Who Are the Deaniacs?

6

An interesting meeting last night of the Thursday night Bloggers crew
at the Berkman.  We noodled around for a while fishing for a
topic, and ended up back at the roots of the group: support for newbies
and discussions of the impact and future of Blogging on “Internet and
Society”, which after all is the Purview of the Berkman Center.

Near the end Jim Moore
stopped by with a fascinating report from inside the Dean
campaign.  The questions floating around the political corner of
the Blogosphere were addressed if not answered: Was the internet
stategy responsible for one of the most spectacular political collapses
in American political history? Will the Interent survive the collapse
as a viable political tool? Will any of the other campaigns pick up the
banner, or will we have to wait another four years for the next stage
in the evolution? After the intense love affair and subsequent bitter
falling out between the Deaniacs and the Media, is there any realistic
hope for a rapproachment?

Good questions, all, but for the Dowbrigade the most interesting moment
in the discussion was trying to put a label on the wellspring of angry
support which the Dean campaign uncovered and which formed the core of
the Dean phenomena.  Are they liberals? Are they “progressives”
(Jim hates that one)?  Are they the “wired electorate”?  It
seems clear that the old labels are inadequate to describe this nascent
political demographic, which is fated and slated to play an increasing
role in each succeeding electoral process, in our humble opinion. Any
ideas?

6 Comments

  1. Sooz

    January 30, 2004 @ 9:57 am

    1

    Hey Michael … Why do Dean supporters need to be labeled? That seems like a traditional media tactic. Everyone needs to fit in a little box?

    I’ve been an active volunteer for Dean’s campaign since around September 2003 and I’ve met a random assortment/types of people.

    Not everyone is on the Internet so the people who helped create Dean’s grassroots initially via the Internet need to work to reach out to everyone who doesn’t have access (or interest) in the same online tools. When I asked my sister in Nebraska (where I grew up) if she had heard of Howard Dean she said .. “Of course! I read Time Magazine!”

    I’ve been writing about my experirences as a Dean volunteer on my website if you want to check it out. Dean joined a conference call I was on last night with the volunteer state coordinators for the national house party program last night. I really think he “gets it.”

  2. Katherine

    January 30, 2004 @ 10:31 am

    2

    How about “patriots?”

    Dean supporters (including me) generally believe all that stuff taught in high school civics classes should be more than just words. They are generally impatient with the “go along to get along” style that characterizes most of Washington, and most of the other candidates. Especially when that style results in policies (Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, Medicare “reform”, etc.) that seem like frontal attacks on America’s civic values.

  3. Rick Heller

    January 30, 2004 @ 11:16 am

    3

    My brother, who is from out of state, visited the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Mass. last month. Afterwards, he mentioned how impressed he was to see so many Dean signs out in Lincoln. For those who do not know Massachusetts, Lincoln is one of the most upper-crust communities in this affluent state. These are people in a position to give quite a bit of money.

    So at least some portion of the Deaniacs, like Howard Dean himself, are former Yankee Republicans or their children. Economically, they should still be Republicans, but they’ve broken away from the GOP for cultural reasons as the GOP pursued an alienating Southern strategy.

    Michael,

    Could you add my blog, to the Berkman Thursday Night Regulars Aggregator? Thanks.

    http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/softpolitics/

  4. Alison Fish

    January 30, 2004 @ 11:49 am

    4

    That question needs to be split in two: 1) Who are the fare-weather Deaniacs who jumped on the bandwagon, and quickly jumped off when it wasn’t rosy? (swing voters) and 2) Who are the pragmatic Dean supporters who were not willing to make Dean a messiah, criticized him openly, yet supported him?

    It sounds like you’re trying to make the Internet the messiah, the candidate and campaign that harnessed the energy.

  5. Nicholas Paredes

    January 30, 2004 @ 2:13 pm

    5

    As a Dean supporter, I prefer to understand what leader stands for and will actually do when in office. My priorities were 1) that the war was wrong, that there would be no weapons of mass destreuction found, and that Iraq was incapable of defending against our assault. Why the rush? Why isolate our country from the world community? I understood that Bush was eeasentially not truthful in his election campaign, and that his priorities where contrary to those expressed by his campaign–“No nation building.” 2) A pragmatic approach to getting healthcare is in my oppinion the best approach, as witnessed by Vermonts healthcare system, and the nations lack of one. 3) A conservative yet socially progressive economic policy is exactly what the country needs. Economic systems, like many systems, are resilient but require consistency. Vermonts finances are in order, are they not?

    So in short, I read. The other candidates are candidates in the most common sense. The nation does not have a healthcare policy, balanced books, and has sent somebody elses kids to fight an unnecessary war. I have a 17 year old and would not like to see him die in such a conflict–though he is not poor, so likely won’t. I’ll be voting against Bush, but would have been voting for Dean.

  6. Phil Wolff

    January 30, 2004 @ 11:11 pm

    6

    Please don’t confuse the candidate with the campaign with the campaign’s tools. The candidate stumbled (message breadth, likeability, adapting to Iowan communication styles, etc.). So did the campaign in not compensating fast or well enough for the candidate’s shortcomings (which we’re seeing now). But the system worked: large, diffuse participation; new tactics emerging; lots of local connections. The network worked too well: it propagated the candidate’s persona accurately and widely; it didn’t isolate or buffer conflicting enthusiasts within the campaign; it encouraged and enabled massively parallel newby initiative without the restraints of proven field experience.

    The Dean campaign is adjusting. They’re fixing the messages and reinforcing different things. We’ll all get collectively better at this. So long as we don’t drain the baby with the bathwater.