Spirit of the Ground Game


in The Performance of Politics

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199744466
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199944163 | DOI:
Spirit of the Ground Game

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This chapter confronts the conventional wisdom that money and organization really decide what happens in politics. It begins with media observations that collective sentiment is critical to both finances and the ground game. The chapter follows with an ethnographic account of grassroots organizing by Barack Obama's political campaign. When political professionals, journalists, academic intellectuals, and everyday citizens think of themselves as realists, as being practical rather than idealistic with their heads in the clouds, they are inclined to emphasize the absolute centrality of money and organization to political campaigns. There are the proverbs about money being the mother's milk of politics, about paying the piper and calling the tune, about the purse strings controlling the campaign. There is also the folk wisdom that winning depends on political organization. It is not a matter of symbolic representation but numbers and planning. Staffing and rational knowledge are alleged to be the keys to political success.

Keywords: money; organization; politics; media observations; finances; ground game; Barack Obama; political campaign

Chapter.  9170 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociology

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