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

Young conservatives: RNC must adopt Obama's online model

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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 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,’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. Monica

    Funny, and they laughed at community organizing!

    November 7, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. Greed is not good

    Don't bother the GOP has become too old and get popular on the internet.

    November 7, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. Colleen

    hopefully young Republicans will return to keeping religion and politics separate...that is it in a nutshell...their party has become so corrupted with the far right ideology, they can no longer be taken seriously...if it were up to me, there would be a clean cut..kick the radical fundamentalists out..recover your party for the good of America...

    November 7, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  4. triz

    progressive change seems to be the significant request to conservatives in the republican party at this time. in other words, they need to be more liberal.

    November 7, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. Shrek

    It's going to take more than the internet to rebuild the GOP. Maybe they should oust the religious fanatics that have taken over the party, that would be a start.

    November 7, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. jeremy

    that's the GOP for you, reacting rather than proacting...

    by the time the GOP use this model, Obama will have a new model to win with in 2012.

    November 7, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Shrek

    They could use the internet while riding the Jesus Horses. Do they beleive in the internet?

    November 7, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. Jim

    They'd be a lot better of if the adopted his message!

    Inclusion not legislated religious ideals.

    November 7, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. Annick , Washington DC

    They need to join their efforts with Barack Obama's to rebuilt this country, period. The issue is not Internet...

    November 7, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. sabuc in Atlanta

    Too many old people in the RNC to appreciate the "interwebs" or those "series of tubes"

    November 7, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. S. Boatman Warrensburg, Mo.

    Obama Ran Such A Successful Campaign It Will Be The Standard Model For Every Election For A Generation. The Republican Party Wont Win Until They Become More Diverse! They Wont Become More Diverse Until They Get Rid Of The Far Right Neo Cons!

    November 7, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  12. pdixon

    This is hilarious! I agree, the online community organizing approach was a joke to them during the election, now they want to adopt those practices.

    November 7, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. Chris from St. Louis

    One advise, Guys. DO NOT be COPYCATS ... do something original.

    November 7, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. John P.

    It's a good move, and it might pay some dividends. But unless the party moves back towards the center and stops pandering to the religious right, all the technology in the world won't change the outcome.

    November 7, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. McShame

    Yeah well!!!

    November 7, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    I really figures that republicans/conservatives would call it a "war", this shows the mentality here...the main thing being Americans have no real NEED for each other as in other cultures, where susbsistence and survival depends on cooperation...but I guess republicans/conservatives are too busy fighting...fighting social progressives and...each other!

    November 7, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |




    November 7, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. The Dutchman

    They forgot that Republicans are not interested in progressive ideas.
    They like to take the USA's the Grand Old Party. Old ideas, old concepts, old slogans (e.g. Dems are the "tax and spend" party). Regarding the latter...even though Clinton created a surplus, they still use that old tired slogan, hoping that no one will notice that they have become the "borrow, spend and let the next generations pay it off" Republican party.

    November 7, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  19. Glenn

    What irony! After the reactionary Republican wing made fun of Obama as "community organizer;" they embrace his methods. What idiots!

    November 7, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. FreeNLovIt

    Instant information is the future. In the Bible, Revelation states that the WHOLE world will watch... with Ipod and all that gadgets... you dont have to be home to watch an event...

    Welcome to the age of the Anti-Christ.

    November 7, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. Kevin PA

    ummm Conservative you know if you start doing this

    you will no longer be conservatives but now progressives

    welcome to the party

    November 7, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Vegas

    I don't see the reason for concern...

    It wasn't a landslide... even after 8 years of bush...
    It wasn't the largest turnout in history... so many didn't care

    Just wait 48 months and we get it all back... See Carter 76... the Dems will implode... they always do!

    November 7, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. Jim

    fellow GOP's, I guess it easier to just join the DNC then you get the complete package.

    November 7, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. Lesley

    The entrenched Repub conservatives are talking about getting back to basics, calling up Reagan, when what they need to do is look ahead if they expect to be a force in the 21st Century. Reaganomics is over and so are most of the ideas from 20+ years ago, including the way to energize the base and get more people invovled. They laugh at community organizing but that's precisely what got Obama into the WH.

    November 7, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  25. Michael - Bay Area

    -Guess Sarah Palin, the RNC and others are eating their words about community organizers. Funny, I guess they are not mocking community organizing now.

    November 7, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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