This morning, I got an email from an old friend of mine, Aldon Hynes, who made two interesting posts at Greater Democracy:
- Keeping Personal Democracy Personal
where he talks about the migration of politics from the personal to the professional, where the operations of politics is about optimizing certain performance metrics, and
- Interaction and Interactivity
where Aldon discusses the difference between “interaction” (where you respond to a stimulus given) and “interactivity” (where a conversation or dialog ensues between a grouping).
In reading his posts, I see a lament of the migration from a civic, personal contact to a business mentality of running a campaign. Considering the masses under nebulous demographic and psychographic metrics may seem cold and calculating, but the challenge of achieving the goals of campaigns is to win. And to win, the campaigns have little else to do but place bets on particular expenditures, rather than trying to be all things to all people.
In every campaign I have been a part of, there is always a major constraint that they have: money. While the assumption that volunteers for the candidate is “just around the corner”, that is almost as funny as hearing that “there’s gold in them thar hills”, convincing the old ’49ers that they should keep digging into the hills for that chance of finding the motherload.
In an archived post, which I never made public due to last cycle’s issues, I wrote about being a campaign manager and the business of running a small campaign – especially one where resources are scarce and the opponent is entrenched. I promise to finally publish this post which should be instructive on how campaigns have to have a startup mentality in order to succeed – since the goal is to raise awareness with the individuals that can best bring about your success and find a way to fund your efforts, especially when you are a candidate who needs to rely on the support of others.
The challenge is to maintain a close relational contact with your supporters while keeping in mind that there is only 24 hours in a day, and you can only occupy one physical space at one time. Technology is meant to help enhance the ability of a person to communicate with a group of people, and allowing for some personalization of the communication to the supporters in the best way possible. Note, I did not suggest “converse” with all of the supporters, since people are limited with one mouth and two ears (or you could include two hands). But, by using technology to enhance the chance of communicating (e.g. John Edwards on twitter, every candidate on email and/or blogs, Chris Dodd and Tom Vilsack on video sites), the candidate (and/or his staff/surrogates) tries to keep the connection with the supporters to ensure the energy continues to flow.
I, too, will be attending the PDF – this year, for the first time, as a participant. This cycle has been difficult for various reasons (as some people know), but my affection for the art and business of politics still exists. No matter how difficult it can be, I believe that we will be able to create relationships through these technologies – in ways we have yet to understand. In the business world, I spend more time confirming with clients on how to work together online with their customers, considering the long-term value of a customer given the power that technology can give them. If it was not for Microsoft Outlook, Plaxo and/or google Calendar, I would loathe to remember every one of my friends birthdays. If not for the ability to blind cc my friends, I could not keep them up-to-date with my goings-ons. And if not for the ability of blogging and the easy publishing and syndication tools (thanks Dave!), I would not keep in touch with my friends in the blogosphere. Personal Democracy is about maintaining a connection with others – whether one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one or many-to-many. In a later post, I will explain where I think we are heading in our technological evolution such that Personal Democracy can remain personal.