Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tea Party, MicroTrends, and the Knesset-ification of America…

I’ve been thinking about the Tea Party a lot.

Not because of what they stand for, but because of what they represent in terms of changing the face of American politics.

We just kind of accept the fact that there are 2 big parties in America. That’s pretty much the way it has always been.

But, never before, has a technology as disruptive as the Internet arrived on the American political scene.

Sure, we saw how Obama used it masterfully, but what the Tea Party is starting to do, I think, and what others can do as well, is to use it to connect like-minded people with each other and then cost-effectively concentrate their forces on the locations where they are most likely to win.

Before, you needed a big party machine.

Now, obviously, you don’t.

If you agree with the Tea Party (or, let’s take them out of it and just say the “coffee party,”) and you live in a district where that party has no chance of winning, you might (and would say), well, “I’ll focus my efforts on helping a Coffee Party person win in Colorado/Nebraska/Vermont/wherever” and, in so doing, you start creating voting blocs (as we already have) that, in name, represent a district, but also are allied with a core ideology.

I just finished Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes and the book talks about how we have moved from a “Ford Economy” (one size fits all) to a “Starbucks Economy” (a bajillion ways to customize your experience) and how small groups of committed people can force significant change on the rest of us.

To some extent, we saw this in the debt debate. We definitely see it in our ongoing embargo of Cuba (a few people in S. Florida REALLY care about it..the rest of us..not so much. So the passionates win.)

It seems to me that it is quite possible that we will see more and more “Tea Party” like expressions of political will in the future.

This will create smaller and smaller factions and create the need for coalitions (like the Knesset in Israel). This has obvious pros/cons to it, but I think Mark Penn’s point is…”look, this stuff is happening. Instead of fighting it, be prepared for the change that is coming.”

I fundamentally believe that there is NO part of our lives which will not be dramatically altered by the Internet (obviously, many already have), but I think we are still at the beginning. So, in my mind, it’s not such a far stretch that we’ll see the end of the 2 dominant parties (we’re kind of seeing it already, aren’t we?)

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