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Posted by on Feb 20, 2009 in At TMV | 15 comments

Why Republicans Don’t Get the Internet

Meghan McCain, daughter of John and blog chronicler of his campaign at McCain Blogette.com, had a post on the Daily Beast yesterday promising to explain it to us. Of the site featuring the video above, RebuildTheParty.com, she says:

The website is about as provocative as a blue suit, white shirt, and red tie. At the time that I write this, the video on the homepage features various individuals, most of them I would guess between the ages of fifty and sixty, explaining why they consider themselves Republicans. Had I still been an independent, there is nothing about this website or video that would sway me as a twenty-four year old woman to join the GOP…Until the Republican party joins the twenty-first century and learns how to use the Internet, its members will keep getting older and the youth of America will just keep logging on to the other side.”

She says maybe the problem isn’t that one party is more adept at using the Internet; it’s how each uses the online tools that are out there. She quotes Steve Grove, YouTube’s head of news and politics:

“I don’t buy the argument that Democrats are more naturally ‘grass rootsy’ and therefore use the Internet better… Online tools are political tools like any other, and I think you’re already seeing the GOP step it up through efforts like ‘Rebuild the Party’ and the RNC’s weekly YouTube responses to President Obama, which demonstrate their passion to get back in the game.”

Grove has a professional interest in seeing things that way. Republicans do have passion, but the Internet’s not their native form.

I think online is to liberals as Talk Radio is to conservatives. And I thought so even before I heard Markos Moulitsas Zúniga — you known, that liberal, Kos — in an epicenter interview with Dave Weinberger back in May of 2007:

The conservatives can heat up–this is what they do: they say on message, they hammer that message, and it can be very, very effective and help them win for decades, that singularity of message. Everyone knows what the Republican Party stands for because we’ve heard it eight billion times: small government, lower taxes, national defense, and strong family values. Everybody can recite those. Ask somebody why they’re a democrat, and you’ll get 18 million different answers about why they’re a democrat. There’s no singularity in message. And again, in a traditional media world, that was a problem because everybody’s saying a different thing. There’s no common messaging, so the viewer is left wondering: “What are these people are about? I have no idea.”

Now we have a medium, the blogosphere, that allows us to embrace that diversity in voices, and that desire to debate, argue, and think for ourselves, and actually turn that, what used to be a negative and a weakness, turns it into a strength.

The beauty was that we were so fragmented in the past that we would end up in our own silos. You had the environmentalists in one corner, and the women’s groups in another, and labor in yet another group. You had all these constituencies in the Democratic Party, and in a broader progressive movement, always sitting at a different table.

Now, what a place like Daily Kos allows us to do is that everybody will come to Daily Kos–the center of the party, the left of the party, the right of the party–and we’ll argue, argue, argue. We’ll hate on each other fierce. People talk about the echo chamber at Daily Kos, and it’s a joke because actually it’s quite a brutal place.

But, then what happens is we’re all at the same table, and we’re all arguing, but we’re at the same table. When an election rolls around, and it’s time to get together to work on behalf of our candidates, people will put aside those differences for those six months before the election, and will work their butts off. Then sure, once the election is over, they’ll go back to arguing, and a lot of that will be arguing and hating on the democrats that we just helped get elected. But, by putting everybody at the same table, we’re able to harness that collective energy and work for a commonality of purpose when that is needed–when the time for that is around, which is usually around elections. But sometimes, it could be around activism campaigns.

That still rings true to me.

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  • superdestroyer

    The strenght of the internet is oversold because there are many upper class consultants who want to make a living on the internet. I doubt that the internet has anything to do with Barack Obama gettign 96% of the black vote and 80% of the Hispanic vote. When you considered that the most loyal Democratic voters are high school drop outs, it is hard to take the discussions about the effect of the internet on politics seriously.

    I doubt that an idiot such as Mehgan McCain (private prep school, art history major at Columbia) has a clue of what she is talking about. He is a spoiled rich girl who would be wearing an Obama t-shirt because it is hip if her father had not run for President.

  • rudi

    When you considered that the most loyal Democratic voters are high school drop outs, it is hard to take the discussions about the effect of the internet on politics seriously.

    Nascar, Joe the Plumber= GOP
    Bill Gates and Warren Buffett = Democrats
    SD your delusional!!

