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. Shari, NY

    Obama's campaign was so well run with technologically savvy ideas and all that they basically left the GOP numb and agape. They had no recourse but to take the low road and when that backfired their candidates resorted to copying ideas and slogans from Obama. It was so pathetic that even I, a staunch Obama supporter, started to feel sorry for them despite their disgusting campaign.

    November 7, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Snappy

    Most rednecks and willfully ignorant evangelicals don't have computers. GOP is obsolete. Move on.

    November 7, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. Andy

    Here's a plan: Palin 2012.

    November 7, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. republicans hate america

    you can put lipstick on a pig its still a pig. Until the GOP stop taking pride in stupidity and ignorance they will forever continue to only appeal to rednecks and inbreeds.

    November 7, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  5. Patrick Peavy Dallas,TX

    I just signed up.

    November 7, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. wjc

    As long as the GOP continues to use wedge issues and motivation through fear as their key tactics, I'll never vote for another Republican for as long as I live. If they really want to change and get away from the Rovian methods, then we could talk.

    November 7, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. We'll never learn

    As long as getting the party back on track is considered a 'war,' there's little hope for us all. Haven't we learned anything from this campaign?

    November 7, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. B.Pro

    RNC= Republicans Never Change.

    November 7, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. wjc

    Andy – Oh yes, please. Give Democrats the gift that keeps on giving: Sarah Palin. She was a disaster for the Republicans this time, and I'm sure she will be a disaster the next time and the next and.... Please keep her coming.

    November 7, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. I Just Said Thanks, but No Thanks to Another 4 years of g.o.p. corruption, arrogance and incompetence

    Eight years in the wilderness await the party of ingnorance, racism and hubris.

    November 7, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. Dee

    HA HA...sounds like COMMUNITY ORGANIZING to me...the very thing they laughed at...KARMA...what a wonderful thing!!!!!!!!!!

    November 7, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. etta

    If it works copy it. It is done in fashion all of the time.

    November 7, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. Matt in NJ

    How about some actually new ideas? Maybe a progressive republican party based on the old economic ideals of the party and not on the religious ignorant and hateful base.

    November 7, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. Tariq

    Great job picking the car before figuring out where you're going or who is driving.

    Monica- You said it organizing taught Obama that no place in the US is off limits... and that turned VA, NC, OH, and IN into blue states. Guess what! all the so-called "real America" and "pro-America" in VA and NC voted for Obama.

    November 7, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  15. Sly

    This is too funny. A while ago there was nothing but contempt from the Republicans for the Dems effort to leverage techonolgy and get people involved. Good luck....last I checked the target they are looking to capture got on the Obama train and it has left the station. All the teens I know who will be eligible to vote in 4 yrs can't wait to cast another vote Obama's way should he not screw up. Tough luck trying to convince them.....

    November 7, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  16. Over taxed, over worked

    Ron Paul was raising the most money and getting the most internet support . Even more than Obama, don't take my word for it, look it up.

    November 7, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  17. Dave in Atlanta

    Finally. Some republicans doing something constructive for their party. The name-calling, Obama-bashing, fearmongering members of the party should take a cue from these people.

    November 7, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  18. Chris F.

    The GOP is alway behind but they have a way of coming back. I am not A Republican but they do need to go back to the center and stop pandering to the religion fear mongerers that have destroyed the party. If John McCain would of stayed the John McCain of 200o he probably would of had a better chance. It is sad that a party that claims to never have a litmus test actually is more stingent on the person they accept as their nominee.

    November 7, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  19. EqualBranchesofGovernment

    Young some community service before you start thinking about Presidential politics........and then maybe run for office after your college loans have been paid off!!

    November 7, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  20. B-Dog

    Young conservatives will have to "teach" the old conservatives how to use a computer, internet, etc. Curious, can you get internet in a trailer park?

    November 7, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  21. KW, Vail AZ

    It wasn't just the use of modern technology that helped President-elect Obama win the election, it was his message and style. Republicans have no message that resonates with the majority of Americans and fear doesn't work anymore.

    November 7, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  22. Tim

    First thing you need is a competent community organizer. Perhaps they should hire Obama? Oh, that's right . . . perhaps they should hire a former Alaskan mayor.

    November 7, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Boob Palin in 2012 will destroy the GOP once and for all.... GOOD, NOMINATE THE AIRHEAD.... The majority of the country doesn't give a squat about your prohibitionist concerns....


    November 7, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  24. True Blue Ohio

    The internet is a useful medium. However, it is not life support. It will not be enough to keep the RNC viable or restore it to its former glory.

    November 7, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  25. Whiners

    I have an idea – get rid of the following: Your Wang machine, (we now have Vista); the old fashioned Friden calculator, bigotry, advocating rifle usage while fighting for the right to life and last but not least try your darndest to find some young, intelligent and well educated college grads. Grandmas and Grandpas we respect you but you are stuck in the 20s!

    November 7, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6