Archive for Hillary Clinton

At Clinton Confab of Heavy-Hitters, Amplification and Distribution Comes from Below

bill clinton

Putting the imperative issue of civil rights and justice around the world for women and children front and center at this year’s Clinton Global Initiative required intense coordination between CGI and the Obama Administration – starting of course with the world’s foremost power couple.

But it also relied on some special sauce that was both unpredictable and incredibly effective: the distribution, discussion and amplification of social media.

This year’s CGI, which brought together more than 1,200 movers and shakers in New York in the cause of social change and international development, became a virtual boombox empowering women…and it’s a two part-story that reaches from the motorcades and presidential suites to digital alleyways of Twitter and blogland.

First, the top-down power messaging.

Fighting abuse and human trafficking of women and children is the signature issue for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who declared in her closing address: “we will put women at the heart of our efforts.”

Her husband, former President Clinton put the theme out front on the meeting’s first day: “Women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, and produce 50 percent of the food, yet earn only 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property. Whether the issue is improving education in the developing world, or fighting global climate change, or addressing nearly any other challenge we face, empowering women is a critical part of the equation.”

And President Obama tied the work of his late mother in microfinance to the “spirit of the Clinton Global Initiative” and work empowering women and assisting children. His Administration was omnipresent at CGI, which coincides each year with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly. Besides Secretary Clinton, speakers included Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, economic adviser Larry Summers, and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

One of the highlights was a peppery panel the first day, hosted by Diane Sawyer of ABC News, featuring Melanne Verveer, the State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Zainab Salbi, founder and CEO of Women for Women International, and Edna Adan, director and founder of the Edna Adan Maternity and Teaching Hospital in East Africa, along with the head of the World Bank and CEOs of ExxonMobil and Goldman Sachs. And the panel brought about one electrifing moment: when Salbi challenged ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s statement that funding isn’t the problem – a fairly typical assertion these days. Retorted Salbi, whose organization provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency:

But women still get very small, women and girls, get so very small, minuscule amount of funding…One cent of every development dollar, less than one cent goes to girls. So when you look at the larger scope of development money and how much is being invested in so many other things, women and girls get the least amount of funding. Money is not the problem in terms of if it’s available, but the political decision to say we need to invest much more in girls and women is not fully there yet.

You sensed some “shareholder value” vs. “humanity’s needs” tension on the panel, and indeed throughout this year’s CGI – where perhaps the corporate titans are taken for the infallible gurus of finance they were before the recession. Blogger Emily Davila at beyondprofit captured the panel’s vibe, the classic CGI combination of corporate powerhouses with practitioners:

On one hand, the unprecedented high-level private sector participation means that the women’s agenda has gone mainstream; real change will not happen if only women are talking to each other. On the other hand, the panel would not have succeeded if it hadn’t had two women from the trenches who could keep the discussion grounded in the life and death realities many women face.

Those life and death realities were emphasized in a news conference with Secretary Solis, who vowed that the Labor Department would pursue companies with slave labor in their supply chains, and Ambassador Verveer, who said that “modern-day slavery is a global scourge – no country is immune.”

Verveer and Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, who monitors human trafficking or the Obama Administration, clearly positioned the State Department as a new activist player on the issue. Indeed, Verveer wondered aloud if civil rights for women around the world hadn’t reached a “tipping point.”

If it has, the combination of star power on display at CGI and the bottom-up effect of social networking are playing complementary roles to U.S. government policy – a rare moment when an administration’s policy is in near-total sync with NGO and grassroots activists.

Star power also played a role. Film star Julia Ormond, who founded the Alliance to Stop Slavery and End Trafficking at CGI two years ago, said that “meeting with victims and hearing their story just seals the deal.” And singer Ricky Martin made it personal – and advanced the storyline – during a shutter-clcking appearance in a special session, well-captured by Ari Melber in his Nation blog:

When Ricky Martin took the stage at the Clinton Global Initiative on Thursday, he did not sing, or dance, or even flash his trademark grin. Following the same stage directions as dozens of other celebrities who dropped by Clinton’s 5th annual global summit, from Brad Pitt to Bono to Jessica Alba, Martin struck a somber note while discussing the fight against human trafficking.

