In Mousepads, Shoe Leather, and Hope Michael Silberman describes Howard Dean’s effective use of The Dean campaign, in essence, let the people speak while the campaign listened. The wisdom of the crowds was put into play. Even though the campaign staff included many knowledgeable staff members, fresh ideas were also welcome. Brainstorming between group members was encouraged to figure out new ways to get the message out. In this way volunteers, who didn’t have any preconceived notions about how it has always been done, could figure other ways to get it done.


Of course, some guidance was welcome. Group leaders were given sample agendas so that they could have a jumping off point for their meetings. The Meetups were also given supplies by the Dean office so that they could help in ongoing letter writing campaigns. Everything was provided to willing hands. The members only needed to know how they could be most helpful and they proceeded to dig in.



With more people involved in the campaign the potential was there to exponentially grow support for Dean. If each member could bring in a few new members and then each of them brought in a few more, well, you can see where this is going. It could spread like a chain letter, with the volunteers going to your candidate. This is all well and good but the larger question is how to keep this group of free laborers content?


This is where the true genius of the campaign is brought in. The group leaders were given a personal touch. They spoke with real people on the phone and were able to ask questions. They were treated with dignity and responded by being an integral part of the Dean campaign. They became such an important part of the campaign because they were treated as such. When you have people, essentially working for free, you’d better give them some support. It’s amazing how far a pat on the back can go. These grassroots organizers were encouraged and welcomed with open arms and their numbers grew to more than 600,000. Now that’s a lot of arms.