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Strategy and Organising: Lessons from the Obama Campaign

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Sun Tzu wrote that, ‘strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.’ Obama and his campaign internalised this maxim. They combined a political strategy that focussed on a singular narrative and open organisational structure with modern tools to maximise fundraising and voter mobilisation. The critical difference between their campaign and that of either Hillary Clinton or John McCain is that while perfecting the use of these new tools – particularly online – they stuck ruthlessly to their strategy and instilled a level of trust in their supporters which is rarely seen in politics. Progressive parties around the world need to understand which lessons apply to them, but be wary of adopting the technology without a corresponding message or degree of trust.

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