The San Francisco Chronicle has an article out today on last Wednesday's Meetup and the importance of Internet organizing in the current election cycle. Carla Marinucci writes:
"Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean was 3,000 miles away when a crowd of his supporters jammed Kelly's Mission Rock, a San Francisco waterfront bar, on a rainy night this week to celebrate his candidacy and write him campaign checks. The twist: Most of the 150 enthusiastic Dean fans gathered on Wednesday had never met one another before, had never been involved with politics and were there because of an increasingly influential organizer -- the Internet.....
"I just got on the Internet nine months ago . . . and I saw the links to Meetup.com," said [Avery] McGinn, [a small business owner and Dean fan] who has posted Dean for President signs in the window of Klein's Deli, her business. "I'm thrilled with how it's politicized my life."
Marinucci quotes Phil Noble, the South Carolina political consultant who founded Politics Online, as saying 2004 could be "the next big step in the Internet and politics revolution."
Could be? We believe it already is. Just look at the current Dean Meetup numbers-- over 13,000 people are signed up in support of Howard Dean today, compared to less than 800 for Senator John F. Kerry. Of all the candidates for the Democratic nomination, Howard Dean raised the most amount of money over the Internet. On March 15th, the Dean campaign launched the first official weblog in presidential campaign history, six days after Dean himself first stumped in the blogosphere. This election is the next big step for the Internet and politics, and we've been taking that step with you.
But we've only just begun. As Howard has said, we're building a movement. Those of you who came to the Call to Action blog during the early days of its ugly infancy were pounded over the head with calls to donate. We know that's not the most exciting thing in the world, and the movement is about far more than just financial contributions-- though you did deliver for Howard Dean in a way that none of us would have imagined just a few short months ago.
Money's important to the campaign, of course, but that's not what Howard Dean's message is about. Howard Dean is about changing politics as usual. Howard Dean is about bringing people together-- over the Internet as well as in local cities and towns-- to end the divisive foreign and domestic policies of the Bush administration, to bring health care to all Americans, to work with Americans instead of against them.
Also, continue to check back at this site. Dean Call to Action is your direct link to the latest news from the Dean campaign. Bookmark this page by pressing Control-D. When a press release goes out, you'll be able to read it here the moment it is released to journalists across the country. When Dean makes the headlines, we'll post links to those news stories so you can read about Howard Dean in the press. In the coming weeks, the Call to Action blog will be undergoing a face-lift, and we'll be providing you with the ability to comment on recent posts and the ability (for all you news aggregators) to syndicate this site and show our latest news headlines on your own webpage or blog. The press is noticing the online movement for Howard Dean. You started it, we're joining it, and we've only just begun.