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In the coming weeks, members of Congress will vote on whether we should require universal background checks for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that criminals or people with severe mental illnesses can’t get their hands on one. They’ll vote on tough new penalties for anyone who buys guns only to turn around and sell them to criminals. They’ll vote on a measure that would keep weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines that facilitate these mass killings off our streets. They’ll get to vote on legislation that would help schools become safer and help people struggling with mental health problems to get the treatment that they need.
‘The Dean campaign was a great, pioneering effort, but it happened too soon. In 2003, there were 55 million households in the United States with Internet access, but broadband was rare, and neither YouTube nor Facebook nor Twitter yet existed. The iPhone, the first popular smartphone, would not be released until 2007. The Dean campaign would break President Bill Clinton’s fund-raising records and build a nationwide organization of 650,000 people, more than had joined any previous presidential campaign; but it would take one more presidential campaign cycle for the rocket engines of social networks to benefit from the fuel of broadband and provide sufficient thrust for the new model to reach escape velocity.
By 2007, Americans had begun participating in politics in numbers no one had imagined possible. TV ads would have almost nothing to do with Barack Obama’s election, although more would be spent on them than ever before. Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination for the simple reason that she ran an old-fashioned campaign. But Obama’s victory in 2008 was remarkable not only because he raised a half-billion dollars online and had over 13 million people sign on to his campaign. His win in 2008 was most remarkable because it allowed his campaign staff to do something truly novel in 2012: build a national campaign armed with big data.’