Ruck.us Dies Down; Yet Another Political Social Network Goes Bust
BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, December 4 2013
For two years now, Ruck.us, the political social network start-up founded by political scions Nathan Dasche (aka Abu Tom, former Senate majority leader), and Raymond Glendening (aka Abu Parris, former Maryland governor) has gotten an unearned and adoring press from the usual places.
On Mashable, a reliably lousy source of critical thinking about tech and politics, Alex Fitzpatrick's piece was headlined "Ruck.us Breaks Up Party Politics on the Social Web," and claimed that "why it's working" is because Ruck.us gives independents "an outlet for political expression outside the binary, two-party system."
On TechCrunch, Rip Empson said, "I think this is a political startup that might just get your vote."
On PandoDaily, Hamish McKenzie questioned Ruck.us's model, but said "what Ruck.us has working in its favor are the smarts, connections, and determination of its founders."
Only Politico's Steve Freiss managed to report both sides of the story, that is, get someone critical to offer a take on Ruck.us's likely future that wasn't just a funding pitch:
Plots to disrupt the two-party system through technology tend to all have the same basic flaw: They treat politics like commercial markets,” said Dave Karpf, a George Washington University communications professor and author of “The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy.”
“Our two-party system doesn’t form out of a market problem; it forms out of an electoral-system design,” Karpf said. “The party coalition that attracts a plurality of voters wins everything. The party coalition that comes in second wins nothing. That yields two parties. Every time. New information technologies haven’t made that irrelevant. … I am frankly astonished that the ex-executive director of the Democratic Governors Association does not understand this. It’s pretty basic stuff.”
If you noticed, we never covered Ruck.us, because we didn't think their idea made much sense and we never saw any sign that it was going anywhere.
Well, now arrives an email from Ruck.us's founder Daschle, offering to share "some exciting news." That is,
"After two years of building the world's first ever political-social network, we realized two important things. First, social networks are incredibly hard to build; while we still very much believe in Ruck.us' vision, we haven't found the secret sauce that would make it work. Second, we realized that the 'digital real estate' that we were building for political candidates is actually a highly needed product that can stand on its own.
So, effective immediately, we are going to pivot away from Ruck.us as a social network and toward Ruck.us as a digital toolkit for political candidates. We'll be back in touch when we succeed in reaching that point!
Well, all the best of luck to Daschle and crew on this new endeavor. But in my humble opinion, they might want to change their name. Because right now Ruck.us is going on the dead pile, alongside Voter.com, Vote.com, Speakout.com, Essembly.com, HotSoup.com, VoteIQ.com, Jumo.com and Votizen.com. Tough ruck.