The Dean Campaign Does Something REAL Smart

I'm impressed by Dean Campaign's new Net Advisory Net, which is nothing less than a modular, virtual, board of policy advisors which has as its first effort attracted some serious people with serious ideas. (And—very smart—the 'NAN' is set up with campaign deniability built-in in case the advisors go nuts on some issue.)

You have to had it to the Dean for President campaign. They are not only smart but they have good taste .

I almost turned myself into a Dean volunteer long before he was famous as the 'anti-war' candidate — I liked his health care plan which centered on insuring children. It was simple, straightforward, and politcally practicable and would have a big bang for the buck.

There were two things that held me back. First, even early on Dean seemed gaffe prone, and in this era of 'gotcha' media, the danger of a spectacular crash-and-burn seemed too high. I'm still not sure about that one. The second reason was that I have a rebuttable presumption against supporting governors from small states. A Jimmy Carter type comes to Washington with too few friends capable of running the country. The President ends up either with too few trusted advisors, or finds himself relying on folks who aren't up to it. The presumption is rebuttable (cf. Clinton; while he had a lot of faults, lack of high-powered friends was not one of them).

If this “Net Advisory Net” is more than PR, Howard Dean has just removed one of the two worries I had about him.

The FAQ is pretty impressive too:

The Net Advisory Net, or NAN, is a collection of advisors working with one other to frame Internet Policy issues for Governor Dean and his staff, and recommend approaches towards technology issues for a Dean Administration. The Dean Net Advisory Team will present to the Governor and his team diverse and highly-informed opinions concerning the Internet and its potential impact upon society.

Click here to read the Principles that will guide the discussion of the Net Advisory Net. According to these principles, the Internet is more than a valuable information resource. It enables people to connect directly with others, helping to fulfill the vision and ideals of democracy but it cannot exist for the unique benefit of any group or economic interest. Universal internet access should be a federal goal.

Click here to read biographies of the initial members of the broadband access working group of the Net Advisory Net.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Net Advisory Net

What is the NAN?

It's a team of smart people who are advising Gov. Dean and his team on Internet policy.

What does the NAN do?

Its task is to come up with policy options the Dean team should consider. The Governor approaches decisions as a physician: understand the facts, understand the likely short and long-term effects, and make a choice based on the facts, probable outcomes, and values.

So, the NAN presents all possible options …?

Not quite. The Dean campaign stands by a set of core Internet values, published here. The campaign is looking at policy options that support those values, although we're open to a very wide range of opinion.

How do you get onto the NAN?

You get invited.

How do you choose who to invite?

We took the “Dream Team” approach. Members are people with broad experience, have thought deeply about the issues, are passionate about preserving the value of the Internet.

Do all NAN members endorse Governor Dean for the presidency?

No. That isn't a requirement for membership.

Likewise, does the Dean campaign support every idea every member of the NAN has ever published?

Of course not. The NAN team is purposefully diverse in its thinking. That's part of its strength.

How does the NAN work?

It's divided into topical areas. Each member focuses on one topic, although she or he is free to comment on other topics as well. Each discussion group prepares policy option statements that lay out the facts supporting a particular option, the values that it supports, and assesses its likely effect short-term and long-term.

The group then meets face to face with the Dean team to go over the options.

When will these decisions be made?

When we feel confident that we are making the best decision possible.

But too frequently policy decisions are a way of closing off conversation. The issues the NAN is dealing with are important, complex and occurring with a context that will never be finished inventing itself. We intend to stay engaged in conversation even after the policy decisions are made.

How open are these discussions to the public?

We want to encourage widespread conversation with everyone who cares about the Internet, but we also recognize that some conversations do better without constant public exposure. So, we're trying to get the mix right. The NAN members will talk amongst themselves but also participate in the public conversation on the NAN site.

Is the NAN a decision-making body?

No, it's a conversation-making body. From that conversation will emerge policy decisions. And we see tremendous value in continuing conversation. In fact, some of the policy decisions may well be to engage in a Great American Conversation over issues that have no single or simple answer.

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One Response to The Dean Campaign Does Something REAL Smart

  1. Laura in DC says:

    Thanks a bunch for this explanation. I was really confused about what this was. Your explanation was very helpful.

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