Thursday, January 29, 2009
Here’s how it begins: An office cooler conversation turns to public affairs, and “the note” shows up that pronounces the conversation “distressed” one who was overhearing, that the distressed one “couldn’t believe” the things she was hearing, and how it remains unbelievable such conversation could even take place in this civil environment and that an official complaint will be made if such is ever heard again.
The note was a classic shutdown bomb thrown at an unleashed contrary thought threatening to invade the gray cells of a “tolerant” and “open minded” individual. The formula is pretty standard: Describe the speech or behavior as “inappropriate” or “distressing”; express dismay or shock that such could even occur; demand the speech or behavior stop; threaten “consequences” if it recurs. First one expressing offense always wins!
The freedom to speak was once an absolute American right: “I may not agree with what you say, but to your death I will defend your right to say it.” No more. A modern citizen might say: “As I do not agree with what you say, I take personal and social offense at your saying it. And I demand that such inappropriate utterances stop – or, there will be consequences.”
American society, which once celebrated its brashness and freedoms, is now self-censoring and fearful because the society has concurrently become censoring and fearsome. Hardly a day goes by without some reported speech transgression.
But that ain't all!
There is a significant attempt to shut up Americans occurring in California as radical homosexuals threaten to retaliate against contributors to efforts to pass Proposition 8. Prop 8 limits marriage to that of a man and a woman. Today U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. disagreed, ruling, "The court finds that the state is not facilitating retaliation by compelling disclosure." The threat of goon tactics certainly creates a chilling effect that strikes at the heart of the American political tradition.
In this case, because of the involvement of the Catholic and Mormon churches, there are actually two "freedoms" at stake.
And where is the Obama Justice Department?
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
"I just wanted to tell you, Rush, and -- and all our conservative giants who help us so much to maintain our base and grow it and get back this majority that I regret those stupid comments."
So, why'd Doc Gingrey make them?
"I was trying to defend John Boehner, who basically is leading -- providing very good leadership on this issue."
Well, maybe Mr. Boehner is, but once the words are out and recorded - they'll pop up somewhere as "proof". A three-term Congressman should know when to put a sock in it.
Dr. Gingrey concluded with a flash of the obvious: "Rush, congressional Republicans and our leadership need you and other conservative giants to galvanize the millions of Americans who don't live in Washington. They may not even live in Republican districts."
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Dr. Gingery comes from a safe district (PVI=R+17) that includes Marietta. He took 68 percent of the vote in the past election against token opposition.
“You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of that thing,” Dr. Gingery continued.
Dr. Gingery is an Obama tool, providing “social proof” for detractors. The whole thing is a set-up, Doc. You are contributing to the “Everyone agrees” the Dems are developing, the one where everyone agrees that Limbaugh and Hannity are partisan blowhards out to queer the post-partisan era that began last week. Doc, you are spiking your partisan artillery, and to what end? Surrendering early?
If the John McCain candidacy proved anything let me suggest this: Aimlessness doesn't “gin the base,” or anyone else. Admitting a knowledge hole in economics, then suspending a campaign to wander aimlessly around Washington – well, it was less than awe-inspiring. Politics is about forming a coalition with the middle to make a majority. McCain just had no clue how to connect with moderates, especially after the “September Shock” that included an incumbent Republican president trying to save our free markets in a panic-induced “sacrifice” that required passage "by Friday." The last gasp of “Compassionate Conservatism,” but not of aimless Republicanism.
Dr. Gingery is living proof of that.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Mark Kuznicki wrote: “Thank you for your kind words about our ChangeCamp event in Toronto yesterday. I am the lead organizer and facilitator for the event, and we are really pleased with the outcomes and the important new conversations we began. Your post made me realize that I need to revisit and edit the ChangeCamp mission. ChangeCamp is strictly a nonpartisan open creative community and event framework.”
Other ChangeCampers posted, tweeted and emailed comments centered on my proponency of a version that featured partisan politics. A consensus emerged that is essentially this: The core of ChangeCamp is “to create connections, knowledge, tools and policies that drive transparency, civic engagement and democratic empowerment.” And out of respect for these goals and the builders of the format, I accept and embrace the principle.
Another camper, Michael Jones, said this: “I attended ChangeCamp yesterday. We actually did try to recruit a few conservatives, although given the attendees it was hard (Toronto's urban/technology community is very progressive as a whole...) It was a completely awesome experience though - the energy and enthusiasm among attendees was strong and remains as much today. As much as a fired up and ready to go GOP scares the bejeezus out of me, I'd highly recommend giving it a go. You'd have to be careful not to define too far in advance what "conservative" or "Republican" means - let that emerge from the grassroots.”
After an exchange of comments, Twitter tweets and DMs, Mark and I came to understand each other's views. He noted, “I'm encouraged by your efforts to open the process of party renewal and to engage young people in an authentically participatory and open conversation. Your challenge will be to engage new voices to whom the 'Republican' and even 'conservative' brands have been poisoned by recent experience.” Well, I dunno about poisoned, but his recognizing the challenge of engaging new voices is exactly right.
Others were kind enough to offer help getting a “camp” organized – and I'd like to take up the offer. If you're interested in the event, drop me a tweet.
And there will be more on this topic in the future.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The idea came after I visited the ChangeCamp website. It is classic Millennial civic activism, and I think a brilliant concept.
It asks a question many ask themselves, but I'll twist it a bit: "How do we re-imagine government, citizenship and conservatism in the age of participation?"
In the next days the National Republican Committee will select a new National Chairman. Many of us have paid at least cursory attention to all the politicking involved. While none has offered a chicken for every pot, none have struck me as particularly new media savvy. That's hardly encouraging for a political party mired in second...in a two party system. So why not build “participatory production” with a participatory event as its foundation?
Event organizers described the event as a “free participatory web-enabled face-to-face event” - STOP! FREE?! You mean we'll hit folks up for donations, right? NOOO! Paradigm shift required!! Time to find event sponsors or pony up directly to support this event, and not pass on the costs nor fundraise. This is an investment in both the near and long-term viability of Republicanism, if not conservatism. They called it “a solutions playground open to anyone, where admission and ideas are free.”
