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Rock out with Rap Master Howard

<![CDATA[Listen to a remix of Howard Dean’s disastrous post-Iowa speech. The speech, even though I understand he was trying to charge up his troops, should have been given with a mind to the millions of voters seeing him tested for the first time. He screwed the pooch. Further, his and his staff’s complaining about other […]

<![CDATA[Listen to a remix of Howard Dean’s disastrous post-Iowa speech. The speech, even though I understand he was trying to charge up his troops, should have been given with a mind to the millions of voters seeing him tested for the first time. He screwed the pooch. Further, his and his staff’s complaining about other candidates stealing their lines is so naive — don’t they see and want to take credit for having shaped the debate? Good God, it seems that it is amateur hour in Burlington. They should have declared victory based on the success of the campaign in defining the Democratic agenda, which would have placed them in a good position to go into NH. As it is, they crippled themselves.

Now, through this kind of open source remixing of Dean’s message (really, listen), he may be lifted out of this dead end by his people, but it isn’t likely.

What went wrong? The campaign specialized in raising money and did not get people committed to what Dean stood for, other than his opposition to reelecting President Bush. In my humble opinion, if the Dean crew had opened the making of a platform to the active debate of his network, if he had entered a dialogue with his network about what they were going to stand for, rather than issuing positions and asking for money, he would have created a deeper sense of commitment to his candidacy.

A friend who attended a Silicon Valley meeting for Dean tells me this story: The Northern California fund-raising chief of the Dean campaign was asked what was going on with Dean’s support in Iowa a week or two back and she said, “These polls don’t count the new voters we’ve brought to the caucus process.” That betrays an utterly ideological naivete about the reality on the ground in Iowa — random polls don’t miss new voters, they are more likely to capture those new voters’ sentiments than a poll of Democrats who have participated in past caucuses.

A campaign that was really engaged with its supporters would not be blinded by ideology or poor data. The Dean team focused on the money equation while ignoring the human one. That bodes will for Internet activism, because taking what we’ve learned from the Dean fund-raising phenomenon and combining it with more social networking tools and a determined effort to transform the platform-making process, engaging voters’ interests as well as their wallets, will continue the transformation of campaigning.]]>