Partners in our fight

Our good friend Jerome Armstrong offers up lots of interesting thoughts about the Democratic Primary in a new post on mydd.  I strongly recommend it without offering any comment on whether I believe it is accurate or not. 

We at NDN and NPI believe we are in the midst of a profound media and technology transformation, one that is ushering in a whole new era of communications that we call "post-broadcast."  Yesterday I wrote about the most important change in this media revolution, the way television is changing.  My piece reflected on how people are swiftly leaving the old 20th century media platforms, and looks at how the Romney campaign is experimenting with a very new 21st century television model.  In his essay Jerome intelligently reflects on the 2nd great change, the arrival of the internet in politics. 

To me what the internet has done more than anything else is lowered the barrier to entry for average people in politics.  A whole new set of cheap and easy to use tools is allowing politics to come to people in more personal, intimate ways.  These new tools allows campaigns and organizations much greater ease in managing relationships with literally millions of people, something not really easy to see or understand until the Dean campaign came along. 

If the broadcast age was about passive consumption, this new age of communications and politics is about participation.  People want to be partners in our fight, not donors to a cause or passive consumers of a candidate's message.  Remember that what is now perhaps the most powerful show on television is one that allows active and sustained and meaningful citizen participation - American Idol.  Success in this new era of politics requires groups or candidates to treat folks as partners and participants, not "couch potatoes."

This is a big change.  It is a cultural change, an operational change, a fundamental change in the way politics and society at large operate.  How one manages this change and this new reality is becoming one of the most important measures of political or advocacy success in this emerging century. 

On the progressive side the organization that has best embodied this "new politics" is Moveon.  Moveon really is only the sum of all the small actions of its individual members, working together towards a common cause and as true and valued partners in the fight.  This model has allowed Moveon to gather more email addresses than the DNC, and to blossom into perhaps the most influential progressive organization in the nation today.  And yes this is an organization without a real office, a dozen or so folks scattered across the country and headed up by a couple brand-new to politics. 

Another way to think of this transformation is to think of a Presidential campaign.  In the 20th century, the age of broadcast, when one thought of a Presidential campaign one thought of a 30 second spot, a tarmac hit and 200 kids in a headquarters.  That was the campaign.  Today, when one thinks of a 21st century Presidential campaign one needs to see millions of people - perhaps in 2008 tens of millions of people - going to work every day as true partners in the fight to elect the candidate.  They can get daily emails or text messages or perhaps even this cycle more complicated intergrated multimedia; they can read blogs and other sites to stay connected; they can share their passion through blogs, their own blog or a variety of social networking sites; they can give money and encourage others to do so; they can email, text, post, link or phone others to take action including giving.  But the key here is that a campaign now has the ability to harness the energy of so many now - as advocates, bloggers, contributors, doorknockers, signholders, etc - as true partners in the fight. 

This is a radically different model, and of course, a much better model than the old. It brings people back into the core of politics in a way they simply haven't been in the broadcast era.  It took Dean 6 months to get 160,000 people signed up on his site in 2003.  My guess is that Obama is close to a million already through his site, facebook, myspace and other means.  We are four years further into this new age of politics, and thankfully, more and more people are asking to become meaningfully involved in the future of their country.

The question that this begs is - what do we want all those people to do other than give money? If folks are true partners does that mean relinquishing control? How much control? What role do they really have in the campaign and how does it stay real?  The answer to all this is the secret sauce now, perhaps the most important key to 21st century politics. 

But figuring this out is worth the struggle, the experimentation, the letting go for the upside is so extraordinary.  Wouldn't you want 10 million people on your team, fighting it out each day, as valued and trusted partners, rather than than relying on the support of a few hundred kids scattered throughout the nation?  I know I would.  And this new age Jerome discusses in his essay allows that.  The question he raises is do the campaigns in this cycle understand all this? We all know Dean and Trippi did.  Do the folks running today's campaigns do too?

Quick '08 Update

- Chris Cillizza from The Fix wonders whether Bill Richardson's unpredictability will reflect in a positive way upon those Richardson encounters along the campaign trail.

- Greg Sargent from TPMCafé takes Rudy Giuliani to task in two posts. The first shows how Rudy, who recently questioned Bill Clinton's handling of terrorism on, actually defended Clinton after 9/11. The second highlights recent comment Giuliani made about Iraq that show an utter lack of leadership on his part. The comment from the NY Times:

Iraq may get better; Iraq may get worse. We may be successful in Iraq; we may not be. I don’t know the answer to that. That’s in the hands of other people...

- Visitors to YouTube are watching more of the Republican candidates' videos than they were, but they still flock to videos about Democratic candidates. AdAge has more on the Nielsen numbers which revealed the difference.

- There is a ton of coverage from the Obama campaign's Walk for Change. Check out this fun picture from one of the events in Iowa:

- Joe Biden's proposed Federal System for Iraq gained some support - including Senator Sam Brownback - in the Senate.

- Mike Huckabee's Iowa office opened yesterday.

