Governor Dean, the Internet and the forthcoming presidential election
Something very interesting is going on in the US, as yet apparently unnoticed by the mainstream media. Vermont Governor Howard Dean, a sane and decent human being — a GP in fact — is running for president. He has little money, no big backers and the Democratic Party regards him as a no-hoper pinko leftie. In conventional American political wisdom he is a Dead Duck.
And yet Governor Dean is making astonishing progress. For example, everywhere he goes he is greeted by thousands of people — the kind of numbers that in the old days would have required a massive organisation and lots of forward scouts. How is this possible? Answer: because Howard Dean is making really shrewd use of the Net. For example, he’s using Meetup.com to enable supporters to find one another and get together. He’s using the web to raise funds — very effectively. Larry Lessig gave him a guest slot last week on his Weblog. And the Dean campaign even has its own weblog. The strangest thing about Howard Dean is that he is the only major US politician who seems connected to external reality — at least to European ears. Most of the others seem to be inhabiting a parallel universe.
This is all lost, of course, on the mainstream media, locked as they are in their Washington/Republican mindwarp. Insofar as they think of Dean at all, they think of him as the continuation of George McGovern by other means — and everyone knows what happened to George. They cannot imagine an unknown candidate from a minor state actually making it into the big time. And no liberal has ever made it to the White House. As the evidence of Bush’s dishonesty, mendacity and incompetence seeps out, however, they may discover that the public rather likes Governor Dean. Just as they once found they rather liked a hick peanut farmer named Jimmy Carter.