“I feel that my heart is going to come out of my mouth,” he said, recounting his sadness for the “millions of children that didn’t make it.” Martin was followed by testimony from a woman who, along with her two children, was kidnapped and held for four years of forced labor.

Martin made his remarks in what an interesting venue for Twitter reach. His own tweets – “on the CGI it’ll b my honor 2 present heroes tht r doing gr8 thinx agnst human trffckng.will xchange ideas n learn what else needs 2 b done!” – reached more than 338,000 followers.

But the Twitter king – actor Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) – was also making the CGI scene with his wife, Demi Moore (@mrskutcher); he has a Twitter-leading 3.6 million followers, whilst she pitches short messages to 2.1 million more. The couple tweeted their commitment:

Hubby & I have started The Demi and Ashton Foundation or The DNA Foundation as we like 2 call it. We’re ready 2 help bring an end 2 slavery

And Kutcher sent his followers to the live CGI video stream for the plenary on human trafficking. He also found time to tweak a more senior delegate to the meeting:

Listening to John Glenn mock the social web because he doesn’t understand it. I wonder if people mocked his space program.

Meanwhile, Moore introduced her followers to the nation’s leading journalistic voice on the issue:

Sitting in listening 2 a panel speak on investing in Women & Girls at CGI. In Nick Kristoff’s words Women are the solution not the problem!

Celebrity tweets clearly go to a rather broad audience, but I think they help to reinforce a potential cultural shift in how we view sex trafficking and women’s civil rights. Repetition from the likes of an A-list TMZ-type couple can puncture the social permafrost around a difficult issue like this, and deliver it to the mainstream.

Besides, there’s a core audience for information from CGI that is not celebrity-obsessed: writers, analysts and bloggers who work in and around the “social sector” year-round. To a large degree, they carry a lot of the heavy baggage for CGI in terms of disseminating and discussing ideas and innovation with a wider audience.

It’s this group that sent a couple of dozen correspondents (including me and my CauseWired partner Susan Carey Dempsey) into the chaotic and tightly-controlled CGI press pool – a large-scale operation that is understandably focused primarily on the video and still cameras, there to capture the bigshots and stars. And it’s this group that now uses blogs, Facebook, and Twitter to spread some of the bigger thoughts and developments to an activist group beyond the (occasionally oppressive) Sheraton press room. And you could see a the big theme of women and girls sprouting everywhere you looked.

For instance, tweets with both the #cgi09 hashtag and “girls” appeared more than 200 times over the last week, #cgi09 and “women” was tweeted more than 450 times, and #cg09i and trafficking more than150 times. This doesn’t include the celebrities, who tend to use Twitter more as a broadcast medium and don’t tend to use the hashtags to organize the conversation.

Relatively small numbers – #cgi09 never “trended” into the top ten of Twitter tags – yet the audience for international development and human rights was paying attention around the virtual network. And that’s important for an issue that’s just arriving at its moment, getting its wider organizing chops together under a new Administration with an activist State Department.

That’s important to an undertaking like CGI, I think. Despite its success and the billions committed to helping people around the world, building a network to carry its causes onward – even at smaller scale – is crucial to getting beyond the limitations of one organization, however large and high-powered. Upwards of 30,000 people watched the proceedings via the live stream, which CGI made available this year as a widget anyone could use on their own sites to carry the proceedings.

It isn’t about making the power brokers haul out their iPhones and tweet from the inner circle. As Bill Clinton said in his summation: “Twitter. That’s a funny word.” But he still got the importance of distributing the discussion; he said CGI generated 80 tweets per hour, and that the social network – inside and outside the hall – is heling to power the bottom of the innovation pyramid.