The Toronto event brought “together citizens, technologists, designers, academics, policy wonks, political players, change-makers and government employees to addresses the demand for a renewed relationship among citizens and government.” Interesting...it's called coalition building. What failed in the last election cycle for Republicans?
The event sought “to create connections, knowledge, tools and policies that drive transparency, civic engagement and democratic empowerment.” In other words, an activated, “proofed” social network that could drive civic activities at various levels.
The organization's mission is “to innovate how Canadian governments engage with citizens in an age of mass participation on the internet. We hope to ignite a distributed and self-organizing movement in cities across the country.”
Is that different that the mission of the Republican Party, from local clubs to national committee?
Three things the GOP sorely needs now: “Social Proof” that the Republican bandwagon is the smart place to be. A Social Network that connects the membership in more ways than tech-y glitz. And the ability to transform the network into a “participatory production” machine, able to assign and deliver on tasks, from recruitment through resource management to “get out the vote” activities.
The GOP needs an event like this! Sounds like a way for young and new Republicans to make the changes necessary for victory in '10.
Friday, January 23, 2009
18-29 year old consumers use text messaging more often than voice to communicate.
On average 94% of text messages are read.
80% of consumers keep their mobile communicator with them all day.
When given a choice 39% of US consumers — 76 million people — prefer text messages to radio or TV advertising.
Text messaging is sometimes referred to as SMS, or short message service. Most cell phones are equipped to handle text messaging, able to receive brief messages that contain information from friends, clients, and even businesses marketing their products. Now text messaging is gaining popularity as a promotional medium because it is relatively inexpensive and allows contacting a highly targeted and qualified audience. It's also the cheapest effective way of contacting voters.
A 2006 study found text messages increased turnout by 3.1 percentage points. Researcher Aaron Strauss explained the simple reason why: "The most prevalent excuse for registered voters who don't cast a ballot is, 'I'm too busy' or 'I forgot.' Texting is a convenient, targeted, and noticeable reminder for voters to schedule their Election Day activities with a block of time set aside for going to the polling place." In a post-election survey, 59 percent of texted voters said they found the text messages helpful.
Throughout the past election the Obama campaign routinely blasted out messages, using area codes to target supporters, letting them know about upcoming local campaign events, voter registration tips, and other news. Obama's campaign was “reaching a generation that is trying to change the world in 160 characters or less,” according to David All, a GOP internet political consultant.
The mechanics of texting are simple. Print ads, fliers, banners and other signage instruct interested prospective members to obtain information by sending a text message to a certain short numerical code with the campaign's keyword included. In return, the campaign sends its return text messages, which will arrive in the recipient's cell phone inbox with its message. The text may give more general information about the movement, including a link to its Website. It may also invite recipients to text their e-mail addresses if they want to receive e-mails with more thorough information.
The beauty of text messaging lies in the “psychology” of text messages. They reach people wherever they are, at any time of day or night. That gives it a sense of an intimate communication—“the message is right here in my pocket”—which can be further enhanced with a targeted campaign that appeals directly to the consumer. And, due to its very nature, text messaging is viewed with a sense of urgency to which email can’t compare. Mobile phones are with most people almost 24 hours a day and thus the ability to deliver the message directly to the receiver is done with great confidence that the message will be received instantaneously.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Today, for example, the social networking internet site Facebook has 36 million American users and an annual visitor growth rate of 153 percent. Half of Facebook's userbase is 18 to 25 years old, and each averages up to 45 minutes spent on the site daily. And the fastest growing demographic for this social networking site is now users 25 and older. Huge, eh? Well, MySpace is even larger – twice the size with 73 million American users.
Add to that 22.6 million American bloggers and 94.1 million American blog readers – and those numbers are growing!
Meanwhile, the three broadcast network evening news programs averaged a combined 23 million viewers nightly. Over the past 25 years viewership has collapsed to half what it was. The median age of viewers is 61 years, and rising.
Newspaper circulation was off nearly five percent in 2008. Average weekday circulation at 507 American newspapers was 38.2 million copies. The New York Times lost 3.6 percent of its daily sales; The Washington Post down 1.9 percent; The Boston Globe dropped 10 percent; and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is counting down its last 60 days as a printed newspaper!
Where should conservatives concentrate their resources and imaginations? It's obviously not broadcast network television or newspapers. The information paradigm has shifted to other media and a more intimate and interactive message.
Previous essays discussed the expansion of technology and social networking on political campaigns, the need for conservatives to adapt to the non-conflictive communications style used by young Americans, the adoption of “movement” behaviors over campaign tactics, the importance of “social proof”, and how to create “participatory production” to pyramid and outsource campaign tasks.
This is why.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Simultaneously, President Obama’s inaugural speech challenged those of conservative views when he said, “The stale arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.” And, he is right. It is the time to develop new principled challenges to the theories under which his administration will labor, none of which will be novel or unprecedented. And these must be presented as alternatives, not opposition, or fall quickly on deaf ears and closed minds.
The president’s “new media director” said the White House effort is focused on three priorities: communication, transparency, and participation. I’ll accept that…well, two of the three…and got to thinking conservatives need to hustle with catching up in these days of perpetual campaigning, er… guiding a movement.
Inauguration evening was indeed one of celebration. Ladies in their finery, first couple spotlight dances, and history in the making. Attending one of the balls was a memorable experience for me. It wasn’t that I danced the night away – it was a virtual “Twitter Ball” sponsored by Smart Girl Politics, a conservative internet social network. The group used “Twitter” as its ballroom, and hosted a gala that offered all the glitter and celeb power for which one could hope. And it was a terrific, fun way to meet other conservatives without incurring tux rental or dry cleaning bills – thankfully, my icon picture still fit without alterations.
