The Obama campaign: True grassroots democracy in action with the Web and social media as a catalyst

I have been following Barack Obama’s campaign since my first talk at the European parliament in June 2007.

Next week, I again speak at an event in Brussels at the parliament – towards a digital world

One of the themes of our discussion is What is the impact of new technologies (e.g. social networks) on social relations?/society

So, it is a good time to talk about Barack Obama’s campaign again since I believe it is a true victory for democracy and the democratic process – with the Web as a cornerstone.

Like me, many people believe in the grassroots potential of the Web – and especially Social media – to truly transform society. The Obama campaign is a fulfillment of that vision in action.

Simply put, A president like Barack Obama could not have been elected had it not been for social media and the Web.

Here is why ..

If you follow military strategists like Carl von Clausewitz and his book ‘On War’ – then Clausewitz talks of the superiority of numbers

In such an aspect we grant, that the superiority in numbers is the most important factor in the result of a combat, only it must be sufficiently great to be a counterpoise to all the other co-operating circumstances.

In other words, superiority in numbers must be greater by a factor ..

And that’s what Barack Obama achieved through his social networking campaign for fund raising crafted by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes

The BBC says more ..

The money was key. Mr Obama realised during the primary contest that he had developed an extremely broad donor base, which he could keep going back to for money. So, he rejected federal funding for his campaign and the financial limits that came with it. Army of helpers With the help of Facebook founder Chris Hughes – who devised an innovative internet fundraising system – the campaign eventually attracted more than three million donors. They donated about $650m (£403m) – more than both presidential contenders in 2004 combined.

Ofcourse besides the money, the campaign also motivated volunteers.

This is very significant because as far as I know – this is the only time a left leaning(in the US context – Democrats are left leaning) campaign has raised more money than a right leaning campaign.

More significantly – the manner the money has been raised – i.e. with grassroots support giving the people a true voice in the democratic process

Compare this with donations from lobbying bodies and organizations like the National Rifle Association which

Between 1997 and 2006, the NRA spent nearly $16 million on outside lobbying shops that worked alongside its five full-time lobbyists. Between 1990 and 2006, the organization doled out another $16 million in campaign contributions, of which 83 percent went to Republicans.

On the other side, are the trade unions who have also supported campaigns – and can also be seen to be lobbying for influence.

This money from lobbying bodies did not come out of love – that we can be sure of!

So, far better to empower the people .. and create a virtuous cycle in the process .. This is truly a change to society brought about by the Web and social networking .. and it is a positive change ..