CNN is flogging the heck out of their Dems/YouTube debate tonight, and had a little segment with MassDems chair John Walsh, talking about the Patrick campaign’s use of the internet.
Walsh says the lesson is to integrate so called “new media” with traditional campaign operations, something he says the Patrick campaign did effectively.
“Sometimes campaign say, ‘I want a cool Web site. I want to do a blast email. Oh, I want to raise $50 million online like Howard Dean,'” Walsh told CNN in a recent interview. “But the point of the matter is that if you are trying to do that and you are maximizing your success on that, you’re leaving a huge amount on the table.”
That “huge amount,” of course, is the power of social organizing on the web. And that’s something we’re all still figuring out how to do. Obviously, there’s a ton of hype about the internet changing everything. But I find that internet-politics hype only strikes me as phony when it limits its focus to how much money can be raised, or blasting emails, as Walsh points out. In other words, it may well be under-hyped, only because we can’t see what the next step will be. We’ve only scratched the surface of the kinds of things we’ll be able to do on the ‘net. Social-networking seems like such an ideal fit for politics, for instance; and indeed that seems like it’s going to be a big player in the ’08 campaign, with the potential of Facebook Causes and Myspace-politics.
And I’ll be interested to see its effect on politicians themselves. The smart ones will know how to follow the newly-organized online crowds and surf the popular wave, and not just try to manipulate it. I think that’s a more genuinely democratic approach anyway, and most of the time will result in better policy.