After adapting to the cacophony of the ball, I was struck by the variety of very smart people exchanging thoughts, views and repartee via short “tweets.” Within 90 minutes I expanded my list of contacts by 30, from a Christian home schooling housewife in Idaho to a Midwest Member of Congress and a county party chairman in New England – thirty more like-minded acquaintances with whom to share thoughts and from whom to steal good ideas. And it was essentially effortless. Most important, through the gathering we provided one another the “social proof” that there are indeed others acting on similar values and ideas, the basis for participating beyond grumbling at the television. It amazed me later, reading the post-ball comments, how frequently the word “energized” was used to describe the afterglow. That is the affirmative power of “social proof.”
The concept of the “SGP Ball” was brilliant, drawing from several overlapping conservative Twitter “hash groups”, and a seemingly universal model for building, widening and maintaining social networks from precincts to Capitol Hill. It was nicely done, with celebrity “speakers” hosting special tweet rooms into the evening. And that’s the basic beauty of all this, the ability to rub shoulders with
scores of interesting people, including celebrities. Among those “at the ball” and regularly tweeting are columnist Michelle Malkin, Amanda Carpenter, columnist and regular on Bill O'Reilly, and S.E. Cupp, author and columnist.
Other regular tweeters include Karl Rove and Cindy McCain.
Consider this: Include an introduction to Twitter at the next meeting of your local group, from registering individual accounts to creating a hashtag group for your circle. Use Twitter as a means to communicate, to build and maintain friendships, to pass along links to interesting articles…the potential is endless, the reality engaging. Have a ball!
Monday, January 19, 2009
Many conservative rebuilders fret about “tech” when they ought to fret about their lack of any social network. None of this is more than everyday stuff to most Americans. Text messages? Emails? C'mon!
It's all about making people welcome at the party, whether in person or on-line. Remember the “laughable” Obama e-mailed announcement of his vice presidential choice? “MyBO”, the campaign's portal, devoted its entire home page to an email sign up form to "Be The First To Know".
Read the message sent to followers by Obama's “futurist” David Plouffe:
“Barack Obama is about to make one of the most important decisions of this campaign -- choosing a running mate. You have helped build this movement from the bottom up, and Barack wants you to be the first to know his choice. Sign up today to be the first to know.
You will receive an email the moment Barack makes his decision, or you can text VP to 62262 to receive a text message on your mobile phone. Once you've signed up, please forward this email to your friends, family, and coworkers to let them know about this special opportunity. No other campaign has done this before. You can be part of this important moment.
Be the first to know who Barack selects as his running mate.
Let's dissect the message: It thanks members for their efforts in building the movement. It invites them to be privy to an exclusive – the first to know this “important decision.” Better, one can easily forward this exclusive in-the-know knowledge to anyone. And for nothing a phone call or e-mail to sign-up. Harmless fun...and the "movement" garnered countless e-mails and phone numbers for a mere press release and a few minutes advance notice. Brilliant!
The “movement” followers treated the announcement like waiting for Santa. Like Saint Nick, it arrived at 3 a.m. to fulfill the anticipation built over a week of waiting amid the rumors.
Here's a bigger point: A study of 4,000 people on the effects of text messaging found that people who received a text message reminder to vote the day before an election were 4.2 percent more likely to get to the polls. What would that be worth to (probably former) Senator Norm Coleman about now?
So, it's time to stop laughing and get to work replicating. It begins with a concerted effort to create “social proof” that conservatism and Republican politics is a place to be. Instead of “beg letters”, the GOP and sympathizers could instead send invitations to on-line meet-ups.
It's easy to forget that half of America’s kids never go to college. While every campus has some political party representation, and locally active businesspeople and professionals throw cocktail receptions and Lincoln Day Dinners, there is plainly no equivalent outreach to the working world, whether youthful or otherwise. Almost 80 percent of the workforce is non-union. Get after them!!
These young Americans are working and paying taxes, and many question why all those taxes are withheld, or what value they receive. They are distrustful of such government programs as Social Security, many expecting zero from their contributions. And they are stable in that they tend to remain in the area of their upraising, involved in churches, schools, clubs and volunteer organizations – They know their neighbors. And what are conservatives doing to engage these “youth voters?” Cocktail receptions? $50 a plate dinners? Beg letters for contributions?
This is the fifth essay of a series, Please take the time to scroll down to the others. Comments are welcome!
One may scoff at some of the Obama trappings, its staging, and faux opulence. The assumption is that folks see through it. Well, they don't. They see proud “we made it” symbols. Obama established the use of over-the-top podium seals and “The Office of the President-Elect” and many protested it was all pretend. That as a government office, it was a fraud. To the movement it was challenging, if not parodying, the "Imperial Presidency" trappings, and planting the flag to create a new legitimacy supplanting the “illegitimate” Bush administration.
This is important to understand because a “social network movement” like Obama's doesn’t shave followers into little market segments – certainly not obviously. The movement invites all comers to enlist on their own terms – what appears as a loose, viral organization that transcends politics for the betterment of all is actually a machine of participative production. It invites and rewards participation by social means, and provides ample “social proof” that it's right to join in.
Communication within any social network allows people to share its identity communally and individually. Simply put, if you join the network, you’ll have friends! In a society where bowling alone is a frequent occurrence, having friends is a powerful incentive to join and maintain membership however necessary.
A network appears to shape the message collaboratively to penetrate and activate its own circle of influence – as an Obama campaign component it did not. The Obama networks are much less viral than they appear, and highly disciplined. For example, the Obama campaign used its “MyBO” website to recruit, define and connect the nets. Campaign workers actively managed the nets’ activities, contacting net friends to canvass neighbors, for example, or to email area voters to encourage support of Obama for hope and change – a strong form of legitimizing “social proof” that runs throughout the campaign. Participation was furthered by using the net to report upwards, detailing contacts and other intelligence for rapid resource deployment decisions.
The net was also the engine that drove small contributions to the campaign’s half billion dollar “public funding” coffers. As a constant reminder of one’s success in supporting the movement, the site allowed members to pick a personal goal for fundraising, and used a “thermometer” on each personal page to reflect progress. Gentle reminders of how important these funds were to the ultimate success of the movement spurred the reticent, as did subtle, implicit messages that one could be excommunicated.
The Obama net operated as a support group, like Weight Watchers, offering kinship, emotional support, motivation and praise so long as you worked towards your goals. When you failed yourself, the group would step in to "encourage" a better result. Failure was not an option, but it could lead one out of the circle.
