After the election, I wrote a number of articles about the need for a radical transformation of GOP politics. Many of these articles highlighted the work of the people at RebuildtheParty.com. This morning, I read a post by Redstate’s Leon Wolf that puts things in their proper perspective. Here’s what Leon said that most caught my attention:

In the wake of Barack Obama’s astounding fundraising success in 2007-2008, which was largely fueled by an unprecedented web operation that collected millions of active donors and volunteers, many Republican strategists have begun to realize that the current state of web operations on the right is simply not acceptable if the GOP is going to be competitive in elections going forward. New websites are springing up left and right in an attempt to solve this problem, and established web sites and online activists have dedicated countless hours, posts, and emails in the last several weeks to navelgazing over this issue. I tend to think that much of this misses the point entirely.

Don’t get me wrong; our web operation is clearly and unacceptably behind the left’s, and these discussions need to be had or we risk perpetual minority status. However, I am sorry to say that our enfeebled efforts are not going to reach the needed levels just because our candidates master the use of Twitter. You see, an effective web operation only links people as they are; it does not change people into something they are not. And the bottom line is that, more than having been beaten by a superior operation, we were beaten by people who were more motivated and willing to get involved and donate than we were. Obama’s web operation was just a tool by which he took advantage of a pre-existing resource.

Now, as any farmer will tell you, it’s impossible to run a modern successful farm without a lot of the modern fancy farming equipment that makes operating a 3,000 acre farm with less than 10 farmhands possible. However, all the modern equipment in the world is useless if the dirt you’re planting your crop in isn’t good for growing that crop. My point, at long last, is that our primary focus ought to be on cultivating a need and desire in people to get involved in GOP election efforts.

I’m not trying to start a fight between the people advocating a more extensive use of high-tech tools and the people that focus on sharpening the GOP’s message. Instead, it’s my goal to help ensure these people work together.

I didn’t write this post believing that there’s a deep divide between people like Patrick Ruffini, who wants to drag the RNC into the 21st Century, and people who focus almost solely on message. I think there’s a far greater divide between RNC ‘leadership’ and rank-and-file conservatives.

One of the great challenges facing the GOP is sharpening our message and regaining our credibility on fiscal restraint issues. It’s been apparent that many inside-the-Beltway GOP strategists don’t see that as a priority. If these strategists don’t start paying attention to GOP activists who communicate via Facebook, Twitter, the blogs & their iPhones, then they’ll stay inside their Beltway echochamber without hearing from GOP activists. At that point, they’re essentially useless.

One of the reasons I have high hopes for the GOP, especially in the House, is because there’s an increasing number of politicians blogging and using Twitter. I thoroughly enjoyed the spontaneous nature of the House Oil Party last August. I loved how the House GOP drove the agenda during August.

It’s important to note, though, that Twitter, Facebook, the politicians’ blogs & YouTube were just the vehicle by which the House GOP got their message out. What killed it were GOP senators abandoning their House colleagues and joining the Gang of 20 when we had the ability to end the ban on offshore drilling.

That, along with McCain’s voting for the earmark-laden bailout bill, ended Republicans’ chances this election cycle. Had the Gang of 20 insisted on ending the offshore drilling ban AND McCain returned to Washington and said that the Gingrich Plan was the only plan he’s support, it would’ve increased his chances of winning the presidential election.

Our first priority is to establish a conservative, pro-growth, reformist agenda. Our next highest priority is to use technology to getting that message out, sending out action alerts and fundraising. Finally, we must offer a sharp contrast between the Democrats’ culture of corruption and our reformist agenda.

If we sharpen our message and use technology to get that message out swiftly and efficiently, we can regain our majority party status. That’s the goal we all should have.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

6 Responses to “Technology & Message”

  • Donna Foster says:

    Modern technology has its benefits, but Twitter and Facebook tend to attract those who are already attracted to a Candidate, and are looking for more information. The fact that the taxpayer-funded propagandists in the public school system are teaching that Socialism is good and Capitalism is bad, and telling young people that Democrat Candidates are the “jocks” while Republican Candidates are the “nerds” means that the “technologically hip” usually have no reason to even check us out. So our focus, no matter what instruments we use, still needs to be on education. We’ll never win the “we’re cooler than they are” game. We’re not supposed to be about style over substance.

