Joe Trippi is one of the most sought-after political strategists and an enduring figure on the presidential campaign circuit. He worked for Ted Kennedy, Walter Mondale and Gary Hart and turned Howard Dean into an unlikely front runner in 2004. A former Silicon Valley consultant, Trippi was the first political operative to appreciate and then realize the potential of the internet, and as such the strategy, tactics and tools he created in 2004 have become the foundation for the many of the successful campaigns of today and tomorrow.

16 August 2012 ~ 9 Comments

Just how dysfunctional is Congress? And who is to blame?

This week in my online political book club for, we’re reading Part 1 of Thomas Mann & Norm Ornstein’s recent book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism”.

The first part of the book takes a look at the acrimony and hyperpartisanship that define Congressional politics today and what led us to this point.  With Congress’s approval rating at an abysmal 10 percent (even telemarketers received a higher rating) and the presidential campaign kicking into full gear, it’s a very timely topic.

As you read the first part of the book, consider these questions: How do you see the hyperpartisanship and polarization described by Mann & Ornstein playing out in the current election?  Do you agree with the authors that the Republican Party is more guilty than the Democrats of refusing to compromise, no matter the cost?

Join or log on to your account on to read along and join the discussion:

1/ Sign-Up: If you haven’t already created a free account on, you can sign up at

2/ Download the book: Once you create your account, you’ll need to do two things in order to read the book along with us. You need to download an app or reader from Copia. (Instructions at: and then you need to download our book. Just search in the library for “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” and click download. This is the only way that you’ll be able to see my in-page comments.

3/ Join the Discussion: All of the discussion questions will be posted in my group on

4/ Read With Us: This book is a short read- and it’s going to be a great discussion. This week (August 14-20) we’ll read up until page 85 (Part I: The Problem). Next week (August 21-27) we’ll read the rest (Part II: What to Do About It).

If you have any questions or have an idea for the club, feel free to email

14 August 2012 ~ 4 Comments

“It’s Even Worse Than It Looks”- My next Copia book club title

As some of you may know, I recently launched an online political book club for  After wrapping up our first read – E.J. Dionne’s “Our Divided Political Heart” – we launched an online survey to select our next book. The people have spoken, and the winning selection is Thomas Mann & Norm Ornstein’s recent book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism”

I’m excited to get started and read this book with everyone in the club. To kick things off, I wanted to share some of the reviews. Including one from the author of the last book that we read, EJ Dionne.

Here’s what EJ said about Mann & Ornstein’s book:

“The phrase ‘essential reading’ does not begin to get at the importance of this passionate warning by two of our very best political scientists about our nation’s capacity to govern itself. Mann and Ornstein sweep aside the timid conventional wisdom to inform Americans that our problems are even worse than we think they are. It is absolutely vital that this book’s findings and message enter the consciousness and consciences of journalists, politicians and citizens who care about the future of our republic.”

If you’re sensing a theme in our book club then you’re right. This is a big election year and we have big issues to decide as a country in this election. (This weekend’s news that Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate made that even more clear). We just finished Dionne’s look at what got us to this point as a country, looking back at our history. Now we’re going to read from Mann & Ornstein about how our congressional system has also brought us to this divisive point and the reforms that are needed.
As we go forward I’ll be posting weekly discussion items and questions so you can get involved in the conversation. And as we read the book I’ll post comments in the margins that you can read with your Copia app. Here’s everything you need to know:
1/ Sign-Up: If you haven’t already created a free account on, you can sign up at
2/ Download the book: Once you create your account, you’ll need to do two things in order to read the book along with us. You need to download an app or reader from Copia. (Instructions at: and then you need to download our book. Just search in the library for ”It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” and click download. This is the only way that you’ll be able to see my in-page comments.
3/ Join the Discussion: All of the discussion questions will be posted in my group on
4/ Read With Us: This book is a short read- and it’s going to be a great discussion. This week (August 14-20) we’ll read up until page 85 (Part I: The Problem). Next week (August 21-27) we’ll read the rest (Part II: What to Do About It).