It also operated as a pyramid scheme, with members recruiting into the network support group, further building the effects of participative production, which provided huge output costing essentially nothing. All the while providing that "social proof" that one is doing the right thing, like so many others.
Another innovation was the use of children as campaign operatives. The so-called viral “yrmomma4obama.com” site targeted kids to essentially pester their parents on behalf of Obama.
Here's what the website said: “This election is about the future versus the past. We started Yrmomma4obama to encourage young people to take even more leadership in this election and to get them to influence the votes of their parents, friends, and families. Obama must perform well among older voters to win key large states. Young voters can influence their parents to vote for Obama in this historic election.”
The campaign, er, it's surrogate, maintained contact by use of texting, providing the kids more parent pestering ammunition and even advice as to how to effectively pester. Conservatives might be aghast at such parent abuse, but who complained? Such is now fair game, likely to expand through school and civic immersion.
The Yomama group also bought targeted Facebook ads. An example was entitled "Too Young to Vote?" ad flashed to Indiana 14-17 year olds. It reached more than 100,000 young pre-voters. It's not high tech – it's imagination to use tech to message effectively.
You can read the New York Time account of how it all worked: “Young Obama Backers Twist Parents’ Arms”.
Think about what that means...for the future...and ask how you're willing to adapt to respond to such electoral tactics.
This is fourth in a series. Please scroll down for earlier essays.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The lesson is to learn how to build, frame and present political views within the new American political discourse idiom.
Modern American voters are generally not well-informed because facts in the media are glossed, spun and subordinated in both presentation and thought to the overarching message – a green, non-confrontive and peaceful globe. Until conservatives understand the tilt and build the message within the idiom, it will be buried as “inappropriate.”
Here is a comment left recently on theblacksphere.blogspot.com that speaks volumes:
“As a university professor at a major, but not Ivy League, college in the northeast, I can assure you that indoctrination and intimidation is alive and well. My freshmen history students exhibit little knowledge of any real facts but know multiculturalism chapter and verse. They've been brought up on a steady dose of the belief that all cultures are equal and no answer is ever wrong, except for the one that challenges the concepts they've been brainwashed with.”
In foreign affairs, young Americans clearly aren’t comfortable with the United States as the sole global superpower. They have increasingly become wary of our projection and use of military power. Slogans like “Blood for oil” resonate because they strike at this concern that our “unfair advantage” is often used against banana republic tinhorns and second-tier thugocracies in selfish, nationalistic pursuits – or even profit.
“Bloody shirt” arguments are dismissed. In the minds of many young Americans the USA has become the global bully – “Support the troops, not the war.” Young Americans have no recollection that countrymen were ever held hostage in Iran. They have increasingly come to rationalize that 3,000 American deaths in New York city were caused by American cultural hegemony “offending” another culture, if not some tortured conspiracy or another. It doesn’t matter whether young America is that offensive culture – another culture expressed offense and thus one could understand, although not endorse, their action.
So, what can we do to regain our prestige abroad, end the “Death to America” demonstrations? Let's go back to grade school conflict resolution...let's talk...no preconditions...Obama will do what we'd do by opening a dialogue. Meanwhile Republican politicians whine in the background about the “message” that such meetings would send. Young America sees the promise of a message of peace going to a long aggrieved party, and see a conservative political party apparently opposed to world peace...change the idiom!
One sees the same phenomenon in Israel, which now accepts occasional rocketfire, negotiates meaningless ceasefires, executes abortive invasions, and elects peace politicians to its Knesset. Internationally it is thought a bully when the IDF crosses into Gaza or Lebanon with superior forces to quell such attacks. It is “unreasonable” when it will not allow Palestinians their claimed right of return, or cede militarily strategic ground. What was once admirable has become “proof” of the state’s ill-intentions towards a legitimate grievance by suffering people. Whoever anticipated that turn of events and opinion?
Contrarily, when has anyone witnessed a demonstration against American involvement in Kosovo, where our forces keep Christians and Moslems apart, and ended “ethnic cleansing.” No one seriously questions American involvement there because it’s seen as a good use of our military power, serving under international auspices, keeping the sides apart pending eventual resolution of their conflict.
In this political and social milieu, empty platitudes draw support because they’re inoffensive, strike an indisputable, uplifting chord, and are wholly defined by each individual with her own aspirations. The McCain campaign was for change, too. Who was against “change?” But the McCain campaign defined its change with various detailed position papers. You’ll not find one shred of meaningful definition from the Obama campaign. Hope? Was the McCain campaign peddling hopelessness? Of course not, but it wasn’t oozing “hope,” either. It’s easy to support and difficult to dispute amorphous pleasantries.
The future is apparent: When something goes awry, a difficult political decision made that will disappoint some followers, criticism will be blunted by assertions that criticism is politically motivated (Bully alert!), a distraction from the movement’s goals (It’s all baseless and a lie.), an attempt to disrupt the movement (Back on task!). The administration will deny any “hoodwinking” or “okie-doke” on its part because there was no bait-and-switch – Obama never said – and dissenters need to re-tune their thinking or be out of this movement. Those collected 13 million e-mail addresses will be more used for internal cohesion than pressuring Congress.
Which again raises the social proof specter. Like the six million said by the Obama inaugural committee to be coming to the inauguration – a number still quoted by the media - the numbers offered are very likely enthusiastically inflated, but they nonetheless provide “proof” that friends and neighbors are on board – and you’ll be left off if you don’t hop on.
Please read and comment on the earlier posts in this series. They are presented below, so please scroll down.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
By first understanding that arguing issues is not the way to communicate with younger voters. Conservatives need to understand that young voters HATE confrontation. They have been acculturated to stifle dissent first by self-censoring, then by seeking collaboration and mutual solution. American political action increasingly is becoming a national quality circle, where ideas are welcomed and no one is ridiculed for their contributions to a solution.
Americans have been progressively sensitized to feelings and increasingly strive to be inoffensive. Competition is unseemly, as is openly grabbing leadership. They’ve been taught school years of “conflict resolution” to counter the playground bully and reduce interpersonal frictions.
