Fill in the blanks

I’m really enjoying Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. Chapter 9 is proving to be a favorite. You fill in the blanks, and I’ll explain at the end.

The _____ campaign brilliantly conveyed a message to it’s supporters, particularly its young ones, that their energy and enthusiasm could change the world. Some of the message was conveyed by design, but much of it was a function of people looking for something, finding it in _____, and then using tools like … and weblogs to organizes themselves. The _____ campaign was unequaled in creating bonding capital among its most ardent supporters. They gained a sense of value just from participating; and in the end the participation came to matter more than the goal (a pretty serious weakness for a vote-getting operation). The pleasure in working on the _____ campaign was knowing that you were on the right side of history; the campaign’s brilliant use of social tools to gather the like-minded further fed that feeling. It is natural for a campaign attracting so many eager young people to oversell them on the effect they’ll have, when the truth is so rough: you’ll work eighty-hour weeks while sleeping on someone’s sofa, and in the end your heroic contribution will be a drop in the bucket of what’s needed. So a little pep talk now and then can’t hurt.

But a campaign can go too far. In this respect, too far is when people believe that believing is enough, without factoring in the difference between the passionate few who run the campaign and the barely interested many who actually vote. Voting, the heart of the matter, is both dull and depressing. Standing around an elementary school cafeteria is not a great way to feel like your energy and excitement are going to change the world, because the math of the voting booth undermines any sense of inevitability: everyone in line not voting for _____ cancels your vote. The _____ campaign had accidentally created a movement for a passionate few rather than a vote-getting operation.

The campaign in question? It could be Obama’s today, but it’s actually written about Howard Dean’s attempt for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.

Reading this passage made me want to relax my diligence for the Republican nominee, but that would be a really bad idea. True, the Democratic party is split, and half of it looks like the narrative above, but that’s no reason to expect a victory in November for McCain without working for it.

Still, it’s one of those moments where fairly conservative voters can square their shoulders and breath a little easier as they work to accomplish the task.