If you have any questions or have an idea for the club, feel free to email

17 July 2012 ~ 48 Comments

Announcing New Political Book Club on The Copia

In my book The Revolution Will Not Be Televised I talked about the rise of tools that empower people to stand up and make themselves heard from the bottom up, not the top down. We’ve seen how technology is giving rise to the power of individuals and how that is changing every institution out there.

And now this includes books. The way we read. The way authors like me write. And the way publishers make money.

We all knew that new devices- the Kindle, the Nook, iPads- were game changers. But the tools are just the first step. In order to work effectively, they need an army behind them. Or at least an engaged community.

And that’s where The Copia comes in.

This summer I’m excited to be joining with The Copia- the leading online e-book community. With Copia, you can join a community of other readers and participate in a conversation about the book that you’re reading. Highlighting passages, making notes in the margins and sharing your thoughts with other readers.

We’re launching a virtual political book club. We’ll be taking a look at new releases- we’re starting with E. J. Dionne’s “Our Divided Political Heart” and political classics, like  “What it Takes” by Richard Ben Cramer- the best political campaign book ever written.

Here’s how it will work.

1/ Sign up by going to

2/ Check out our weekly discussion question- posted midweek on the group’s discussion page.

3/ Choose how you are going to follow along with our reading. You can download The Copia’s desktop application (for PC or Mac) or read it on your iPad or mobile device. Full instructions are here:

4/ Download our first book club selection- E. J. Dionne’s “Our Divided Political Heart”- which is in the group’s Library

5/ As you’re reading, take note of our in-page comments with additional thoughts, links, information and stories

6/ Join the conversation! Participate in the weekly discussions, add your thoughts to the in-page comments, share abut the club on Facebook and Twitter and let us know which book you’d like to read next. .

Because it’s no longer about one person professing their thoughts to the masses. Publishing and books are going through their greatest transformation since- well, maybe since Gutenberg invented the printing press and democratized the written word. Now the Internet, and tools like Copia, allow us to democratize how we read- building communities, sharing thoughts, asking questions.

This is where the future of books will be. And this summer we’re trying it out. Come join our book club on The Copia and join the conversation.

31 December 2011 ~ 20 Comments

2012 – The Year Europe May Prove Politics and Economics Are the Same – and Broken

Like many Americans who have watched the economic crisis in the Eurozone I found myself wondering several times over 2011 – “why can’t they get their act together and fix this? Don’t they realize what’s at stake?”

I also scratched my head in wonder several times at how the world’s markets kept falling for every new “fix”, no matter how unrealistic, because of an underlying belief that “in the end the politicians will do what they need to do and solve the problem.”

So in two trips to Europe as the end of 2011 neared, I decided to look at the Eurocrisis from a political perspective and I’ve come to the conclusion that the political system is incapable of solving the problem and probably will completely fail to do so.

The markets will, sooner or later, figure this out.

So how is it possible that political leaders across the Eurozone will fail to come to rational terms around a common solution given the horror many believe awaits each of their countries in the wake of an economic collapse? As a political strategist looking at the problem the answer became clear to me — the problems Europe’s economic system has created are so great they have overrun the ability of the political system to solve them.

For the average American to understand how impossible the political situation is I want you to try a simple exercise:

Imagine the United States. There is no President. There is no federal government. Instead Rick Perry is the President of Texas. Jerry Brown is the President of California. Andrew Cuomo is the President of New York. 49 Presidents of 49 states want Andrew Cuomo to tax Wall Street transactions to pay for unemployed citizens in the nation of Ohio, and those who overbuilt homes in the nation of Nevada. And Andrew Cuomo will no longer be President of New York if he does it. So Cuomo’s plan is to ask President Rick Perry of Texas to raise taxes on oil to pay for the mess. That isn’t going to happen either.