Chat Catcher


Guest Post: Hillary Clinton on Social Media and Causes

Okay, so it’s not formally a guest post per se – but we think this section of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech to gradautes of Barnard College yesterday touches as much of a ‘CauseWired’ chord as any talk by a major political figure of late:

Some months ago here in New York, I had the privilege of meeting a young girl from Yemen. Her name is Nujood Ali. When she was nine years old, her family offered her into marriage with a much older man who turned out to be violent and abusive. At ten years old, desperate to escape her circumstances, she left her home and made her way to the local courthouse where she sat against a wall all day long until she was finally noticed, thankfully, by a woman lawyer named Shada Nasser, who asked this little girl what she was doing there. And the little girl said she came to get a divorce. And thanks to this lawyer, she did.

Now in another time, the story of her individual courage and her equally brave lawyer would not have been covered in the news even in her own country. But now, it is beamed worldwide by satellites, shared on blogs, posted on Twitter, celebrated in gatherings. Today, women are finding their voices, and those voices are being heard far beyond their own narrow circumstances. And here’s what each of you can do. You can visit the website of a nonprofit called Kiva, K-i-v-a, and send a microloan to an entrepreneur like Blanca, who wants to expand her small grocery store in Peru. You can send children’s books to a library in Namibia by purchasing items off an wish list. You can sit in your dorm room, or soon your new apartment, and use the web to plant trees across Africa through Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt movement.

And with these social networking tools that you use every day to tell people you’ve gone to get a latte or you’re going to be running late, you can unite your friends through Facebook to fight human trafficking or child marriage, like the two recent college graduates in Colombia – the country – who organized 14 million people into the largest anti-terrorism demonstration in history, doing as much damage to the FARC terrorist network in a few weeks than had been done in years of military action. (Applause.)

And you can organize through Twitter, like the undergraduates at Northwestern who launched a global fast to bring attention to Iran’s imprisonment of an American journalist. And we have two young women journalists right now in prison in North Korea, and you can get busy on the internet and let the North Koreans know that we find that absolutely unacceptable. (Applause.)

These new tools are available for everyone. They are democratizing diplomacy. So over the next year, we will be creating Virtual Student Foreign Service Internships to partner American students with our embassies abroad to conduct digital diplomacy. And you can learn more about this initiative on the State Department website.

Hat tip to the always interesting Nancy Scola at the fab for the quote; as Nancy says, Secretary Clinton does indeed speak with the ardor of a recent convert.

Online Campaign Grace Notes

As Hillary Clinton conceded the hard-fought Democratic primary to Barack Obama on Saturday, many observers noted their campaigns’ online grace notes. The Obama campaign thanked Clinton on its front page, and prepared a special video page to pay tribute to the pioneering New York Senator. Clinton’s campaign called for supporting Senator Obama, and even included a form to sign up for Obama ’08 updates. I did note, however, that not everyone was exactly on message – in a note that showed the open nature of Causes on Facebook, I got a note from the “Hillary Clinton for President” cause that read like this:

On Saturday, Hillary, joined by thousands of her supporters in Washington D.C. and Millions watching at home, suspended her presidential campaign. She thanked her nearly 18 million voters (The most votes in primary history for ANY candidate of ANY party), and urged to form a united front to support Sen. Obama.

Although Hillary made history and paved the way for little girls everywhere, her historic voyage ended to soon. Lets help elect Hillary Clinton President, 2012!!

Something tells me that list bit especially was not, shall we say, an official campaign message.

Iowa Was CauseWired

Say what you will about the results, but you can’t argue the method. Last night’s Iowa caucuses were totally “CauseWired,” if you’ll pardon my attept to turn a book title into geekspeak. From the hordes of young and indepenent voters who migrated from Facebook and MySpace to actual caucus sites in Iowa for Barack Obama to Mike Huckabee’s network of Christian voters and a GOP Twitter network to Ron Paul’s surprising double-digit finish after wildly successful online organizing, social networks put feet on the ground – and fired up a new, younger, better-wired electorate like never before.

