Sunday 26 April 2009

So who invented the modern political campaign?

With the New York congressional race resolved, there is only one decision left – Coleman versus Franken – and the 2008 election, which began two years ago, is finally over.

So, trivia question: which two men invented the modern political campaign?

No, it ain't Rove, or Atwater or Nixon.

The first one launched a wide range of political innovations, to include building a national political party, fundraising, amassing voter lists, slogans, songs, pamphlets, posters, parades, barbecue parties, dinners, rallies, and product merchandising. Almost 200 years ago Andrew Jackson wrote the campaign blueprint which politicians are still using today – I mean, voter lists and merchandizing in 1828! He was also the first of three men to win the popular vote in three consecutive presidential elections (the other two were also Democrats, Grover Cleveland and FDR).

The second one added the use of political proselytizing in the media, radio, and film, and made a point of making alliances with special interest groups such as the military, the rich, farmers and religious leaders; he also excelled in parades, demonstrations, attacking political enemies, and appealing to the left and right simultaneously. He also aimed his proselytizing at the young. Benito Mussolini’s strategy and tactics were so admired by Hitler that Der Fuehrer had a bust of Mussolini in his office.

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