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View Diary: The legacy of McCain-Feingold (174 comments)

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  •  Synergy; paradigm shift; (3.33)
    "thinking outside the box."

    Million dollar concepts, the subject of endless courses, seminars and lectures, and still very few people "get it."

    Bill Gates at one time "thought outside the box."  He and his associates didn't invent computer operating systems.  They merely built a flexible one for that time. IBM was given the opportunity for "synergy" with Gates but couldn't "think outside the box" (their culture and products box -- we make business machines not toys) and consequently, passed on a partnership with Gates.  Today IBM that has been in business for decades has a market capitalization of $167 billion.  Microsoft has a market cap of $286 billion.  Michael Dell didn't do anything that IBM couldn't have done, but he did it and they didn't.    

    The Dean campaign was about "synergy" and "thinking outside the box."  The fundraising Rubik's cube that has stymied DEMs for last three decades of the 20th Century.  With the decline in small stable communities, the backbone of true grassroots in politics, and unions, the FDR DEM base, along with the depoliticization of the general public the DEM Party floundered.  The GOP had historically had access to wealthier donors, but they were too small in numbers and the GOP agenda was out of step with the majority had floundered for decades in the mid-20th Century.  

    Then the GOP was given a gift and they exploited the hell out of it.  The cultural shifts in the 1960's, no more radical than those of the 1930's.  In the 1930's people were scared by the depression into embracing the New Deal.  In the 1960's they were scared by the cultural changes into retreating into their churches and the GOP that was reassuring them that these changes wouldn't come to their town if they voted GOP.  The GOP found ready made communities of individuals who would collect and send them tiny donations and foot soldiers for their message.    

    Meanwhile DEMs kept returning to the same wells that were getting drier and drier.  The DLC came along and said, "DEMs are good for business in America too; how come we don't collect our fair share from those guys?"  They got so high on that drug in 1992 that they failed to realize that they were hooked and the body was slowly ravaged by the side effects of the drug.  (They are still not even in rehab contrary to what they seem to be saying right now.)

    Trippi in the Brown campaign attempted in 1992 to gather small individual donations, and while it did bring in substantial dollars, it required a lot of manpower but it did not build "community." (It was also laughed at by the other campaigns.)  What was missing was the feedback loop.  "I hear something from you that I like and I give you some money to say it again." was the extent of it in 1992.  Compare that with, ",I hear and like," "give money," "get a thank you" and invitation to participate more in the campaign, I participate more and become invested  in the campaign, give more to increase the capital, participate more, etc.

    Synergy results when a combination of elements are brought together in a new configuration.  The elements may be new or old but the form is new and enhances the elements as well as the new form.  To use IBM and MSFT again.  IBM sold fully stocked industrial refrigerators.  Apple (the technological breakthrough) sold fully stocked mini-bars.  MSFT sold the stock in the mini-bars.  (As everybody knows, those macadamia nuts in the mini-bars have a higher profit margin than those refrigerators.)  Once they controlled all the stock, Dell began customizing the mini-bars for the MSFT stock.  Everybody wanted a mini-bar and companies wanted one for every employee.  (Now we all munch continuously and are getting fat.)

    Small individual donors (Trippi); no pre-existing cultural, institutional and rigid organization (Dean political campaign); Internet - Blogs (technology and innovative feedback loop) and message - (DEMs welcome and "talk to me") combined to create the synergy.  It empowered individual DEM donors as they never have been before.  Created the strongest outsider POTUS campaign since Carter.   Put Blogs on the political map.  Howard Dean was changed forever.  Can it be replicated?  Sure.  The Clark campaign already borrowed the blueprint.  It was missing a couple of the same ingredients, but for a facsimile worked fairly well.  However, like anything that is derivative, changes to the quality of the elements usually produces an inferior product.  (Will leave to your imagination what the product will look like in the hands of other politicians.)  

    Howard Dean given too much credit?  Hardly.  He was the producer, director and star.  He was the Bill Gates of DEM politics.  I know, I know, Bill Clinton thought he made Citizen Kane, but he only made The Golddiggers of '92.  Most could not see what made Citizen Kane revolutionary when it was released, it didn't fare that well at the box office and didn't win the Oscars.  But it got better and better with time.  Dean has made the film.  Only question left is can he take the film and turn it into the blockbuster epic movie?  Because while films are wonderful, one only gets to keep making them by making a box-office hit.

    •  Interesting (none)
      that you use film as a metaphor then proclaim Dean the "producer, director, star".  

      Those days of the singular film genius are long gone, and even in his day, Orson Wells was the exception that broke the rule.

      Film is THE most collaborative of all forms of cultural production, so using film to claim Howard Dean the individual's singular contribution is counter-metaphoric at the very least.  

      My issue with Dean was always (and remains) the co-optation of progressivism and the ready acceptance of a ready constiutency to trade in surfaces.  There's no indication that Dean is any more progressive, has any more of a connection to populism or has any more integrity than the average politician (which is what he was before the spring and early summer of 2003).  I just didn't see or feel it, and consistent and repeated statements of committed supporters that Dean is an inspirational icon of integrity and honesty does inspiration make.  His conversion to populism mirrored large segments of the US populace's turn toward peace activism: it was situational and extremely context-specific, not rooted in any clearly articulated principles.

      That said, he's not and never was a bad guy.  He was a bit of a bad candidate, but could have learned, improved had the media circus of insurgent/frontrunner/has-been not been in play.  

      "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." -- Martin Vanbee

      by a gilas girl on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 11:51:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can't go another round on the (none)
        "progressive - populist" issue in relation to Dean with you.  Our conversation on this has gone on since sometime earlier last year.  I posted a very long response to you recently to which you didn't respond and I cannot add to that. Also this post was not written with any thought as to whether Dean meets or does not meet your notion of populism or progressiveness.  

        I consciously chose a film metaphor because anybody who knows anything about moviemaking knows that it is a collaborative "art" form.  Did consider giving Dean co-production and co-directing credit but decided I liked it better without the "co."  But I'm not interested in dissecting my post either -- it is a rough draft and probably not interesting enough to spend the time it would take to edit and craft it into something better.  

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