Hi tech politiking from Obama

An article in the NYT reveals how significantly politics is now a business, not a civic service.

The technology and political science being used to re-energise Obama supporters for the next election is the equivalent of a business operation. The objective is Presidency. The customers are voters. The revenue comes from obtaining the Office, and from public contributions to the electoral race itself.

Modern political business is like a charity gone feral: where raising funds becomes the objective, distorting the charitable purpose of the organisation and the people in it.

Politicians and their groupies spend this sort of effort and money because they run for political positions rather than stand for them. They try to convince people to vote for them rather than wait for voters to choose freely.

In this era of professional politicians, the ideal of standing for positions is virtually dead. It is only invoked by politicians in a mock humbleness – a cynical attempt for moral high ground. Check the difference between the “buy me” speech just before the election, and the “aw shucks” speech after winning.

The objective of the political business is to win. Liberal political parties, such as Labour and the Greens, decry the role of money in politics. But the money is simply following the political purpose: if the purpose is to win power and control people’s lives, then money helps. The Greens implicitly acknowledge this purpose when they involve celebrities in their campaigns. The Greens are simply deploying a different form of currency.

The irony of Obama’s renewed technological effort for this campaign is that he ran the business of politics poorly. A sensible enterprise keeps its eye on the prize, and its connection with customers, even when it is profitable. A smart business knows that it is only as good, and as viable, as the next purchase.

Obama, like most professional politicians, is a short-sighted business person. They think the prize is winning election. The actual prize is public support. No matter how slick your customer relationship management, to the voters you are still standing for election.

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