    The 2008 election was clearly “The Emperor’s New Clothes” on full display. The Founders risked losing their lives to promote the principles we claim to hold dear…yet most of us aren’t willing to risk losing friends, family members, business associates or business. Any Conservative or Republican who bows to social pressure and misses an opportunity educate those around them is part of the problem…not part of the solution. Through House and Senate votes, whether printed or on the computer, we can show people that they are voting for exactly the opposite of what they believe in…but we have to be willing to have the conversation first. We all have a role to play, we just need to resolve to play it, face to face, in our sphere of influence.

  • Dave Thul says:

    Twitter and Facebook are great, but don’t forget to make basic internet exposure universal. In Steele County (Owatonna) it took a lot of net searching just to find basic contact info for the local GOP.
    You have to walk before you can run.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Donna, Change is coming this winter in terms of educating people about what the DFL stands for. If it works right, it’ll hit them so hard they won’t know what hit them.

  • J. Ewing says:

    Everybody’s right, but the thing most seem to miss is, first of all, that a)we don’t yet have “a message,” certainly not one that is clear, coherent, and consistent across all party units. More importantly, we do not have and can not get the most important communication tools– newspapers and TV, from which a majority draw their view of the world– on our side. We have to somehow blast that message out over the biased media. The easiest way to do that is to base the message in things that the average Joe already knows, like government wastes money, and that you ought to live within your income. Apply common sense to this “common knowledge” and you have real education occurring without the need for swinging any axe handles.

    The other part of messaging is the “Army of Davids” mindset that Gary mentioned earlier– the notion that we need to activate the activists, and get them to gain more activists, etc. The trick is to have something for them to do. I suggest that we use the Democrats plans as our springboard for developing our “message”– that is, a popular, realistic and common sense alternative– and from that we excite the Davids and beyond. Now, if we could just get our leaders to play that instigator role….

  • Donna Foster says:

    Gary, I’d love to believe that, and I pray for exactly that – even though most people tell me I’m horrible for “praying for bad things to happen to this country just so I can benefit politically”. No…I’m just praying for the people to get EXACTLY what they voted for….whether they knew what that was at the time or not! However, we all know that even the most “common sense” types can fall prey to the media’s spin on events. After all, most people only know what the media pounds into their heads during the top-of-the-hour news breaks on their preferred music stations. Honestly, most of the people I work with (think construction unions again) really believed the Clinton impeachment was only about sex – and they NEVER EVEN HEARD that he had committed perjury in a court of law, thus using his office to deny a citizen her right to justice. The people believe what the media wants them to believe. Such as: Democrats can fix the financial mess (even though their public policies caused it); Obama voted against the war (even though he wasn’t even in the Senate at the time); and my favorite: “Democrats are for the little guy” (except that they think they are entitled to more of the working man’s hard-earned money). If the people could be relied on to see the Democrats for who they are, they would have voted against every State Legislator who voted for the gas tax increase while at the same time appearing on the news telling us that the high gas prices were putting a burden on working families. I never assume the people are actually going to see anything…

  • eric z says:

    I would say, you have Huckabee, McCain and Palin, that’s three messages. Throw in Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller, and if you thing just because the individuals died the positions did too you are shortsighted. Then throw in the Reagan-Bush softness and slush.

    The problem is not lacking a message, it is reconciling all to the real and lasting GOP message, that of Nelson Rockefeller. If Squeaky From had shot straignt, we’d have had President Rockafeller. Never forget that.

    When Nixon was purged, so was Agnew, and the Ford-Rockefeller contingent, complete with Rumsfeld and Cheney as then junior hangers-on, took over.

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