Let me be clear. Ohio and Nevada in the example above are all part of the United States. We sing the same Star Spangled Banner. Watch the same television shows, speak the same language. We actually have a President and a federal government and our political system has become so dysfunctional that we can’t agree on a 12 month extension of a pay-roll tax cut.

Now back to Europe. France speaks French, Greece speaks Greek, the Germans speak German. They fought world wars on each other’s soil. There is not a single political party that exists across the European continent. Yet the markets continue to believe that the leaders of Europe will somehow come to agreement and solution when the greatest democracy the world has ever known can not come to agreement on solving a similar albeit more shallow crisis here in the United States.

When the markets figure out the futility of the political situation it will be the markets and not the political leadership that will control events. And the impact on the lives of millions will not be pretty.

Our founders believed in capitalism. They believed that capitalism would be the engine of innovation and economic progress that would build a new future. But they knew that capitalism left to run amok would roll rough shod over everything in its path. That is why they believed that capitalism had to be subservient to democracy and not the other way around. Their worst nightmare was the notion that capitalism would take control and overwhelm the political leadership and democracy itself. The world may have come dangerously close to realizing the nightmare and not the promise of our founder’s vision in the great collapse of 2007 and its wake.

In 2012 Europe may prove we have not yet escaped. Politics and economics are the same and broken.

06 October 2011 ~ 33 Comments

What Steve Jobs meant to me

I went to school at San Jose State University in Silicon Valley in 1975. I was an engineering major who would try to grab time on red beam lasers to make holograms, or sneak more time on the IBM mainframe in the computer lab – all while maintaining my insane interest in politics.

I guess that’s why Steve Jobs meant so much to me. I watched him and was inspired by him from the earliest days as the Silicon Valley we know today was born.

Steve Jobs was the person who made me ask the question “what would change people’s lives more? Technology? Or politics?”

I was a hopeless early adopter – I had to have the Apple Newton – but I chose politics as the way to make a difference.

So today I want to say thank you Steve. You changed more lives than any politician in either party in my lifetime.

Steve Jobs ideology was simple – innovate and make it better than its ever been done before. Woe is our nation that neither of our two major political parties had such a simple purpose and direction.

In his Stanford Commencement speech Steve Jobs had some advice for the graduates that day that could serve our political discourse today:

“Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

America’s ideology was once to innovate and make it better than it has ever been done before. Today both parties and our nation’s leaders are trapped by dogma.

I have to wonder what life would be like had Steve Jobs chose to change the world through politics? What would the Apple Party be like?

Thank you Steve Jobs for the choices you made and the difference you made in my life and in the lives of hundreds of millions.

#thankyousteve #appleparty

13 September 2011 ~ 49 Comments

Issues over parties?

This is a post from my friend Raymond Glendening. Raymond is a co-founder of Ruckus, a cutting edge online organizing platform that I encourage everyone to check out. Before that, he worked at the Democratic Governors Association and on Bill Richardson’s presidential campaign.

I first met Joe Trippi in 2003, while he was orchestrating the Howard Dean presidential run. Dean’s meteoric rise as an outsider was happening, and, for the first time in my political life, an outsider and a rogue had a legitimate chance for a major party nomination. It was clear Governor Dean was being advised by an outsider himself. In the years since then, I have come to know Joe Trippi pretty well. The only thing I am certain of about him, beside his loyalty to his convictions, is that you cannot box up his politics and thinking and neatly fit him into any one style of thinking. Increasingly, this is becoming all of us. How many of us are happy with what we currently have as political engagement outlets? In addition to being an outside thinker politically, Joe was also one of the first pioneers to see the future utility of the internet with regard to political activism potential. The future is now here.

Thanks to technology, most things in our lives are now custom fit. If we want coffee, we can order it 50 ways from 50 different places. If we want to watch a movie, we can choose between Netflix, iTunes, Blockbuster or good ol’ fashioned cable television. If we need a restaurant review, we have OpenTable, Yelp, and of course our numerous social networks. Yet in what is arguably the most important aspect of our life – politics – our system still sadly offers just two “surf or turf ” options.

