New media must be a central pillar in the victory strategy!
Yesterday I asked whether conservatives have finally come to their census and gotten over the initial daze of defeat from last November? With our party speaking in a united voice of principled opposition to the liberal coup represented by the stimulus bill, likely manipulation of the census and looming re-emergence of the fairness doctrine we know we must fight hard to survive and ultimately regain power as the American voter realizes what a sham Obama's promises of hope and change really are (see Obama's seven broken promises in the stimulus bill).
Our GOP leaders in Congress have shown they have the right message by opposing big government boondoggles while offering common sense alternatives. The question is: do we have the right blueprint to translate that program into electoral victory in 2010 and 2012?
In 2006 we lost the House and Senate and we sat by in 2008 and watched again as the largest well funded political juggernaut of the 21st century swept away decades of GOP grass roots development. Are we prepared now to meet that challenge or will we fall back on the business as usual strategies which may have worked 20 years ago but failed utterly in the last two elections?
I'd like to think we have learned our lesson and I am encouraged by new GOP Chairman Michael Steele's efforts to invite new ideas for reaching voters and widening their participation; especially through the use of the same new media that Obama and friends used so effectively.
The Reagan revolution was fueled by new technology in direct mail fundraising. Patrick Ruffini, a leader in GOP new media, points out that in many ways, state and local campaign consultants are still doing business with that 20 year old method because they have built lucrative businesses based on commissions from offering those campaign methods.
Patrick goes on to suggest that a 21st Century plan with the simple goal of assembling 5,000 online activisits per targeted congressional district would create a foundation for eventual GOP takeover of the U.S. House. A similar plan could be used for targeted senate races.
Creating a stronger sense of GOP Community: A success story in Pennsylvania
Patrick's plan is fine as far as it goes. But many activists are already on GOP federal, state and county email lists. They already vote and many donate money and volunteer. But if we are going to counter the massive organizational and fundraising machine the Dems are now fielding we need to do much more than that.
Creating a sense of community and commitment is the best way to build on expressions of support from party members. Local area GOP clubs have been doing just that for years but there are other avenues to channel the efforts of inspired American patriots.
One such example comes from the American Sheepdogs; a group in Chester County Pennsylvania which spontaneously formed when one man stood on a street corner in the center of town holding up a sign showing support for our troops. Word got out that every Saturday he would be there and soon others joined him including Skye, our blogging friend from Philadelphia who had taken an interest in the VICTORY movement after attending a Gathering of Eagles event in Washington, DC.
Now, every Saturday this group attracts dozens of like minded people to stand with them for an hour, wave the flag and hold up a sign supporting our troops and our nation during a time of war. Videos and photographs of their events show a happy, motivated community of people who come together now as friends.
But Sheepdogs aren't content just to stand on street corners and wave flags. They are now moving to fill the vacuum in the local county GOP by offering their members for vacant precinct committee slots. And they have formed The Pennsylvania Conservative Council to advance their values throughout the local, state and federal political process.
None of this success would have been possible without new media reaching out to bring people together outside the nornal channels of communication.
GOP Leaders Must Strengthen New Media from the Top Down
Whether it's a group formed to support our troops or a handful of Young Republicans in a rural county, new media such as blogs provides the interactivity around which to catalyze a community of like minded souls who quickly become friends as they move on to greater activism and grass roots success.
The blogs that pop up are a hodgepodge of quality and content but are more likely to reflect the GOP's positive message and program if GOP leaders do their part of the job and make new media presentations more accessible and immediate.
I've been fairly pleased with efforts like those of House GOP Leader John Boehner. His director of new media not only keeps his blog up to date with a variety of content more appealing and useful to bloggers than the usual stale press release, but his staff has also responded in a timely manner to requests for videos and other presentations which make our job of communicating with our activist base that much more effective.
Throughout last summer's debate on energy Boehner's leadership blog was an invaluable resource and helped bloggers get out the message of the extraordinary efforts House GOP members were making to highlight this issue. There were multiple graphics, videos and news sources available at his page that we could use.
On the other hand, the new media efforts of Senator Jim DeMint(R-SC) present a mixed bag. He has an excellent blog but when the Senator recently made a visit to the Heritage Foundation where he gave a speech inviting bloggers to investigate pork in the still unread stimulus bill he failed to post any mention of that invitation on his blog. He missed an opportunity to toss the widest net of homestate bloggers and activists over that hogzilla porkfest.
For grades, I would give Leader Boehner an A. Sen. DeMint a B- and my Congressman Joe Wilson, whose web site is stale, a D.
As Chairman Steele revamps the GOP.Com web site let's hope he too concentrates on offering the widest possible set of resources and sense of community to like minded bloggers and activists. High quality embeddable video and audio players to present speeches, video clips and other presentations is a must.
But we must also count on Chairman Steele's leadership to drag the county, state and federal leaders who remain behind the times into the 21st century. There is just no excuse for every good speech given by elected leaders at every level not to be immediately available online in a format that is easily shareable across all platforms.
We can no longer sit by and watch the Dem juggernaut roll past!
UPDATE: Tuesday's Washington Post has an excellent link-laden article describing more detail on the coming GOP tech revolution. I suggest you click through many of the links but particularly The Tech Republican and view David All's presentation on Trickle Up Activism.