Following is an e-mail I just sent to a friend who asked about the Dean meetups:
This meetup was special. The next one will be the first Wednesday in October.
At the previous two meetups we did a special project of writing letters to voters in Iowa, then New Hampshire, because those are the states with the first primaries. Since then, and maybe partly as a result of these letters Dean has surged way out ahead in the polls in those states.
But this time we did something different. Let me tell you about it. Dean’s campaign theme is “The Great American Conversation.” The idea is to get Americans talking to each other again, as a community. So after finishing the usual meetup activities — announcing campaign news, then asking people to come up and tell the crowd why they came (sort of like an AA meeting), then showing some short videos — we took a break and then broke the group up into groups of 5-10 to just talk to each other about what is going on in America and how they feel about it, and what Dean’s positions are on the issues. The idea is to get people used to talking about these things, so they will go out and start these kinds of conversations with other groups, and encourage THOSE people to do the same.
The bigger idea behind this is to change politics in America, and bring it back to being about regular people talking to each other and being involved. It went over so well that when the meetup ended, three of the tables all stayed just to keep talking. There were about 100,000 people signed up to attend meetups around the country last night, so there is a real potential for this to have an effect!
The Dean website is http://www.deanforamerica.com. Also there is a very interesting campaign weblog, which brings people into the campaign as participants, and people leave their own comments there: http://www.blogforamerica.com. To see comments, look at the bottom of each weblog entry and click where it says “Comments.”