January 30th, 2008

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Citizen-generated campaigns

I have to say, one of the most interesting things about this year's presidential campaigns is how out-of-control they're getting. I don't mean the carefully stage-managed stuff that some of the campaigns are doing, with outside proxies saying what they want -- I mean the stuff that, as far as I can tell, *really* is out of the control of the campaigns.

The Ron Paul campaign has tended to be the example here, but I'm fascinated by today's addition: YouBama. It's pretty much what it sounds like: a specialized YouTube variation, specifically for populace-generated Obama support material. The site claims, plausibly, to have nothing to do with the official campaign -- it's a couple of students playing with participatory democracy. But it's a fine and timely idea: an unofficial place where supporters can put their words and videos, and vote for which ones work best.

Neat stuff. I wonder how long before backers of the other candidates catch on? It's not surprising that Obama supporters did this first (indeed, the TechCrunch article that I got the pointer from reminds us they they're endorsing Obama precisely because he seems to be the most tech-enclued of the candidates), but it would be pretty easy to copy...
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Ron Paul on tech issues

And while we're going through this morning's TechCrunch, I see that they finally managed to get an interview with Ron Paul. It's quite interesting, and I'm pleased to read it: he comes across as really pretty decent and sensible. He's definitely a bit of a libertarian extremist (he explicitly says, "I want to be very consistent", which I personally don't agree with as a political approach), but also decently thoughtful -- when confronted by the complexity of, say, network neutrality, he admits that the problem is complex and he doesn't understand it well enough yet. Would that more politicians were willing to say, "I don't know enough about that yet".

Overall, he strikes me as a fairly reasonable if slightly tunnel-visioned guy, who may be in a tad over his head. Someone who would be very interesting to have a salon conversation with. For president? Probably better than many of the alternatives, although a little too over-confidently libertarian for my taste. (Keep in mind I'm judging just from his own words in this interview -- this isn't any deeper an opinion than that.)
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Two unsurprises

As I had expected, Giuliani is leaving the race. Only slightly less expected, he's endorsing McCain. As far as I can tell, pretty much all the other candidates hate Romney -- indicating that they at least understand *some* things correctly.

Also unsurprising, Edwards is also dropping out, although he isn't endorsing anybody yet. Given that neither Clinton nor Obama are exactly political soulmates of his, that's kind of to be expected, although it still won't astonish me if he winds up as Obama's running mate.

Super Tuesday is time for out of the frying pan and into the fire. Neither Giuliani nor Edwards stood much chance of being more than a spoiler at this point, so it's sensible for them to go, rather than wasting money and confusing the race further. So it'll be interesting to see how things rebalance...