Sunday, June 15, 2003


There's something quite extraordinary going on with the Dean campaign, even above and beyond their attempt to form a large and lasting netroots campaign that will help sweep the Governor into the Whitehouse. Joe Trippi, the campaign manager for Howard Dean, the guy who is 2nd only to Dean in responsibility when it comes to winning this election, has devoted an extraordinary amount of his time to direct conversations with Dean supporters. He regularly posts in the comments section of several prominent blogs (the unofficial blog, Atrios, DailyKOS, etc.). He has even posted a comment on this blog and sent me a personal email. In these posts he tries to explain, when realistically possible, what the campaign's strategy is and why they do the things they do. For instance, Joe just today posted an appeal on several mailing lists and blogs, urging Dean supporters to go all out in their efforts to win this month for Howard Dean. There is a long comment thread associated with this announcement on the unofficial blog. Joe has been following that thread very closely and responding to the concerns that various posters have had about us not appearing to browbeat the MoveOn people into endorsing Dean. The thing that is extraordinary about this is that very few campaign managers would even consider engaging supporters to this degree. Many of them would consider that the job of some lower-level lackeys. It's certainly not something so important as to demand the precious time of the campaign manager. Not Joe Trippi. If any of my readers are Babylon 5 fans then maybe you can appreciate the similarities between this campaign and the development of that show. Joe Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5, devoted a considerable amount of his time to documenting, online and in real-time, the internal workings of a major television series. No producer before (or since so far as I know) has ever done anything like that. But Straczynki's devotion to his show's fan base was such that he wanted them to understand why certain things happened on the show. The result was a level of fan support that no show since Star Trek had ever produced. It felt good to be part of that process. I get the same feeling from Joe Trippi (hmmm, two guys named Joe, coincidence?) He isn't just doing this to send marching orders to the troops. He could do that with simple press releases. No, I believe that Joe believes that by engaging the base on a personal level like this, with a minimal level of bullshit, he can create an even more devoted base. This appreciation of the feelings of the base is a characteristic he shares in common with Howard Dean and it's just another reason why I am proud to support this campaign. I don't know if future campaign managers will engage the base to the degree that Joe is now. I don't even know that, as the campaign ramps up, Joe will be able to maintain this level of contact. But if Dean is successful, the impact on the nature of political campaigning in this country will be radical. And that, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing.


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