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. Gene

    See.. good to see that Obama is inspiring and leading by example for all Americans.. Democrat and Republican alike.

    Republicans like to say that he hasn't accomplished anything.. which is an outright lie. But even if it were true... his innovation and leadership was well demonstrated just in this election alone.

    November 7, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  2. Jams

    These guys are the only Republicans that understand the reality of their situation. If they aren't listened to, the GOP will wither and die.
    The old men want to 'return to their roots' of taxes and social issues.
    You don't need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

    November 7, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  3. farhana

    didn't john mccain also start using the word CHANGE sometime during his awful campaign? now this? please.............................
    and i really agree with jeremy.
    change= OBAMA

    November 7, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  4. Puzzled

    To The Dutchman,

    Yep, old ideas. The Federalist Papers contain many old ideas, like limited government, individual liberty, a free market ethos, and similar ancient thoughts. Perhaps we should let our hesitation to abandon the ideas enunciated by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Adams, and to look on with horror at western Europe, old ideas, be our guide.

    November 7, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  5. Peter in PA

    There is nothing in the world will help the GOP if they don't loose their outdated and divisive ideology.

    November 7, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  6. Bridget

    I live in Appalachia, which is the ONLY region where the Republicans did noticeably better during this election. Appalachia does not have great internet connectivity because of the mountains and the good majority of people aren't the kind of folks who hang out with their laptops checking blogs every minute. The GOP would be wise to understand that.

    November 7, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  7. Denise Groves

    By the time the GOP learn all of this, things will have changed by 2012

    November 7, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  8. blaising


    November 7, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  9. Joshua

    This really won't work for a good 5-10 years at least. The generation that is using all these new media grew up hating Bush (for the most part) for dragging out a long, unnecessary war. I'm now out of college, and I was a high school junior when we went to Iraq. This guy has burned down the conservative image to a Carter-esque degree. Obama is going to be the Democrats' Reagan: As long as he doesn't screw it up any further (I think he'll do the right thing), most of the country will love him forever. Republicans are going to need to grow out of their racist affiliations and become more INCLUSIVE. The white evangelical voting block used to be enough, but the GOP tends to ignore the minority vote. Young people don't like that.

    November 7, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  10. Brady

    I highly agree with this. For the last two weeks, the only Internet ads were for Barack Obama. There were no other Internet ads for anything other than Barack Obama. The GOP needs to get with the online program. Obama's online campaigning definitely helped him, and the GOP needs to follow suit.

    November 7, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  11. Enjoying life to the fullest! :)

    The only REAL thing they need to do is.....drumroll please.....BE HONEST!

    November 7, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  12. Minneapple gal

    After this election just proves to me that they can never EVER get on Bracks level. FOr one the young conservatives are VERY racist Period

    also Obama appealed to everyone and the republicans only apeal to rich people.

    they can try and try and they need to stop coping obamas style because they will look stupid like they already do

    what really makes me mad is that blacks join this party and they are racist
    Just look at the mcain/palin klan oops i mean campaign rallies

    November 7, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |

    Until the republicans shed the neo con's and the far out religious fanatics and learn that every person is an individual. they will get nowhere. they will be the divisive party. that is their problem. they think that every one should be like them. when they can understand that each person has a right, it may be that they could understand. but i doubt it will ever happen.

    November 7, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  14. Dan

    They should just turn the party over to Ron Paul and his supporters... we already know how to use the internet to our advantage and have remained true to the core conservative beliefs of the party. Ron Paul is the answer to their problem.

    November 7, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  15. Kerry

    Amazing. Did they forget what year were in? Welcome to the 21st Century. Let's just hope they manage to get a candidate that knows how to use the internet come 2012.

    November 7, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  16. Voter

    Is it me or are Liberals more "free" than Conservatives? What are Conservatives fighting for in the "Land of the Free"???

    (maybe I'm just tired of them telling me how to live my life... and reduce regulation everywhere to send jobs overseas and fill their pockets with $$... WWJD??)

    November 7, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  17. Lynn, FL

    Sorry to see that the Dems are even sore winners in these comments! They continue to spew their hate and intolerance. FYI, Republicans may include some rednecks and some evangelicals, but that is not all the Republican party includes. If you truly believe that, you are naive. It would be like someone saying the Democrats are all militant homosexuals and yuppie communists. Each party is made up of far more than two narrow stereotypes on the extreme ends. It is about time people realize that there is far more to the center that most people agree on, but the vocal minority opinions get more notice and make things seem more divided. It is too bad that the Dems put forth a candidate that is to the extreme left on many issues. It will be interesting to see if he can satisfy the extreme groups, while at the same time posturing for a second term. Perhaps that is why he said he might not be able to fulfill his promises in the first year or first term. He is pretty arrogant to believe he will get a second term, but it seems that his plan is to be moderate for the first term and let the boot drop in the second term to fulfill his promises to the more radical left groups. We'll see...

    November 7, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  18. Joe

    The thing is, a Republican candidate already did it.

    Ron Paul provided a model not only for the GOP, but aspects of his campaign made their way into Obama's strategy. And the fact of the matter was that it was not Paul's online presence that affected the election, but his unpopular views.

    Like many candidates said, the Internet isn't going to save the GOP. Realizing that one can be small government and relevant to the American people will.

    November 7, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  19. GARY


    November 7, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  20. A Model Repugnican

    What the hell is the internet?

    November 7, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  21. Vicki5

    Yea, I guess there's something to that community organizing after all, huh – DUH. Will someone please tell me, what do the Republicans stand for (besides being against abortion and gay marriage)?

    November 7, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  22. Poulose

    Republicans have only few answers for all the problems facing the country.
    Cut capital gain tax for all domestic issues.
    Flex the military muscle for all foreign policy issues

    Tired of hearing over and over.
    I am a republican.

    November 7, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  23. DanD Seattle

    If the Reps want to get our people elected, we need to talk issues and stop the outright lies and mudslinging that characterized the last election. That just hurts the reputation and honor of the party. It would also help to get qualified candidates.

    November 7, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  24. paul (staunch Moderate)

    I left the Republican Party strictly because of the Extremist, EXclusionary attitude. The old philosophy of "You MUST believe as a fundamentalist Christian" drove me out. That is not the Reagan-era party stance. That is the Newt Gingrich/Pat Robertson era republican party. They are the ones that pushed the Religious Right onto the political stage and demanded obedience.

    That simply is not going to work with a new generation of acceptance. If they don't put a solid wedge between church and state there will be no resurgence in their future.

    November 7, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  25. Jesus Praising Freedom Loving Patriot


    Can you imagine a Gay person being elected President? Inconceivable?

    That's excactly what people said about Blacks 40 years ago.

    Looks like conservatives have a new minority to whip.

    November 7, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
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