Long before votes are cast in modern presidential elections, elite donors narrow the race by picking a few acceptable candidates, who are then crowned frontrunners for leading the "money primary." But wait--wasn't the Internet supposed to change all this? Now thousands of people can pool relatively small donations to boost a candidate into the first tier, while bloggers promote their favorites to audiences rivaling those of major newspapers. Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the revolution. Internet fundraising has made the competition for early money not only fiercer but even more influential in handicapping the race, because donations are revered as proof of electability and grassroots enthusiasm.
None of the candidates in the race look poised to rally such overwhelming support, judging by the town halls and blog straw polls. If MoveOn's process does not culminate in an endorsement, it is unlikely to challenge the influence of the elite-driven money race. Still, the MoveOn primary is shaping up to be more substantive, thoughtful and participatory than the actual presidential primary--even if it's a contest without a winner.
Friday, July 13, 2007
"The Virtual Primary"
Ari Melber (The Nation):