Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Media Turns Old School Politics Upside Down

A Revolution of One is host of Carnival of the Liberals #62, posted yesterday, without my contribution, which is a little late, but better late than never. For readers unfamiliar with it, CotL is a by-weekly carnival of liberal bloggers. Every issue the host blog selects and features the ten best posts from all posts submitted. Their badge is in the lower part of the right-hand column of this blog. There's info on who is hosting future carnivals and the designated theme, if the host decides to have a one.

The theme for CotL #62 is New Media. We asked all participants to post on the topic of, or to include, some type of new media. The video above is of a presentation by Lawrence Lessig, Sanford Law professor and CEO of the Creative Commons given at the University of Pennsylvania. Lessig, through Creative Commons is the champion of changes in copyright law that make it easier for new media to be created without breaking the law, topic of the video below. In the first video Lessig gives his reasons for supporting Barack Obama, beyond the fact that they were colleagues at the University of Chicago.

Beyond being an example of how new media is a major factor in this Presidential primary, and the future general election race, it is about the candidate that is entirely, IMAO, a phenomenon of new media. Without it I doubt that this most unlikely candidate for president would be the almost certain nominee of the party. All of the candidates understand and use new media in their campaigns. They all have web sites and blogs and Youtube videos of their speeches, campaign ads, and the ability to contribute to their campaigns online.

But for the Obama campaign a new media political strategy has been key. Before the existence of new media it would have been nearly impossible for someone like Obama to overcome the war chest and old guard party organization of a candidate like Hillary Clinton. But for the other campaigns, their use of new media seems more an adjunct, or add on to the old strategies, more than the essence of their strategy. An article in Rolling Stone in late March describes how the Obama campaign combined techniques of new media, social networking using technology from sites like Facebook, with old school community organizing to outflank the traditional top-down approach of the Clinton campaign.
"They have taken the bottom-up campaign and absolutely perfected it," says Joe Trippi, who masterminded Dean's Internet campaign in 2004. "It's light-years ahead of where we were four years ago. They'll have 100,000 people in a state who have signed up on their Web site and put in their zip code. Now, paid organizers can get in touch with people at the precinct level and help them build the organization bottom up. That's never happened before. It never was possible before...."

"....We're seeing the last time a top-down campaign has a chance to win it," says Trippi. "There won't be another campaign that makes the same mistake the Clintons made of being dependent on big donors and insiders. It's not going to work ever again."
A regular part of Obama's stump speech is to say that change happens from the bottom up and not the top down. New media, created and controlled by the average citizen is inherently grass roots. What the Obama campaign has built is unprecedented. An entirely new type of campaign which will shape every political campaign for the foreseeable future.

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