ACCUMULATING PERIPHERALS


Obama: Consolidating the network by mattsteinglass
May 10, 2008, 6:11 pm
Filed under: United States | Tags:

Brilliant post from Matt Stoller on “Obama’s Consolidation of the Party”:

We have a leader, and he’s not a partisan and he can now end fractious intraparty fights with a word and/or a nod. His opinion really matters in a way that even Nancy Pelosi’s just did not. He has control of the party apparatus, the grassroots, the money, and the messaging environment. He is also, and this is fundamental, someone that millions of people believe in as a moral force. When you disagree with Obama, you are saying to these people ‘your favorite band sucks’.

This is really perceptive. But Stoller’s broader argument revolves around the way the party is becoming personalized around Obama, as he redirects even Netroots funding constellations (like Actblue) towards his own MyBarackObama.com system. Stoller says he’s essentially deconstructing infrastructures in the party and reassembling their assets into his own machine.

What I’m interested in is how this reflects on the general personalization of party machines that’s occurred since the ’90s, with leaders like Blair, Berlusconi, Thaksin and Putin becoming more important than any parties they’re part of. Sarkozy too. In the ’90s this was seen as an artifact of the rise of the modern media-management strategy in a 24-hour cable TV environment — that was what it meant under “The War Room”-era Clinton and Blair. But Obama is showing that the new-media networked environment, based on millions of volunteers, can be equally conducive to that kind of centralized operation. Which is very interesting and counterintuitive.

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