Wednesday, July 30, 2003

There's an astounding piece on Billmon about the Dean campaign; about the financial tools which it is bringing to the table, about the groups that it appears to be targeting, and about its relation to the "emerging democratic majority" thesis (which is much more logical than the EDM authors would have you believe).

Most intriguingly, Billmon believes the Dean campaign's targeting of internet-savvy professionals may allow the Dems (and Dean specifically) to gain a new and lucrative source of donations:

The Internet, however, is the ideal medium for reaching [those people] just below the [wealthiest] 1%. The reasons should be obvious: These are some of the most wired people on the planet. They’re accustomed to doing financial transactions on the web. They’re also highly educated, skeptical, and likely to be left cold by the kind of simplistic marketing pitches that are the bread and butter of direct mail. And they’re often willing to put their mouths where their money is, and get directly involved in political campaigns --if they are motivated by a candidate or a cause they find appealing.

Most importantly, though, these people have disposable income – not as much as the upper 1%, to be sure, but enough to make them potentially a force to be reckoned with, as Howard Dean is busy proving.
Interestingly enough, he isn't a Dean supporter, and doesn't really believe that Dean is electable (although he doesn't get into it). He does, however, believe that the Dean campaign will be the guiding light for the Democratic party of the 21st century: focused on professionals along with its traditional constituencies (as laid out by the EDM thesis), using the Internet as a community-building and quasi-grassroots tool, and laser-focused on the "ground war". (This last one is key, as voter turnout is becoming as important an issue as voter preference).

Not mentioned in Billmon's article, however, is one concept I think that the Dems of the 21st century will need to embrace: confident difference.

2002 proved that trying to hide behind "me-tooism" isn't going to work, as Republicans have become very skilled at ensuring that the public believes Democrats stand for anything they say they don't stand for. The only way to deal with that is to seize the issue and build your own narrative, and the only way to do that is to be for something different that people can resonate with. They can't be afraid to state it either, because if they don't tell people what they're about, the Republicans will. And it won't be pretty.

Saying "I'm not" doesn't work. Saying "I am", however, does, and I think Dean's current success is partially due to recognition of this concept. No matter who wins the nomination, they can't be seen as the guy running against Bush and Bush's policies, and certainly can't be seen as the guy saying "I agree but..." because the "but" will be ignored. They have to be the guy running for something. Maybe not right now, because it's not so important (as I metioned earlier), but but figuring out "what makes me different" should be in the back of everyone's mind.

And yes, this includes national security. As a matter of fact, it must.

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