I’m glad that David posted about the conservative pop culture blitz. I was thinking of posting something along the same lines, so I’d like to add more of a political perspective to David’s pop culture one.  

I like what David said here:  

Why are conservatives so clueless when it comes to letting anything flow from their actual love of the medium? …  Actually being brave enough to have new ideas is an entirely different matter than saying "we need to have new ideas." Getting new ideas — or much more, understanding popular culture — isn't a matter of starting up a new business or writing some magic words.

It’s quite obvious that Republicans and conservatives are behind when it comes to new media, which is why the candidates for RNC chair are bragging about their Facebook friends and the current RNC chair is talking clumsily about “the Twittering.” A couple days ago, I blogged on WorldMagBlog about Rebuild the Party, a movement that wants to “rebuild the GOP — one internet user at a time” through new media.  

It’s also clear that Republicans still don't quite get online media, and nothing is going to change until they do. Rebuild the Party is recruiting the RNC chairmen candidates for their cause. Why? Online activism starts not with leaders but with creative and connected individuals. You don’t have the RNC chairman telling people, “Everyone be creative!” You already have creative, passionate, Internet-savvy people who have the talent to make something good enough to go viral. Did the DNC hire Will.I.Am to make the “Yes We Can” video? No, and no one had to tell Obama’s young supporters to recruit their friends on Facebook. Online activism is organic, grassroots and democratic by nature. It doesn’t start with party chairs.

So why does the right seem to have fewer of these people online? I’m writing a story about online social activism and I’ve gotten some interesting answers to that. The best comes from Jon Henke, founder of the NextRight.com.

Henke says he thinks the political climate helped the Left win technologists and young people: “Those were obtainable groups when the political pendulum was swinging back to the Left.  They capitalized on it by building online infrastructure to reach them.” But it’s the problem of the chicken and the egg: “The alliance developed not because of what one side or the other did, but because an emergent system made the alliance possible and both sides capitalized.” 

He also makes this interesting point:

It’s my hypothesis that the extensive offline communities (e.g., church) maintained by many social and cultural conservatives make online communities less important and influential to them.  They’re more influenced by the offline leaders and groups than the online influentials.

None of this is unchangeable, of course. But you can’t win elections by deciding you’re going to have vibrant, passionate, creative, connected volunteers. You get vibrant, passionate, creative, connected volunteers by having a clear vision and strong leadership they want to support wholeheartedly. This is the job of the RNC chair and the next GOP candidates. Leave “the Twittering” to the real experts.

 
About The Author

Alisa Harris

0 Responses to Political Blitz

  1. David says:

    Did the DNC hire Will.I.Am to make the “Yes We Can” video? No, and no one had to tell Obama’s young supporters to recruit their friends on Facebook. Online activism is organic, grassroots and democratic by nature.

    I love the huge-idea implications of this, namely: can conservatism be organic and democratic, or is that at odds with its whole ideology? Can it be made to be?

  2. Alisa says:

    Another activist I talked to actually said he thought online activism lent itself more to liberal than conservative causes. Liberalism is more global in nature and conservatism is more focused on local change. I think it makes sense that this kind of activism is counterintuitive for consevatives, but I don’t think it necessarily contradicts conservative principles.

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