The roar of a thousand mice
Michael Smith is an Oregonian (as am I) and a Republican (am not) who is running for President in 2008 (sorry, not interested :-). He has what I think is an interesting idea: MicroCampaigns.
Imagine hundreds of candidates for the 2008 Presidential primaries. Instead of just the few insiders with big money, envision each state with several local candidates, or dozens of candidates pitching specific topics to specific constituencies.
I can'?t imagine finding the resources to take my campaign national - I'?ve always figured that if I could get one delegate from Oregon, and use that credibility to represent a message to the Republican National Convention, I'd have been successful for a political novice with negligible resources. But if hundreds adopted my strategy simultaneously, what might be the effect?
The normal orchestrated coronation might be replaced with some real debate. The candidates might have to really address some issues. The process might produce some leadership.
There is to much emphasis in our political system on "all or nothing". The candidates with good ideas don't run unless they think they have a real chance of winning and the people don't vote unless they think their vote has a real chance of being decisive. The result is that the only people who influence the process are those powerful enough, or crazy enough, to think they have a real chance of "winning it all".
Michael's is more the "pebble in the avalance" approach. By himself he has little power to change things. But when combined with a thousand others with a similar motivation he can affect change of monumental proportions.
I'm a Democrat and a supporter of Howard Dean. Dean never realisticly believed he had a chance of getting the nomination in 2004. He got in the race not so much to get the nomination as to change the dialog within the party. By any reasonable standard he has succeeded in that effort. That is why I classify him as a winner.
Normally I would say that any ordinary Joe or Jane running for President would have to be incredibly arrogant to think they have any chance of winning. But if their approach is more akin to Michael's MicroCampaign, where their primary hope is simply to change the dialog, then "winning" becomes a realistic proposition.