Using Bees To Effect Vengeance

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Tuesday, June 10, 2003
punkrockgirl and I attended the Howard Dean rally in East Austin last night, and it was a rousing success. Others have posted accounts of the night -- I'll restrict my comments to the following:

  • very impressed that he did not mention his opposition to the Iraq war, despite the easy points to be scored with the fervently anti-war crowd by doing so
  • along the same lines, I loved that he emphasized balanced budgets despite being in front of a crowd that doesn't care how you pay for social programs, as long as you pay for them.

    To me those facts indicate political courage above and beyond what one would expect.

    3000-odd people coming out for a rally 18 months before an election is a testament to the pent-up disgust for Bush among Democrats, the inspirational quality of Dean's campaign to date, and the unprecedented grass-roots infrastructure that the Internet has facilitated.

    It's this last point that's got me worked up today.

    Item: 3200 people attended the Austin rally -- unheard of for this stage of the campaign, but even more amazing when you realize that the thing was set up with 10 days notice entirely by local volunteers. Dean raised almost $20,000 at the rally, got a bunch of people to sign the petition ensuring he's on the ballot in Texas, and undoubtedly signed up a truckload of new volunteers as well. Apparently, when Clinton hit Austin at the same stage of the campaign in '91, 75 people showed up.

    Item: 33,176 people enrolled in Dean Meetup.

    Item: the DNC has set up ePatriots, a test campaign to raise money online via prominent bloggers. It's being tested on one blog. First day's total: $20,000.

    Item: another prominent blogger is mulling over a plan to identify one key Congressional race where a late injection of funds could make the difference, quickly raise the money from his audience, and then donate it in an effort to tip the scales. Call it just-in-time fundraising. It's a more nimble approach that is only possible online.

    Clearly we're just getting started here. Online political fundraising/campaigning is going to grow up before our very eyes, and it will become very sophisticated very quickly.


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