The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News April 20, 2007

Confident Trippi Keynotes Conference
Expecting Victory: During a speech last week, Trippi encouraged students to become active in politics.

“It is almost impossible that a Democrat [will] not win in November,” said Joe Trippi, former Howard Dean campaign manager and keynote speaker of the Oberlin Democrats’ one-day progressive conference. Confident in his party’s imminent success, he called for the progressive left to mobilize now to actualize its agenda.

He repeatedly urged students to become intimately active in politics, claiming that “the tools you have today to bring the nation together” are historically unprecedented. His talk dovetailed with the conference’s earlier events, which focused heavily on activism and political motivation. Workshops included union organizing, grassroots organizing, and something called “netroot organizing.” Additionally, pundit Dr. John Mueller gave a speech on the exaggeration of the threat of terrorism.

Trippi, author of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything, claimed that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are capable of winning the race, but “the pressure they’re putting on each other is making them careful.”

Trippi himself is a supporter of John Edwards, the 2004 Vice-Presidential Candidate and current Democratic presidential candidate. However, he finds it hard to fathom “how tough it would be for Hillary Clinton not to receive the nomination.”

Trippi believes that all three  candidates “could be the transformational leader we need.”

Despite his confidence, this remark solicited a grumble of uncertainty from the crowd.

Having led an economically successful Democratic presidential campaign for Howard Dean, Trippi is a firm believer that if progressives can conduct their own fund-raising and reduce candidates’ dependence on lobbyists, then the progressive agenda will become accordingly prominent.

After listing off a series of ideas such as a website that would pledge $100 from each member of the site to whichever candidate vowed to not take any contributions greater than that amount, he began to explain what is necessary for America’s success in the future.

He assured the crowd, “We have proved as a nation what we can do,” citing the allied victory of World War II, the New Deal and the economic prosperity of the ’90s. However, in the last eight years he feels we have lost our way. He believes that a successful candidate will use the next “four years to restore America’s promise and the next ten years to change the world.”

During his talk he declared that it is the system that is corrupting good people and it is the duty of progressives to start a movement to end the debasement of the virtuous candidate.

Although Trippi has been hesitant to rejoin the fray of presidential politics, he said that he will probably offer up his services to one of the candidates in the Democratic race — most likely John Edwards.

Despite the fact that he has never worked for a winning presidential nominee — though he’s worked on five campaigns — he is confident that his philosophy on presidential politics will succeed, especially in the modern era.

During the Howard Dean campaign he certainly employed out-of-the-box thinking to mobilize the millions of Dean supporters in an online fundraising campaign. He claimed that “the net is our medium;” it is decentralized and capable of incorporating a multiplicity of opinions. As opposed to conservatives, progressives must take into account differences of opinion and ideology and as such must develop innovative ideas in order to attain success, Trippi said.

This constant search for the “next great idea” is what drives Trippi as a campaign consultant. He quipped, “My job is to come up with crazy ideas. Someone else will figure [the details] out.”


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