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‘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.’
'Even so, John Kerry may be a better Secretary of State for progressives when it comes to philosophical approaches to military intervention. Since his highly public protest of the Vietnam War, following his tour of duty there, Kerry has been a prominent voice of caution against the 2003 war in Iraq as well as the U.S. support for the Nicaraguan Contras, the first Gulf War, and the 2007 Iraq surge. Most recently, when asked whether the United States should intervene in Syria, Kerry said: “Is that the right thing to do tomorrow or the next day? I think not … the world must respond in a responsible way.”’
As you might imagine, I find myself in a lot of discussions about U.S. fiscal policy, and the budget deficit in particular. And there’s one thing I can count on in these discussions: At some point someone will announce, in dire tones, that we have a ONE TRILLION DOLLAR deficit.
No, I don’t think the people making this pronouncement realize that they sound just like Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies.
Anyway, we do indeed have a ONE TRILLION DOLLAR deficit, or at least we did; in fiscal 2012, which ended in September, the deficit was actually $1.089 trillion. (It will be lower this year.) The question is what lesson we should take from that figure.
And third, and maybe most of all—the country has changed culturally. Four years ago, conservatives, liberals, and centrists alike all assumed that middle-of-the-road Americans were, while not Dittoheads, pretty conservative by default. Among the political class, this has meant—for pretty much my entire adult lifetime—that your average American was likely to embrace conservative arguments about the culture, and that Democrats had to be crazy to do anything but meekly suggest that they more or less agreed with a caveat or two.
But no more. With each new day that the election recedes into the past, it becomes more and more apparent just what a watershed it was. No, it wasn’t a realignment election according to the standard political science definition. But it was in a way even bigger than that. The election was a cultural watershed moment. All the old dog-whistle tricks, hating on gay people and all that, failed utterly. After decades of struggle and activism and fights and losses for the liberal side, a switch got flipped in November. Middle-of-the-road voters just stopped buying right-wing fear-mongering.