Three chapters of The Change We Need are now available for download on book’s microsite with the rest coming out tomorrow. Hopefully some important ideas are already starting to become clear.
Central to both David Lammy and Ben Brandzel’s chapters is the idea that the movement and the message are both more important than any individual. Sure, Obama was a great candidate, but far more important were the ideas he ran on, how his seeking the presidency fitted into broader American and progressive history, and the people he had supporting him. On the latter point, Ben’s assertion that the movement pre-dated Obama is absolutely true. If you doubt this, go and have a play with some great data from the American National Election Survey and look at the metrics for 2004, which were way up on previous cycles. This really was people-powered politics driven by a long-term groundswell in re-engagement (if you are interested in this idea, also check out Hais and Winograd’s Millennial Makeover, which argues that politics is seeing a major generational shift).
The key point seems to be that electoral politics is becoming increasingly about building a successful coalition. The question then becomes: how do we structure our organisations to make sure they are able to engage in this kind of activity? That, rather than slavishly copying the Obama approach, is the challenge we face.