- ❑ There was a hollowing out of the democratic process caused by the emphasis on broadcast culture
- ❑ In broadcast, it is all about narrative. This creates the fight story, and that has created a situation where we fend off attacks all the time. The attack-and-defend model produces the cynicism we feel today.
- ❑ Hitler ad — Chair of the RNC attacked us. A friend said to him "Isn't that bullshit?" and he said, "Yeah, but that's the game." Soon, no one cares [about living together] anymore.
- ❑ Growth in the first four days: 334 members after one day – 1506 members after two days- 9332 after three and- 23276 on day four, about 100,000 by end of first week. These were people we could reach for free. They were looking to be heard, to make a difference.
- ❑ 2000 — raised $2.3 million for MoveOn PAC
- ❑ In business, we would have seen instant replication, because it is free. There wasn't instant replication, and that was when we started to build staff and ask people what they were interested in us doing. Campaign finance reform, dismissed by the mainstream, was right at the top among people who we talked with, environment, too.
- ❑ After 9/11, international issues came to the fore
- ❑ People were very concerned about what was happening in the world, but also about how America would engage in that. People were very disturbed about an apparent rush to war and wanted to do something about it.
- ❑ 48 hrs — raised $400K for NYT ad, when they asked for $35,000. So, they did a TV add, too; and billboards.
- ❑ All these people came together around an issue — would they care about other issues? A million dollars came in about the tax cuts.
- ❑ We had no idea that people were steamed about media consolidation. It's too wonky for most Americans. We heard about people passing messages around the net about FCC media ownership rules. We ran a petition and got hundreds of thousands of signatures in days.
- ❑ Virtual march (all about logistics)
- ❑ Global Vigil for Peace — March 16, 2003 – 4,000 locations in almost all countries. Photos and comments from all events. Integration of a global response and a way to visualize it through the web.
- ❑ When I talk to leaders about what we are doing it is hard to get them to understand. They talk about message, we talk about service. We came to this not because we had nothing to say, but because we thought there were a lot of smart people who weren't being heard. We had to be leaders, but we had to develop ways of listening. Listening is effective. If you win, you listen.
- ❑ Strong vision, big ears.
- ❑ Send email to selves every week. Number of users and most important discussions in the forums. We tend to come at this like a business, asking how to provide service to our members.
- ❑ Part of the hollowing out that came through broadcast, when the game became "Raise money for broadcast," people were seen as a risk. The more people involved in a campaign, the more chances someone could say something stupid. You have to trust that people will do good work. Somebody may say something that will bring on the attacks, but you have to deal with that. But you have to show people why it is worthwhile to get involved despite the attack-and-defend.
- ❑ Political capital — someone used the phrase and damaged politics permanently.
- ❑ Inflection points, where people cared about what MoveOn was doing as a service to people.
- ❑ Is there an emerging public mind that is potentially way smarter than "we" are today.
- ❑ What do we need to do to bring about a happy ending?
- ❑ Instead of going to political consultants to get ads, we went to our members who, because of new technology, could produce ads, sometimes for pennies. WHat we got really bowled us over. One of the problems progressive leaders have is that they are perceived by the public as self-serious and humorless.
- ❑ We are continually surprised by the issues that come to the fore. We asked people to interview one another by telephone and send notes to us. Freedom came up even though pollsters said it wasn't important.
- ❑ Q: What's the relationship with George Soros?
- ❑ Boyd: We were going about our business and a mutual friend set up a meeting that I thgouth was going to be a meet and greet. And at the meeting he said he really liked what we did. so we had him do the donation so we could do matching.
- ❑ Q: why don't you have a blog. When are you going to fix that?
- ❑ Boyd: After 2004. There is an issue about having content on the site having to do with the attack politics. Opposition research finds this useful for conducting attacks.
- ❑ Q: Ultimately, your site agenda is set by you. What about accountability and how do I send a message to your people?
- ❑ Boyd: I don't know if this medium is going to be driven toward monopoly or driven toward diversity. There might be many MoveOns. The question will become what is the democratic process of these organizations themselves. I guess we will deconstruct a bit and that will be a good thing.
- ❑ Q: Who owns the forum content? Who owns the list and will you rent it?
- ❑ Boyd: The core part of that is ownership and use of the list. We will never sell or rent the list. In terms of copyright on stuff that appears on the forum, we haven't really thought about that. I'm sorry, maybe we should.
- ❑ Q: How about funding documentaries?
- ❑ Boyd: We have, but they have a longer lead time.
- ❑ Q: Could you say something about California recall, which suggests you didn't have perfect pitch? The MoveOn primary — why not another? Are you thinking what to do about presidential debates this fall?
- ❑ Boyd: Recall — we did get a lot of feedback from members. We knew it was going to be very difficult. With 20/20 hindsight the whole thing makes sense. We justify that on our campaign called "Defending democracy." You have an opposition that is using every tool and gaming the California recall system. On the primary, we haven't done another primary since we had the impact we wanted to. The field would have been winnowed down solely on money. We announced we were having a primary and all the candidates said "what, what, what, a primary?" and they engaged. I think it was a good process.