Blogger Elaine Young asked the question aloud – the one that some us were asking a lot (in addition to who won and lost) last night:

My question is actually simpler…well…maybe not. What does social media have to do with it? Did the Twittering and Facebooking and MySpacing and Action Centers and blogging make a difference and get more people out to caucus or help spread the word in any way?

I don’t think we know the full answer yet, and the race is far from over. But I do think Obama’s showing was particularly important. All along, he’s been the leader in Facebook and MySpace friends, racking up millions of youthful followers – but many pundits doubted aloud whether that kind of light social networking around a popular candidate would have any real effect on an election. After all, they’d argued, candidates have pinned their hopes on the youth vote and been disappointed since Gene McCarty tramped through the snow in New Hampshire back in ’68. But it was very clear last night the old formula is changing, especially for Democrats. Chris Bowers, an analyst for the OpenLeft blog, summed it up:

The youth of America isn’t navigating a path between the two parties, they are overwhelmingly siding with one party. What they want is change and youth within the party, not an older generation’s status quo. They want a change in America, and a change in the Democratic Party.

Mike Connery, who blogs about millennial politics at Future Majority, said that younger, wired voters are now at the core of Democratic politics:

Barack Obama may be riding the momentum of a caucus win into New Hampshire, but the real winner in tonight’s Iowa caucus was young voters.

It’s been a long and rocky road for young voters – in the media and in the party – For four years, the media has declared (incorrectly) that young voters were the downfall of Howard Dean, whose over-reliance on an “unreliable demographic” ushered in his defeat in the 2004 caucus. This, despite the fact that youth turnout at the caucus increased that year. For the last year, we’ve heard how Obama’s strategy was foolhardy, and even from the campaign we heard that the youth vote would be “icing on the cake.”

It turns out, it was the cake.

Within the Democratic caucus, more than 46,000 young people participated, and young voters comprised 22% of all caucus-goer – a major increase from four years ago. Connery takes this as a sign:

Young voters are increasingly moving in the direction of Democrats, and tonight, the Obama campaign – thanks to a savvy youth operation that reached out on Facebook and MySpace, at high schools and on college campuses – was able to capitalize on that to attain victory. His win confirms what many have been saying for years now: young people will vote if you pay attention to the, speak to their issues, and reach out. New technologies can certainly help make that initial connection, yet it’s still good old fashioned face to face politicking – peer to peer organizing – that makes the difference. Years ago, when young people began voting Republican during the Reagan Era, Democrats stopped asking young voters to participate. Tonight’s victory shows what individual candidates, and the Democratic Party stand to gain by courting today’s young voters.

Republican blogger Patrick Ruffini, meanwhile, decided to experiment with Twitter, to see if the short-messaging social tool could stay ahead of the results/spin curve during last night’s action.

When I first floated the idea of collecting Iowa Caucus results through the microblogging social network Twitter, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Iowa is a small state, and not particularly known for tech-savviness. Would I find anyone willing to whip out their phone in the middle of a caucus and text in the results?

Result? Affirmative. Ruffini, who organized his Twitter group over at the excellent techPresident blog, found that early on the Twitterstream had a clear message: “Very shortly after 7 p.m. central time, all the reports were pointing in a single direction: a big night for Barack Obama.” That was ahead of the TV networks, who were still vaguely talking about entrance polls.

TechPresident also keeps those running lists of friends at the big networks and they turned out to be pretty damned predictive of the Iowa results: Obama has the most Facebook friends on the Democratic side, while Internet phenom Paul does on the GOP side. Number two for the Republicans? Huckabee. I’ve said (and still believe) that the idea of an “Internet President” is far-fetched, but the numbers do show who does the best of organizing and whose followers do the best judge of recruiting other followers.

