advertising.

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