It’s been six years since I’ve last solved an analogy puzzle. Actually I think the last time I solved one was for the SATs. With that said, here is one to get the brain cells woring: Rush Limbaugh to Republican Party as Rob Stein is to _______. Before I read The Argument, I would not have been to solve this problem. But, after I read the book, the answer is clear as day. The answer is Democratic Party. The relation between the two words is “is the message machine to.”

The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics was an excellent read, and it gave me a great insight of the behind the scenes effort of the 2008 Election. The party needed to develop re-branding campaign, and this book talked about how they accomplished this great challenge. To set the stage, after the 2004 election, the Democratic Party didn’t have a direction or a leader. However, that was about to change. Rob Stein deciphered the puzzle; he came to the conclusion Democratic Party lost two elections in a row because they did not have a message. Republicans had Rush Limbaugh, but whom did Democratic party have? Little did Stein know it at the time, but it was he. It began with his “killer slideshow,” but he wasn’t working alone. It was the billionaires who funded the party and the bloggers, kept the party in the news. He was a building a community, which he had inspired to do (p. 48).

Matt Bai’s book goes through the highlights and the low points of this behind the scenes effort. There was immense support and feedback but there was also firing and arguments. But, there was a never lack of hope. Bai explained how Stein continued to find passion in the darkest times. “You’re going to love it,’ he would say, preparing to share with me some new insight. You’re…going…to…love…it” (p. 31). The lesson of having enthusiasm is crucial to any campaign’s strategy, and this book is evident of it. On one trip to Arizona, Stein shared “we have come together to help create a grand vision for America, based on the enduring values and grounded in meaningful, practical solutions for people at home and abroad and build a new generation of progressive institutions that could push back against the conservative machine.” (p. 98)  As the book progresses so does the message development for the Democratic Party. On page 112, Stein hits the Jackpot. He realized he needs to make it clear to the people that the politicians aren’t rich people, who debate, but they are to stand up and “explain why things are lacking and advance an argument about how we should adapt to the large forces the led us here.” This became the message for the Democracy Alliance. Now the group just had to find people to speak on their behalf.

Nevertheless, this passion of Stein and his colleagues spread through to the Internet, and the Internet (especially one particular website, MoveOn.org) made finding influentials and spokespeople easy (p 144). Bai’s book gave various accounts about how Democrat voters found that blogs also opened a door for people to share their common beliefs, so they don’t feel alone. In the words of Bai,

the advent of the Internet made it possible for thousands of liberals, scattered around the country, to convene without leaving their bedrooms. The second was a yearning for a connection. Americans at the end of the century had largely given up on civic and political organizations that had sustained their parents and grandparents and that isolation had left them searching for some sense of community which the Web made possible in new ways.” (p.133)

It was also bridging the generation gap! Generations of Democrats didn’t know what their Party stood for; they were just raised Democrat. The Internet and its counterparts, the Blogopshere helped them to figure out that riddle. Nevertheless, the history of American media was the story of technologies connecting people, and the Web was balancing the country’s read and blue electoral map (p. 149). The Web wasn’t simply a tool for old politics; the blog represented their own distinct political culture. Matt Bai’s book was a true story of moments that redefined the political era we live in. And to think, it all began with a killer slideshow.

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