Building the GOP’s future on five pillars

TechRepublican’s new editor, Meghann Parlett, reported on a conference call held by the GOP’s new New Media Director, Todd Herman.  Amid all the newness was Herman’s five (new) strategic pillars for online organizing, which are pretty good:

1.  Use New Media Properties to Expand GOP Reach.

2.  Acquire Actionable Data.

3.  Broadcast Impeccable Logic. (This involves creating a repository of online conservative thought.)

4.  Curate Passionate Stories.

5.  Establish Real Connections with Voters.

I suppose #3 might be a load-bearing pillar – a nod to conservative activists who feel the national party is out-of-touch with the rank-and-file activists.  But I don’t like it.  First off, the party should avoid getting into the business of defining conservatism, because Arlen Specter does have a point: what plays in Tuscaloosa may not play in Philadelphia, or vice versa.

The Republican Party has enjoyed success when it leaves power in decentralized hands.  The 1994 takeover of Congress and subsequent policies were great examples.  The 1994 campaign had no national figurehead, and battles fought and won on a district-by-district basis added up to a large national victory.  Similarly, a recurring policy theme involved pushing responsibility – and freedom – out to the states to ease the over-burdened Federal government, a theme which resulted in a reformed welfars system and budget surpluses.

A “central library of conservatism” may be asking the RNC to do too much.  Of course, I suspect this will be window dressing – a spot on the website with links to conservative think tanks while the rest of the team focuses on doing what a political part should: getting people elected.

Many of the others are good, basic ideas that encompass the “blocking and tackling” of what a party should be doing – such as fostering communication with potential voters and amassing as much data on the electorate as is possible.  These are things the Republican party has done well when their famous microtargeting and 72-hour get out the vote strategies were in full display in 2002 and 2004; Herman is wisely updating them to reflect the technology available today.

One of Herman’s pillars, however, strikes a particularly innovative chord: the concept of amassing “stories.”  Logic wins a debate but emotion wins elections.  Stockpiling stories will help create that emotional appeal – and since online media is probably the most efficient way to do it, Herman has apparently recognized that it’s a task that he’s uniquely positioned to help out with.

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