Howard Dean’s Movement

The Internet provides many new tools that are available to political campaigns to engage and attract voters. By using things such as blogs, meet up, and online fund-raising, Dean provided citizens with a way to express their ideas and connect with others giving them a voice in governance. Yet, this outlet did not do enough to gain sufficient support for the campaign rather it encouraged the movement behind the campaign. By focusing so much on what was happening on the Internet, it seems that the campaign workers lost sight of what was actually going on.

In Existing Deanspace, Shirky questions the bubble of belief by questioning why the people at the time had believed that Dean would easily win. He believes that the bubble of belief “was inflated by tools that made formerly hard things easy, tricking us into thinking that getting votes had become easy as well” (p. 10). This inflation was due to the campaign workers believing, like the people did, in the movement Dean was providing rather than the campaign itself. This need for something to believe in and for something that could actually give a voice to the people made the campaign workers mistakenly believe that the people attending meet ups and giving donations were all definite supporters.

Trippi emphasizes this belief in the movement rather than in the campaign when he describes the stories of people who were moved by Dean’s movement in what he called The Great American Conversation. These people who were speaking up were doing so because of their idea that they finally had a voice and were being heard. They were excited about the idea that they were giving suggestions to the government. Trippi like Shirky both point out that the movement Dean had started enthralled the voting citizens by making it easier for them to influence and affect decision-making.

This movement was only made possible by Dean’s use of the Internet and its ability to get people connected. It is interesting to think about how important yet also detrimental to the campaign the use of the Internet was and what the differences would have been if they had not used or relied on the Internet so much. Do you think that there should have been more restrictions on their use of the Internet for the campaign? Or do you think that they just used the Internet and what people were saying and doing in the wrong ways?

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1 Response to Howard Dean’s Movement

  1. arieloz says:

    The Internet was a fundamental asset and downfall for Howard Dean’s campaign. By using the Internet, Dean spread his campaign and was far more recognized and acknowledged than he would have been without its assistance. The Internet also helped foster a lot of initial support and a huge amount of campaign donations that were critical throughout the campaign. I believe his approach to Internet use was strategic and novel. However, because it was such a new media in the political race, his team did not realize how fast it would grow. I do not think there should have been more restrictions on their use of Internet for the campaign. However, they should have had more of a plan of action and adjusted to the response to the campaign in a more effective manner. Eventually, the campaign grew to a level that was completely past what his team could manage. I think his team his understood how people were using the Internet during his campaign and took peoples’ support as a promise of their vote, when this was clearly not the case. Although people donated to his campaign and attended MeetUp events that did not necessarily mean that they would vote for Dean in the end.

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