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Katiebird calls in from Kansas

I just got a call from Katiebird. She lives in a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas. Here’s her rundown:

There were about 1430 people at her caucus site. The large auditorium/gym room in the pictures she sent me showed a standing room only crowd. There were additional people in the hallways.

When they asked people to separate by candidate, they had the Bernie contingent filter out onto a field. The line seemed to go on forever. She said that they were asked to line up in lines of 10 and then they counted. By the time they got to her, there were 300 for Bernie but the counting went on a lot longer after her. They counted the votes three times.

Bernie won her senate district. The exact count was something like 900+ for Bernie, 400+ for Hillary.

She said the Bernie campaign staff were very well organized and efficient. They were prepared for a large turnout. It was a really pleasant experience in contrast to the caucus she went to in 2008 on a Tuesday night in a blizzard when busloads of rowdy Obama supporters, some of whom she was pretty sure were bussed in from another state, crowded the small space they had reserved for the caucus. In that year, Hillary was crushed in her district caucus. She thinks having it on a nice Saturday afternoon when there could be a good turnout and everyone was relaxed made a lot of the difference.

Her sister lives about 30 miles away and they think that Bernie is taking the larger population areas but don’t know if farmers are also receptive to the Bern.

She also said Governor Brownback seems to be facing a serious Democratic challenger. That could be fun to watch this year.

Katiebird is on her way home now ready to unscrew a new fine boxed merlot.

Cocktail hour is here.

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A Tale of Two Ads: Bernie and Hillary

 

and

 

 

Today, Katiebird caucuses in Kansas for Bernie Sanders. I talked to her last night and I’m so excited for her. And she seems really happy and enthusiastic about her choice. I know what is driving Katiebird. Her priority is healthcare reform. But I think she also wants to be part of something bigger and she feels the Bern. I can’t wait to hear what her caucus was like and who won.

I’m comfortable with my choice as well. I’m going with my head, not my heart so I identify with Al Franken’s point of view. But I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I wish Hillary was running a campaign like Bernie’s. I think she will get there eventually. Rebecca Traister in a recent interview at Fresh Air made the same observation. Hillary can stir the emotions and project her vision.

Anyway, I’d just like Bernie fans to know that they are more than welcome here. We have so much more in common than we have differences and I can’t imagine us not being friends. Every time Bernie wins a state, I feel good. It’s a very good sign that Americans are waking up.

And I’m not counting Bernie out. It’s still too early, you never know what’s going to happen and I think he makes the party stronger in a year that feels ripe for real change.

So, Go, Katie! Go Katie!

 

 

DailyKos: Conversion and Conformity

ccv3h71w8aasjtlPeter Daou wrote about Markos Moulitsos, founder of DailyKos, and his announcement that he will be shifting his support to Hillary as soon as the nomination is wrapped up. Sorry, Bernie fans, time to get in line.

Atrios yesterday wrote that he doubted that one person’s “Why I am Voting for So&So diary” is worth anything. I was happy to see Atrios embrace the idea that your vote is your own but I think he’s dead wrong about the value of the conversion diary. Maybe they’re not as powerful as they used to be but I saw DailyKos lose its collective mind and then get in line twice in 2007-2008. First, it went bat s^&* crazy over John Edwards, then when Edwards became non-viable, it became moonstruck over Obama.

During the infamous Rec List Hostage Crisis of 2008, the pivot from Edwards to Obama was incredibly smooth. I could almost swear that the same people were writing those diaries.

The value of the testimonial can not be underestimated. Maybe we should get John Dehlin, psychologist, former Mormon and host of Mormon Stories to come and explain how it works. The conversion or testimonial is particularly effective in groups that are also exercising other high control tactics, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

A typical conversion story relates how a person is transformed by a moment of revelation. They become “born again” in some important way. People who study high control groups might say the convert’s  behavior has been unduly influenced by informational, emotional and thought control. Go ahead, read about the BITE model and you’ll never see DailyKos in the same way again.

That’s why I think Markos’s conversion story looks like it might not be important to those of us who have figured out how he operates even if it eventually does. His life is only going to change if his revelation leads to more advertising revenue from the Clinton campaign. Deep down inside, I doubt that Markos is wed to any one particular candidate. If anything, he seems to swing Libertarian and attracts the same guys who are stuck in adolescence who aren’t going to let any woman be the boss of them. It’s his business model.

Also, the conversion story does not work in the absence of other features. There has to be praise of the convert. In many religions and high control groups, this would include love bombing. At DailyKos, love bombing is accomplished through the use of recommendations. If a diarist gets enough recommends, their diary can make it to the recommended diary list where its prominence will influence other Kossacks.

The more you toe the founder’s line, the more mojo you get. That is, your level of  authority, at DailyKos increases and you can achieve Trusted User status. A trusted user has very few privileges and while Kossacks are told they don’t mean much, they actually do. A Trusted user can demote recommendations. They are enforcers. A mob of enforcers can deplete a Kossack’s mojo completely. If you don’t stay with the herd, you can be excommunicated and banned from the site.

This is what happened to me in January 2008 when I used the word “jihad” to explain how Obama supporters were mobbing other candidate’s supporters on DailyKos in order to get them banned. In the span of a couple hours, I went from being a trusted user to an exile. I was on to them by the time I posted that diary and while my diary was not meant to get me banned, I watched in fascination how efficiently and quickly the process worked.  I guess to someone who likes to be one of a crowd, that might have been devastating and I saw other Kossacks try very hard to not it happen to them. But for me? It was no big deal. What I learned at DailyKos was that I could write well enough to make the rec list fairly frequently. So, I left and started The Confluence. I didn’t get the fame or the ad money but I’ve enjoyed it anyway.

Those of you who still visit DailyKos can correct me if I’m wrong on any of this. Some of the rules of the game have changed since I was there last. The parameters of the model can be tweaked to keep everyone in line. But Markos knows what he’s doing and he set up his site to enforce conformity and a single message. Yes, there is a bit of wiggle room there. It’s like the difference between being a Methodist and a Presbyterian but it’s still Christianity. And when Markos signs the contract or gives the nod of the head, the machine works of his site will kick into gear and everyone will fall in line, write conversion diaries and disfellowship the apostates.

It’s conformity on a grand blog scale.

Maybe it doesn’t mean as much as it did 8 years ago. But Markos still attracts a lot of the same kind of people. They talk amongst themselves, reminisce about when they had their revelation and swallow their disappointments on queue when their leader gets “new light”.  And when it came time to throw away rules, disenfranchise voters and abbreviate roll call votes in Denver, the Kossacks were enthusiastic supporters of all things not very Democratic. We ended up with an establishment president who is more conservative than just about anyone on DailyKos but by golly, they won, didn’t they? So what if they ripped their party in two in the meantime?

They have a lot in common with Trump supporters.

Yes, conversion diaries, especially many of them, written with the blessing and encouragement and sometimes the coding skills and public megaphone of the founder, can and do make a difference. It simply is what it is, regardless of what Atrios says.