One Can’t Cover Internet Politics and Ignore the Libertarian Angle

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Ron Fournier of the AP just wrote an article about the Internet and politics which is not filled with new news, relevant insight or even reasonable balance.

The article starts off just fine and dandy while promising much more:

Frustrated by government and empowered by technology, Americans are filling needs and fighting causes through grass-roots organizations they built themselves — some sophisticated, others quaintly ad hoc. This is the era of people-driven politics.

He is correct here, and could have used this beginning to start a great article. Instead, he chose to focus primarily on three has-been sites: MoveOn, Meetup and Blogs for Bush.

If he is not aware, Upcoming may actually be upcoming, while Meetup might need to be renamed Metup — especially since they decided to charge for their services.

While Bush may have won the presidential election, Dean clearly won the Internet battles. Kerry was even better than Bush on the ‘net, but can’t claim the credit for a movement started by Joe Trippi. I know, as I was a key player on the third front of this war.

According to the article, MoveOn has already moved on:

Shull, 31, was brimming with ideas for liberal causes, but MoveOn had virtually shut down after the election and the Democratic Party was catatonic. So she took matters in her own hands, e-mailing the 1,500 contacts she had made through MoveOn and asking if they wanted to keep busy.

Finally, Fournier didn’t even approach balance in his article. He covers the monolithic body of Democrats and Republicans but seemed to forget the people who first envisioned the Internet and ran the first political websites. These people claim to have been among the first major political movements on the Internet, and also very significant as late as the recent presidential elections. They also provide the best coverage of the relationship between the Internet and politics.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Tom Knapp notes that libertarians have been known to “steal the march” or adopt new technology early, but that there is trouble in the follow-through:

Libertarians have proven their ability to “steal a march” on the enemy, and that’s a valuable ability, but it’s short by half of what we need. The next step is amassing enough troops — activists, dollars and voters — to take, or defend, the hill we reach before the other guys get there too. Figuring out how to take that next step is going to require some genuinely creative thinking, not just an assumption that the tools will get us there. The inability to figure out the other half of the equation is what brought Howard Dean and Joe Trippi to grief in Iowa, and it’s what Steve’s been breaking lots of skull-sweat over for the last couple of years or so.

He has a valid point.

  1. I appreciate the input on my people-driven article, and believe you have a good piont. I tried to reach around the two parties by going to people like Mary Shull, the Pug owner, the fathers’ rights advocate et al. I’m looking forward to learning more about you and your website so perhaps I can be better education next time.

  2. Mr. F:

    Thanks. One of the primary purposes of this site is for such educational purposes and it is nice to see that we gained your attention.

    Please feel free to join the growing crowd which picks apart everything we write, too.

  3. Hey Stephen — thanks — but no thanks… There are more Meetups taking place now than ever before. Your “Metup” comment has no merit. Why did you feel inclined to poke us in the eye without checking on the facts? /m

  4. Myles, the writing is on the wall. is after your members, and with the powerhouse of Yahoo behind them keeping it free and always expanding services, we know a good deal when we see it.

  5. Myles,

    I have worked with Meetup before. Folks haven’t been even clicking the link on most of the sites I run these days. I agree with VanDyke, it’s time to try something new.

  6. I wouldn’t write Meetup off just yet.

    Like many people, I think they made a bad business decision by going to the particular revenue model they chose, but I also think they’ll eventually change/recover from that decision. What they’ve got “in the bank” is a solid system and big-time name recognition from their pioneering of what they do (a lot of it, of course, due to the Deaniacs’ successes with it).

    Those two pieces of Internet capital can be (and in all too many cases are) frittered away, but it’s a lot more than most sites ever have to work with. Yahoo!/Upcoming may steal their thunder … or maybe not.

    Tom Knapp

    P.S. I never can seem to get a trackback ping to work on HoT. What’s up with that?

  7. Tom,

    I’ve never been able to get the trackbacks to work from any of the wordpress sites I’ve run to your site, or vice versa. Not sure what the problem is.

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