Two thousand progressive leaders from around the country gathered in DC June 4-6 to take stock of their prospects to “Take Back America.” Co-Convener Robert Borasage also described it as an “idea primary” in which many of the Democratic primary candidates would speak. Absent were the two candidates most directly responsible for passage of the Congressional resolution for war against Iraq, Senators Joseph Lieberman and Congressman Dick Gephardt. (Gephardt sent a videotaped address.) Also absent was Ralph Nader, who had declined to throw his support as a Green Party presidential candidate in 2000 to Al Gore. Neither fostering war in violation of the UN Charter nor giving up on the Democratic Party as the opposition to the Republican Party, the Conference theme was unity in support of progressive politics.

Wes Boyd, one of the founders of, discussed the Internet as a “sticky medium.” Those who sign on to an Internet site tend to stay, he said, in contrast to those who see a TV ad. The Internet enables two-way communication and, therefore, a greater sense of involvement and opportunity for grassroots politics.

A test of whether the Internet could achieve critical mass sufficient to affect this Presidential election occured on June 24-25 when held its Internet primary with Senator John Kerry, Governor Howard Dean and US Rep Dennis Kucinich as the run off candidates. If one of them got more than 50% of the votes, he would have received the organization’s endorsement and PAC funding. The results: Dean received 43.87% of the vote with 139,360 votes and Dennis Kucinich was second with 23.93% and 76000 votes. In 48 hours, 317,467 people voted.

Howard Dean’s campaign has made the greatest use of the Internet thus far. Through Dean has coalesced his supporters nationwide via the Internet in local meetings involving some 32,000 nationwide during the week of the Take Back America Conference. This army of Internet activists places volunteer supporters at every public appearance of Dean, including in the lobby of the Omni Shoreham Hotel on June 5. This Internet based success gives Dean an Internet leg up on his competitor Dennis Kucinich with Senator Kerry’s chances are hurt by his vote for the Iraq war resolution, inasmuch as was at the core of the international movement opposing the war on Iraq. If Dean wins the primary this week, it will represent the a powerful merger of Internet based political forces.

The Bush campaign, in sharp contrast, is pushing the old technology of big bucks for TV ads, perhaps doubling its 2000 fundraising to reach $200 million for this campaign. Should the winner of the Internet idea primary go on to gain 200,000,000 voters via the new sticky medium, it may prove the undoing of TV ads as the political technique of choice in 21st century America.