Elevating the discussion that has been going on regarding the state of the GOP in online politics to more mainstream media, David All writes on his blog, and in The Politico that the GOP’s problems are more a function of not having a sufficient tech strategy.
Republicans are getting trounced by Democrats…
Some attribute this disparity to activist energy on the left, a hatred of President Bush or even dissatisfaction among Republican supporters with their own stable of candidates.
But I offer another reason: Republicans have failed to place a premium on an effective Internet strategy. While the Internet’s transformational shift has emerged and has been dubbed Web 2.0, Republicans still operate in a world of Web 0.5.
As Democrats rally, connect and urge activism with their base through coordinated nationwide town hall meetings hosted by MoveOn.org, Republican presidential candidates are still considering whether or not they should even blog on their sites.
This gets back to the heart of the discussion Ruffini and I were having last week. Patrick had suggested that my focus on implementing web 2.0 in an effort to get activists engaged would be less than successful without a corresponding effort to increase the quality of the content you’re offering. I agree. I think both are critical.
This is where I part with David. I agree that we need a more effective Internet strategy, and need to build an infrastructure that will support the type and level of activity David suggests, but I don’t think simply building it will attract droves of Republicans. The GOP has greater problems than a lack of social networking. There is a party that is not terribly happy with a sound electoral loss a few months ago, a continuing series of miscues by the Administration, and a lackluster field of Presidential candidates. That is a significant hill to climb, and we won’t be able to if we don’t fundamentally alter our approach.
The Democrats blog community is strong because the leadership of the party views bloggers as activists. With very few exceptions, our candidates and elected officials view them as another form of media. They approach blogs the same way they approach newspapers, rather than the way they approach a neighborhood association or a pancake breakfast.
Further, while the GOP has been recognized for its effective message control with a stable of surrogates repeating the same mantra over and over and over, the Internet gives more people a voice. That’s the appeal of web 2.0. But messages, like technologies, are introduced and then take on a life of their own – changing and shifting as they pass from person to person. GOP efforts will need to relinquish control over the message and allow users to adapt it if we ever expect to be effective in an Internet world.