Obama Agonistes

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These slides were for a talk I gave in Berlin at the re:Publica conference on April 16, 2010. There are three videos included that you will have to go search for on YouTube: 1) the "Vote Different" ad mashup; 2) Kids singing and chanting and dancing on election night in front of the White House in 2008; and 3) Barack Obama speaking in Indianapolis in the spring of 2008 about the role of his grassroots organization both during the election and afterwards.

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  • Show myBO here
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  • Obama Agonistes

    1. 1. Obama Agonistes Micah L. Sifry @mlsif Personal Democracy Forum
    2. 3. How did this:
    3. 4. Produce this?
    4. 5. Act I
    5. 6. Welcome to the Age of Mass Participation
    6. 7. Vote different <ul><li>“ I made the ‘Vote Different’ ad because I wanted to express my feelings about the Democratic primary, and because I wanted to show that an individual citizen can affect the process…. This shows that the future of American politics rests in the hands of ordinary citizens. This ad was not the first citizen ad, and it will not be the last. The game has changed .” </li></ul>
    7. 10. Who’s Online?
    8. 11. People are Participating Online <ul><li>1 in 3 US internet users have posted a comment or rated something online. </li></ul><ul><li>1 in 4 have posted a video; 1 in 2 a photo. </li></ul><ul><li>43% have created a social network profile. </li></ul><ul><li>1 in 4 have started a blog; 3 in 5 read blogs; 23% daily. </li></ul>
    9. 12. Swimming in a Sea of User-Generated Content
    10. 13. Obama Metrics <ul><li>13m email addresses </li></ul><ul><li>3.9m indiv donors </li></ul><ul><li>2m on myBO </li></ul><ul><li>200K offline events created </li></ul><ul><li>70K myBO $-raising pages </li></ul><ul><li>35K local groups created </li></ul><ul><li>$750m raised (2/3 online) </li></ul>
    11. 14. If not for the Internet…
    12. 15. Who was empowered?
    13. 16. Act II
    14. 17. The Myth
    15. 18. <ul><li>“ The theme of the campaign, direct from Obama, was that the people were the organization.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Trusting a community can produce dramatic and unexpected results.” (same issue) </li></ul>
    16. 19. <ul><li>&quot;It was going to be something organic. It was going to be bottom-up,&quot; Joe Rospars said. (National Journal profile, April ‘09) </li></ul>
    17. 20. <ul><li>&quot;Obama didn't just take their money,&quot; says Donna Brazile, Al Gore's campaign manager in 2000. &quot;He gave them seats at the table and allowed them to become players.” </li></ul>
    18. 21. <ul><li>“ Obama owned the Web because [David] Plouffe believed in a few smart kids and let them go a little nuts.” </li></ul>
    19. 22. Small-donor revolution? Not in the “early money”
    20. 23. $1000+ donors dominated
    21. 24. Small donors: 2008 vs 2004
    22. 25. What happened to the movement?
    23. 26. Obama, April 30, 2008
    24. 27. “We’ve built a structure that can sustain itself after the campaign…Volunteers, they built the campaign…people made this structure.”
    25. 28. <ul><li>&quot;Our e-mail list had reached 13 million people. We had essentially created our own television network, only better , because we communicated with no filter to what would amount to about 20 percent of the total number of votes we would need to win...And those supporters would share our positive message or response to an attack, whether through orchestrated campaign activity like door-knocking or phone calling or just in conversations they had each day with friends, family, and colleagues.&quot; </li></ul>
    26. 29. &quot;Our e-mail list had reached 13 million people. We had essentially created our own television network, only better , because we communicated with no filter to what would amount to about 20 percent of the total number of votes we would need to win…”
    27. 30. What about changing how Washington works? <ul><li>Transparency </li></ul><ul><li>Participation </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration </li></ul>
    28. 41. The response of the general public?
    29. 43. Obama, January 22, 2010
    30. 44. I didn't run for President to turn away from these challenges. I didn't run for President to kick them down the road. I ran for President to confront them - once and for all. I ran for this office to rebuild our economy so it works not just for a fortunate few, but for hardworking people in this country.... I had no illusions when I took on health care.... I took this up because I want to ease the burdens on all the families and small businesses that can't afford to pay outrageous rates. I want to protect mothers, fathers, children from being targeted by the worst practices of the insurance industry.
    31. 45. What happened to us ?
    32. 46. Act III <ul><li>The Internet doesn’t empower anyone. We empower ourselves. </li></ul><ul><li>One-to-many and many-to-one is easy. </li></ul><ul><li>Many-to-many is hard. </li></ul>
    33. 47. <ul><li>If we’re going to empower ourselves, we need better tools and clearer thinking. </li></ul>
    34. 48. Let’s keep the conversation going… June 3-4, NYC personaldemocracy.com Save $50 with registration code: RE:PUBLICA
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