I can see already that one of the principal activitiesÂ of Mode Shift is to make a difference in the 2008 presidential campaign, not by convincing readers to vote for a particular candidate but by helping to make the case for public priorities that deserve to be treated seriously.Â Resource conservation, public transportation, metropolitan patterns of development, global climate change, healthy food, and land conservationÂ merit attention.Â And it’s our responsiblity as writersÂ to frame the issues in a way that people understand andÂ leaders can’t avoid.Â
This month an Internet event that stirred millions of Americans and the political community providesÂ solid evidenceÂ that things will be very different next year. The event,Â Â a video critical of Hillary ClintonÂ that borrowed heavily from Apple’s famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial introducing the Macintosh, attracted more than two million viewers in 15 days. The video provides more evidence of the eagerness of creative and politically involvedÂ people at the grassroots to shatter conventions.Â The powerÂ of their ideas and their access to social media indicates that it’s not going to beÂ possibleÂ for candidates, regardless of political party, to wave their hands at “energy” or “healthÂ care,” or “education”, or even “security” and think that’s going to be sufficient.
The Associated Press summarized today’s events this way:Â “A copy of the original commercial, directed by Ridley Scott, has been remade into a satirical attack piece against presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, replacing the Big Brother figure with the Democratic senator from New York instead. It then ends with a message supporting her opponent Sen. Barack Obama and a fruity Apple-like logo that has been converted into an “O.” The woman runner in the commercial has also been modified so that she’s wearing an iPod. The creator of the so-called online video mash-up was identified Wednesday as Philip de Vellis, a strategist who worked with a digital consulting company that has ties to Obama. The Illinois senator’s campaign has denied being behind the ad.”
TheÂ more durable pointÂ is that a clever video with a powerful message broke through to reach people.Â It apparently was produced by one guy with a brain, a computer, an editing program, access to YouTube, and a bit of a marketing strategy.Â
The same is possible for people interested inÂ transportation, the environment, housing, energy, land, and infrastructure investments.Â TheÂ convergence of record population growth,Â declining family incomes, and rising energy, land, housing, and living costsÂ isÂ eroding the right ofÂ a majority ofÂ Americans toÂ a good and decent life. These trendsÂ threaten our national security and our economic well-being. TheyÂ are the threads ofÂ a national emergency hidden in the complex tapestry of our economy, culture, and business practices.Â Concern about these issuesÂ turned them into top public priorities in Michigan and some 40 other states.Â It’s our responsibility to tease them out, display them in creative and visual ways that get to the point, and to do so with persistence and clarity of mission thatÂ can’t be ignored at the national level.Â
The tools and technology of social media, particularly YouTube, provides thinking people access to the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. We have brains and creativity and passion. We also have computers, cameras, recorders, mixers,Â editing software, and access to mass dissemination platforms, all available at a reasonable cost.Â Look for much more out of the grassroots in exploring the American Mode Shift.Â We have the opportunity to break open the conventional packaging and make the 2008 raceÂ something special.Â Neither the parties nor the candidates will be able to fullyÂ control the message. You and I will have our say.Â Â Â Â Â Â