A Lesson To Learn From The Obama Campaign

Promoted and bumped. -Patrick

Earlier this campaign season, My Barak Obama came under criticism for being the platform for some unseemly content posted by private individuals. While I  thought this content was fair game for the opposition I doubted the amount of energy expended exposing this "outrage" would  be justified.

Obama's campaign has made the conscience effort to provide his supporters many opportunities to speak their minds. Along with these opportunities comes the possibility that some renegde will do something stupid on Obama's platform.

But on the flip side,  the campaign appears to be reaping the benefits of letting the masses speak out and organize. You may be aware that Obama has decided to support the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This has caused an uproar on the Left led by the ACLU and the Netroots movement.

Rather than react in accordance with the practices of most campaigns by shutting and muffling dissent Obama is providing dissidents (many of whom are supporters of his) the opportunity to organize on his campaign web-site. When last I looked over 140  opponents of Obama's decision to support FISA have banded together on his site to launch an anti-FISA campaign.

The Obama campaign has made the courageous decision to keep his dissidents under his tent and armed with the tools his campaign can provide to organize. Can you imagine a Bush campaign reacting like this? I can't. But if we are going to campaign effectively on the web we must understand that power resides in the grassroots and the days of autocratic control from above are over.

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It's a moot point

140 Obama supporters are using the campaign's social networking tools. So what? That's not going to change Obama's stance on FISA nor should it. His grassroots aren't happy with his decision but it won't change a thing. Obama's trying to look more centrist. He's going to have to hear from more people before he'd change his mind.

What the Right can learn from this is not muffling dissent doesn't hurt if it's only a small portion of your support. The Obama campaign is respecting dissenting voices. That's the lesson to be learned from this story.


That is the point. Going to war with a vocal minority among his supporters would be a mistake.


Jeff Jarvis thinks such dissent is revolutionary. It really isn't since I don't see how a few squawking people amount to much. Now, if this snowballs into something big that makes Obama change his position then we have something significant.

Pretty much missing the point here, IMO

The point is not that some people, including supporters, disagree with Obama's position on FISA. Nor is the point that Obama is okay with some of his supporters not supporting him on this policy or that action.

The point is that Obama is providing the platform for his supporters to organize their dissent. At the end of the day, this strengthens Obama's campaign. It in fact can bring more people to the campaign as dissenters: I can imagine a dissident supporter enjoining non-supporters to come to the campaign's site to participate in protesting the campaign's position on this issue. At the very same time, the dissidents feel they are respected and indeed encouraged by the campaign. Their voices are heard (look we're even writing about it over here!) even if they don't get the result they want on this issue.

Those who say it is non-starter because it is not going to change the campaign's position are wildly missing the point from both the dissident supporters' side and the campaign's side. There are network effects here and deepening relationships between the campaign its supporters. Accomodating, even empowering, the dissidents' passion can only deepen the committment to the campaign of those who are not going to walk anyway because of the present fight. At the same, new supporters can be brought in through this very new way of joining a campaign in opposition to it.

That is what is interesting and new. Obama is providing resources to all of his supporters to participate through the web no matter what their point of view on any particular issue/action might be. The GOP/Conservative movement doesn't have anything like this yet.

I know the Paul campaign is controversial and I'm certainly no supporter. But to my mind it was the one instance where the web came to life for conservatives and deserves study by any of us who seek to make online activism, fund-raising and politicing viable for mainstream conservativism.

140? ..

Look again.  The FISA group will shortly be the second biggest group on the myBO.  It's not chopped liver.  Where is the criticism from you righties once McCain became the nominee?  There hasn't been any.  There is a reason why you guys get labeled as synchopants.  Republicans don't tolerate dissent.  I presume you guys have heard of Will Rogers.  Do you know what his famous saying about Democrats is?

That is one of the best sayings ever about politics

For the uninitiated, here's what Rogers said: 

I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat!

I just love Will Rogers.  If that's the only thing we can ever agree on Calvin, that alone would be enough.  Heh. 

