With all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the feeling and emotion in the Obama campaign here is a little something for the empirically minded. Isaac Garcia explains the something that is going on:
Arnold Kling (adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute) argued back in August of 2005 that “The Long Tail is not the political center. It is not a third party waiting to form. It is not a coalition. It is not a “silent majority” of either the right or left. It is simply every variety of political belief that does not fit within the two major parties…..The Long Tail is a motley assortment of political misfits, wing nuts, and sober independents.”
Kling went on to write, “The key point is that the size of the Long Tail, and its rapid growth, represents the most significant political phenomenon of our time. What you will start to notice is the tendency for politics to reflect tension between the Long Tail and the major political parties.”
I remember a wedding I attended just prior to the 2004 election. We were seated at a table with an assortment of people from around the country, and the consensus was that none of us felt represented by either candidate, but would vote for our choice because we had no other viable option. What was most telling was that we were all quite different politically but that we needed “something else.” We would all gladly compromise if we could find someone who was willing to empower us to be part of the solutions to our countries many needs. Most of us are not wealthy, but we can be part of the change necessary if we have the right leadership, rather than waiting for someone to lead us to our political nirvana.
In fact, perhaps inadvertently and unknowingly, The Long Tail philosophy has become a cornerstone of the Obama campaign. Most politicians who campaign for the nomination rely on a few large donors to drive them into office. They often begin speeches by thanking a few people (The Head) and proceed to speak about themselves (The Head). Conversely, on the the evening of Super Tuesday in Chicago, Barack Obama’s Long Tail philosophy culminated when he memorably stated that “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, we are the ones we seek.”
Obama’s driving message continues to speak to thousands and millions of individuals across the United States. He repeatedly speaks of and embraces the individuals (The Long Tail) as the key driver to his campaign.
When Obama is out stumping, the point he drives home, over and over, is that HE is not the change. WE are the change.
But even more than his rhetoric, it is his fund raising and grassroots organization that make The Long Tail most evident. Consider these numbers: Obama raised $32 million dollars in January; $28 million of it was raised online. This is historic.
Barack Obama’s campaign is about us.