- ❑ Q: I was heartened by the importance of listening and creating a broad platform that will attract people. Can you speak to specific plans about how to set up building a broader consensus in this country?
- ❑ Boyd: I think that is everything we do, what we are trying to do. We haven't figured out all the processes that will make that happen. There is lots of room for people to work in this sector–there is a vacuum.
- ❑ Tim O'Reilly: How can you get people with different perspectives talking. How do you get the dialogue across that divide?
- ❑ Boyd: I think you pull people in not through extreme partisan rhetoric and that use yourself and people will see what they have in common [paraphrased heavily]
- ❑ Tim: Politics doesn't seem to be the middle.
- ❑ Boyd: I wish people would do some empirical work to see what's really going on. We're not feeling this classic pull to the middle. This is a very centrist country. We all care about the issues that bring us together. So, how do you deal in a political world where attack and defend dominates and you also want to do democracy.
- ❑ Q: How can we help you?
- ❑ Boyd: There are two threads in the tools that underlie emergent democracy. We use our own open source platform, because we don't want to be stuck in some canned package. But to make it possible for other organizations to do it is an important thing. I'm (also) very concerned that we take political speech on the internet for granted, that it is totally commercial-by law there is no public space. Commercial entities don't like controversy because it alienates part of their audience. People are going to complain because you are going to say things people don't agree with. ANd they will subscribe to find what they don't agree with.
Here are my notes on former Dean campaign manager, Joe Trippi:
I’m writing a lot these days. A lot. But I’m having trouble writing my share of the democracy book I’m doing with Jon Lebkowsky. It’s not that I can’t write but that with the Dean campaign having collapsed I am trying to be analytical without being hurtful, and the truth is going to hurt a lot of people. Yes, yes, I know the Dean campaign is still raising money, but that’s the last sighs of the politics of hope at work, and I don’t believe hope is a useful in politics.
Hope makes you sacrifice what you should do today to reap dreams delivered by others tomorrow. As Albert Camus said, “Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.” The future is in our hands now, there is no tomorrow other than the one we bring with us into the future.
Anyway, I’ve been having this dream for two nights. I am at a convention that feels like a trade show, but I have to carry my own small sort of European booth (these standalone plastic kiosks you see at European trade shows) on my back. It’s heavy and my mouth is dry—my mouth is always dry at trade shows because of the heavily processed air. I am looking around for where my booth should go, and I’m lost in this series of hallways. Everyone around me is sure that at this convention they are going to get laid. They keep saying to one another, “I am going to get laid at this convention, I’m sure of it.” And Arnold Schwarzeneggar is there, but an Arnold gone to seed, whose Armani suit fits him like Huey Long’s clothes did, over a fat stomach. He’s got heavy jowls and bags under his eyes, but he’s in a good mood, shouting “Will you look at all this pussy? Ja! Ja!” Arnold is slapping everyone on the back, cawing that everyone is going to get laid. “We’re all going to get laid! Ja!” Arnold shouts, slapping people on the back, as though this is a “rowdy movie set” and he’s somehow become governor of California in 1934 despite his poor English and slovenly appearance.
I put my booth down and go to look for the bathroom. Arnold follows me, pinching women on the ass and slapping men on the back. It’s morning in America, again, and we’re all going to get laid.
I find the bathroom. But Arnold is storming in, followed by crowds. I wonder where I left my booth, because I’ve got a book to promote. I realize that the bathroom stall is a voting booth.
That’s the dream I keep having.
Dana Blankenhorn, in an email thread, has suggested that MoveOn is the logical inheritor of Howard Dean’s efforts. He suggests an alliance of MoveOn and MeetUp to take the value of Dean’s campaign to the next level, with a broad-based local campaign effort.
Here are my thoughts:
At this point, the remonstrances by Deaniacs of people who have lost confidence in Dean is threatening to destroy what has been built. Dean’s is a shaky coalition, at best. And, while it has 600,000 supporters who have contributed at one time or another, it is hardly populist, because the campaign hasn’t successfully integrated any new issues from the grassroots.
Following on what Dana suggests, I think the opportunity now is to establish a permanent activism, one that can have the influence of the Christian Coalition and the roots of a populist movement. We need, in addition to channels for action, reservoirs of information and opinion like those the neocons built starting in the 1970s and 80s. Information is essential to recovering the political center, as it arms people for debate, which shifts the ideological center (now at its most extreme rightward position in American history).
That permanent activism has to happen at the local level, with candidates tapping the resources activated by the Dean campaign. Simply shifting to another Democrat at the presidential level will leave nothing of the “movement.” It has to experience a rebirth at the bottom and spread, during this election cycle and the 2006 election cycle to give a real populist flavor to 2008.
