Mathew Gross, the brains behind the Dean campaign blog as well as numerous other Internet programs, has left the campaign and is blogging at his own site. Mathew became a good friend of mine during the campaign (when I visited Burlington I slept on his couch) and I respect what he built, and perhaps more importantly, how he built it. With marching orders from Joe Trippi, Mathew built a group of people who are dedicated, passionate, and smart. With their creativity, their remarkable commitment to listening to the grassroots, and their belief that their jobs were never done, they set a high bar for other campaigns to match in their use of technology.
When Mathew says —
I believe the Dean campaign will be looked on as a seminal moment in American politics. The Dean campaign marks the beginning of the end of the broadcast age in politics, and a change toward more interactive and decentralized campaigning. And the change is going to be even more rapid from here.
I think he’s right. But I think there’s an important piece that Mathew, who’s a pretty humble guy, overlooks. The reason for why they did what they did (and why it succeeded so wildly) — is that they, like Dean himself, adamantly believed that this campaign was about us, not them. And as a result, they built out tools and sites that repeatedly shined a light on the 600,000+ Americans who had hope that they could make a difference. And Mathew and his team deserve a lot of credit for that commitment — at any point during the run-up last year, it could have easily become about them, and what the campaign could do for them. It never did, and that’s to their credit.
I’m proud to have been a small part of what they built. And most of all, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know Mathew, Zephyr, Nicco, Joe, Jim, Clay, Zack, Bobby, Garrett, and countless others in Burlington who put their lives on hold to chip in wherever they could.
(As for the title of this post? It goes back a number of months, when Matt and I were IM’ing back and forth — he’d been interviewed by a German newspaper, and when we ran the article through one of the online translator sites, he became “Matthew Large”, which we decided was a good start for his “street” name…)