Sunday, November 16, 2008

Obama, Social Networks, and Legislative Power...

The House Financial Services committee meets. ...Image via WikipediaYoni Engelhart shared with me recently some observations of a presentation by some of Obama's top staffers at Harvard Business School.

The question was: "what are you going to do with the massive social network you've built via the campaign?"

The answer: "Use it to affect and drive the legislation we want." (see:

For example, let's say that there are 3 congressman (could be Dems or Reps) who are holding up the passage of a bill that Obama support.

What does Team Obama do?

They email all of their "folks on the ground" and say "call your congressman and tell him to vote our way."

Well, you don't have to be a lifelong Washingtonian to understand that if 10,000 people call a given congressional office, that congressman will take notice...and probably change his vote in the name of job security.

Now, this is powerful, but it's also a bit scary.

Never before has a Chief Executive had the ability to directly contact people and drive legislation down at the precinct level.

It's a ton of power concentrated in the hands of a very select few.

Now, Yoni thinks that it is only a matter of time before Congressmen get tired of getting pushed around by Obama (this on both sides of the aisle) and start building their own organizations.

Yoni thinks that this is, in the long-term, a good thing for Democracy. He may be right, but what happens in the interval?

Sure, I don't agree with many of Obama's policies, but the idea that the traditional process of working with Capitol Hill to drive consensus legislation may be circumvented is a bit tough to handle-mostly because of the concentration of power. (Of course, when Obama says "Change" maybe he means this as well, since the 'traditional method' is what leads to 'pork-barrel' politics based on 'special interests.')

And, you read it here first: 6 years from now, you will see a movement to repeal the XXII Amendment and try to give Obama a 3rd term.

Updated: a friend forwarded me this article from NYT on Obama's plan.
Update 2: Jdub forwarded me a grassroots effort for the GOP to combat it.

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