Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Intelligent Centralization

Jonah Sieger certainly made a lot of insightful points last night. Walking away, though, something bothered me about the Bloomberg "decentralization" plan. The way Sieger described it, the mayor's campaign has established an advanced peer-to-peer volunteer campaign in which people of the same neigborhood or ethnicity would be campaigning to one another. The Internet, of course, is the tie that binds here, as the tool that brings these volunteers to the campaign and, then, to the voters.

While I think this strategy makes for good campaigning, I'm not sure I agree with the term "decentralization." To me, this represents merely a step toward decentralization -- and not a very large one. After all, the campaign presumably still trains the volunteers, arms them with talking points and brochures. They just micromanage less. What is decentralized about it, we asked? Sieger pointed to "definitive compromises" made between the campaign and its grassroots volunteers, including the major decision of when to have the captain meetings.

Again, I think this is the kind of campaign innovation that wins elections. I'd even call it "intelligent centralization." But, don't call this decentralization. The reality is, campaigns don't want more decentralization (the theory itself is inherently risky), and the daring ones that actually try it to any large extent get called "utter failures" in the end.

Thanks, Damien, for getting the ball rolling here.

2 comments:

Damien said...

My pleasure....

I think you may be right in one sense to second guess Mr. Seiger's proclaimation of the Dean Internet strategy as being an "utter failure." I too would argue, to some extent, that this is a bit of an overstatement.

However, two main points still exist.

1.) He lost...bad.
Yes, he is no longer the no name Governor from Vermont, and yes his Internet fundraising was remarkable, but the fact still is that he is not sitting in the White House right now.

2.) His Internet campaign, even admitted to by Joe Trippi himself, was not at all controlled by the campaign. It was not a "decentralized organization" it was simply, "disorganization."

Certainly, the Dean campaign had their successes. The use of meet ups, the fundraising, the warewithall to harness the power of this medium...and I do not mean to discredit any of these...

However, I believe Mr. Seiger's point is well taken, and that is mainly that even chaos must be organized to be successful. There must be some common thread that binds all things.

DeFeo understood that and built their foundation from the top down...a decentralized pyramid...

whereas the Dean camp did not build their own foundation, it was built by the people, from the bottom up...given the campaign no control, no organization, no unity of message.

It just goes to show that a powerful tool like the Internet, still needs a good carpenter weilding it in order to build a successful campaign.

Damien said...

ps. coldplay is not bad...it'll grow on me. Much more mellow...the songs kinda blend into on another. They sound like Keane trying to be Coldplay, rather than just being Coldplay themselves...if that makes any sense.