The First Campaign

Globalization, the Web, and the Race for the White House

By Garrett M. Graff
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374155032, 336pp.)

Publication Date: November 27, 2007

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How the "flattening of the world" has transformed politics--and what it means for the 2008 election
The 2008 presidential campaign will be like none in recent memory: the first campaign in fifty years in which both the Democrats and the Republicans must nominate a new candidate, and the first ever in which the issues of globalization and technology will decide the outcome.Garrett M. Graff represents the people that all the candidates want to engage: young, technologically savvy, concerned about the future. In this far-reaching book, he asks: Will the two major parties seize the moment and run the first campaign of the new era, or will they run the last campaign all over again?

Globalization, Graff argues, has made technology both the medium and the message of 2008. The usual domestic issues (the economy, health care, job safety) are now global issues. Meanwhile, the emergence of the Web as a political tool has shaken up the campaign process, leaving front-runners vulnerable right up until Election Day.

Which candidate will dare to run a new kind of race? Combining vivid campaign-trail reporting with a provocative argument about the state of American politics, Graff makes clear that whichever party best meets the challenges of globalization will win the election--and put America back on course.

The First Campaign is required reading for the presidential candidates--and for the rest of us, too.

About the Author

A Vermonter, Garrett M. Graff was Howard Dean's first webmaster; at, he was the first blogger to be granted credentials for a White House press conference. He is now an editor at Washingtonian magazine.

Praise For The First Campaign

"In his lively new book, The First Campaign: Globalization, the Web and the Race for the White House, Garrett M. Graff... raises a lot of provocative questions about how candidates are grappling with 'the new campaign paradigm,' (which, he says, emphasizes a dialogue between candidates and voters, instead of a one-way conversation); how they are planning to chart America's course in a new, globalized world that is increasingly reliant on broadband communication and technological innovation; and how his own generation (born in the 1980s and 'more technologically savvy and more civic-minded than the one before it') regards the current state of politics.... [T]he astonishingly young Mr. Graff (who was born in 1981) proves in these pages that he is a cogent writer, willing to tackle large-scale issues and problems."  —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“’The First Campaign’ is a graceful book, and an important one. It's a success born of perspective: Graff gets enough distance to sketch the landscape – with all its moving parts – while remaining firmly embroiled in the fight.”
-- Christian Science Monitor

"In this ambitious book about technology's impact on politics, the author argues that the key issues of the 2008 election—business investment, education, health care, and global warming—all are tech issues at their core. But Graff, who ran Howard Dean's first Web site in 1997 (while still in high school!), is at his best when he maps the ways in which the internet is rewriting the rules of presidential campaigning."  —Wired Magazine

"Graff offers an up-to-date synthesis of the multiple challenges facing Americas as we adjust to living in a flattening world, and a valuable critique of how our policy debates on everything from health care to education haven't yet caught up with reality."  —Tech President

"Having invented most modern technology, including the Internet, the United States is walking blind and backwards into the future, argues a former Howard Dean webmaster and current Washingtonian editor. Ardent tech-evangelist Graff offers an incisive and fairly persuasive text laying out the reasons why the 2008 presidential campaign will not only be extraordinarily important, but unlike any ever seen before. New technologies have reshaped not only the electoral scene but the fabric of everyday life, and 2008 is the first time in a half-century that neither party has a sitting executive to nominate. Therefore, writes the author, 'the first campaign of a new era is upon us.' Graff is realistic enough in his acknowledgement that no matter how web-savvy a candidate may be, if there's no message to deliver, voters won't care: 'The candidate who best understands that the internet isn't an end to itself but merely a means to an end—a chance to pull people in and get them involved in the political process—will triumph.' [Graff]... lay[s] out the tough issues the country faces (everything from globalization to climate change), making the case that 2008 and the following decade may well be the last chance 'to make changes and address those looming challenges before they begin to become truly painful.' Graff is mostly hopeful, though he paints a bleak picture of lagging educational standards and politicians so woefully out of step with the times that as recently as 2001, Sen. Dianne Feinstein was quoted saying, 'I don't believe the Senate should be on the internet until we get rid of pedophilia and pornography."  —Kirkus Reviews

"Graff... knows a great deal about the contemporary political issues he discusses... which bring a thoughtful clarity to his wide-ranging analysis, from the need for sweeping healthcare reform to the political issues of"  —Publishers Weekly

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