If Deanspace and other tools from the Dean campaign have to come with Dean’s name and cause attached, we should appropriate other tools, including MeetUp, the social networks, and anything else at hand to buttress democracy against another four years of Bush in the White House, whether he wins or not. Democracy is in peril, after all, and that is an important catalyst for action.
I don’t agree that MoveOn is the tool we need. It is an organization, but not a locally focused one and transforming it seems unlikely to me because of its ongoing success raising money and organizing at the national level. Running television ads about the presidential race is useful, but it won’t win any local campaigns.
We need something bigger, many things, many movements that sweep everything from the filling of potholes and local funding for schools to foreign policy issues into a venue for individual and community action that makes citizen action, not the parties, the center of political power.
MeetUp is certainly one important tool that is already successful at organizing local emanations of national movements (from Wicca to Deaniacs). A national system of people’s caucuses would be another valuable tool, I think — and this could be organized through MeetUp. Remember, Pierre Omidyar has invested in MeetUp and the company is looking for something like this. I’d suggest focusing a plan on how MeetUp’s physical meeting facilitation can be exposed as a Web service for a variety of organizing tools to tap. Everything from email/calendaring apps (a MeetUp plugin for Outlook and iLife) to Ryze/Tribe/orkut APIs for scheduling and promoting physical and virtual meetings. Most importantly, build so that it remains a tool for all rather than becoming a captive of a single candidate, so that the network of political influence can exist without a single heroic leader.
It looks like it will be a Kerry/Edwards ticket for the Democrats this year and let’s hope they can beat Bush—I’ll do everything I can to help, because Bush has to be beaten. But when I go to the Washington state caucus this Saturday, I’ll be urging my precinct to send uncommitted delegates to the county convention, because, at this point, the real question is how much we voters can make our voices heard in this campaign when it comes to setting the Democratic party platform. We need healthcare reform, a restoration of education based on equity and opportunity with radical reform of the local and national funding of schools, we need absolute assurances of our civil liberties, an economic platform that emphasizes job and small business formation. An uncommitted delegate is in the position to demand attention from the rest of the party, even if for only a moment, before votes are cast at a convention.
Howard Dean had stood for some of this, but I’ve lost faith in the Dean campaign for three reasons:
First, Dean grossly underestimated the role voters want to play in this campaign and we hear it each time he urges people to “join me” or “join us” to create institutional change. Voters want to lead this change, not follow. The “I have a scream speech” showed that he was willing to ignore most of America; it is the fact that he didn’t turn his attention to the national audience when he had it—when he could speak to ordinary Americans—that betrays a failure of imagination.
Second, the Dean campaign may have done an extraordinary job raising money, but they spent it profligately and irresponsibly. Dean tonight acknowledged that his campaign has spent more than $40 million of the $42 million it has raised. An awful lot went to ads placed in Iowa and New Hampshire, with as much as 15 percent of the money flowing into the coffers of Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi’s consulting firm, and unusually large amounts spent on consultants and staff. That means that actual volunteering accounted for less than the normal percentage of the work being done, in stark contrast to the mission statement of the campaign.
That last statement may sound like an illogical leap, because we don’t know the value of volunteer work in the Dean campaign. However, if he spent $40 million and had unprecedented support from volunteers (which, in the technology area of the campaign is absolutely the case, though in the field it isn’t clear that Dean had anymore people canvassing or driving folks to the polls), then his campaign did the worst job imaginable in converting those resources into votes. We have to assume that the money was the main resource available, since volunteers bring voters to the poll. Either that, or the Dean camp is really bad at grassroots politics. One way or the other, that’s not the makings of an administration I can count on. Maybe Joe Trippi’s experience in the technology business during the bubble years made him think this is the way you run a business, but it is not. Nor is profligacy a foundation for a populist campaign.
Third, Governor Dean is blaming everyone within pointing distance for the failure of the campaign, including “the Establishment,” the media and the attacks by his Democratic competitors. I heard him do it twice today on local radio when he was in Washington campaigning. In reality, a campaign’s results are the fruit of its labor and leader. He made the boneheaded decision to give a pep talk in front of a national audience. He made the decision to convert his campaign from an insurgency into a coronation by shifting to an endorsements-based strategy when endorsements mean almost nothing to voters (except endorsements by organizations, of which Dean has his share, but only a share). He chooses to blame others and bring a Washington insider into the campaign while decrying Washington insiders—and, in fact, from what I hear, Roy Neel, the new campaign manager who was Al Gore’s chief of staff, has made things run more smoothly and responsively. Nevertheless, Howard Dean is ready to blame everyone but himself for his failure to connect with voters and that’s not what I want in a president.
So, that’s the way it is with this Democrat on February 3, 2004. Undecided on the ticket, certain to vote against Bush in 2004.
I’ll be blogging for Red Herring (set a new bookmark here to keep up to the minute) at the social software sessions at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference and O’Reilly Digital Democracy Teach-In, where former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, who pioneered the user of social software in politics, will make his first public appearance since leaving the campaign. The following week, we’ll be at DEMO 2004, where blogging and bloggers will be heavily featured.