Joe Trippi, author and former Democratic campaign manager, visited Cornell yesterday and promoted a message of grassroots political activism.
Trippi, best known as Howard Dean’s presidential campaign manager, is credited with prompting grassroots activity on the Internet. Using blogs and other forms of Internet-based communication, Trippi and the Dean campaign shattered Democratic fundraising records.
During his visit to Cornell, Trippi sat down for an interview with The Sun, where he reiterated a message of the Internet’s potency, predicting that its ability to empower the electorate will change the landscape of political activism forever.
Comparing it’s power to that of the television, he said, “Television is a passive medium [of communication] that encourages more passivity. The Internet is an active medium that encourages more activity. It encourages like-minded people to communicate.”
Trippi argued that by allowing members of the electorate to identify, discuss, and promote particular issues, the Internet has become a formidable force and an informative tool in the eyes of politicians and political analysts.
Thanks to the Internet, he argues, “you don’t have to wait for a [political candidate prompting] to enter the discussion. In addition, while many political venues tell the electorate which issues to consider in a “top-down,” hierarchical format, “the Internet empowers people from the bottom up,” and, therefore, instigates more political activity.
Trippi also predicted that young voters will be the decisive demographic in November’s elections.
“I think hey are more energized than I have ever seen them,” he said, and added that, “if there is a surprise in the outcome of this election, it will be because there are more young voters [participating].”
He explained that poling mechanisms fail to accurately account for young voters because young people are difficult to contact and monitor. For instance, a typical college student moves at least once a year and can best be reached by cell phone. As a result, it is difficult for pollsters to track down and account for young members of the electorate.
“They are the hardest people to poll because they are so transient,” said Trippi. He went on to suggest that an unpredicted influx of young voters would likely favor Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, saying, “Most of that [young] energy is for Kerry rather than Bush…Kerry may even be ahead because pollsters can’t measure [the young vote] accurately.”
He further challenged young people to shock the country by voting in large numbers.
“Given how close this election is, [young voters] are going to encourage its outcome. I guarantee it,” he said. “This election is so close that one thing no one is counting on is a big turn out from young people.”
Archived article by Ellen Miller
Sun Senior Writer