The real political ineptitude is that of Republican leadership, which along with their consultants, have lost their electoral mojo because they have not adapted to the style demanded by increasing numbers of the electorate.
Ask former Senator George Allen...who was snared in a “not appropriate behavior” trap and lost his seat and any national political future. Ask Trent Lott about how he lost his leadership position for wishing a centenarian "Happy Birthday" – it was for the same reason. These two, and others, hadn't learned the new political etiquette, nor learned how to frame opposition as an idea for the electoral collective to consider as a solution.
It's also why President Bush fell to near record low approval ratings – he was “the decider” who wouldn't appear to listen to alternatives. Colin Powell provided the necessary “social proof” of Bush's intransigence when he walked away – and later endorsed Obama.
Polling shows 20 percent of self-identified Republicans voted for Obama, and that these were “young” Republicans. You dismiss the concept at your political peril.
It's apparent that Americans now dialogue and compromise rather than argue or confront. No longer is there support for anyone’s right to say or do anything disagreeable.
Ask Don Imus where his powerful friends went after his broadcast remarks about the championship womens basketball team. Such is dismissed as “not appropriate” and followed with louder howls of the same, demands for apologies, and disbarment from further discussion.
Inappropriate talk or behavior evinces competition, thus representing a “distraction” from collaboration worthy of immediate dismissal because its motives are self-serving. It’s the wrestling team versus the chess club – and American voters increasingly identify with the chess club!
Opinions are largely formed based on personal social context. Don't you want to feed the children, save the whales, drink clean water, breathe clean air, live in peace, and create a world of brotherhood? Of course you do – we all do. This agreement is the slippery slope if one is not careful. Politically, conservatives have not been careful, acting primarily as a perceived obstacle to achieving Utopia, and easily portrayed as living in the past.
When have conservatives been most politically successful in recent years? I would point to the 1994 election, when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in nearly two generations. Why were they finally able to win a majority? The “Contract with America” was artfully conceived and presented. It was not so much a declaration of opposition, but a plainly worded promise to open American government, to increase dialogue, and to end corruption.
Shift to '06 and '08 and the Republicans found themselves on the opposite side: A party portrayed as increasingly corrupt, mean-spirited, self-serving, and running out of ideas. Political victory today is fueled by ideas and dialogue, not legislative or policy obstinance or arguments. Hypocrisy is punished only when presented as unacceptable violation of the dialogue. Otherwise, it's just pols acting like pols...everyone does it!
The lesson is to learn how to build, frame and present political views within the new American political discourse idiom. It's like learning which fork to use at a formal dinner – a faux pas is, well, a social turnoff and a marker that follows one away from the dinner table.
More Tomorrow -
Friday, January 16, 2009
The '08 election cycle was a disaster for the Republican Party for a number of reasons. It lost the White House, 21 House seats, and perhaps 8 Senate seats.
Where did it go wrong? One can argue about the candidates, or strategy, or campaign execution, or how the party was overwhelmed by superior resources, especially cash, or media bias, or how the economy collapsed. And each aspect has its contribution to the defeat. And the seeds of both victory and defeat were planted long before the national campaign was joined.
The Democrat primary struggle between Clinton and Obama offers a case study between two modern political campaigns. Clinton’s was the more traditional, driven by issues and depending on the power of groups and endorsements backed by a web site to win the vote. Obama’s campaign was less traditional, carried by open concepts and aspirations rather than specific issues, with more innovative applications of simple tech to create and nurture a supporting social network instead of contributor or voter lists.
Ultimately it proved difficult to seal the deal against the Clinton campaign, backed by a legendary traditional-but-innovative machine. Nonetheless, the machine was defeated, and I suggest “social proof” carried Obama over the finish. As hard as Clinton tried to paint him as risky, unproven, or inexperienced, Obama’s social network, the “movement” for hope and change, held together. It was hip, cool and bordering on the historic – redemption for many years of racial discrimination, a final banishment of racial distrust, proof of one’s entry into post-racial America, a cathartic national kumbaya - and one had to believe to belong.
Traditional conservative pols apparently cannot grasp that the world and voting values have morphed over the past several years. Young Americans, those under 40, simply live in a safe, multicultural, politically correct and “green” world, surrounded by technology and comfortably so because it’s their life’s environment, from playthings to personal implement. They wear bike helmets and seatbelts, arrange designated drivers, have minority friends and a vocabulary devoid of ethnic slurs, and recycle. "Rocking the Vote” is what they do, whatever it is. And off-shore oil drilling in the United States has always been prohibited because it endangers the environment – discussion closed. Those may be naïve views, but generally the point of view of voting America.
So, how does conservatism thrive in this environment? More thoughts tomorrow.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
"After 21 years in public office, Ms. Dixon isn't going to resign or be drummed out without a fight. That's who she is. But her lawyer was right when he said she needs to remain focused on the city and a swift resolution of the criminal case is in order."
This "Light for all" newspaper is incapable of taking the obvious position: RESIGN.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
And, once again, get ready to assume the position, possums. It's not enough that Maryland has trouble covering its current "obligations"...Miller's excuse for grabbing more is that "without new revenue, there will be no state money for transportation priorities, including the construction of the Purple Line."
Jeez, we can't live without THAT!! Those priorities don't come cheap, either. Blue Free Staters ought to pony up and leave the rest alone. now, Mike, let's talk about REAL ID...
Friday, January 9, 2009
The Examiner reports:"Sources close to the investigation say prosecutors are pursuing a more than 70-count indictment against her." 70 counts????
This is the "alleged" cleptocracy Maryland, under Lib/Dem "leadership," has become. Who cares in this deep blue state? Scanning the on-line newspapers, I find none calling for Dixon's resignation or removal...maybe tomorrow's fishwrap edition...or, maybe not at all. As usual, Maryland GOP can't find its voice, or can't get coverage - then again, it's Baltimore City. Anyone "Believe"?
