Saturday, November 22, 2008

The internet has had a huge impact on our world - shopping, traveling, reading, communicating, sharing, visiting, it's changed a lot of the way we do things. When was the last time you visited a travel agency or opened up a yellow book to find a phone number?

The world have politics has also seen an enormous change from the internet.

The first time I noticed the internet influencing politics was when John McCain was the first candidate in history to raise more than $1 million in 2000. Once Howard Dean's campaign made history in 2004, I was hooked - the internet, if used right, can do massive things. I read Joe Trippi's book, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" and saw how the web took a small campaign in Burlington VT. to the national stage with millions of dollars.

I no longer thought of the internet as a top-down medium where a website informs the visitor. The web empowers everyone to be active and to participate; it was engaging.

The Democrats cleaned our clocks in 2008 both locally and nationally and the internet gave them a lot of ammunition.

There are a few reasons why Democrats are better with new media than Republicans:

1) Demographic - younger people are much savvier online and participatory, they are more likely to engage and not be casual readers. In this current Republican climate, younger people are more likely to be Democrat.

2) Geography - do you remember seeing the red/blue map based by county? Well, if one were to take that map and overlay it on a different map noting the counties that have dial-up internet and hi-speed internet, you will find that virtually all of the blue counties have access to hi-speed internet.

3) Power - it's natural for the party out of power to be innovative and advance new techniques and technologies. During the late 1990's after 8 years of Bill Clinton, it was the conservatives with FreeRepublic (and McCain's $1 million dollars in 2000) that were the online innovators.
Locally in Massachusetts, the Republican Party has made some great changes. In about 15 months the MassGOP went from having a static website to a much more engaging online presence - a blog, a private training blog, youtube videos, facebook, myspace, twitter, regular mass emails, and forms for people to give us feedback like this and this. We are also collecting cell phone numbers for mass text messages to grow our voice on talk radio with message alerts and to inform activists on the road.

"Great Rob, a bunch of new internet toys while we lost 3 seats in the legislature."

Correct - we got beat this year and those lost 3 seats are what you see. However, you don't see what we have acquired internally - the thousands of McCain supporters via the free sticker offer on our webpage, the thousands came to one of our offices or signed up via one of our web initiatives and petitions. This data on our harddrives at the MassGOP HQ is exactly what we needed to Grow Our Party. New blood.

These people are connected (obviously, since we captured them online) and they will be the engagers to move the Massachustts Republican Party forward and they will be invited to attend future trainings in their region.

Now we have the tools and workers to build the Massachusetts Republican Party. We will soon launch a few party building projects and provide a very special opportunity for you to communicate directly with me and the interns over lunch; stay tuned!

I was fortunate enough to be invited to help craft, a new national initiative to push the GOP toward what I have just written about. You can submit your idea and I encourage you to support this effort, spread it far and wide and endorse the plan today.