It’s always good to feel like you have the upper hand, especially when you have the upper hand. Garrett Graff, author of The First Campaign, argues convincingly that the Democrats are ahead of the Republicans by more than a nose when it comes to the Web 2.0. Why? I couldn’t do justice to Graff’s work if I tried to recite the many reasons here – you should read the book – but it highlights one of the core difference between the two parties: some versus many.
The Democrats have made a choice to define the party in terms of a greater audience. Graff makes the point at the end the book, noting that leadership is critical as we find ourselves, as a group, poised to make a choice between the ordinary and the extraordinary.
Graff is right that we need leaders who are willing to drive the discussion of the future of America. Yes, we need it now! But, can politicians really change the game?
I recently had lunch with a senior Republican Senator who was talking about how hard it is today to be in the U.S. Senate. He talked a lot about raising money “from the same pool, over and over,” but he couldn’t avoid questions about how his schedule has changed over the past 12 years.
Does he wake up at the same time? No. Earlier. Does he have the same number of meetings per day? No. Four times as many. Does he travel home as much? No. He travels to other States to try and help colleagues keep their Senate seats. Does he have a bigger staff? No. Pretty much the same size, yet very “potent.” Spend the same amount of time on policy? What’s that? No. In all seriousness, he said no. His attention is drawn to other things. Is he trying to change any of this? No. Not at all.
I give him credit for being honest, particularly because I don’t think there is anything unique about his view. If you could poll the U.S. Senate, many would agree that things have changed regardless of party affiliation.
But, as Graff points out, sometimes one group can harness energy and force change better than the other because they have both the skill and the will to do so. If he’s right, the Democrats are poised to lead the charge to change the country.