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Sunday: Tipping the unParty

Me, before the accident

Me, before the accident

Last summer, just after Obama sold his soul on the FISA bill, Markos Moulitsas shook his tiny fists and wailed:

Like all retreats, this one came with a price. Much of his veneer as a transformational politician has faded. He’s a gifted and inspirational politician, no doubt about that, and he will make a great president. But at the end of the day, he’s a politician, with all the triangulating goodness that’s become a hallmark of our presidential candidates. That has cost him some intensity of support, some bad headlines, a new avenue of attack for Republicans (even though McCain didn’t even bother showing up for the vote), and … renewed energy and sense of purpose for the ridiculous PUMAs. That last one is really fucking annoying.

OooOOooo!  We f&(*ing annoyed him.  Well, I can die now.  I have fulfilled my mission in life.

Or have I?

PUMAs, we’re not done yet.  We came into being during this past election season and now that its over, there’s a bit of a lull.  It’s a perfect time to regroup and determine how to go forward.  We don’t have a lot of time though.  The mid-terms are only 2 years away.  Plus, we’re going to be plunged into an economic crisis the likes of which we, and possibly our parents, have not ever seen before.

But we have already laid the groundwork.  The reason Kos was so annoyed with us is because the concept of PUMA swept through the blogosphere like wildfire.  It was viral.  In a week, seven short days, we went from concept to media appearances from people we didn’t even know about.  Groups started popping up like mushrooms.  Joanniebone started her own little group in Washington,  Janet in South Jersey.  The time was right, the elements were there, the message was clear.  We “tipped”.

The Tipping Point, a book by Malcolm Gladwell, describes the phenomenon of social epidemics.  There are certain elements that need to be in place for a concept or product or message to reach that critical mass where it spills out of the local environment and into the mainstream.  Sometimes this happens in stages.  What annoyed Markos so much was that for the PUMA movement in early June, the tipping point was rapid and widespread.  It was astonishing.  To those of you who have looked on the past election with dismay that you were unable to influence it, give yourself some credit.  David Axelrod had already studied the nature of social epidemics before we got there.  And what he devised took him years and research while it came to us naturally.  His was contrived and was only saved by the incredible criminality and incompetance of George W. Bush.  Ours is organic, well intentioned, inclusive. We made noise.

Right now, we are an endemic.  But do not kid yourself.  There are a lot of potential PUMAs out there.  The Democratic voters who pulled that lever for Obama will give him a much shorter honeymoon than the media will.  He’s going to have to produce and quickly.  And don’t think they are not paying attention to the way women are being treated.  The Obamaphiles who sold every Democratic principle for Obama and who voted for the personality of Obama are a very small fraction of people.  The rest of the Democrats are up for grabs.  And don’t forget the independents and disaffected Republicans.

So, how do we get the unParty to go mainstream?  That’s where the book comes in.  I’m proposing a book club to discuss the concepts presented in The Tipping Point.  As you read it, ask yourself whether you are a connector, maven or salesman.  Think about what it is about PUMA that makes it “sticky”.  Think about structure, organization and size.  Think about the coolness factor.

Then, next Sunday, come back with your ideas and we’ll get this unParty started.