Yesterday morning as I stood in the autumn sunshine of our little New England town of Chilmark, Massachusetts waiting to vote I couldn’t help but marvel at how far we as a nation have come on fundamental issues like race and how long it’s taken us to get here. It’s now been 40 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the fiery protests of the Vietnam War era, the rise of the women’s rights movement and many other social change movements. Four decades since the “realigning election” of 1968 which saw the primary election candidacies of Eugene McCarthy, Robert Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to seek re-election, and a general election where Republican Richard Nixon defeated Democrat Hubert Humphrey marking the ascendancy of the GOP.Yesterday’s result represents, in the eyes of many, another “realigning election”, this time in favor of the Democrats. What connects the bitterly contested Election of 2008 with the tumultuous 1968 Election is that both took place in a climate of massive national angst.In America, when times are terribly troubling there’s one constant — the likelihood that massive citizen action will arise and effect change. And so it did this year. Once again massive numbers of caring, concerned citizens took matters into their own hands and got off their apathy.And once again technology played a significant role. Not in the form of Tom Paine’s pampleteering, or the street theater and massive protests of ’68, or direct mail of the ’70s.Rather, this time the use of the online technologies and techniques, in the words of Adam Nagourney of The New York Times, “… has rewritten the rules on how to reach voters, raise money, organize supporters, manage the news media, track and mold public opinion, and wage–and withstand –political attacks, including many carried by blogs that did not exist four years ago.”But technology alone is not some magic bullet for funding and building political and social change movements. The whole “dot.com” era taught us all that you can’t depend on technologists to get results from technology. As events in 2008 prove, technology gets results only when placed in the hands of people who understand the principles of citizen action, communication and fundraising.Roger

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