Already we’re getting everyone and anyone talking about Obama style campaigns here in Ireland. This however was a fascinating read. Uplifting too. That lad Tubridy already seems to be trying to do that with his Rock the Vote run campaign. I’ve noted press releases from those going in the local elections referencing change and even aligning themselves with Obama. Most of it pure guff. I’m just waiting for one of these morons to try and claim some kind of African ancestry.
Last week Mick Fealty wrote a buzzword-laden piece for the Irish Times about the web and politics in Ireland and attributed the voting down of the Lisbon Treaty as being due to Libertas and their web “campaign”. By that he meant the pro-Libertas bent on Politics.ie:
It’s a classic example of using smart, quick internet conversation to shortcircuit the 24-hour news cycle. In the process Libertas ran every single mainstream party in the Dáil ragged, through what the US writer Tom Watson calls an “investment in conversations”.
I think it might have been way more due to the fact that Libertas and others had a goal and a focus. Most of the existing parties had 1. No clue and 2. No respect for the voters and their views. “Just go out and vote cos we say so” being the attitude from most of the parties. Libertas understood people and their views on various things and helped exploit anger, annoyance, misconceptions and ignorance. Lisbon didn’t fail because of the web in Ireland.
Pat Leahy has a view like this in the Business Post:
The Lisbon referendum wasn’t lost because Libertas had a strong online presence; it was lost because the Yes campaign only asked 9 per cent of voters for their votes.
Piaras Kelly makes some very good points about politics in Ireland in his post here. Many of the current party people in Ireland are talking about doing an Obama for the locals and I note Fianna Fáil said they’d look at his techniques. Piaras is right though, it won’t work here because it’s still the same hacks trying to do that Internet thing. Look at how many of them got blogs before the last election and right away got their assistants to write them. Adding go-faster stripes to a horse and carriage does not make you Steve McQueen in Bullit. Obama brought about change because the core of his campaign was fundamentally different to the rest and it expanded out to every aspect of the campaign, including using the Internet.
This quote from a Newsweek piece explains that the Web wasn’t used for shiny purposes:
“I don’t care about online energy and enthusiasm just for the sake of online energy and enthusiasm,” said Chris Hughes, head of New Media’s social networking. “It’s about making money, making phone calls, embedding video or having video forwarded to friends.” There was nothing starry-eyed about Hughes, who had been the Harvard roommate and later partner of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and made his first millions before he was 24. His goal was to make old techniques—like call centers and getting polling information to voters—more efficient. “When computer applications really take off, they take something people have always done and just make it easier for them to do it,” he said. “And maybe bigger.”
Obama style net-campaigning might work for a new party that uses some of the core ideals of the Obama campaign but it won’t work for the current ones unless their is an attitude change. I doubt that will happen with any of the parties that are corrupt at their core. By corrupt I’m not talking just about taking planning bribes, all the parties will fuck over people in order to survive and defend their people no matter the vile things they do such as Kathleen Lynch doing work for a child rapist or the fact that nobody for any party speaks out when the annual expenses list comes out. (Ah sure everyone does it). Strangely I think the Lad Turbridy might actually do it, even if he’s nicking most of his ideas from Sean Tevis, he’s creating a brand that’s not very tied to Fianna Fáil at all and that is probably an advantage right there. The clever way of looking for votes and counting them will help matters too. But for a party as a whole, I can’t see much of what Obama did being done by the parties here, they like their horse and carriages.