Can the Internets Make me President?

08/16/2006 09:39 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I'm working on a new article series, and I'm publishing it as I go -- even as I edit and revise it. I'm hoping that others will contribute comments into the document, disagree, and discuss.

Read the article in progress at the New Organizing Institute wiki. It's addressed to the candidates themselves, but written with the understanding that their staff and consultants will be reading too. Here's an excerpt:


Can the Internets make me president?

A long time ago in America, politicians stopped being leaders. Let's not blame them, it was a long string of historical factors that forced politicians to become what they are today: packaged, advertised, distributed products. For a long time, the rules of the game have favored simply "the guy you'd most like to have a beer with," taking no stands riskier than "cut taxes" and "love families", and mechanistic deal-making with constituency groups.

While all of that still holds, the Internet, other technologies and new media patterns are beginning to reward politicians who can find it in themselves be leaders again.

The power flows from the new political principle of "Direct Connection." Suddenly you have a communications channel available that runs directly and exclusively to your supporters: fans, activists, donors, campaign workers and staff. While the Internet has a lot to do with it (mass email, blogs, podcasting), this phenomenon is also driven by changes in targeted traditional media (direct mail, local radio advertising, specialized print publications).

Howard Dean raised tens of millions of dollars online because he lead, however imperfectly, on issues that other Democrats were afraid to touch. John Kerry raised more than 100 million dollars online and mobilized a quarter million first-time ground volunteers by leading, however imperfectly, the charge against George W. Bush. Ned Lamont pulled off a primary victory that would have been impossible without the massive number of campaign workers recruited and organized effectively online.

For many federal and local races, these new tools will have little impact. Presidential primaries, however, were made for the Internet.

Read the rest here here.

(Cross posted at DailyKos.)