Monday, March 10, 2003
Political Hopefuls Turn to Web Networking http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,80564,00.html
Interest has been so overwhelming that even presidential hopeful Howard Dean attended a meeting of his backers last week in New York City. The former Vermont governor, one of nine Democratic contenders seeking their party's nod to run against President Bush in November 2004, made an appearance Wednesday night before a crowd of 550 at the Essex Club in Manhattan's Lower East Side.
"We need your help on the Internet and off the Internet - this is an extremely powerful tool," Dean told cheering fans who made it into
the club. Many more couldn't get inside and were wrapped around the block hoping to get a glimpse of their candidate. There's an enormous number of people all over the country who are putting out our message on the Internet," Dean said. "What you all can do is so incredibly powerful - you can change this country, just like my generation did [in Vietnam], with better tools at your
Through the Internet, over 2,500 people in 79 cities total were able to participate in the meeting. Nationwide, over 4,200 people signed on to "meet up" with Dean and his supporters. Among them was Columbia University junior Brian Schaitkin, who heard about Meetup.com around campus, then went online and signed up for Wednesday's Dean rally. "I think it's the perfect way for candidates to build support, build a real organization and try to establish himself if he doesn't necessarily have a lot of name recognition and a lot of capital to work with," Schaitkin said.
David Nir went to his first "meetup" in February. At the time, 15 others showed up, but after checking out hordes of Dean Web logs and realizing there was enough support out there to form a group, he and other participants decided to make fliers, start an e-mail listserv and talk about what fundraising they could do to support their man. From that, the "New York for Dean" campaign was formed, and since then, Dean's campaign has asked them to organize a formal campaign in the city. "This whole enterprise could not have happened without the Internet," Nir said.
Of course, since it's Faux News, you get the spin too. Calling it a fringe phenomenon and unprofessional ("Meetup.com is at the edge of what's acceptable, at best," Cornfield said. That may be true. The day after Dean's rally, another event was held at a coffee shop in the Upper West Side for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and no one showed up).
Faux's rationale for Dean's Meetup success? Merely a bunch of anti-war protesters: Their commentator suspects when the anti-war movement loses its reason for being, both Meetup.com and the Dean campaign will see a slip in interest. "It's not the Internet that's powering it, it's the channel where people are not satisfied with the war are finding their way to these meetings," Cornfield said. "It's like a spider's web into campaigns."
Well, I can't speak for the other meetups, but in Portland, this invasion into Iraq was only one of a host of issue for why people were there, and the war certainly did not dominate the discussion-- this invasion into Iraq is merely another symptom, Bush is the disease that we are hooked on rooting out, and Dean is the one who understands this, Faux doesn't.
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Obama 2008 - I want my country back
Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.