“Life is a Campaign,” President Trump | Reuters

The New Permanent Campaign

A Friendly Wager on Rebooting a Book as a Medium Series

Several weeks ago I rebooted a long-lost project to write a book, for which I have a standing contract with a publisher. This is no humble-brag: I’m late by about ten years. I began writing an update to the classic Permanent Campaign by Sidney Blumenthal, a book so old that there is no Kindle version for it. Then, I opened up my own firm and got too busy.

Too bad, it’s a landmark book and it could use a modern update. As the a professor and director of George Washington University’s political management program, maybe I am finally the right person to do it.

My work on the PEORIA Project has offer me new and compelling data and working with my partner, Michael Cornfield, has taken my previous ideas in new and much more interesting directions.

Most importantly, we now have a political novice as president who fully endorses ongoing campaigning as a way of life.


The Permanent Background

Blumenthal’s core argument is based on Pat Caddell’s (now, proven) theory that campaigns and the media that covered them changed. Presidents (and, later, others) elected under the 24/7 news cycle had to maintain public support to get anything done, essentially making campaigning a permanent state of government affairs.

Others picked up Blumenthal’s book and extended it well. For example, in 2006, Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann did a great job of this in their edited edition of The Permanent Campaign and Its Future. In 2012, Doherty did another nice job with the topic. Three years ago, my friend from No Labels, Bill Galston offered suggestions on how to manage the effects of what he called the paralysis of permanent campaigning.

Of course, they’re all correct as far as they go. But over the past several years, social media has reinforced the permanent campaign in obvious and subtle ways. The media was 24/7 before but now it is also unpredictably pervasive as we’re all carrying televisions in our pockets along with other shorter and, at times, more interesting social media.


A New Series

The new Series feature in Medium led me to take on the Trump presidency in real-time. I’ve found the platform easy to use but oddly limiting. While you can read and share Medium Posts, you cannot read a Series unless you have a Medium account. This limits the potential audience, unnecessarily, to the platform. Series look just as good on a computer screen and you can see more of the cards than on your mobile device. Also, Medium does not do as good of a job, in my experience, promoting Series as they do Posts. This gives writers a sense that they are not expanding their audience, either.

So, today I’m going to run an experiment. I have a friend who works for Medium (safely anonymous) and tried to get him to take a bet (lunch) that I’d get more views and hearts on this one post than I’ve gotten in claps which users can do multiple times just by re-posting my Series cards.

Let’s do this, people. Here’s my The New Permanent Campaign Series.

Please feel free to squint and complain to our Medium overlords. You could also just subscribe to the Series, of course, but then I might lose the bet. But, then again, I owe him lunch, anyway.

Please let me know what you think in the comments!


If you enjoyed this article, click the💚 below so other people will see this here on Medium. Follow me on Twitter @michaelcohen. You can follow our research on this website or on Twitter @PEORIAProject, which is funded by a generous grant from Mark R. Shenkman. To learn more about the Graduate School of Political Management visit our website or follow us on Twitter @GSPMgwu.

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