Our collective reliance on two antiquated and prefabricated political entities has led to a groupthink mentality that strikes many of us as odd. Why is it that a person who believes abortion should be illegal must also believe in mass deportations of illegal immigrants? Why must someone who supports marriage equality necessarily also support the immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan?

The two political parties have become anachronisms, and the growing disconnect between them and the way technology allows us to live our lives led to historic political disaffection. A Pew post-election poll in 2010 found for the first time in modern American history, Independents outnumbered Democrats and Republicans in terms of party affiliation. In other words, in the world’s only major two-party democracy, the majority of people are saying “no thanks” to both parties. Of course, “Independent” does not necessarily mean “moderate.” Independents (as well as those that still identify as partisans) come from all over the ideological spectrum. Many liberals think the Democratic Party needs to come left, and many conservatives think the Republican Party needs to move right. For most of us, however, politics is dynamic. While we might be considered “left” on some issues, on others we are ”center” or “right.” Indeed, the whole idea of a linear political spectrum is fiction; politics exists in 3D.

We have already seen social media erode the foundations of the two parties. The biggest political movements in the last year – the union fight in Wisconsin, the Arab spring, the Tea Party – were all external events powered by technology. While the world was changing, the parties lamely stood by and watched. Of course, some in politics have been wise to this trend. President Obama, for example, built an entire organization, Obama for America, OUTSIDE the Democratic Party (it still exists as Organizing for America).

So, if the two political parties are destined to join the telegraph and the steam engine in the dustbins of the Smithsonian, what will take their place? The future will be about organic clusters around issues rather than formal opt-in membership groups like parties.

There is a revolution already underway. It’s a revolution of people against institutions. Call it the “i-Tunes-ization” of modern life. Joe Trippi should be proud.

26 August 2011 ~ 20 Comments

UN headquarters car bombing in Nigeria kills 18

While we all brace for the hurricane, some very saddening news from Nigeria:

A car loaded with explosives crashed into the main United Nations’ building in Nigeria’s capital and exploded Friday, killing at least 18 people in one of the deadliest assaults on the international body in a decade. A radical Muslim sect blamed for a series of attacks in the country claimed responsibility for the bombing, a major escalation of their sectarian fight against Nigeria’s weak central government.

The brazen assault in a neighborhood surrounded by heavily fortified diplomatic posts represented the first suicide attack to target foreigners in oil-rich Nigeria, where locals already live in fear of the radical Boko Haram sect. The group, which has reported links to al-Qaida, wants to implement a strict version of Shariah law in the nation and is vehemently opposed to Western education and culture.

While police officers and local officials have primarily bore the brunt of Boko Haram’s rage, now everyone seems to be a target in a nation often divided by religion and ethnicity.

My sympathies go out to the families of the victims of this tragedy and to all of the Nigerian people. I helped President Goodluck Jonathan in his successful election earlier this year, and I know he’s a man committed to unity and progress for all Nigerians. It’s very sad to see some groups taking Nigeria backwards.

From President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration:

He extends his sincere condolences to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and all members of the United Nations family who have lost loved ones in the heinous attack.

President Jonathan reaffirms the Federal Government’s total commitment to vigorously combat the incursion of all forms of terrorism into Nigeria, and wishes to reassure all Nigerians and the international community that his Administration will spare no effort to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The President has also directed all relevant government agencies to assist in the search and rescue effort at the UN Building, and ordered heightened security across the Federal Capital Territory.

He urges all Nigerians to cooperate fully with the government in its efforts to expose the desperate elements who promote violence, terrorism and division in the country.

While noting that by today’s attack, we are once again reminded of the international character of terrorism and its indiscriminate targeting of innocent civilians, President Jonathan affirms Nigeria’s determination to continue to play its part in the global effort to eradicate the scourge of terrorism in all its ramifications.