Hey, Sheila - Quit!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
The plan would also provide a massive bailout for states that indulged in politically popular but unaffordable spending during the boom, only to find themselves overcommitted on Medicaid and other fronts. If one looks, one notices that the states in the most trouble and the states with most liberal governments form an overlapping group. Some Republican Governors like Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Rick Perry of Texas have argued that taxpayers from more prudent states shouldn’t be forced to pay for other states’ welfare programs. They are absolutely right.
Mark notes "Maryland and Governor O’Malley fit that description in the APB."
Link above - take a look!
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
"As assessments rocketed up, most county residents were not paying taxes on anything close to the full assessed value of their homes. Now, even if those assessments have cratered, those residents are probably still being taxed on less than the full value, and there is ample room for the tax to keep going up 2 percent a year.
That's good news for government officials - who need every cent they can rake in - and rotten news for homeowners who don't see any other relief on the horizon."
Here's the question - Is it good policy to allow the increase? Maryland Conservatives say NO!
By Meg Tully, News-Post Staff
Frederick County Commissioner Charles Jenkins hopes to report to Annapolis rather than Winchester Hall after 2010. He announced Tuesday that he will run for state delegate, seeking the empty seat that will be left open when Delegate Rick Weldon retires....Jenkins said he will campaign as a fiscal conservative, with roads and illegal immigration as top priorities. Though Maryland's General Assembly has traditionally favored immigration-friendly policies, Jenkins said he thinks the current budget woes could make lawmakers receptive to curbing costs associated with illegal immigration. He said they should begin by complying with the REAL ID Act immediately, which would require Maryland drivers to prove their legal immigration status when applying for a driver's license.
A bit of election news.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
"If the non-political sphere is permanently left-of-center — the movies, the pop songs, the plays, the sitcoms, the newspapers plus the churches, schools and much else — it's simply unreasonable to expect people to walk into a polling booth every other November and vote conservative. The culture is where the issues get framed and the boundaries set."
Steyn's Article in Full
The value of social networking is to bulwark and reverse what Steyn points out - the default is liberal. It's less about logic or reason than celebrity, cool, and hip. We and Hillary were rolled by a campaign devoid of substance that became a movement.
BIG SNEAK PEAK OPPORTUNITY!
How often do you get asked to participate in a beta test of something truly revolutionary?
For the past eighteen months, I and my team have been hard at work on a new service that is going to breathe new life into direct marketing. Oh, this is going to be VERY big.
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What is Text Cast Live?
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Imagine open rates of your message approaching 100%
Imagine the most efficient direct marketing tool you've ever seen.
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I can tell you more soon, but by now you should begin to understand just how huge this is.
But I need 500 people to help me.
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I've just written a brand new report on social media. It's called "The Social Media Marketing Blueprint"
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And the only way you can get it for free right now is to participate in this free beta test, limited to the first 500 people. (Seriously, I WILL be shutting down the opportunity once we reach capacity. I will have the test results I need.)
Want to get a sneak peek before everyone else?
Here's what you need to do.
1) Get your cell phone out. If you don't have a cell phone with text-messaging capabilities, you can't participate in this test. Sorry.
2) Send the text message "ZZZZ" to this number ---> XXXXX
Don't include quotes when you send the message, just type in my name and send it to XXXXX. Easy, right?
3) You will receive a confirmation message in a matter of seconds. Simply type the letter "Y" and reply to the message. Simple!
4) You are now double opted-in to my text messaging system. In less than 60 seconds you will receive two messages. The second one will have the link to my free social media report!
Once you have completed this request and received your report, please take a minute to leave feedback for us at:
I'll be sharing more about Text Cast Live and how you will soon be able to use it to grow your own business, so be sure to watch for more info soon.
Thanks for participating in this beta test!
Do good stuff,
Here's how the web is woven - create a text account, toss out "free" stuff, create urgency with limited offiers, and collect text or e-mail contacts - then pyramid - send this to a friend - you get the idea. It really is that simple, and that's exactly how the Obama "movement" used tech. Low cost, and you've got an audience!
Monday, January 5, 2009
What can business leaders learn from Barack Obama's improbable victory? A great deal, says this brief, readable book, which spells out the lessons of the Obama campaign and goes on to illustrate them, citing companies that have used similar techniques to succeed. Obama ran a nearly flawless campaign that stayed on message, attracted tens of thousands of dedicated volunteers, and collected a record flood of dollars from donors large and small. But his triumph was also to use social networking to create a vast online community that has changed politics forever. And that's precisely what businesses need to do. In a soundbyte, Obama's threefold approach was (1) to keep his cool, (2) to apply to politics the social technologies of the Internet, including blogs, texting, and viral videos, and (3) to embody in himself the change that he meant to bring to the country.
Repeat after me...It's not just the tech...it's not just the tech...
Excellent piece. I particularly like the point "people trust those whom they already know or with whom they share a neighborhood connection." As TiVo and other technologies enable viewers to skip commercials, hopefully campaigns will invest much more in year-round, precinct organizing rooted in house meetings and other local activities. Who knows? We might even turn the Democratic Party into an activist organization that consistently fights for its platform. Or build a democratic Obama for America 2.0.
As one can read - it NOT about tech. It's about community connections, social networking.
We're still days into 2009, and now is the time to prepare for the epic interplay between tech and politics in the 2012 presidential cycle. YouTube didn't exist for the 2004 presidential election and Twitter barely made the cut for the 2008 presidential election. What kind of new viral tech tools will be used in 2012? We don't know. Unlike 2008, which had a primary for both Democrats and Republicans, 2012 may not be as fun, but will be faster and more tech savvy.
Read the Article @TechPresident
Think the opposition is sitting on its laurels? Read the entire article and you'll get an idea where this is headed.
Open for Questions, Iterated and Improved: Launched at yesterday lunchtime, the second round of Change.gov's Open for Questions -- the Obama transition team's attempt to tap into the questions Americans most want their next president to answer -- has already pulled in 1,753,453 votes from 39,860 people on 33,150 questions.
Read Article @ TechPresident.com
This is what the Obama "Movement" can generate through social networking. It's pyramiding the message...like throwing an online party.
