After listening to fluffy rhetoric for over a year now, I've finally stumbed upon what Barack Obama's promised change really is: a new, superior business model for political campaigning--the Internet.
Obama's campaign innovatively harnessed the power of the internet, creating an enormous grass-roots following and viral marketing campaign to coincide with the traditional campaign tools.
This idea of utilizing the internet as the primary force behind a campaign is not new. Dean did it in 2004 with much success until his infamous 'Dean Scream' brought an end to his electability (if you haven't seen it, you need to). But Obama took it to another level. As Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign strategist, put it, “They were Apollo 11, and we were the Wright Brothers."
The guys over at realclearpolitics called his internet-based campaign his 'TownCenter.' Given how he used social-networking to fill the coffers and facilitate an intense viral marketing campaign, Obama's website indeed was.
Slate described Obama's TownCenter in this way:
Barack Obama ran the most technologically sophisticated presidential campaign in history. In addition to siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars from his online fans, Obama's team recognized the Internet's capacity to attract and organize volunteers across the country. His bloggy, YouTube-addled supporters helped shape the larger media narrative surrounding his bid; they overwhelmed social news sites like Digg and Reddit, trumpeting McCain or Clinton missteps into blogospherewide news. Most important, Obama relied on the Web's social-networking capabilities to channel boundless enthusiasm into effective campaign activity. His site encouraged supporters to connect with one another to launch their own voter-registration drives, phone banks, and door-to-door canvassing operations--efforts that proved pivotal to Obama's victory in the primaries and in last week's general election.
The centrality of the internet in Obama's campaign has forever changed how elections will be run and won. When it comes to campaigning from now on its the internet, stupid.
The only thing lingering in my mind is this: wasn't Obama's change supposed to come after his campaign rather than during?