- John McCain told reporters he plans to strike $150 million in proposed defense spending that was proposed by his Senate colleague and fellow presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

CNN's YouTube Debates Highlight Importance of New Media

In a New York Times piece entitled "YouTube Passes Debates to a New Generation," Katharine Seelye summarizes the traditional format for presidential debates:

"A guy in a suit asks mostly predictable questions of other suits. The voter is a fixture in the audience, motionless until he or she gets to address the candidate, briefly and respectfully. Everything is choreographed."

The YouTube debates may help to expediate the evolution of that format. Some are skeptical that the move will shake things up enough to get regular, everyday people more involved in the debates. And of course, everything still depends on what questions CNN decides to air. It does seem clear, though, that this is a good first step towards democratizing the debate process, and will hopefully get more millennials involved.

What is also clear is how important the mastery of new tools is for candidates to be successful in a digital age. NDN has long advocated a proactive approach to tackling new, cutting-edge media techniques. Check out some of the exciting work our affiliates at the New Politics Institute are doing to move progressive politics into the 21st century.

Quick '08 Update

- GOP candidates have turned down an invitation to speak at a National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) conference in Orlando. Nearly all of the Democratic candidates have accepted.

- AdAge has more about how CNN plans to integrate YouTube into is next debate. Anderson Cooper gave this bit of advice on what to expect from the debate format: "I'm going to host it, but, basically, it is going to be your questions and your YouTube videos the candidates are going to have to sit through and watch. So make them creative."

- Sam Brownback issued a response to Speaker Pelosi's remarks on embryonic stem-cell research

- Chris Dodd released two new ads: "Split" and "Amazing Grace" (He also released a statement about his participation in the Univision debate)

- Rudy Giuliani, speaking in Bedford, NH, presented his agenda for the future. In it, he laid out 12 commitments to the American people.

- Dennis Kucinich released his ad, entitled "No More Blood For Oil"

- Hillary Clinton received the endorsement of Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek today.

- Judge Andrew Napolitano called Ron Paul the "Thomas Jefferson of our time" in this video.

- FYI: Tom Tancredo goes to Master Cuts to get his hair cut.

- (via PrezVid) Bill Richardson walked a day in the shoes of SEIU member Mark Fitzgerald. Check it out below:

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

NPI Event in DC next Thursday releasing New Report on Progressive Politics of Millennials

The younger generation of Millennials is turning out to be an amazing asset for progressives. When you look hard at the numbers in polls and surveys from all kinds of sources, a consistent picture emerges – this enormous generation thinks and acts and votes progressive.

The New Politics Institute commissioned a new report to survey all the data we could find to connect the dots and lay out what we do know about this generation. We will be releasing the report and laying out many of the findings at a free lunch next Thursday in a very cool new space that we are using for the first time.

See below for the formal invite with the details. Please rsvp if you are coming and spread this around. The event is open to everyone, particularly young people. We want to spread this very good news....

How much do you know about the politics of the Millennial generation, those young people born from 1978 to 1996?

Did you know that...

    •    Millennials are deeply bothered by income inequality.
    •    Millennials believe in multilateralism over military strength to provide American security.
    •    Millennials believe that government should promote prosperity and community over self-reliance and low taxes.
    •    Millennials want to protect the environment more than promoting economic growth.
    •    And did you know that the Millennial Generation is bigger than the Baby Boom, will have nearly 50 million members eligible to vote this cycle, and are voting in much higher numbers than past generations of young people?

To learn more about the Millennials and their progressive political tendencies, join the New Politics Institute for the release of a new report built on a comprehensive survey of recent data.  We will connect the dots between disparate polls and surveys that have emerged in the last several years to give a much better sense of this remarkable generation and show how fortuitous this development is for progressives.
Joining me will be:
Ruy Teixeira, an NPI fellow who coauthored the new Millennial report, and the author or coauthor of five books, including The Emerging Democratic Majority.
Heather Smith, Executive Director of the Young Voter Strategies, who will talk about the new tools and strategies that have proven to connect with these young voters.
Farouk Olu Aregbe, the founder of One Million Strong for Barack, a grassroots group that began on the social networking site Facebook. He initiated an effort that signed up a quarter million young people in its first month to support Barack Obama’s presidential bid.
The Progressive Politics of the Millennial Generation
Thursday, June 21
American Institute of Architects
1735 New York Avenue, NW
12:00PM - lunch will be served
For more information or to RSVP you can contact: Tracy Leaman at 202-842-7213 or email at tleaman@ndn.org

Spread the word to those who might be interested in learning more about one of the most important yet underappreciated political developments happening today. Thanks.
Peter Leyden
Director of the New Politics Institute

Romney and the re-invention of our politics

The Times has a fascinating look at how the Romney campaign is modernizing the way advocacy and political campaigns use television, the most important medium in politics today. 

The piece reinforces a basic point we've been making here at NDN and through our affiliate, the New Politics Institute - that given the increasing velocity of change of the media and technology landscape, those looking to succeed in this new battleground of 21st century politics will need to adopt a culture of learning and experimentation.  Doing politics the way one did 4-6-8 years ago is no longer an option, as this "new politics" is literally being invented in front of our eyes.

