Back in August 2005, when writing about the launch of political spam outfit GetUp!, I wrote that:
[GetUp!] want to focus on issues that have been discussed in exhausting and exhaustive detail for years, and which have pre-existing interest groups and issue movements that keep them in the public eye.
In an odd sort of way, contemporary soft leftists are both obsessed with politics and unpolitical at the same time. That is, their political involvement seems as much about showing what kinds of people they are (caring , concerned etc) as making a difference. The plausibility of a political strategy is less important than being involved.
Whether or not Get Up! founders Jeremy Heimans and David Madden turn out to be effective political activists, by setting up an organisation that taps into demand for low-effort political statement making they may prove to be astute entrepreneurs. (emphasis added)
If News Ltd newspaper reports today are correct, this prediction was spot on, with Heimans and Madden pocketing more than a quarter of the $539,000 GetUp! raised in the last financial year. Unlike the Herald-Sun, I’m not at all critical of this – they were (they have left the organisation) entrepreneurs in the market for political expression, and if they have helped people feel like they are contributing to freeing David Hicks, saving the planet etc they have done their job. Some people seek ‘retail therapy’, others political therapy – and entrepreneurs are rewarded for providing what people want.