Saturday, February 21, 2004

Defining failure

Now there will be some who will argue that the Dean campaign's "failure" is an indication that the point-to-point, bottom-up, not-driven-by-professional-political-consultants style campaign doesn't work. Vince Stehle, writing for the Guardian Unlimited, argues differently:

The lesson of the Dean implosion is not that internet-based campaigns are inherently weak, but that the combined force of traditional media outlets and the Washington political establishment working in concert are still strong enough to contain the new form of political organizing.

The viral force of the Dean campaign may be subsiding in this electoral cycle. But like other viruses, it has not gone away for good. And there is no way of knowing what it will look like, or how powerful it will be, next time it appears.

I strongly believe that the Dean campaign wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful as it was if the old-boy network wasn't in serious disarray. Dean, for all of his remarkably organizational and fund-raising success, wouldn't have ever been the front-runner if a Kerry or an Edwards had run a strong campaign from day one. It was only when the Democratic body politic was threatened by the viral marketing strategies of the Dean campaign that it responded. Once again proving that some Democrats are more willing to fight it out with other Democrats than they are with Republicans.

The fact that they succeeded in derailing Dean's candidacy only proves that the old-boy network still has some life in it. But if they are to defeat the Republicans in the long-term (and that means more than just beating Bush) they are going to have to show as much strength and unity in putting down the GOP as they showed in putting down Dean.

I have my doubts, but I would be glad to be proven wrong.


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