Saturday, December 04, 2004

Some Saturday afternoon thoughts

I don't want to totally focus on elections all the time or anything, but there was a story I heard that I think really resonates with what I (and we) are trying to do. It was posted on dailykos.com, so, you can google for it I am sure. It was an analysis of Howard Dean's differing approaches to New Hampshire and Iowa, and how different the outcome was in each place.

In Iowa, the first election of the Democratic primary, Howard Dean employed a strategy where he spent a ton of money on advertisements, and then based a turnout effort on a few weeks of thousands upon thousands of volunteers busing in from out of state, to be part of the "movement." (This included someone who is a reader, and a future poster on here, so I would like to hear his personal thoughts.) As Dean and Gephart began to destroy each other, Kerry and Edwards started to seize the momentum. However, the Dean campaign seemed confident that with the huge amount of volunteers they had collected, they would still pull through. Instead, they got their ass kicked.

Realistically, the way this campaign season worked (and the way the media loves to horse race things), the election ended on that night. (On a side note, I still wonder what would have happened if Wesley Clark had actually run in Iowa. Oh well.) The combination of the media covering the Kerry victory to no end, along with the next primary being in New Hampshire, next door to Massachusetts, gave him a second state. With the ultra compressed system, others had too little time to ever catch up.

That said, Howard Dean performed better that in New Hampshire then was predicted. As the article on DailyKos said, much of this was due to the completely different tactics that they used in NH. Instead of bringing in outsiders to get out the vote, they relied on supporters having small house parties, and directly speaking to their neighbors. Instead of a 23 year old kid from Germantown telling you to vote for Dean, you had your neighbor ,who you know, trust, etc. This proved to be much more effective...

How does this relate to Philadelphia? Well, our city is certainly the cliched "city of neighborhoods." And each neighborhood has its own characteristics, and is somewhat wary of outsiders, be they from the other side of the state, or the other side of the city. That said, there is a huge level of trust that I think Philadelphians have in their neighbors and their friends. Whether it is politics or coming over for dinner, a middle age woman from South Philly is going to trust me a lot more if I meet her through her a family friend, then if I just meet her randomly. (Or in the case of politics, if I just knock on her door.)

How does this relate to this site? I think it is important to keep in mind that if we want to be effective in the long run, we need a lot of places where we can eat dinner. We need a lot of families that we can talk to, and talk with their friends. We need to make sure that we get the whole city involved, from North to South, and West to... Well, not East, but lets say Northwest, or Southwest. So, if you are reading this, and you plan on getting involved, think about how we can expand beyond the neighborhoods where we come from. Because if we can do that, then we then will truly have an amazing amount of power.

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