Consider that in 1985 90% of anyone watching a TV was watching live broadcast television.  In this election cycle, with the rise of cable, satellite and DVRs, only about a third of anyone watching a TV will be watching live broadcast TV.   What a transformation of the most important medium of politics! One would expect a great deal of experimentation in our politics around this tremendous change.  Romney is now leading the way. 

It is only June and Romney has already bought national cable, done Spanish-language ads and executed a variety of more targeted buys - in addition to the traditional broadcast buys in the early states.  There has never been anything like this before in a Presidential, and largely through this strategy Romney now leads in both Iowa and New Hampshire.  Will this lead hold? Not clear, but John Weaver's tortured effort to explain away the significance of what has happened here should make it clear the McCain folks are worried. 

The most interesting part of the piece (including some quotes from me):

It is also unclear just how effective television advertisements continue to be in today’s rapidly changing media environment, with audiences segmented over a kaleidoscopic array of cable channels and with the competing din of the Internet and other information sources.

“There is no model anymore,” said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network, which instructs liberal activists on how to take advantage of media advances. “Everything is made up as we go, because audiences are leaving the old platforms. We are hurtling into a post-broadcast media age.”

Members of Mr. Romney’s media team say they are able to reach those who are already watching the presidential contenders closely by sophisticated microtargeting techniques, pioneered by the Bush campaign in 2004, that crunch through mountains of market research data.

“That’s why early media makes more sense now than it would have even made even four years ago, because we can find our targets in a fragmented media market,” said Will Feltus, another member of Mr. Romney’s media team.

The data helps the campaign’s media buyers, he said, isolate specific programs and schedule their advertisements for times of the day when Republican primary-goers are more likely to be watching. The television show “24,” for example, has been a favorite of the campaign’s.

In another unusual move, Mr. Romney has also been running advertisements on national cable networks, focusing mostly on Fox News, a favorite among conservatives. The goal is to establish him among national party activists, fund-raisers and leaders, as well as among early primary voters.

Lots to think about here.....

Richardson's new ad - "Asked You"

Bill Richardson released his third ad in his "Job Interview" series today. The ad, which is entitled "Asked You", will begin airing on broadcast and cable in Iowa on June 11th. It will air in New Hampshire shortly thereafter.

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

Immigration Hope?

The Times this morning has a story that suggests the immigration bill is still alive and kicking. Importantly it quotes the leading Senate R, John Kyl, admiting responsibility for the reckless actions of the anti-immigration deal gang of 4 who were instrumental in bringing the deal down last week.

On a relatied note, thoughtful Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby starts his column, "The Party of Global Seriousness" this way:

The collapse of the immigration bill last week holds a political lesson. It isn't just Democrats who flunk Globalization 101. Indeed, Democrats may be supplanting Republicans as the grown-ups on this issue.

Anyone who understands Globalization 101 knows that immigration, including large-scale unskilled immigration, is a fact of the modern world. Mexican laborers who migrate to the United States stand to see their wages triple or more: No amount of border security is going to keep them from coming. Chasing down and deporting illegal workers is costly to U.S. taxpayers, cruel to immigrants, disruptive for U.S. employers, expensive for U.S. consumers -- and, most of all, futile. People who yell "amnesty" merely reveal that they don't understand the world we live in.

But the Republican Party, which prides itself on understanding globalization when it comes to capital flows or trade, is blind to the global labor market. In the crunch immigration vote in the Senate on Thursday, only seven Republicans voted for reform, while 38 voted against it. Among the supposedly globo-phobic Democrats, the numbers were roughly reversed: 37 Democrats voted for reform while just 11 voted like ostriches...

Though I agree with the sentiment of the piece, I take issue that the current Republican leadership has ever demonstrated they have a firm grasp of globalization. It has been under the GOP's watch that we saw the selling out of IP at Doha in 2002; the passage of the distorting farm bill in 2002; the collapse of the Doha round these past several years; and of course they have been wildly ignorant of how the current wave of globalization has been effecting American workers. Their economic strategy these last 6 years has been limited to cutting taxes on the wealthiest among us, a response clearly not adequate to the moment we are in.


Brownstein on the new politics of the primary calender

LA Times writer Ron Brownstein has an interesting piece today, The National Audition, which reflects on how the new Democratic Presidential primary calendar will make this a very different election year. 

I have a few quotes in the story and spent a long time with Brownstein talking through all this.  The basic case I try to make is that we are seeing an explosion of citizen involvement in our politics, something healthy and good for the nation.  The new primary system, though it is not perfect, is allowing all regions of the country to participate in the important job of picking a President, something the old system - at least in recent years - did not allow, accelerating this transformation to a new post-broadcast people-powered politics. 

It's worth taking a look at the piece.  It raises all sorts of interesting questions. 

Bai on Edwards and Poverty

Matt Bai has the cover story in this week's NY Times Magazine.  It looks at the debate about poverty, and features John Edwards. 

We also learn the title of his book due out later this summer, “The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics."

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