Presidential election, incredibly, is looking more and more like a replay
of 2000. The electorate is so deeply and evenly divided that the
decision may very well come down to a few electoral votes in one of the
swing states, which in turn may swing on a few thousand votes.
Campaign tactics and spending have shifted from the
frenetic search for the elusive and dwindling stock of undecided voters
to equally frenetic and even more crucial "get out the vote" efforts. In
an election this close, the percentage of their partisans each party
can deliver on election day will determine the winner.
The "Get out the vote" ; effort is a massive and sophisticated
multi-front effort, including targeted telephone trees, institutional
transportation, grass-roots mobilizations, poll watching and mass emailings. Plus,
inevitably, black ops designed to impede the efforts of the opposition
to do the same,
Although the race is too close to call, and each side
unquestionably has a few last minute dirty tricks and a "Halloween Surprise"
or two up their sleeves (we hope!), latest
internal polling give the
President a slight edge., especially in the key swing states. Two or
three points, within the margin of error, but enough that Kerry is going
to need a big last
In the opinion of this observer, there is only one possible
place that Kerry can get the juice to overcome whatever nasty surprise
the dastardly Karl Rove has cooked up for election eve – and it is the
The potential for on-line organizing and get-pit-the-vote
efforts was dramatically demonstrated in South Korea two years ago by
the dramatic, last minute, internet-fueled, come from behind victory
of Roh Moo-hyun, hailed as the World’s
First Internet President.
After a similarly hard fought, no-holds-barred campaign resulted in
an extremely tight race, Roh found himself on the business end of a classic
election eve dirty trick; the orchestrated defection of a key ally and
supporter, tipping the balance in favor of conservative candidate Lee
Hoi Chang. On the day of the voting a massive electronic get-out-the-vote
mobilization, via email, cell phones and Instant Messaging, advising
people of the opposition’s last-ditch move to steal the election, produced
which gave the victory to Roh.
We are willing to go on the record here
as predicting that only a similar last minute cyberspace effort by the
Kerry campaign will be enough to
put him over the top. Unfortunately, we don’t think Kerry himself
is capable of making the commitment to cyberspace necessary to pull
it off. John Kerry is no Roh Moo-hyun. Roh, a human rights organizer
before entering politics, is the first world leader who knows how to
code in HTML. We doubt John Kerry even knows what HTML is.
We are afraid America will have to wait for its own First Internet President.
It was shocking to hear in the final debate that Bush talked more about
Information Technology than Kerry! Bush wants to save America by wiring
health care! Who knew? We may have to wait through four more years
of this sort of nonsense before an authentic Internet candidate emerges.
But we remain convinced it will happen. Howard Dean was just the
tip of the iceberg, pointing the way towards what is possible, inevitable,
and essential – the technology enabled transformation of American Democracy.
Although of course it makes a tremendous difference in millions of lives
who wins this election, in the final analysis both Bush and Kerry are
conventional American alpha male politicians who don’t have a clue about
the changes around the corner in the electorate and the political landscape.
The stage is being set for The