Andrew Ian Dodge: Your Vote 2012 Candidate Profile

Andrew Ian Dodge believes that a growing movement in Maine politics has been without a voice in Washington for too long. Dodge is one of six candidates who’d like to replace retiring Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe this fall. A self-described Libertarian, he believes that government cannot create jobs or fix the economy. Nor does he believe that it should prevent gay people from being married, or citizens from using marijuana or hallucinogenic mushrooms. Keith Shortall has the latest in our series of Your Vote 2012 candidate profiles

Months before Maine’s senior senator made her surprise announcement earlier this year, Andrew Ian Dodge (right) had already entered the GOP primary to challenger her. Then, when Snowe bowed out and a slew of other Republicans started jumping into the fray, Dodge decided to leave the Republican fold, and run as an independent.

“I’m running for U.S. Senate because I don’t really think that there’s a valuable ‘liberty’ choice in the race,” Dodge says. “People in Maine deserve a choice and there is a big liberty-slash-Libertarian-limited-government movement in Maine.”

Dodge says that growing up he lived all over the world, but his family’s roots are firmly planted in Maine. He’s 44 years old, and says his Libertarian beliefs go back to his college years at Colby, where he says he led the fight against “political correctness.”

“I challenged the Colby establishment who decided that the CIA and various other government agencies – anybody they disagreed with – shouldn’t be able to recruit graduates,” he says. “And I pointed out that my parents were paying them to educate me, not to tell me who I could work for after Colby.”

Dodge went on to earn a graduate degree from Hull University in England, where also worked for the Bow Group, a conservative think tank. He now works as a freelance writer, and lives in Harpswell with his wife, Kim Benson. On policy, Dodge believes that the problems facing the U.S. cannot be solved by government.

“I always fear when politicians say ‘I’m going to create jobs.’ Or presidents say, ‘I’m going to create jobs,’” he says. “Unfortunately, government tends to prevent the creation of jobs rather than helping it by taxation, over-regulation. Many industries and small businesses in particular have been affected, like Kingdom Ice. And people aren’t spending because they’re worried about their future. So the best way of stopping that is to get the economy going again, and the best way for the government to do that is to get the hell out of the way.”

Dodge says he supporters a “flat tax” system, in which anyone making over $15,000 would pay 15 percent. He would also support across-the-board cuts in government spending, including cuts in the military budget. He supports expansion of domestic energy sources, including offshore oil exploration.

“And by the way I’m not one of these people who is against all alternative energy. I disagree with wind farms. They’re inefficient for Maine. Tidal energy, now that makes sense,” he says. “However, government should not either give bailouts, subsidies, or anything with taxpayer’s money when they’re $16 trillion in debt.

Keith Shortall: “Do you support nuclear power?”

Andrew Ian Dodge: “Yes.”

Keith Shortall: “Expansion of nuclear power?”

Andrew Ian Dodge: “Yes. If it’s good enough for the French, it’s good enough for us.”

Dodge says he does not support the Affordable Care Act championed by President Obama, and instead favors reforms that he says would increase competition and lower costs, such as tort reform and allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines.

Medicare and Social Security, he says, may require means testing. And he’s open to considering higher age requirements. And Dodge says his belief in personal liberty extends to “self medication.” Specifically, he would decriminalize marijuana, and hallucinogenic mushrooms.

“Obviously, when it’s manufactured – when you’re talking about ‘ecstacy’ and things like that – there I can see a very clear reason why we ban it, but marijuana? Please. I mean, it’s just ridiculous. There’s the prohibitionary instinct which is not logical, not reasoned, and there are medical benefits to marijuana as well. And busting people for trying to help themselves so they don’t puke up their guts when they’re on chemo is just ridiculous.”

“From what I know of his views, he certainly adopts a kind of classic Libertarian position,” says Mark Brewer, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maine.

He says while it’s true that the small-goverment Libertarian movement has shown its presence in recent months, it’s not clear whether Andrew Ian Dodge is their man. But Brewer says Dodge and fellow independent Danny Dalton could pull some support away from GOP candidate Charlie Summers come November.

“Do Dodge or Dalton have a legitimate chance to win this election? No,” Brewer says. “On the other hand could they poll one, two or three percent each? Sure. And if they take that predominantly from Charlie Summers as opposed to, say, Angus King or Cynthia Dill, that’s a big problem for Summers. And I think, he – Summers – more so than King or Dill is the one candidate who has something to kind of worry about here with both Dodge and Dalton.”

The other independent candidate in the race is Yarmouth businessman Steve Woods.

Originally posted on MPBN

Social Media, Design & Tech Savvy Politics

 

In 2004 Howard Dean blazed the trail for many of the practices that political campaigns use when it comes to organizing grassroots volunteers & raising funds. He went from a small state governor to a serious contender for the party’s presidential nomination. All with the help of meetup.com & hundreds of bloggers. Today, social media has become an even stronger influence on a campaign. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google + & RSS make for a much richer array of social media signals.

This was carried to the next level in the 2008 presidential election & came to be known as “the social media election”. Obama’s tech savvy team used the power of the internet to build an unprecedented grassroots network as well as fundraising. In the 2012 election we witnessed the campaigns raise the bar. After all in the 2008 election Facebook only had 100 million users and Twitter was just getting started. 2008 was the beginning of the social media revolution.

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President Barack Obama and his Democratic Party social machine were the leader of the pack in the 2012 election. The various Democratic Twitter sites made up for 66% of the tweets while the various GOP sites made up 34%. The numbers were stronger for the GOP when it came to Facebook. The GOP managed to come in at 51% while the Democrats came in at 49%. When it came to RSS feeds the Democrats again lead the way with twice the content as the GOP. The content the Democrats produced was 66%, compared to 34% from the GOP. It’s not a mystery why the Democratic Party carried the voters in the 18-34 age range.

Twitter has become main weapon in a political campaign’s arsenal. We have seen the power of Twitter in the Middle East & have seen it in the 2012 election. 90% of senators and House members have Twitter accounts. As many as 35 world leaders & around 42 governors use Twitter to get their message out. Twitter is also a double edged sword as we saw with Clint Eastwood’s address to an empty chair at the RNC. The Twitter account “Invisible Obama” was created within minutes of Clint leaving the stage with over 6,000 followers. The hash-tag #Eastwooding flooded the Twitter feed. Even Obama joined in on the fun by tweeting a response of a photo of him in a White House chair with the caption, “This seat’s taken.”

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Design is also a key factor in the 2012 campaign. The Obama campaign lead the charge with smart & memorable campaigns. The use of a clean & approachable layout for his election site made for a strong centerpiece in the race. The content on his website was designed in a way to drive the viewer to either make a donation, get involved in a grassroots campaign or learn about the key issues. Many NY, Los Angeles & even web designers in Dallas have been using this approach with their fortune 500 & fortune 1000 companies and we are seeing it flood into political websites. Obama’s savvy design team through consistent messaging and branding used these same design strategies across all of his social media sites, including Twitter & Facebook. We saw this same approach with his use of infographics. Simple, but well designed & creatively executed charges & graphs that could easily be shared, pined on Pinterest, blogged or emailed out played a critical role in swaying swing voters.

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Since 2004 we have seen tech savvy campaigns mature from a group of bloggers & meetup.com members to full fledged social media campaigns. Rich design & a strong and memorable message is the glue that held all of these platforms together. During the 2012 election there is about 24 million active U.S. Twitter users & nearly 133 million Facebook users. Many of these felt passionate about their candidate & used social media to spread the word.