In this continuing review of Joe Trippi’s “The Revolution will Not be Televised” , I have to report some pretty mixed feelings. In his book, as the ‘Dean for America’ online campaign takes flight, it massively exceeds the political establishments expectations. At the same time, the organizational weakness of the Dean for America campaign starts to exert a negative influence.
I guess I’ll break it into two competing themes. The first is so exciting to read about! Born out of need, the web based networking campaign starts to virally spread it’s wings, and permeates every crack of every region in America. The integration of Meetup.com, and later the GetLocal tools into the campaign really empower decentralized campaigning. People are easily enabled to act on their own initiative. Instead of passively waiting to be organized, the ‘membership’ seizes these tools, and starts to organize hundreds, and then thousands of events without reference to the Campaign team in Vermont. According to Trippi, it is this very act of empowerment that breathes life and vigour into the campaign. Dean himself becomes the vessel into which thousands upon thousands of people pour their hopes and dreams. In practical terms, meetup actively engages people, and pulls them from their musty basements into the real world as political activists. It is the tool which translates thought, debate, and sense of community into action.
As the campaign progresses, and the wider world of old school media, and machine politics of the democratic Party starts to notice something happening, things are taking a somewhat different turn. Trippi the long time operative, fieldwork guru, and master of message is watching both the wild new world unfolding, and the ‘real world’ big bad wolf knocking at the door. The opposition research of the competing campaigns is building their files, and starting to release damaging attacks on Dean in the old world of Televised politics. The Campaign is suffering from the usual divided camps within the campaign office. There are few communications professionals to massage the media and message. This is aggravated by Dean’s unscripted, and off message public communications. Without a team to help craft the message, and spin the opposition press releases, more and more damaging hits are being landed on the campaign. Is the fieldwork solid in Idaho? The answer is no. On the ground, there is tons of action, and the new world is having an astounding impact, but the solid, methodical, machine like groundwork is not quite happening.
The demise of the Dean for America campaign was, according to Trippi, an out of context, but embarrasing video clip palyed over, and over, and over again by the mainstream media. The ultimate victory of the ‘big guns’, was determined despite all the thousands of faithful grassroots supporters. An indifferent public was bombarded with inconsequential fluff, and the Campaign was thus decided.
There is so much of interest in this story overall, and I would enthusiastically endorse it as a good read. As a template for the new world of politics, my expectations were upset. By repute, Trippi had revolutionised politics, and the old ways of TV politics were doomed. After a cereful reading, what I take away is the opposite. Yes, there exists an exciting ‘new’ tool that Trippi released on the world. Yes, it HAS changed the way that politics is done in North America. No, the old world of TV politics is nowhere near doomed. These campaign tools are the subtext, while the Campaign writ large is still about message, organization, Identifying, then getting out the vote.
Just look at Obama. His team wrote the most recent chapter in this saga, and they won by feeding their machine with the juices squeezed from Trippi’s creation. Their grassroots organization was inspired by the Dean campaign. Their air war, and ground war were inspired by hundreds of years of electoral political history.
Filed under: Democratic Reform, Election Tactics, Organizing, Political Strategy, Uncategorized | Tagged: 2008 Election, Canadian Election, green party canada, Green Party of Canada, green party organizing, Political Upset |