Presidential Campaign Shows Political Power Shifting to Network's Edge
Then there are people without college educations who used to find sustainable employment as skilled industrial workers. They were makers and doers, but now they're marginalized into low-paying jobs with no future because so much manufacturing capacity has shifted overseas. These people live out on the edge of the network because they don't have jobs with Internet access. They don't have stable employment with prospects for long-term income growth. Instead they are either self-employed freelancers or they’re working for a small percentage of what they once earned or their parents earned for similar work. But they have network access and they're using that access to express their will. Look at how Sanders has based his campaign on the Internet, and how he's handled his fundraising on a variety of sites that continually reach out to supporters. Those same people are kept informed, they're invited to rallies, they're asked their opinions and they're asked to contribute a few dollars. By doing this, they're keeping the Sanders campaign alive when, in any other year, such a maverick campaign would have long ago folded its tents. The same is true of the Trump campaign, minus the need for donations. But the Trump campaign stays in touch with supporters through a constant stream of emails, phone calls and social media activity.But if the edge is so powerful, you're probably asking, why aren't they in control? The answer, of course, is leverage. In my conversation with Gill, I mentioned a quote by the Greek mathematician and scientist Archimedes, who said that with a long enough lever and a fulcrum, he could move the world. The problem at the edge is that while everyone knows about leverage, they don't have one big lever. They have lots of tiny levers, many of which are pulling in the same direction, but not necessarily together as a coordinated team. But suppose you could get all of these people at the edge to work together? Suppose all of these Internet connected people could find a way to work as a large team? Their power would be unstoppable. To some extent, the Trump organization has worked this out, and as a result Trump will probably be the nominee of the Republican Party, despite the party's best efforts to prevent it. But suppose you could move this beyond the frame of partisan politics into other areas that the people at the edge of the network care about. For example, suppose enough people at the edge of the Internet were able to find a common goal in something that affects their lives, such as the economy. Would there be a force strong enough to stop them? Right now, the edge isn't organized enough well enough to create and effect policy. When that happens you should probably hope you can figure out which way they want to push, because you won't be able to push back.
The constant outreach by both candidates is overcoming the combined efforts of both of the major parties and while Sander's campaign may have gained traction a little too late for his effort to succeed, it’s certainly making an impact. Both candidates are leveraging the voters at the edge.