Tuesday, February 03, 2004

"Dear John" Letter; Sort of: I wrote a long explanation about what is going on concerning the campaign of Howard Dean. I haven't made a clean break with the campaign, but I've become more of a disinterested follower now. I think Dean has some great ideas but I have lost some interest in the campaign. After the loss in Iowa I sort of got a second sight that made me think about Dean and the Internet-based campaign.

A lot of the criticism is that there was more activity than there was a movement. In my own experience of running the Republicans for Dean site I have to say that is pretty true. I started this blog and there was a lot of activity, but I goofed on giving people ways to get involved. There was no active Republicans for Dean movement, just this blog. I told people to do things on their own, but in reality, that is not the way to run a campaign. If I were smart I would have got these people organized, but I didn't. Like a lot of others, I saw the activity and saw nothing more.

A friend who is still actively involved talked his recent trip to the state Democratic Central Committee meeting. He said that the other campaigns brought maybe 10 persons to meeting while Dean brought 75. He was pleased with this as if it means Dean will win. No, what it means is that Dean has a lot of people involved in the campaign. That doesn't reflect what voters will do in the local caucuses here.

The other thing is that the Dean campaign seems to be based on pure emotion. People get pumped up and involved, but the feelings fade after a while and people move on. Back in the summer, I encountered a man who was really into Dean. He organized meetups and was pretty visible in the campaign. He was definitely a true believer.

Then he vanished. A few weeks ago after Iowa, I met him again. It turns out he has left Dean and is now following Edwards. When he once revered Dean he was now regarding him as a kook after his scream speech. Here was a guy who donated money and time and spoke passionately about Dean in the summer. A few months later, it all becomes history.

The Dean campaign glommed on to the anger concerning the President. Emotion is a good thing, but the campaign began to be based soley on emotions and after a while it becomes like cotton candy; it's good, but after a while you need something more substantial.

Dean has great ideas. He is fiscally conservative and socially liberal; a message that could reach out to swing voters. But somehow the online community became closed in on itself and did not remember that politcs is about persuasion. It means talking to people and making the case why candidate X is better than candidate Y. I don't think I did that and I don't think others did it either.

Tonight, I'm going to a meeting I am chairing for Republicans for Environmental Protection. We are coming together and meeting and hopefully will go to talk with legislators on environmental issues. That is what politics is all about; talking and perusading people.


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