January 28, 2005

The Net and the next Democratic Party chairman

The internet has become a triple factor in the selection of the next chair of the Democratic National Committee.

It’s an issue on which the leading contenders are taking positions: how best can the Democrats use the net to win votes in 2006 and 2008?

It’s a campaign medium: more than half of the leading candidates have put up web sites; two candidates have purchased sponsored links on Google; one candidate has hired a blogger and is cultivating endorsements from other bloggers.

And it’s transforming the very nature of the contest, from a behind-closed-doors vote among 447 party principals to a public plebiscite.

Strictly speaking, these committee members remain the only people with actual votes to cast. But (guess who) MoveOn.org has asked its three million email subscribers to suggest questions to be put to the candidates; the online advocacy group will then post the answers and ask subscribers to vote, state by state, on their preference.

The results of this deliberative endorsement process will become part of the news coverage, the public commentary, the candidates’ spinning and, thereby, a factor in the members’ choice.

The selection –or can we call it an election?—takes place February 12.

For more, see Chris Nolan’s report at personaldemocracy.com.