Archive for February 5th, 2004

DFA’s role in American politics

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If DeanforAmerica continues to focus
on ways to improve democracy in America, the community could raise a
billion dollars for Dean.  1 million people times a
thousand dollars each.  Numerous of us have been saying this for
some time.  A thousand dollars–or, ok, a hundred dollars, or ten
dollars–is chump change compared to the benefit of taking back our
country and focusing on making our society effective, loving, and just.

The real question is, how to
invest to make this happen?  What would be the DFA mission? How
would DFA select actions?  
What would be our own form of democracy?  What auditing, and
feedback systems would ensure organizational learning within both the
DFA “central services” organization, as welll as the DFA community writ
large?

This is the problematique that MoveOn.org has been embracing for some time, as
it took its mission beyond its origins.  It’s origins were in “moving
on” from the Clinton impeachment.  It’s mission broadened to counter
the selling of the Iraq war.  Now it’s mission is to use citizen
contributions, aggregated, to purchase ads in order to get Americans to
think–and to laugh–and to become more politically engaged.

DeanforAmerica will not be a clone of MoveOn, but we can learn from
MoveOn’s “career path” to political power.  DeanforAmerica will
have powerful mission in American politics.  DFA will work out new
and effective mechanisms for citizen invovlement.

I want Governor Dean to
become president, and I want him to win the nomination, and I want him
to win Wisconsin on the way to the nomination.  If Howard Dean wins the presidency, the question of how we do a better
job of governing will be front and center.  See for example the web
online policy discussion that DFA co-sponsored with Harvard’s
Berkman Center for Internet and Society earlier this year.   But win or
lose in any particular struggle, we have power.   This is the
deepest lesson of MoveOn–win or lose in the Clinton impeachment,
MoveOn had and has power.

Reflections on a “perfect swarm”–a mindblowing day for the DeanforAmerica community

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First, consider how mindblowing this day is for a member of the DFA community. 

In the morning you get an email about Wisconsin, from Howard, asking
for your support to put up a message on television in Wisconsin. 

You decide as a individual to make a contribution. 

And then about mid day–or perhaps later–you realise that you have
been part of an historic event–a “perfect swarm.”  For most
people, this will be a surprising and gratifying discovery.  You
realize that thousands of other individuals made a similar commitment
at the same time. It feels a bit uncanny.

What is going on?  Swarm power, emergence, something larger than
ourselves.  Here is a fun thing to do: Take a large crowd–perhaps
you are giving a speech–and ask them to clap together to an aligned
beat.  But don’t give them a lead beat.  Just ask the crowd
to find a beat, by paying attention to their neighbors, and syncing up
as they can.  I’ve done this dozens of times, and the amazing
thing is how fast a group can come together when it wants to.

The Dean community is coming together.  It is starting to experience a new level of emergence, of power.
The Dean community will make itself felt and heard at a new
level.

So here is a question for you:  Is the DeanforAmerica community transforming itself into a community
that goes well-beyond its original mission to create multiple ways to
make itself heard and to be powerful–using the web as centerpiece and
platform?

I think perhaps so.

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