Dean 2004 was Grassroots 1.0, Obama 2008 has been Grassroots 2.0. The method of it has been Grassroots 2.0, the substance of it has been what Barack calls the new kind of politics, the politics of hope, the politics of respect for those who differ with you, the politics of no longer tearing each other down. The method made the substance possible. The grassroots mechanics of Obama 2008 were made possible by the advances in internet technology. Dean 2004 did not have YouTube, Blogger, Facebook, none of that. Internet fundraising has gone through the roof. The people have claimed the power.
But like Barack said in his victory speech, a speech that I heard on the radio, that had me sobbing. He said "I know you did not do this for me, and I know you did not do this to win an election." The grassroots won this election to transform the country, the world, to bring forth fundamental policy changes like universal health care, ending a war, changing the way Washington does business.
The mood can't be, okay, now that we won, let's pack up and go home, let's hope Barack is a good guy, let's hope he is who we thought he was. The mood has to be, let's govern the way we won. What would be some of the elements?
Transparency In Decision Making
Share the data, the facts, the details of the policy discussions, the money projections, the debate with the grassroots. All bills in Congress must be put online in the entirety for a week or two before they get voted on by Congress. Let the grassroots chew on the bills. Feed the monster.
If internet technology makes possible that transparency, it also makes possible for the grassroots to meet and discuss and debate and speak back to the powers that be in Washington. The Barack team in the White House has to make the grassroots feel like they are constantly listening. The listening process itself has to be public.
That website can not be dismantled. It has to be enhanced. That is where Obama 2012 has already been launched. Millions of volunteers across the country are so invested in that site. That can't be put to waste. That website is the tool people have used to create and host events. That fundamental function will continue to be relevant. Google just launched a browser that is faster. MyBO has to become faster. My profile page takes forever to load. The basic functions have to be made more robust, and perhaps elements have to be added.
Do Events, Blog Events
Obama 2008 produced numerous leaders at the grassroots levels. I would not be surprised if many of those end up running for local, state and federal offices. For now, the local leaders have to keep putting together local events where people can gather and mingle, discuss and reconnect. The best aspect of Obama 2008's use of internet technology was that it was able to bring people to gather and meet in person, press the flesh. It was face time, it was not screen time.
Major Events For The Major Votes
There will be a few times over the next eight years when Barack is going to need Congress to pass a big bill, like the bill for universal health care for example. The grassroots has to be involved in the crafting of the bill itself, people who will vote on it also. But once Barack has decided a bill is ready, and it is time for the vote, the grassroots army has to swing into action like it were election time all over again.
Quality Face Time
MyBO should make that possible. Of course quality time is getting to have dinner with Barack, like Rivera from the Bronx did early in the campaign. But since Barack will be busy, we will have to create quality time for each other.
Intelligent, Informed Debate, Decent Government
It is a wonderful thing that a government of the people is actually going to be a government of the people. And Barack's positive mantra is going to lead to a decent government. This hope guy has a tendency to elevate the status of you and me and all. Decency has its value. Respect has its value. Did I tell you? I am a declared student of Barack's new kind of politics.