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Obama 2.0

18 November, 2008
By Allison Orr

Now that Obama‚Äôs web-savvy team has won the election, the next question is what to do with the list of 3 million contributors and more than 10 million supporters who helped the campaign.  Joe Trippi, Democratic strategist, had called it "the largest network anyone has ever seen in politics".

Many in Obama's campaign want this to be kept separate to the Democratic party, and turn it into a "viral lobbying and communications machine - what some are calling Obama 2.0.  Says Beth Fouhy from AP, "If it works, the new president could have an unprecedented ability to appeal for help from millions of Americans who already favor his ideas, bypassing the news media to pressure Congress."  Steve Hildebrand, Obama's deputy campaign manager and an architect of the grass-roots network, sees this as the future role of the network, saying it could be used to "pressure anybody who we would need to build a coalition of votes in the House and Senate."

There is no clear agreement, however, on what should be done with the network.  Some believe the network should be merged with the Democratic party, but others worry that linking it to closely with the party will destroy the network, as it includes so many who were outsiders to the party.  The most enthusiastic and idealistic may drift away if it simply becomes an arm of the Democratic party.  It may be hard to keep the online network of activists as interested in ongoing issues as the Obama team transition from an idealistic campaign to governing.  As Wallsten and Hamburger from the LA Times so succintly put it, "it is no simple task to convert an insurgency into a standing army".

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