Malcolm Gladwell lifted the phrase “tipping point” from epidemiology and ensconced it in the cultural lexicon:
Gladwell’s 1996 Tipping Point explained his, well, point by showing the similarity in the mechanisms behind the drop in NYC crime, sales of Hush Puppy shoes, contagious yawns and Paul Revere’s ride.
Dick Morris is another visionary and Bill Clinton’s indispensable political guide until he was forced out of the White House by his own Clintonesque scandal, got religion, went on Fox News and started vote.com. As you’d expect from a Clinton confidante, he understands the detailed history of what works and fails in Presidential politics. In the current Chris Lydon interview, Morris tells us that the Internet is bigger than we have imagined in politics as in everything else, and that the Dean campaign has changed politics forever by routing around the cynical mechanisms the DNC designed into the primary system this cycle…
…and that Howard Dean is dead meat.
Listen to the interview and come back for more revealing insights and colorful graphics. Now.
You can hear the shock and dread in Lydon’s dulcet tones as Dick Morris tells him that Karl Rove and the Republicans have been gathering 20-30 million email addresses while Dean’s grabbed a half million or so. Lydon’s summary:
… and that it will be a battle of the extremists the presumptive Dean “liberals” vs. the real rightists.
We Deaniacs, according to Dick Morris, are living in a naive echo chamber where bad news is unwelcome and our breathless enthusiasms insulate us from the harsh realities of the political marketplace.
He’s saying that the Dean campaign is Netscape and the Republicans are Microsoft. Done deal. Next question.
That doesn’t mean that old-time politics will carry the day because the Internet is irrelevant, but that the new tools are agnostic and that the Republicans understand them as well as or better than the Deaniacs. When Chris asks him how he responds to people who don’t get it, who don’t know what a blog is, he turns Rosenesque:
Pointing the Way
So Morris agrees that this election cycle is a tipping point and that some sort of smart mob has formed around the Dean campaign and that there’s an analogous Second Superpower waging peace around the globe. But we’re still not giving up and letting the force take us where it will. But what are people fighting for? Let’s look at our available tipping points:
My work for the next year is to take the Green Line, and anything else will be a sorry disappointment, since it may be the only way to win the presidency. This is far more possible than it seems, if the Dean revolution does what it would in any earlier age, which is to form a new political party with a broader political spectrum. Thanks to the Internet, we don’t have to go to all the trouble to form an actual party, with offices and budget and staff and cronies and a cigar box. What we can do is form a virtual party and give a hat and a kazoo to every American who’ll hold still.
If we succeed in forming the GCP–Great Centrist Party, we can reduce the Rs and Ds to mere labels
It’s the Community, Stupid!
What people want is to reach out to their neighbors and have an agreeable conversation. A real connection with a human trumps Morris’ vision of mechanical intermediation by his own Internet startup, vote.com. His analysis is spot on, but his vision is a business plan. I’m searching for the web applications that, like meetup.com, connect me with you so we can find agreement on the issues that matter and discover how trivial are the things that seem to divide us.
The Revolution will be Engineered
Tomorrow I’ll suggest some web applications so the experts can have some specifics to dismiss out of hand.