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wMonday, June 16, 2003

TAP: Web Feature: Dean's Machine.
To political reporters, the Meetup phenomenon seems brand-new. And to the extent that the Internet is involved, it is. But if you've ever spent any time in the political precincts of the left -- where issue-advocacy, community-service and identity-based groups have flourished while support for the Democratic Party has withered -- you can see that the Meetup phenomenon is in fact drawing on and replicating the social dynamics of nonprofit and movement-based organizations that have, over the past three decades, become the dominant means of civic participation by people on the left.

To the extent that any presidential candidate will be able to tap into the power of the Internet, I will hazard a prediction: None will be able to mobilize the kind of support that Dean has generated (and will continue to generate over the coming six months). The Internet, as a technology, is perfectly suited to the people who make up the "Democratic wing" of the Democratic Party and its Green and independent sympathizers. While such businesses as Amazon.com and eBay may have made Americans more comfortable with online donations and helped Dean become the first presidential candidate ever to raise more than $1 million online, in the end it is the group MoveOn.org that more accurately gives a picture of the energy fueling Dean's online rise. Founded in 1998 via an e-mail sent to about 300 people by screen-saver millionaire Wes Boyd, the group today has 1.4 million people registered. Last fall and winter, it mobilized millions of people in thousands of anti-Iraq War protests throughout the world; it also sparked a massive online letter-writing campaign to Congress.
And you've already joined Move On so you can vote in the primary next week, haven't you?

posted by Matthew Carroll-Schmidt at 12:51 PM

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