1. I started writing about both parties becoming host bodies for 3rd party candidates. Instead of an essay, it turned into 50 tweets. Here goes


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 04:56:10

  2. Social media is breaking the political 'Overton Window' — the ability of elites to determine the outside edges of acceptable conversation.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 04:56:20

  3. The Overton Window was imagined as a limit on public opinion, but in politics, it's the limit on what politicians will express in public.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 04:56:40

  4. Politically acceptable discourse is limited by supply, not demand. The public is hungry for more than politicians are willing to discuss.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 04:57:57

  5. This is especially important in the U.S., because our two-party system creates ideologically unstable parties *by design.*


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 04:58:24

  6. In order to preserve inherently unstable coalitions, party elites & press had to put some issues into the 'Don't Mention X' category.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 04:58:55

  7. These limits were enforced by party discipline, and mass media whose economics meant political centrism was the best way to make money.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:00:34

  8. This was BC: Before Cable. One or two newspapers per town, three TV stations; all centrist, white, pro-business, respectful of authority.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:01:15

  9. Cable changed things, allowing outsiders to campaign more easily. In '92, Ross Perot, 3rd party candidate, campaigned through infomercials.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:01:44

  10. That year, the GOP's 'Don't Mention X' issue was the weakness of Reaganomics. Party orthodoxy said reducing tax rates would raise revenues.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:02:18

  11. Perot's ads attacked GOP management of the economy head on. He was the first candidate to purchase national attention at market rates.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:02:45

  12. Post-Perot, cable became outside candidates' tool for jailbreaking Don't Mention X: Buchanan on culture war, Nader on consumer protection.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:03:06

  13. After Cable but Before Web lasted only a dozen years. Cable added a new stream of media access. The web added a torrent.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:03:23

  14. What's special about After Web — now — is that politicians talking about "Don't mention X" issues are doing so from *inside* the parties.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:03:44

  15. This started with Howard Dean (the OG) in '03. Poverty was the mother of invention; Dean didn't have enough $ to buy ads, even on cable.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:04:18

  16. But his team had Meetup & blogs and their candidate believed something many voters did too, something actively Not Being Mentioned.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:05:37

  17. In '03, All Serious People (aka DC insiders) agreed the U.S. *had* to invade Iraq. Opposition to the war was not to be a campaign issue.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:06:09

  18. Dean didn't care. In February of 2003, he said "If the war lasts more than a few weeks, the danger of humanitarian disaster is high."


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:06:38

  19. Dean said "Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and large quantities of arms."


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:07:08

  20. Dean said "There is a very real danger that war in Iraq will fuel the fires of international terror."


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:07:41

  21. For All Serious People, this was crazy talk. (Dean was, of course, completely correct.) This was also tonic to a passionate set of voters.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:08:06

  22. Mentioning X became Dean's hallmark. Far from marginalizing him, it got him tons of free news coverage. Trump is just biting those rhymes.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:08:37

  23. After webifying Perot's media tactics, Dean pioneered online fundraising. Unfortunately for him, his Get Out The Vote operation didn't.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:09:06

  24. That took Obama. Obama was less of an outsider than Dean (though still regarded as unelectable in '07) but used most of Dean's playbook.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:09:30

  25. Besides charisma, he had two advantages Dean didn't have. First, the anti-war position had gone from principled oppositon to common sense.


    — Clay Shirky (@cshirky)Thu, Feb 18 2016 05:09:59