Candidates Can't Buy Web's Love

There's no substitute for real enthusiasm in online politics
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2007 3:54 PM CST
Web campaigns need to be fueled by genuine popular enthusiasm, not carefully calculated strategies, candidates are learning. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Candidates have spent loads of time and money learning a disappointing truth: you can’t control the Internet. Successful web campaigners like Howard Dean and Ron Paul give the reigns to eager online fans, letting their netroots define them, not vice-versa. That’s a welcome change, says the New York Times’ Matt Bai, from a soul-crushing era of strategic politics.

Businesses have long understood that the web is an inherently participatory medium, but for Washington’s control freaks that’s a terrifying idea. Campaigns yearn for message control – the Clinton campaign is even rumored to have peppered forums with dialogue-steering questions. It’s a losing proposition, Bai argues. Webcam-wielding auteurs and passionate bloggers will affect the race – better to be on their side.