Rasiej on Obama and the Role of the Netroots

At last week’s Netroots Nation convention in Austin, online-politics innovator Andrew Rasiej told Obama deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand that the campaign had still not demonstrated clearly to netroots supporters that an Obama administration would commit to online transparency and an open line of communication with them.

(It was perhaps an indication of the campaign’s failure to convey that commitment that no more than about 30 people attended that particular panel discussion — despite it being one of the few sessions during the four-day convention which featured potential powerbrokers in an Obama administration.)

In a follow-up conversation, Rasiej argued, as he did in his remarks to Hildebrand, that the campaign needed to do a better job of telegraphing to online activists that there would be greater openness and more opportunity for them to provide meaningful input in an Obama administration. But he also said he was confident, based on the Obama campaign’s technology policy, that an Obama administration would indeed promote an unprecedented level of transparency and civic participation once in power, and that the way Obama runs a campaign isn’t necessarily indicative of the way he would govern.

“If you only look to the Obama campaign for evidence of that, you are looking in the wrong place,” he said.

A key measure of Obama’s commitment to bolstering democracy online, Rasiej said, would be how Obama would use his e-mail list as president. Would he use it as an electronic updated version of direct mail to ask for money for Democratic causes, or would he solicit ideas in creating policy from those millions of people and make “civic participation less abstract?”

Rasiej on Obama and the Role of the Netroots