Markets are conversations and the same holds true for politics. Politics are conversations too. The authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto argued that we have to go back and recreate the conversation that happened on the marketplaces in the good old days. I will argue that politicians need to do the same.
Hillary Clinton entered the presidential election in January 2007 with the video “I’m In” where she said: “I am not just starting a campaign though, I am beginning a conversation with you”. But what she is learning with the rest of us is that it is not enough just to use the Web 2.0 platforms for social networking and collaboration. You have to leave the top-down approach to running a campaign like the Dean campaign did in 2003 and 2004. Even Barack Obama is accused of being top down too. Or maybe that is the learned lesson of 2008. Is the key to a successful campaign to mix the top down approach with collaboration?
We are witnessing a shift from one-way campaigns to two-way campaigns. Especially the Democratic candidates are experimenting with Web 2.0 platforms like blogs, twitter, and video “where the views and opinions of the American people have an impact on the leadership, so leaders are with the people instead of seeking to lead folks that aren’t interested in being led by them” (Howard Dean quoted in First Campaign, p.283).
“The Leftroots can deliver messaging, money and mobilization, so Democratic candidates become path-dependent on them. They have sufficient power to move politicians to their ideas. The Right does not. Meanwhile, what is the Right passionate about right now? Not much. To build an online infrastructure as effective as the Leftosphere, the Right must find its own story to tell – an organic story, relevant to current grievances, with politically viable solutions – about which people can be passionate, around which a coalition can rally.”
Can everybody turn their culture around? To me, the Republicans are not really that grass root oriented. But the lesson learned this semester, I will argue political parties as well as corporations have to turn around and choose “the new way” if they want to succeed in the future.
The political conversation after the presidential campaign
Politics are conversations also in between presidential campaigns. As Garrett Graff, my professor points out in his book First Campaign there are important issues in the United States that call for action – and debate like education, health care, and infrastructure. Maybe politicians and governments on all levels can learn something from Dell’s Ideastorm and Starbucks’ MyStarbucksIdea.