Politics and change

I’ve never been a big fan of polls and handicapping political races. It somehow seems that besides not being particularly accurate, it promotes an approach to politics and leadership that isn’t particularly beneficial for our country. Today, I read a few blog posts and a bunch of emails that has gotten me to think a lot more about this.

First, Jerome Armstrong has a post up suggesting the 2008 Democratic Nomination is Hillary's race to lose. Mostly, Armstrong was talking about the fake self-proclaimed "movement" that exhausts me of Obama. Is the race really already over?

One of the things that everyone talks about is how the polls, this far out, don’t really mean much. There are the standard comments about how well Lieberman was doing in the polls at this point in the cycle.

Well, I thought I would go and try to find some polls from around June 2003. I haven’t found any good national polls from June 2003, but one set of polls particularly caught my attention. It was the American Research Group’s New Hampshire polls for 2003. From January through July of 2003, John Kerry was in first place in the polls, with Howard Dean second. Some of this may well have been because they were both from neighboring states. During August through December, Gov. Dean passed Sen. Kerry, but when the votes were counted after the primary, Kerry won and Dean came in second. They were the only two that got delegates out of the primary.

Some of this may have been the results of Iowa, and ‘fladem’ has a diary up on MyDD about Iowa's impact on New Hampshire.

All of this takes me to a bigger question. What is it that we want out of our leaders? Some of this may have to do with looking at the polls and the results of caucuses. We want our leaders to be ‘winners’. Some of this may have to do with Obama’s movement. People want to be part of a winning team, a movement, a community, of some sort of group that they feel strong affinity to. Yet as others have pointed out, what some people really want, is to be part of a group bringing about meaningful change, and not just a ‘feel-good’ movement as Armstrong suggests.

This takes us to the issue of change. On a mailing list of group psychotherapists, I posed the question, "What happens when leaders admit their own failings? What would it be like if political candidates admitted they didn't know everything?" One person responded,

If they admitted this, as well as how they plan on compensating for it, such as an expert in the area they are not, proposed for their staff...I would feel more comfortable with my vote. However, I believe the old saying is true for most of the population...ignorance is bliss.

David Glyn went further,

Leaders don't create the posture of infallibiity - they fall in with, or succumb to it, because of the sense that stepping outside it is tantamount to stepping out of the recognisable field of political life. To create leadership in a different mold involves, not just leaders, but substantial parts of the groups they are seeking to lead achieving a shift of culture; to suggest otherwise, paradoxically, throws all responsibility and power back onto leaders.

This takes me back to the whole idea of transformational politics. In the 2004 Presidential Primary cycle, Gov. Dean frequently told his supporters, “You have the power.” His message of political empowerment changed many people and some would suggest the course of U.S. politics. He didn’t end up getting elected President, but he is now chairman of the Democratic Party.

In the 2008 cycle, it seems as if Sen. Edwards comes the closest to ‘stepping out of the recognisable field of political life’. He has admitted that he was wrong in voting for the Iraq War Resolution and is working hard to make amends for it. He is running a campaign that echoes Gov. Dean’s message of empowerment, urging his supporters to take concrete action now to change our country and not simply waiting for some new leader to get elected in 2008.

Has he stepped too far outside, or not far enough? Are there enough people seeking a shift in our political discourse? Will he follow Gov. Dean’s footsteps and change many people but not get elected, or will his efforts towards change, combined with Gov. Dean’s efforts and perhaps other subcurrents in our culture be enough to get him elected and bring about meaningful change?

By focusing on the horserace component of the political campaigns, we miss the opportunity to explore real change, which starts with each one of us.

(Cross posted at MyDD.)

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DemocracyFest: The other candidates

I’ve already written about the Presidential and NH U.S. Senate candidates speaking at DemocracyFest in New Hampshire last weekend. However, there were several other candidates that were out presenting themselves to grassroots activists. It sort of had the feel of a tradeshow where the vendors, candidates in this case, jockeyed for the attention of the activists.

The most immediate campaign is the special election in Massachusetts Fifth Congressional District. Rep. Marty Meehan is stepping down to become the new Chancellor of UMass Lowell. There are five Democrats competing for this seat, including Jamie Eldridge. He had a large folded brochure talking about his positions on universal health care, the economy, global warming, education and Iraq. At the top of the front, he identifies himself as a ‘Progressive Democrat for Congress’. He has substantial support from the Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts and many Democracy for America members in Massachusetts. Kate Donaghue was showing Mr. Eldridge around and encouraged me to visit a fundraising page she, and a few friends, had set up on ActBlue.

Another congressional candidate that was there was Clint Curtis. Some of you may remember his name from investigations into voting machine tampering in Florida in 2000. Instead of recapping here, I would encourage all of you to go out and read his biography.

Another Floridian in attendance was Charlie Grapski. I didn’t get a chance to spend much time with Charlie, so I’m not sure if he is running for any office anytime soon, but he provides another fascinating glimpse into the Floridian political system.