I Thought About This

It's not news that there is dissent in the ranks of those who support McCain regarding some of his positions & policies. In McCain's efforts to reach out to segments of the conservative landscape, he should welcome rational discussion & dissent. He & his campaign would need to do this in a transparent manner & not poo-poo the dissenters, because the MSM will magnify any division in the conservative/Republican ranks while minimizing any dissent on the left/Democrat side.

McCain needs to be example

Then McCain should be an example and not sound more angry when chastising Republicans and conservatives (the NC GOP and Bill Cunningham) than when going after Democrats (Wesley Clark).

It's more about the candidate than the technology.


There is a reason why John McBush called the TradMed "his base".  You truly don't understand the way the TradMed works.  They are owned by huge corporations.  Would you like me to point out all the Republicans working in the TradMed(besides Faux Noise)?

In Response To The First Comment and An Update for All

The anti-FISA group on the Obama site is now over 7,000 and growing.



Allen, how can you tell the numbers? I'm not seeing it on the group page.

Sorry For Delay In Answering

Sean, The number is over 14,000

You have to register with the Barak site (God save my soul). The link I've included has links to the site.


Happy 4th everyone.

courageous decision?

I think you're giving Obama too much credit. The internet community created Obama through millions of individual donations, so he is more vulnerable to the withdrawal of their support. Block them out and that will happen!

Both Liberals and Conservatives need to organise on the web just for the purpose of keeping pressure on their elected people regarding core principles - Liberals on issues like constitutional liberties and Conservatives on things like fiscal responsibility.

I think you are correct.

I address this point on my web site at The National Online Party. Admittedly, it's still a work in progress. But I would like to network with anyone who has the vision to help bring the project to forward.

ex animo


A Smart Decision

Without disagreeing with anything you said, what Obama and the Left are doing is giving an offical voice to whomever has an opinion. If McCain would host anti-immigration folks on his site he would probably be seen in a more positive light by all those potential voters who vigorously disagree with him. If Obama did not host the anti-FISA crowd and keep this conversation in his tent it would probably be a big negative story on the web and beyond.

By the way I'm not sure Obama will stay the course if this revolt continues to spread.

Stay the course

Sure it'd be a big negative story if Obama blocked out disagreeable comment. He wouldn't be there without those being blocked! McCain, not so much as he is a traditional candidate.

One thing that many at this site may be overlooking in the partisanship is that when a liberal candidate abandons a core principle in pursuit of another interest group, that does not automatically translate into a victory for Conservatives. More often it's just a victory for the interest group! Same thing goes for when a Conservative jumps ship. After all, both constitutional liberties and fiscal responsibility are (or should be) valued by both ideologies. They are just prioritized differently.

In the long run, Conservative are better off when Liberals stick to their principles, and Liberals are better off when Conservatives stick to theirs.


"Conscious" and "conscience" are not the same word

I remember trying to explain this to a drunken guy in a bar once, back in the eighties. He wouldn't believe me. Is he writing a blog now?

LOL - at least you remember the 80's

(my personal favorite decade, BTW).  Interestingly, the words conscience and conscious are very much related and go back to a common Latin root.  The word "Consciousness" is derived from Latin conscientia which primarily means moral conscience. In the literal sense, "conscientia" (or "con scientia") means knowledge-with, that is, shared knowledge. Wikipedia (what would I do without it?) says that the word first appears in Latin juridic texts by writers such as Cicero. Here, conscientia is the knowledge that a witness has of the deed of someone else. It's also another way of sayiing "awareness". 

But on the matter of the topic at hand, I think that encapsulating the protest within the mother site is another innoculation strategy - something the Democrats are elevating to an art form this year.  It's also a great use of the messianic meta-narrative

"See what a good and loving and tolerant form of government I give you?  I allow you to bite and nip at me while I feed you manna because you are my children and I so love you even when you persecute me." 

Or something like that.  But yah, once the numbers rise like manna that's been innoculated with the yeast of protest, we shall see how well the meta-narrative holds up then.  Barack and Michelle have both been know to get a little nippy and testy themselves with unloving, unappreciative, unworthy audiences.