There Is No Cat

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Saturday, July 10, 2004

It's not the money, stupid

A few days ago, Dave Winer suggested that Joe Trippi, former campaign director for Howard Dean, needed to get a clue. This was based on Dave's reading of the introduction to Trippi's new book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, where Trippi talks about the importance of raising a whole lot of money to run for President. Dave says that Trippi thinks that you need to raise the money to run TV ads. Well, Trippi's book showed up on my doorstep yesterday, and I spent a good part of last night reading it. Trippi gets it, no question. Raising money is only partly about raising money. Sure, it's great to have and is useful for things like buying TV spots and renting cars and airplanes to move your candidate around, but that's not the most important thing. Money is a proxy for support. It's a metric.

After reading Trippi's entire book, I have to say, he's not a fan of TV. He sees quite clearly the corrosive effect it's had on the political process, and explains it in some detail. And he knows his stuff, because he spent some years in the business of creating TV spots. But his first love in politics, the experience that really defines him, is field work. That's where the rubber meets the road, talking to voters and trying to win them over, the most elemental form of politics. Trippi got his start in national politics organizing for Ted Kennedy in rural Iowa, and he never forgot the lessons he learned there. Trippi truly gets the impact the Internet can have on politics. He's been talking about it since 1984. It's not about the money.

The key passage in the book on this reads as follows:

If six hundred thirty-one wealthy individuals can raise more than a hundred million to elect George Bush -- it will only take two million Americans contributing less than a hundred dollars each to defeat him.

Call it Jefferson's Revenge.

Call it the $100 revolution. It doesn't matter what you call it, now is the time for it to happen.

No one can change America for you. You have to do it. If just two million of us give what we can in time and money, we can take back the White House and the Congress. A hundred bucks from two million Americans. That's all it will take to send George W. Bush packing. To return America to the principles that it was founded on.

And the great part is this: after you raise the $200 million, I don't even think you'd need to spend it. Just the act of raising two hundred million dollars from two million Americans over the Internet will be enough to turn the country on its head. The mobilization of that many Americans... the sheer engagement of that many people in politics again will signal to lobbyists that their days of writing policy are over, that the days of a few hundred billionaires and millionaires choosing the president are now done.

It's not about the money. The money's useful, sure, but the most useful thing is bringing all those people into the political process. By getting two million people to donate, you've just awakened two million activists. Those people are now invested in their candidate in a way that the people who don't give money (or time) aren't. They'll talk to their friends. They'll talk to their neighbors. Some of them may even run for office locally, something that's been happening with Dean supporters.

The kind of people who typically donate $1000 or $2000 to a presidential candidate often spread their money around to multiple candidates. That money is pocket change to them, and it doesn't really mean anything more than money. They give that much money because it's all they're allowed to give; they would happily give more. But someone who donates $25 or $50 or $100, they don't spread their money around as insurance (or manure). They're signalling that they've made a choice, that this person they're giving money to is the person they want to see as president. It's more than money; it's a committment. These people are invested in their candidate. They're giving more than just money and just a vote. So when Trippi talks about the importance of raising money, it's not really about the money. And Trippi knows that.

Dave, I think you should read the entire book. It's a quick read; it took me about four or five hours last night. I think you'd find that Trippi is a lot smarter, more engaged, and more of a bomb thrower than you think.

Posted at 10:04 AM


Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

Here is a reality check for you.

Have you read anything about "Schrödinger's cat"? If you had, you would know that Einstein was referring to something else than the direct meaning of the sentence. There is a deeper truth to this. Dig into the histoy of physics-books and discover the real missing cat!

god don't play dice

Posted by NA at 8:14 PM, July 21, 2004 [Link]


This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

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[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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