Moving beyond the House and Floridian politics, another interesting candidate I met was Ed O’Reilly. Ed is running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against Sen. Kerry. His palm card talks about calling for an immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, pursuing renewable energy, universal health care and direct investments in local education. It will be interesting to see how much traction he can get against Sen. Kerry.

Yet some of the races that I’m most interested in are the state legislative races. New Jersey, Virginia, Mississippi and Louisiana all have their state legislative races this year. In Virginia, Jay Donahue is running for the House of Delegates in the 86th District. His opponent was unopposed two years ago. You can contribute to Jay’s campaign via ActBlue.

One race that particularly caught my attention, however, is Deborah Langhoff’s. During one session, I spoke about how much I appreciated my DFA friends pouring into Connecticut to help with Ned Lamont’s campaign and I suggested that we should return the favor by visiting Massachusetts in August, leading up to the special election there, or going down to New Jersey for their state legislative elections.

Afterwards, Deborah came up to me and said, “New Orleans is wonderful in October”. As an Edwards supporter, I like the idea of going down to New Orleans to help with the post Katrina cleanup. Working to help get Deborah elected to the State House there is another important part of the house cleaning that needs to be done.

The session afterwards was led by Matt Dunne, who ran for Lt. Governor in Vermont in the last cycle. He was talking about Service Politics. I would love to go to New Orleans for a week in October with a group of old DeanCorps, as well as newer OneCorps and Service Politics volunteers to help rebuild New Orleans as well as to help Deborah in her campaign.

It is candidates like these that give me real hope for the future of politics in our country and I hope that everyone spends a little time finding out more about these candidates as well as talking about other exciting new candidates.

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Wordless Wednesday

John Edwards addresses DemocracyFest, originally uploaded by Aldon.

New Hampshire U.S. Senate Race

At DemocracyFest on Saturday, I got into a brief discussion with Karen Liot Hill about the U.S Senate race in New Hampshire. I’ve known Karen from DFA days and I have a lot of respect for her. She told me she was running Jay Buckey’s campaign. Well, this will be difficult. I’m also a good friend of JP Boyle, whom I met on the DeStefano campaign, and who is now working for Steve Marchand’s campaign.

Katrina Swett had a table up at DemocracyFest and I’ve been speaking with JP about making sure that Steve makes an appearance. I first spoke with JP about Steve when he was trying to get Steve and Ned Lamont to speak. Opponents of Swett are quick to point out that she was national co-chairwoman of Lieberman's 2004 presidential bid. Her supporters say that it is not fair to paint her with a broad brush as a Liebercrat.

In digging around, I found an article by Eric Moskowitz in the Concord Sunday Monitor on August 13, 2006, after Ned Lamont defeated Joe Lieberman in the primary. The article said she “supports Lieberman's decision to stay in the race”. It went on to say,

Swett believes Lieberman lost because of three perceived Democratic "sins": the sin of supporting the Iraq war and being tough on defense, the sin of being bipartisan and the sin of displaying religious faith. Swett said those traits might make Lieberman undesirable to many Democrats but they could be key for Democrats in winning future national elections.

Swett may be trying to present herself as being other than a Liebercrat, but as a strong Democrat, I feel that I must work hard to oppose anyone that supported Lieberman after the primary. The question for me is should I work for Steve? Should I work for Jay? Can I work for both?

So far, I’ve offered what I hope were helpful suggestions to both campaigns and I hope that the fact that I’m currently willing to help both of them doesn’t alienate either of them.

With that, let me run through some of my thoughts and views about the candidates. Both of them come across as charismatic good people. Both of them have hired some good people. Steve gets points in my book for reaching out to Ned. He gets points for having a nice palm card that he handed out at DemocracyFest. He loses a couple points for not having the URL to his website on his palm card.

As a fiscally conservative social liberal, Steve hit some of the right notes on his palm card, ending the war in Iraq as his top priority, defending a woman’s right to choose, working to make health care more affordable and accessible, protecting the environment, improving the quality of education. It notes that he is the former Northeast Regional Director for the Concord Coalition.

In 1992, I was a Paul Tsongas supporter. I liked the Concord Coalition as a fiscally conservative group that welcomed social liberals. Swett might laud bipartisanship, but I find Lieberman’s version of bipartisanship abhorrent. The Concord Coalition is a much better model for bipartisanship.

Steve’s website looks nice. They are using NGP for their donation processing, but they are also taking donations via ActBlue. So far it is just a few donations, but they are ahead of Swett.

Jay’s website isn’t quite as attractive yet. He isn’t up on ActBlue yet. Some of that is because he just moved from having an exploratory committee to having a full campaign. The website still claims to be an exploratory committee. The issues section is a little anemic. He does get major points for providing a link to an image of an email that Jay sent to Sen. Gregg opposing the Iraq resolution back in October, 2002. Yet it talks about there being no easy solution and could go further in calling for bringing the troops home.

