One of the reasons the political system is so static is because it allows those candidates with the greatest attachment to professional organizations to leverage existing advantages against citizen candidates.
Jim Gilliam hopes so. The Web pioneer has wrangled more than 170 million voter-registration records from all 50 states, cleaned them up and updated them.
And he’s giving all that data away for free to candidates and Web developers, hoping to open up “the building block for democracy” to small groups that can’t afford the expensive data-mining tactics major campaigns use to contact voters.
“This is data that is owned by the American people but has never been accessible and affordable before,” said Gilliam, the CEO of NationBuilder, a software company that makes online tools for political and community organizing. “For so long, it’s been controlled and locked up by the political parties.”
This isn’t going to be a major game-changer for the left which already has the professional organizations and support structure in place, but it will be a game-changer for the Tea Party which has not been lacking in ideas or enthusiasm, but has been left behind by the organizational structures of the Republican Party and their competition.
While some people emphasize the Republic, American Democracy is till the best check on the elitist approach of the left whose ideas and agendas are out of touch with ordinary Americans. Opening up the system can only hurt the entrenched interests of the left, which depend on voter fraud and disenfranchising entire groups of voters, but mostly on competing against a moribund Republican Party that is satisfied with the latest iteration of the status quo.
Gillian’s toolset may be what it will take for the Tea Party to break out of the box and the left is already worried.
One person who’s not a fan is Raven Brooks, director of the liberal advocacy group Netroots Nation. He’s been calling for a boycott of Gilliam’s NationBuilder since it inked a deal with the Republican State Leadership Committee in June.
“When you have a tool set like this that is immediately made available to a bunch of Republican candidates who are responsible for some of the worst, most backward legislation this country has ever seen.”