It is rather retro, a waste of pixels, for us to even mention Lord Nader and his under the bridge efforts. There are however, some lessons for relevant, modern day campaigns from previous Fader Nader efforts.
In a tear inducing moment of supreme generosity we posted a while back Let’s Help Richardson, Edwards, Obama, Day. None of the campaigns we magnanimously provided guidance to in that post have sent appreciative notes to us. The Edwards campaign, to its credit, does appear to be adjusting his schemes to reflect our advice (alas, too late). Here are some paragraphs from our kind post:
“After making sure Americans know Obama is a lunkhead, the Obama campaign then switches gears to persuade Americans Obama is a great leader. The way to do this is by holding big rallies with thousands, if not tens of thousands of people cheering and shouting. It’s an interesting strategy, if it would work. The last person who tried this strategy was Ralph Nader.”
“In 2000, the Naderites who lionize Al Gore today called him Al Bore. The same nasty complaints heard about Al Gore then, are repeated by the Naderites about Hillary today. The same invective was used. The same strategies were used. The Naderites used low dollar “super rallies” to create excitement and to say their candidate was someone new with loads of experience as a community organizer.”
We then proceeded to list examples of Lord Nader’s “super rallies”. From D.C. to Seattle, from Wisconsin to Ann Arbor sprouted the super rallies. Adoration, inspiration, and high hopes followed:
”Familiar with the TV show West Wing? It’s popular because it’s a romance: a story of true love at first sight between voters and their candidate. Roy Bartlett (Martin Sheen’s character), not initially the favored Democratic candidate, comes on to the scene like a charismatic fireball: willing to take a stand on the tough issues. The voters are infatuated with him, and he doesn’t let them down. There’s very little compromising done by the Bartlett administration, and the differences between Democrats and Republican are as clear as night and day. Not realistic of course, but there’s still a certain charm to the moment where we see one of the staff watching him speak for the first time. You can almost see the chills going down his spine, and you can’t help but think: “Ah, there it is: true inspiration.” Believe it or not, that is what I experienced at the Nader rally: inspiration.
It wasn’t just Nader’s speech that moved me, it was everything. We arrived a half hour late, and were herded up to seats on the third balcony, overlooking the entirety of the Garden, filled to the brim with eager participants, swaying back and forth as Ani DiFranco strummed her guitar and sang. Ben Harper, Eddie Vedder, and Tim Robbins (as Republican Senator parody Bob Roberts) all performed as well, and each time a song ended, bright lights fell upon the cheering crowd giving each member a certain glow as they stood above their seats, leapt up and down with their fists held high, and waved signs above their heads. There was something in the air… a vibe, that everyone was breathing in and getting high off of at once.”
Something was in the air alright. We won’t speculate. Maybe Ben Harper, fresh from last night’s not sold out fundraiser, knows.
Ben Harper clearly learned nothing from his adventures with Lord Nader and the super rallies campaign. Has anyone at a certain campaign?
“Since opening his presidential campaign five months ago, Mr. Obama has drawn crowds far larger than most of his rivals. (Mr. Dean did, too.) But what good is a 20,000-person February rally in Austin, for example, when the campaign begins far from Texas?”
“If you’re a campaign with lots of enthusiasm, you have to make sure that you are capturing everyone’s information,” said David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager. “We are very mindful of that every time we do an event.”
“But Mr. Plouffe warns against dismissing the political significance of such crowds, particularly in this presidential cycle, where a frenzied day of coast-to-coast primaries on Feb. 5 will make candidates rely on a large base of supporters everywhere. “It has real meaningful application on Feb. 5,” he said, “beginning with the ability to chase absentee ballots.”
Whatever substance was in the air those many years ago when Ben Harper and Lord Nader appeared together is still being smoked.