What I find surprising is that there isn’t a reference to health care on the issues page. Jay is a professor of medicine at Dartmouth, and I would love to hear his thoughts on addressing the health care crisis in America.

All three candidates ended up at DemocracyFest Sunday evening. Buckey and Marchand stuck around to hear Gov. Dean, who spoke about the importance of getting rid of Sen. Sununu. on first glance, it looks like there are two interesting and exciting candidates running for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire. It will be great to see this race develop.

(Cross-posted at BlueHampshire)

Political Social Media

Over on Cat On My Head, Jaya writes about a ViralTags Blog Rank Boosting Experiment. She worries about whether or not this will boost her ranking, or if there are algorithms around that will cause it to have a negative effect. I suspect there is a little bit of both.

In particular, she encourages people to copy and past a large block of text. However, copying text as is, is one of those things that algorithms search for. If everyone writes their own version, it is more effective.

Also, the question becomes, how do you want to be ‘tagged’. ‘Cat on my head’ might not be the most useful tag. In my case, Orient Lodge is already the top listing for my blog. I don’t need more people coming to my blog searching for Orient Lodge. Drupal Themes and Smoking Jackets are also already key searches on my blog. What do I want?

Well, since it is limited to three words, I would like to see if I can get more people finding me if they search for something like Political Social Media. If I were really serious about search engine optimization, I would go and find the phrases that people search on most frequently that are close to that. However, for the time being, I’ll simply use Political Social Media.

One other concern: This has a certain about of MLM feel to it. People who get on board early are likely to get lots of links, others, down the road are likely to get much fewer links.

So, on to the idea. Add a matrix of links to a blog post of other people that are doing this. Copy the matrix from an existing site. The original idea and matrix can be found here. Copy the matrix, change the Host Tag to the three words that you want to use, and add their tag into the matrix, if it isn’t there already.

Most importantly, when someone adds a matrix, be sure to add them to your list. Then, spread the word.

Here is the current matrix:

Host Tag: Political Social Media

International City Travel | Asian Celebrity News | One Million Shirts | Tech at Hand | Rich Minx | Internet Marketing Austria | Ageless Beauty | Web 2.0 Tutorials | Technology Music Life | infokarir jobs | Manila Mom | Link Love | Blogging Money Secret | Busines Chats | Web Design Blog | Daily Life Technology | Make Money Blogging | Steve’s Tech Blog | Agloco Internet Marketing | Daily Bulls Investing | ViralTags | Affiliate Program | Computer Seventy-Five | Learn about e-Learning | Tech Hack Ramblings | Jack Book | Screen Writer Guy | Overseas Filipino Worker | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | Earn Money Online | Really Smart Guy | Earn Income Online | Day Mind Xpression | Entrepreneurship Internet Web | Make Money Blogging | Create a Blog | Pie Hole | start a blog | Make Money Blogging | Marketing Made Simple | Tech Startups Web2.0 | Music Videos | Political Personal Humorous | Build Rankings Fast | Mrs Sparrow | Hot Buzz | Weight Loss | Really Funny Jokes | Best of Blogs | The Junkie’s Wife | Internet Marketing German | German - USA | Domain Development Blogs | Sundhed og Helbred | Giving Link Love | Business Blog Web | Photoshop Tutorials | Anitokid Chronikos | Klapkids Chronikos | esofthub’s web finds| Everything iPod | Jason’s Random Thoughts | Fun Web Development | Monetize Your Blog | Yung Silent Whisper | Stratz’s Blog | My Journey | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | Wealth Blog | ViralTags | Gadgets & Technology | Make Money Home | ViralTags | The Broken Bow | Meandering Passage | ViralTags | Fanatic Space | Cheezmizan with Chuva | Catepol | Wolly’s Weblog | Profitable Productive Blogging | Cat on my Head | Bloggointestinale | 2012 Movies | iMod | Lorad Zarcon | Instruzioni | Sid05 Weblog | Bayle | Random Access Life | Mario’s Weblog | Acchiappasogni | Dietro e a Casa | Make Money Online | Anchor Text | Alex 2000 | My Life | Personal Finance | Hanneng.net Tech Blog | Business Twins | Pixie Tail | Gold Rushing’s Blog | Political Social Media | Master Engrafter | Mariuca | Mariuca's Perfume Gallery | HUMA B~
| ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags |

Important: Once I get a ping back from you (I promise to do the best I can), I will add your anchor text and the associated link you designate as “Host Tag” here, replacing one of the “ViralTags” from the matrix above. As more and more bloggers copy and paste this matrix, the more backlinks you will have with your anchor text. If everybody who copy and paste from your blog does the same, pretty soon this will spread and go viral. So, the sooner you participate, the more links with anchor text you will receive.

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