The May 7 election question: what is critical mass for the big idea?

You won’t see me, David Greer or Mayor Leitzell on a tv commercial between now and May 7. In fact, you won’t ever see us on a broadcast tv spot. It’s a stupid waste of campaign money. Why? TV stations cover the entire region- from Celina to Middletown, Eaton to Springfield. We only need to reach a very small subset of that audience- Dayton voters, and even a smaller subset of those, the ones who vote in primaries.

Seth Godin asked this question on Thursday:

How big is critical mass?

It’s classified.

There’s a certain mass and size of plutonium that you need to create in order to start a nuclear reaction… a reaction that tips, that spreads, that cycles out of control.

In the idea business, critical mass is the minimum size of the excited audience that leads to a wildfire. People start embracing your idea because, “everyone else is…”

via Seth’s Blog: How big is critical mass?.

The difference between our low-budget, unconventional, shared campaign and Nan Whaley and AJ Wagner’s hyper-powered political slugfest, is that we have a central idea for ours- that politics is local, personal, and about an idea- more than about us. The idea is that business as usual in Dayton politics has to end, and campaigns have to be about ideas, not dollars. Our idea- that three independent candidates who don’t owe anyone any political favors, can transform Dayton.

Nan and AJ just want to get elected. Then, they promise, their self-professed visionary leadership will lead us to the promised land of jobs, better education and no more blighted homes. The problem is, we, and you, have all heard that same promise every time, there is an election. How’s it worked in the past?

The big idea in the Independent Dayton campaign is that if enough Dayton voters hear our message, that elections shouldn’t be run like auctions, and that you really can’t do anything new, if your support comes from people who aren’t the ones who elect you (seriously, there aren’t many actual Dayton residents writing checks for over $250 to any of the candidates, that kind of money- even when donated to my campaign is from outside the city). That’s a big idea and a major change right off the bat.

You won’t hear any of us promise that government is going to create jobs, or be able to catch up with the blight. Only someone who takes money from a gambling PAC that wants to build a racino will tell you that. We will tell you that if we deliver great services, and make our city sound like a forward thinking city that put a stop to auctioning off our city commission seats, the rest of the world may take notice and believe that our community has turned a corner that the rest of the country wishes it could- take the big money out of politics.

After the short cycle of the primary, we will produce our own video about the campaign. To tell you a story of our vision for Dayton, it will be one that is worthy of the whole world watching. It will let you know that Dayton is back. We’ve got water, workers and the wisdom to end the silliness of big money politics. Our solutions don’t fit in a :30 spot, it will be at least a few minutes long, and it will inspire you. Note: we’ve already put up many hours of straight video on Independent Dayton- of all the candidates nights, and our “Ghostlight Sessions” where we answered questions, none of the big money candidates did anything like this. Instead, they are going to hit you over the head with these :30 ads about why they are great.

Any questions?
I hope on May 7, Dayton voters say no to one of these (I always say to vote for the people with the lowest average donation) candidates and we move forward with a real discussion of Dayton’s future.

The question is, in the next 10 days, can the Independent Dayton team hand deliver enough of our campaign materials and reach enough Dayton primary voters with our limited budget? Some of it is up to you- will you share this with every Dayton voter you know? Remember, no one gets elected on May 7- we just narrow the choices. One of these big money candidates will still be on the ballot, and possibly both. Is that what you want? Or do you want to send a message about running elections without selling out?

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