Caucus Quandary: Does Ron Paul’s Online Brilliance Translate into Votes?

Ron Paul presents a contradiction to those who believe a totally-wired, socially-networked population will change politics and how we elect candidates. The libertarian Republican Congressman from Texas has been a true gadfly in the GOP race – contesting the legitimacy of the Iraq war while calling for the virtual end to the large Federal government as we know it. And he’s raised more money online that any candidate in either party, keying huge online efforts around Guy Fawkes Night and the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party to highlight his anti-government theme of rebellion. Paul is one of only two candidates to raise $20 million in the final quarter of 2007 – Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the others.

And yet Paul is decidedly an outsider in the GOP race, hated by the establishment and dropped from the next Fox television Republican dabate, even as his polls numbers creep into double-digits for the first time – and he wins the “MySpace primary” on the GOP side, putting himself on equal footting with young people a Democratic superstar Barack Obama. Indeed, although the Democratic candidates had much stronger online social network and netroots operations over the last year- Hillary Clinton’s was the strongest, but Chris Dodd’s was very good as well – the Republicans’ top tier has no one who can match Paul’s effort.

Yet if you believe the polls, the votes aren’t there. As the 2008 election kicks off tonight in Iowa, I’m thinking about politics from the CauseWired perspective. ComputerWorld’s Heather Havenstein has an excellent article today on the Web 2.0 efforts of this year’s crop of candidates:

But will the number of Facebook “friends” a candidate has amassed or the number of YouTube video views that a campaign tallies really matter in the election? The answer, according to experts watching the first presidential campaign in the Web 2.0 world, is yes and no.

On the social networks, it’s the so-called change or outsider candidates who rule the “friend” wars – Paul and Obama are the big leaders on Facebook and MySpace. Tonight, he start to see if friends also caucus.

The Myth of the ‘Internet President’

Ah, good old 1996 – the first of our “wired” national elections. Bill Clinton versus Bob Dole, with special guest appearances by Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan, and Lamar Alexander. The information superhighway, online debate transcripts, participatory democracy, candidates on email – and all that jazz. We were so smart then.

Fast forward to the 2008 cycle. The campaigns are now super-wired, with vast email lists, major online contributions, multiple blogs, social networks, viral videos – the works. Yet, we’re no closer to choosing the “Internet President” than we were in 1996. TechPresident has done a super job of covering the race from a CauseWired point of view – which candidates have best virtual field operations, best digital media strategies, best penetration on Facebook and MySpace and the like.

But that doesn’t mean that the best-wired candidates are the technology candidates. So I found the efforts at TechCrunch to endorse “The First Tech President” kind of quaint, in a way – and so reminiscent of those mid-90s days:

TechCrunch wants to provide a voice for digital policy and technology issues in the upcoming U.S. Presidential election, and so we’ve decided to hold our own political primaries online.

A noble effort, and it’s a good think for Silicon Valley types to pay more attention to politics beyond their usual knee-jerk libertarian views as a business community. But no convention delegates come that “primary” and it’s very unlikely that the results will spur actual voters.

Besides, it seems to me the candidates, especially on the Democratic side (with due respect to online fundraising phenomenon Ron Paul), have moved way beyond hankering for that label – they’re not just pontificating on the importance of technology to the American economy. They’re some of the savviest consumers of media technology in the world. The campaign of the non-traditional Republican Paul, with his vast army of unpaid but highly-wired campaign supporters, pretty much defines the power of social networks in national politics; but the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and – to a lesser respect – Barack Obama also seem to really understand the tools of the network, and use them to their best advantage.

So with respect to TechCrunch for a decent idea, I think the notion of the first “tech president” in 2008 is antiquated. Don’t look behind any more for the politicians in their adoption and use of interconnected digital networks, look around you – or look farther down the road.