The conventional wisdom is that, short of a dramatic development in the next 36 hours, Barack Obama is well-placed to win the New Hampshire primary and is thus now the favorite to win the Democratic nomination. The greybeards of the Party are hopping onto the Obama train: Bill Bradley endorsed him today and, if Al Giordano is to be believed, John Kerry will be next, to be followed in short order by Kennedy and Gore.
Assuming that the Obamentum continues to build through New Hampshire and onto South Carolina and Nevada, the campaign’s grassroots online organizing will be given at least a chunk of the credit. Will Team Obama incorporate MyBO, Facebook and other participatory media into government? How will an Obama administration channel the youth energy that the campaign has engendered?
The Deval Patrick administration does not offer an encouraging model, at least not as far as I can tell from here. Patrick was elected to the Massachusetts statehouse in 2006 accompanied, if not quite propelled, by a wave of participatory media excitement. In the days following Patrick’s victory , John Palfrey was excited about the prospect of Patrick-led “semiotic democracy.” David Weinberger was excited, too, but didn’t like the campaign’s “disappointing” transition page. “There’s no place for citizens to post in public and talk with one another. Judging from this site, the Patrick campaign—administration—still thinks it’s the hub of the universe.”
A year into his administration, how has Patrick adapted participatory media into the work of the Commonwealth? A cursory review of his campaign and official websites doesn’t reveal much participation, and neither has a blog.
Obama campaign strategists (led by David Axelrod and David Plouffe) and its online experts (most prominently Joe Rospars and Chris Hughes) will surely remain in campaign mode through November 4, but what then? Will they go the Rovian-Carvilian route, and continue the permanent campaign? Or might they use online digital tools to, in words Obama used last night, “enlist the American people in the process of self-government?”