November 7th, 2008
03:07 PM ET
6 years ago

Young conservatives: RNC must adopt Obama's online model

A group of young conservative online activists have published a plan to revive the GOP.
A group of young conservative online activists have published a plan to revive the GOP.

(CNN) –- Rather than pointing fingers and assigning blame for Sen. John McCain’s recent defeat at the hands of Sen. Barack Obama, a group of young conservative activists have issued a manifesto of sorts that challenges the next head of the Republican National Committee to embrace the Internet as a method of political organizing in the same way that the Obama campaign effectively did for the last 20 months.

The coalition of eight conservatives, many of whom are known for their activity in the online space, launched the Web site http://www.rebuildtheparty.com on Thursday. The site lays out a set of principles the group believes the RNC must adopt in order to bring the GOP into the future and succeed in upcoming state and federal races.

“The time is now to set in motion the changes needed to rebuild our party from the grassroots up, modernize the way we run campaigns, and attract different, energetic, and younger candidates at all levels,” the site says. “We must be conservative in philosophy - but bold in our approach. We don't need a slight tweak here or there. We need transformation. We can't keep fighting a 21st century war with 20th century weapons.”

The group calls using and mastering the Internet the “#1 priority in the next four years.” The power of traditional connections is being replaced by the power of mass connectedness,” the site says. “Politics is taking place on a grander stage than ever before, with millions, and not just tens of thousands - participating directly in the process.”

To catch up with the Democrats online, the coalition urges the RNC to recruit 5 million new Republican online activists, hold campaigns and local parties accountable for developing their own e-mail lists and conducting their own fundraising in lieu of relying on the RNC, and adopt a more open technology ecosystem that encourages innovative approaches online and then supports the best of those.

The group is also urging the RNC to fundamentally rethink the way that the Republican Party organizes and connects with its base of grassroots supporters. “This isn't just about the Internet - it's about recognizing that in a people-powered era, with the power of technology-empowered grassroots movements on the rise– everything about the way we mobilize voters changes,” the group says.

To develop a more-“people-powered” party in the future, the group of activists is encouraging the RNC to reform how its organizes Republicans at the most local, volunteer-to-volunteer level, to move away from large-dollar donors that have historically financed the party and toward fundraising on the Internet from a base of small-dollar donors in the model of the Obama campaign, recruiting 25,000 new campaign workers, and making use of online technologies pervasive throughout the RNC’s operations.

Finally, in another approach strikingly reminiscent of the Obama campaign and the Democrat National Committee under Chairman Howard Dean, the group is encouraging the RNC to field candidates in all House races by 2012 rather than just concentrating on those districts that already appear to be leaning Republican, encouraging the GOP’s state parties to contest all statewide races, and setting a “40 under 40” goal of having 40 percent of congressional candidates in who are challengers or running for open seats be individuals under the age of 40.

The coalition’s ambitious platform is somewhat at odds with how the GOP has traditionally operated – a fact the group acknowledges:

“We must trust the online grassroots who want to take action on our behalf, and who need a decentralized, peer-to-peer volunteer community supported by our campaigns to really be successful. That will require giving up some control - more control than our traditional institutions are used to giving up - in exchange for an exponentially larger and more effective volunteer/donor/activist ecosystem.

Obama tapped the Internet successfully because he made it about "you" and "us" not "me" and "I." You were invited in. You were a key part of his campaign/movement. Your help was truly appreciated. Republican candidates need to grow more comfortable talking in these terms and focus less on being inaccessible objects of hero worship (the "me/I" strategy).”

The coalition is composed of: Erick Erickson, RedState.com’s managing editor; David Kralik; Mindy Finn, the former head of online strategy for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign; Patrick Ruffini, a former eCampaign director for the RNC; Mark Harris; Phil Musser, a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association; Michael Turk, another former RNC eCampaign director; and Justin Sayfie, former spokesman for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • RNC
soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. observer

    Come on.... election is over and time to get things done.
    Obama's plans sound good. Money must come from somewhere; if not from taxes from richer people, it may be from borrowing from other countries.

    Whichever means used, is needed to stimulate economy first. Those experts surround Obama must have thought of details. If you have better suggestions, put it forward. Condemning will not help much.

    November 7, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  2. Longhorn4life

    the problem is this new strategy is at odds with the main demographic: rural whites with limited education. Look at the county by county maps

    November 8, 2008 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  3. Diana

    It's so funny and interesting to now see that the Gop want to now adopt the ideas and strategies that Barack and the Dnc used to so brilliantly win this election. The fact that they think that they need toUt's use different broadcasting techniques to win a '21st century war!' is just typical and cowardly shows that they are still stuck on hateful ideals! Not everything is a war or about war and regarding the election as war is trully ridiculous. What everyone wants is peace and harmony and that is one of the main attributes that has drawn America and the rest of the world to admire, respect and so highly regard President Elect Obama. If the Repubs had any sense and really care about and want to help America, then they would listen to what Obama said throughout his campaign and in his recent speeches and work together with with Dnc to help America get out of the mess that Bush and their party have put America in. I believe change is here and will become manifested if President Obama is given the chance and everyone's support and hard work that he has said that he needs. And when that happens America will never be the same again. Love and respect to Obama and the cause.

    November 8, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
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