For decades, most people's idea of the American small town likely resembled something out of Little House on the Prairie: crumbling farmhouses and one-room schools. By November's election, with all the talk of Main Street, it was easy to forgive anyone for associating the American small town with rural locales, modest incomes and Joe Six-Packs. Whether or not that's true, the best-educated small towns contain just the opposite. Almost all are suburbs near major universities or research centers, and the jobs--from IT in Silicon Valley to government work in McLean, Va.--are anything but blue collar.
Read the Article @ Forbes.com
The three Maryland-located "Most Educated" small towns are all in deep blue Montgomery County. What does that say about the value of "education"?
Sunday, January 4, 2009
The Obama campaign developed powerful Web tools that might shape government but are more likely to build opposition movements, revolutions and possibly terrorist cells. Little revolts already have taken place inside Barack Obama's global revolution. So much faith, so much hope, so much money was poured into his campaign by so very many people that probably this was inevitable. All over the world the public feels like it’s got a piece of him. And among the hundreds of millions of Obama lovers who saw in the softly smiling candidate whatever they wanted or needed to see, a great many must eventually feel scorned by a hard president taking on a very tough agenda.
Read Article @ Newsweek.com
Newsweek makes one point and misses the larger one. The underlying truth is the tech just facilitates the social network put top task by the "movement." The network tacitly agrees to support a good cause, whether BO's election, or Weight Watchers. The group polices itself, members are asked to step on the scale regularly, except the measurement scale might be contacts made or money raised rather than avoirdupois. Failure is "shameful", but the group is sympathetic and supportive - and you'll do better and try harder - won't you?
This is what the techies and poli sci geeks are missing. Newsweek says "Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud Party has emulated the Obama site almost byte for byte in his bid to regain power." So what? Has he replicated the social networks? I'll bet not, and it's not just cool graphics, interactivity and Twitter tweets.
"As a Conservative, I survived 'Obama-Mania', by friends, colleagues and the Obama Loving Media (OLM). The onslaught of Obamism taught me a bit about others and myself. Turns out even if 'Everyone else is doing it'...If I disagree with it, I'm Out. Good to know. I never felt like much of a Sheep, but somehow now I feel like I have proof. I learned a little about my friends, and how even though they don't 'follow' politics, their ears perked up this time around on Both sides of the political spectrum."
Even a cursory understanding of group dynamics is sufficient to understand what is at work here - the group membership, peer pressure, constant reassurance, the associated rewards and penalties. Now, you may recoil at all this - but know this, it is how the world works. Politics runs on money, organization and volunteer manpower. The Obama campaign hit the trifecta in ways conservatives could not fathom.
The time is now to set in motion the changes needed to rebuild our party from the grassroots up, modernize the way we run campaigns, and attract different, energetic, and younger candidates at all levels. We must be conservative in philosophy -- but bold in our approach. We don't need a slight tweak here or there. We need transformation. We can't keep fighting a 21st century war with 20th century weapons.
I'm ready to start play the new game and hope you are, too. We can scree on blogs, preaching to the assembled choir. Or, we can form ourselves into a social network to discuss HOW to defeat the Liberal, and take community action. Please read my post below, "It's all in your imagination-Campaign '10 and beyond." We've got to get moving, or we can blog until the chickens come home to roost.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Click to See Mindy Finn on CSPAN
I've concluded that in the 2008 elections we conservatives got run over by the application of superior imagination with a touch of chutzpah. My ah-ha moment was a visit to “YrMomma4obama.com. Who would have ever thought to politically pitch parents through their kids by using text messaging? I considered that kind of stuff “off limits” - and the lesson I'm learning is that NOTHING is off limits. Who was outraged? If anyone, conservatives railed at the wind as the messages and similar tactics nonetheless brilliantly sunk their candidates. Like it or not, kid pitching is now in the mainstream. Conservatives are only fooling themselves by thinking within rules of engagement that seem developed fifty years ago.
But wait, there's more!
Simple stuff, like downloadable (self printed and distributed) campaign brochures and event flyers; YouTube video embeds; Text message broadcasts; Automated volunteer reports...and on and on and on. Don't understand? Over your head? Get smart or get out of the way!!
Conservatives have two years to get going, to learn this astounding stuff, and more importantly, to apply IMAGINATION. It's dawning on me...It's not the message, it's the connection and mobilization around a “movement”, which is Obama-speak for a political campaign.
Conservatives, it's time, to quote Conrad Burns, to “Release the hounds.”
David Plouffe: The Obama Campaign Used Grassroots Data and Computer Modeling to Allocate Resources in Real Time
A week or two ago, I happened to catch the C-Span broadcast of a fascinating discussion at Harvard's Kennedy School -- PBS's Gwen Ifill moderated a panel including David Axelrod and David Plouffe from the Obama campaign and Richard Davis and Bill McInturff from McCain's operation. The entire discussion is brain-food for any political junkie, but one segment particularly jumped out at me: David Plouffe gave an extended description of how the Obama campaign used volunteer-produced data to create computer-generated models of states -- down to segments of a media market -- to determine how the campaign was doing at any given moment. And it wasn't an idle mental exercise, since they used these simulations to make essentially overnight changes in how and where to concentrate resources, including candidate and surrogate visits.
Article @ TechPresident.com
Here is the new reality - driven by local data delivered by a local volunteer to the campaign headquarters. This article is a must read, especially if you do not realize where on-line campaigning is leading. Imagine the new tech applied to a campaign four years from now...are you imagining...hard to, isn't it? And that's the point. Get your thinking caps on!!
Friday, January 2, 2009
Readers in my locality know that there's a particular blogger who I am more often than not at odds with; the "Joe" in question is one who delights in attempting to hasten the demise of our local newspaper. This story is for him. It came to me over the last few days from the folks at Pew Research. According to this report, the internet has overtaken the newspaper as a main source for national and international news. More striking are the figures for the Millennial Generation (ages 18-29) where the internet and television are dead even as a news source - 59% of young people cited one or both as a main news source.
