By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The permanent online campaign

If Gov. Deval Patrick wants to use the Web as a governing tool, as his supporters say, then shouldn’t he be doing it here? Why should we look at the soon-to-be-unveiled site as anything other than part of his permanent campaign?

By the way, if you go to right now, you’ll find that you can only do two things: (1) get onto his campaign’s e-mail list and (2) give money. Of course.

Update: The Outraged Liberal has a characteristically smart take about, which does, indeed, look promising. But O.L. and I will have to continue to differ on one thing: the appropriateness of Patrick’s using his privately funded campaign site as his primary outlet for online governance.

I still think this ought to be taking place on his gubernatorial site, and that there’s something vaguely wrong about making it an extension of his campaign. But, of course, he wouldn’t be able to solicit campaign donations on his official site — something that makes even O.L. a little queasy.

Update II: Media Nation’s views get some play in the Herald, in Casey Ross’ “Monday morning briefing.”

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  1. Anonymous is a taxpayer-funded site. Keeping blatant political comment off would be a Herculean task — and open him up to censorship charges.I think there’s a lot of resistance to change in the mainstream media (not that they have acquitted themselves all that well in covering the Statehouse in recent years). The Globe and Herald have missed regular opportunities to use the web — to explain and/or bring sunlight to government and politics. does a better job there by being the resource for disclosing campaign contributions and lobbyist payments.Instead of fighting the future, why don’t they make those government resources more broadly known?

  2. Outraged Liberal

    Didn’t want to scoop myself until I had a chance to take a closer look at the site. I agree the contribute button is too prominent, but otherwise, my thoughts stand and I expand them over at my place. I leave it to you to decide if you want to attribute the first comment to me or post this.

  3. Anonymous

    Golly Dan, you and OL are making it hard to choose where to post comments! I went with him this time . . .

  4. Jon Garfunkel

    Dan-Good question. The report that the Governor was changing things around by “re-doing his website” sounded fishy. Of course, Blue Mass Group already dissected this.But there’s a separate issue about how robust the technology is for their “MyIssue” feature. As I explain in detail, this sort of thing has been tried before, and Patrick’s team is one more group which appears not to have learned from past mistakes.

  5. Charley on the MTA

    Dan –1. What is “online governance”? Please define.2. “Vaguely wrong”: Why not tell us *specifically* what’s wrong with it, rather than casting aspersions based on your gut?BestCharley

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Charley:1. I’ll let define “online governance”:” is an online tool to help you participate in shaping the direction of your community and Massachusetts. It is where you can identify and present an issue that matters to you and then organize around it. The Governor keeps track of the efforts of everyone who uses and will often comment on issues generating solid amounts of support.”He may even take action himself, help you take action, or get others to help.”So whether your issue affects all of Massachusetts or just your local area, you now have the power to reach your Governor and those in your community.”So go ahead: get organized and create change.”2. OK, not vaguely wrong. Wrong. Here’s what it says at the top: “The official web site for Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts.” By definition, that ought to be a government-funded site — not an arm of the Patrick campaign.

  7. Peter Porcupine

    I posted this response on BMG about the web site last Sunday:Charley – after the Ameriquest call, you don’t see the potential for problems here? Can we infer that a communication to Deval’s Mass. Gov address and/or official address at the State House will not receive as much attention as something sent to his never-ending campaign website? (And the high purpose and function of said web site is irrelevant if it’s paid for with campaign money – Bill Delahunt used to have virtual tours of Mass. lighthouses on his web site, but that didn’t make me think he was a tour guide instead of a candidate).You won. Deval needs to master the governing of the Commonwealth before he hits the campaign trail again, rife as it may be with feel good moments.Yr. Obedient Servant, Peter Porcupine, Republican And that’s before I even KNEW about the title of the blog and the donation button!

  8. Charley on the MTA

    Dan – It occurs to me that Patrick said he was going to use relationship with the grassroots as a “new way of governing”. So I’m wondering why exactly this is a problem.2. Yeah, it’d be cool if it were on the state’s site, but there would be a lot of things you couldn’t do, like maintain some editorial control over the site. It’s easier to maintain some benign censorship (vs. racism and obviously poisonous stuff, eg) if it’s on Deval’s turf, not the state’s.Also, were he to put this kind of site on, we’d be hearing complaints that he was annexing the state’s site for his own PR purposes (which of course all department heads do). So, I think the way he’s done it is probably the best of the available options.BTW, calling it the “official” site only means that it’s set up and endorsed by Patrick himself, not someone else. I don’t think it necessarily privileges over the site, which he continues to use, except as a division of functions.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    Charley: I don’t think the use of a private server is a huge deal, but soliciting campaign contributions on a site that invites citizens to participate in government is bad news.

  10. sco

    Dan, I have two points — one is that campaign contributions are a part of government participation. if you look at John Kerry’s site, for example, he’s asking for money and asking you to participate in government. I get an email from him every couple days for some cause or candidate or another. I think you are making too much of the contribution link.Second, I actually asked Governor Patrick why he put this on his own servers and not You can read his answer if you like. It’s clear that they thought about where to do this and decide that for what they wanted to accomplish was not appropriate. Personally, I would have gone the Howard Dean route –turning Dean for America into Democracy for America — and used a different URL, but I’m not going to quibble over the web address.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Sco: Kerry’s site is explicitly a campaign site. I thought Patrick was aiming higher.

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