OK, we can’t steal it, but we can buy it. Cheap.
All the campaigns are talking about money, which is what politicians care about. We can put an end to that foolishness with a simple strategy: Buy a campaign by showering it with so many $50 contributions that they won’t have to worry about corporate contributions. Apparently the Republicans are raising $200 million from their closest friends based on a single cynical premise:
You can buy people’s votes
The back story on that cynical assumption is that they need to be bought because they never manifest themselves other than through big time TV marketing.
But someone said recently that, if a million people give $1,000, the Republican’s cynical assumptions go out the window.
In an email today, Lindsley Haisley opines:
Lindsley and Mitch disagree with my assertion that this campaign isn’t about the Presidency, it’s about the Internet, because the basics of elections haven’t changed–get out the vote, raiseawareness with TV money, etc. My point, though, is that all those things are givens. Of course we need a message, a strong candidate, etc. However that’s like saying that the Battle of Agincourt was not about the long bow but Anglo Saxon fortitude, which is just silly. Of course it took great Anglo Saxon determination to trudge through the swamp all night just to show up. But, once there, the battle was about the long bow because it so overshadowed the other variables.
So I believe more strongly than ever that politics in 2004 and 2008 is about the Internet. More precisely, it’s about the uneven use of the Internet because some candidates are willing to open their campaigns to the voters and put up with the chaos of that feedback loop. People are responding to Dean because they are empowered to. Confident in that power, they’re less concerned about Dean’s specific positions, because they buy the inspiring tone and they think they’ll still be posting comments on his blog in 2005.
Everyone seems to agree that 6/30/03 will be written about for years since it was the first spontaneous expression of political will by self-organizing voters talking each other into caring more and donating more through the Moveable Type Comments function. That inspiring day caused the campaign to believe more strongly in its core aspiration: to somehow get nominated and then to give the Republicans a decent challenge. If 6/30 is as important as it seems, the campaign is making a mistake: It should re-calibrate its goals.
If the campaign doesn’t see the potential in the Internet, then the smart mob phenomenon just might. And a smart mob functions at an entirely different level than conventional hierarchical structures. Its force is nuclear and 20th century politics is just gunpowder.
Internet-equipped people caused $802,000 to be donated to Dean on 6/30/03. They did it by chatting each other up as the new totals were posted every half hour, and as the goal, depicted as a baseball bat, was increased as goal after goal was surmounted through the afternoon.
A freely associating mob is forming around the Dean campaign. Its communication tools will soon transcend the Campaign comment archives, by organizing its own tools. The campaign can’t stop them nor should it want to, though there are surely consultants who would just as soon all this went away. Too late.
Metcalfe’s Law says that this mob’s value and power will grow with the square of its population, attracting more people and volksmoney as an accretion disk in space sucks in matter from the systems around it. I believe this phenomenon is a social force too powerful to be stopped, and that historians will be more interested in 6/30/03 than 9/11/01.
The smart mob is not limited by the campaign’s preconceptions. At a gut level, this mob seems to be saying, “We’ve got plenty of money for this little problem. Shit, we give $4 billion a year to Apple Computer. Apple! We can easily spend a couple billion every four years to own our own government!”
Do you hear what I hear?
I hear a being waking up, wiring together its own dendrites and a little surprised at how easy it is to do what its forebears found challenging, like a Cro Magnon artist looking at a Neanderthal adornment.
I hear this being forming its mouth around the word landslide. As in, “What the fuck! Is that all we’re talking about? Sure, we can afford this, but why not buy a landslide, it’s way more fun than an even race! And why not buy a congress and that little Democratic party too. We pay a lot for government already. Why not just own it outright?
Of course all those little donors are giving money to buy their own votes. The ultimate bootstrap.
Yeah. I think this campaign is about the Internet.