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How Social Media Imperils Political Parties

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Most things in our lives are now custom fit. If we want coffee, we can order it 50 ways. If we want to watch a movie, we can choose between Netflix, iTunes, On Demand, etc. If we need a restaurant review, we have OpenTable, Yelp, etc. However, for one of the most important aspects of our life, politics, we still have only two "meat or fish" options. We are also at a point where people are more disaffected than ever by political parties. A Pew post-election poll in 2010 found for the first time in modern American history, Independents outnumbered Democrats and Republicans in terms of party affiliation. This need for tailoring our lives has now met our distaste for political institutions. While political parties will always be a piece of American politics, their relevance is being severely diminished by the growth of social media. The biggest political movements in the last year (Wisconsin, the Arab Spring, the Tea Party movement) all came together OUTSIDE of political institutions, not from within (and largely due to social media). This panel will discuss this trend.


Joe Trippi Founder & Pres Joe Trippi & Associates

Joe Trippi

Founder and President – heralded on the cover of The New Republic as the man who “reinvented campaigning” – is widely recognized as one of America’s leading and most influential political strategists.

“One of the best political pros in the business” - Larry King, CNN

“The genius, the new Carville.” - GQ Magazine

“Political Innovator of the Decade” - The Atlantic Monthly

Born in California, Trippi began his political career working on Edward M. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1980. His work in presidential politics continued with the campaigns of Walter Mondale, Gary Hart, Richard Gephardt, Howard Dean and, most recently, John Edwards. Trippi has run and consulted on numerous presidential, Senate, congressional, mayoral and gubernatorial races.

Most recently, Trippi was a senior strategist and media consultant in Jerry Brown’s successful run for California Governor. The campaign’s ads were described as “clever” and “amazing,” and they were widely considered some of best of 2010. Chris Matthews called one spot, “Echo”, “one of the best ad I’ve ever seen,” and TIME Magazine named it the #1 Campaign Ad of 2010.

Trippi and his team pioneered the empowerment message and the online community tools that President Barack Obama used which inspired a movement of supporters and which has now become the basis for movement politics all around the world.

In 2004, as the National Campaign Manager for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, Trippi pioneered the use of online technology to organize what became the largest grassroots movement in presidential politics. Through his innovative use of the Internet for small-donor fundraising, “Dean for America” raised more money than any Democratic presidential campaign to that point – all with donations averaging less than $100.
According to The Atlantic magazine, Trippi’s influence on Democratic Party politics has been profound and lasting:

“The small-dollar Internet donor base attracted by Dean and flogged relentlessly by Trippi has transformed the party’s fundraising. Every single campaign uses Trippi-patented tactics to raise money. The men and women Joe Trippi cultivated on Dean’s staff have stormed the gates and occupy positions of power in major party and campaign offices.”

In 2008, Trippi signed on with Senator John Edwards’ presidential bid as a senior advisor, focusing on messaging, Internet strategy and online engagement. He was also responsible for producing the campaign’s television spots, which were widely applauded as “innovative” and “highly creative” and rated as the best of the Iowa Caucuses by Frank Luntz.

Trippi has an extensive international resume. In 1993, he worked for then PASOK leader Andreas Papandreou’s successful campaign of Prime Minister of Greece, as well as for his son, George Papandreou in 2007. Trippi advised former British Prime Minister Tony Blair during his successful reelection. In 2006, he worked for Romano Prodi on his winning race for Prime Minister of Italy.

In 2008, Trippi helped Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change receive the most votes, and helped garner international media attention to Robert Mugabe’s democratic subversion and violence.

In addition to his political work, Trippi has consulted with a number of leading corporations including MasterCard, Toyota, DaimlerChrysler, SES Americom, LabCorp, IBM, Lionsgate Films, BestBuy, MSNBC, Wave Systems, and Progeny Linux Systems.

Trippi is the author of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet and the Overthrow of Everything,” the story of how his revolutionary use of the Internet combined with an impassioned, contagious desire to overturn politics-as-usual grew into a national grassroots movement – and changed the face of American politics forever.

Marci Harris CEO POPVOX

Entrepreneur, lawyer, former Congressional Staffer working to bring order to the chaos of legislative information and make the Voice of the People heard (and understood) on Capitol Hill.

Mark McKinnon Vice Chairman Hill + Knowlton Strategies

For 30 years, Mark McKinnon has been helping solve complex strategic challenges for causes, companies and candidates, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Ann Richards, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong and Bono.

McKinnon is an award-winning media producer and communications strategist who has served as principal media advisor for hundreds of corporate and political campaigns around the world. McKinnon has helped engineer five winning presidential primary and general elections. He has been awarded more than 30 Pollie and Telly awards, honoring the nation’s best political and public affairs advertising.

According to Broadcasting and Cable magazine, McKinnon is one of “a handful of players behind every big decision, consensus or roadblock in Washington…putting a unique, sometimes hidden stamp on the outcome of today’s debates.” Politics Daily writes: “He's known for his originality in a field typified by copy-cats, a mellow personality in a world populated with high-strung brutes, and ecumenical urges in a profession dominated by its unadulterated partisans.”

“McKinnon is evidence that principled centrism is not an oxymoron,” wrote John Avalon in a Daily Beast column about the 25 Best Centrist Pundits. “McKinnon piloted John McCain’s 2008 primary campaign to victory. But he announced in advance that if Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination, he would ride off into the sunset rather than participate in the negative attacks he knew would be required. This is unheard of in the world of modern politics, where partisanship trumps principle as a matter of course.”
Former President Bush says of McKinnon, “I was really impressed by Mark’s creativity, and I was particularly impressed by his honesty." Senator John McCain, in his typical straight talk fashion, remarks, "He’s almost a genius." And President Obama calls McKinnon “a class act.”

McKinnon is co-founder of No Labels, a non-profit organization dedicated to bipartisanship and civil discourse in politics and is co-chair of Arts+Labs, a collaboration between technology and creative communities that have embraced today’s rich internet environment to deliver innovative and creative digital products to consumers. President Bush appointed McKinnon to serve as a governor of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. He currently serves on the boards of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Change Congress, an organization dedicated to campaign finance reform, and has taught at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

McKinnon attended UT Austin and served as editor of the award-winning university newspaper, The Daily Texan. He spent several years in Nashville working as a song-writer with Kris Kristofferson. And was wildly unsuccessful. McKinnon also is a two-time Ironman finisher. His quality of life is exceptionally enhanced by the enduring love and patience of his wife, Annie (whom he met before he could drive), and his daughters, Brita, 26 and Kendall, 23.

McKinnon is a weekly columnist for The Daily Beast. (

Matt Bai New York Times Magazine Political Writer The New York Times

Nathan Daschle CEO

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