Mike hits on another reason why on-line communication is quickly trumping the traditional media. We've got tp be smart about this - where conservatives once owned on-line politics, the table has been turned on us. While it's chic to think in terms of fund raising, IMO it's equally important to organize both ourselves and our ideas. There is plenty of common ground in the conservative movement - if we're willing to seek it out. Most of it is common sense Americanism.
Despite all the reports of people waiting hours to cast ballots and record voter turnout in some battleground states in the historic General Election, it seems Maryland, a solidly Democratic state, didn’t experience the overwhelming turnout many anticipated. Numbers from the elections board indicated that voter turnout across the state did not increase as expected. In fact, there was a modest decrease in the voter turnout percentage. In Maryland, 76.38 percent of registered voters turned out on Nov. 4 compared to 78.03 percent in 2004.
Given the circumstances, this article is worth pondering. I say there is hope for conservatives who shape their issues and take them into liberal strongholds. Like Ellen Sauerbrey pioneered for Bob Ehrlich, conservatives must prize and exploit the O'Malley years for the potential they offer us.
I hope the holidays restored your energy after a grueling and ultimately disheartening year for common sense values. While much of the nation is awash in the media-generated euphoria of the impending Obama inauguration, the time for us to take stock is past. It is time to plan and act so we can combat the extreme elements of the Obama agenda that are sure to come. He says he wants to hear from those of us who disagree with him. Let's not disappoint him.
Please don't delude yourself into thinking the battle will be easy; news reports indicate that President Obama intends to use his massive e-mail list of 13 million people "to push for his legislation, tamp down critics or bolster popular support."
Maybe it's time to stop merely "pontificating" to the choir and start talking about what matters, how to shape local issues in our favor, and organizing guerilla campaigns. The potential of these sites and tools like Twitter is enormous to link and multiply individual voices into a chorus; individual efforts into team endeavors. The point of this site is not to sweat Obama, rather to sweat the single party tyranny that is Maryland, from local delegates and senators to O'Malley and his retinue. I believe this tyranny is vulnerable in the next cycle...IF Maryland conservatives can get themselves up to task.
"What's needed right now is less tactical refinement, and more conversation about the agenda tactics are supposed to serve." -- Julian Sanchez, ArsTechnica.com
Exactly. As one of the co-founders of Rebuild the Party, I couldn't agree more. If you cruise around RebuildtheParty.com's action network, you will see just that -- conversation about rebooting the Republican agenda -- is taking place. The 10-point action plan, which focuses on tactics, was the hook that brought grassroots activists to the site. Once there, they began to organize and engage in debates over the future of the party's agenda. RebuildtheParty.com is one place that has provided an open forum for such discussion.
Saw Mindy on CSPAN over weekend. IMO she's bright and has a vision worth pursuing. Imagine encouraging grassroots Republicans...what an "INSANE" idea!!! You go, young lady!!!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
If getting a new development approved and built is a battle, the skirmishes are escalating in and around Turf Valley. After the recent launch of a petition drive challenging a law that that affects the size of grocery stores, the Howard County Chamber of Commerce has issued a call to increase the number of signatures required on such a petition. "The ... County Charter requirement for 5,000 signatures to petition the ... action of elected bodies to referendum is low and antiquated," read an "advocacy alert" the chamber e-mailed to 1,600 people at 850 businesses last week.
Okay, let's make it HARDER for the public to stop government nonsense. American politics was built on the concept of checks and balances - and that includes the ability of the citizenry to act when it sees an error being perpetrated by its elected officials. It's not like this citizen power is abused. The problem is that the power exists at all.
ELLICOTT CITY — Howard County health officials say the county's new program to provide medical care for the uninsured has room for more participants. More than 1,100 people expressed interest during an enrollment period in October, but officials say many of them were eligible for existing state, federal or private programs. The Healthy Howard Initiative offers county residents basic care for as little as $50 per month. The program has room for up to 2,200 people and about 66 have enrolled and paid their fees. Health officials believe more than 15,000 county residents lack health coverage.http://www.mddailyrecord.com/article.cfm?id=151249&type=Daily
Some crisis - more goo-goo thinking. The fact liberals cannot abide is that there are not people dying in the streets without health insurance of some type, from Medicaid to private policies. To prove compassion in this extremely well-off county, the poor are essentially imported and treated to these sorts of perks.
From the estuaries and rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic beaches that attract visitors year-round, water is one of Maryland’s most valued natural resources. Global warming looms large on the state’s horizon, as sea level rise threatens the state’s 3,100 miles of shoreline. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates average temperatures in Maryland could rise about 3 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 if global warming continues unabated. Water levels in the Chesapeake Bay are already rising twice as fast as the global average rate of sea level rise, inundating many of the bay’s small islands. The EPA estimates that sea level in the bay could rise another 19 inches by 2100, threatening coastal habitat for the nearly 1.5 million shorebirds that pass through each spring, not to mention for the beach-goers who flock to the shores in the summer.
My goodness, we're DOOOMED, unless we plant shade trees, convert to (mercury filled) compact fluorescent bulbs, and - get this - become a Green Tag subscriber. And there's more... Green energy can be purchased through the National Wildlife Federation. This is indeed scare mongering worthy of composting!
Here's an unpleasantry awaiting Maryland homeowners in 2009: Even if your home has declined in value this year - perhaps even substantially - and your local tax rates are unchanged, you may be facing a higher property tax bill. Talk about adding insult to injury. There's nothing quite like taking a heavy dose of theoretical pain (the loss of equity in your home, which you don't see until it's time to sell) with a bracing chaser of higher taxes in the here and now. For about one-third of homeowners, the bad news arrived in the mail this week with the latest round of real estate assessment notices.
This is another perpetual money machine feeding the state's coffers. The idea was to avoid rate adjustments in the face of rising assessments. Many thought the tax rates would never catch up to the rising values...but they will...because those values are dropping - quickly and far. And that's especially bad news as Central Maryland housing values are dropping up to 20 percent in the "correction" and many are (were) transient owners. Toss in the number of home owners who are already "upside-down" on their mortgages, and there will be a real crisis as taxes are based on trailing assessments that will take years to correct downward. Another example of that road paved with "good intentions."