  • DLS

    This is more gimmickry and Atari-Nintendo-lib nose-picker conceit (which also involves alternative energy, something out of scope here).

    What matters to intelligent adults is the _content_, which is largely independent of the medium (no matter how new and hyped the medium).

    The GOP remains presented as a, the, party of the older, more-affluent or wealthier, white male. That is the content problem and the issue.

    As far as the childrens’ hyped Internet, how much Internet use consists merely of listening to music or watching videos?

  • DLS

    “Bill Gates and Warren Buffett = Democrats”

    Ordinarily this would be a silly thing to day, but given the slump now: Why aren’t these two gents on the Obama team, especially Buffett?

    (Aside from any need to divest of their own assets or put them in trust before creating a potential conflict of interest by coming to Washington)

  • DLS

    “I think online is to liberals as Talk Radio is to conservatives.”

    It’s not, Joe. There is plenty of non-liberal action to be had on-line. Don’t try to join the post-modernist crowd who, years after being anti-tech and anti-science and anti-progress (so long as it was associated with “the establishment” and evil Big Business, etc., and other political enemies, which is why fools still are irrationally anti-nuclear to this day), try to misappropriate science and tech wrongly and dishonestly for themselves, as if the Internet’s natural realm is (it isn’t) characterized by the example of a wind-and-solar-and-other-alternative-energy-powered, multi-media-effects-enhanced Dave Matthews Band (opening act, Rage Against the Machine) concert. (“No Nukes” up to date)

    • Timetheos

      “I think online is to liberals as Talk Radio is to conservatives.”

      “It’s not, Joe. There is plenty of non-liberal action to be had on-line.”

      And there is plenty of non-conservative action to be had on radio. For example, KPTK is one of the best in the Seattle market.

      But overall, I have to agree that one tends to dominate the other and vice versa.

  • DLS

    Don’t forget the struggle, full of failures in the past, but with more successes currently, of leftist talk radio (and television — Rachel Maddow as well as the predictable, crude, far-from-intuitive-or-new Keith Olbermann).

  • StockBoySF

    DLS, Warren is already an advisor to Obama…. though I’m not sure how much of one these days…. and Buffett does have his own empire to run… he is getting ready for retirement. Unfortunately this isn’t the time in Buffett’s life to do this. Perhaps 10 years ago…. But if Buffett had an official position on Obama’s economic team and Buffett said, “There will be no nationalization of banks” the financial sector would be doing better.

    As far as Gates… I haev no idea…. but he is doing philanthropic work and is probably contributing more to teh US and world than he would spending his time fighting political battles.

    Rudi: by the way I hadn’t heard that Gates was a Dem (or a Republican).

  • StockBoySF

    “The video on the homepage features various individuals, most of them I would guess between the ages of fifty and sixty, explaining why they consider themselves Republicans. Had I still been an independent, there is nothing about this website or video that would sway me as a twenty-four year old woman to join the GOP…”.

    Yes, I understand that the older folks did vote for McCain…. I think younger people like ideas and challenges and don’t want to belong to a party that says, “Tax cuts are the panaacea for every problem.”

    Also younger people don’t want to be told how to live their lives… I’m sure lots of people find it ridiculous, alarming and sad that the Republicans representatives in Congress and various states legislators are told to either vote how they’re told to vote or the party won’t back them in reelection bids. That’s just plain pathetic and one reason why the Republicans are losing support and are substantially less popluar in Congress than the Dems.

  • superdestroyer

    StockboySF,

    The left in the U.S. loves to tell people how to live their lives. Form campus speech codes, to political correctness, to green laws, to thought crimes, the left is a very totalitarian. Just look at how the freshman at the University of Delaware are forced into politically correct training in order to live in the dorms.

    The two topics where 20 somethngs are libertarians are sex and drugs. On most other topics they are about even with Mao.

    • StockBoySF

      superdestroyer, “What besides sex and drugs to 20 somethings care enough about to want the government to stay out?”

      Well I for one (when I was in my twenties) didn’t really care for drugs (and neither did many of my friends- but some did and we all got along)…. and the GOP is very intolerant when it comes to sex…. What I cared about (as many liberals do) was the environment, being able to live my life without interference from others, having freedom to worship in accordance with my beliefs, and of course business (unlike many liberals)…. On those accounts (except the last one) the Republicans love to tell people how to live… Liberals may want to pass “green” laws, but that is for the benefit of the whole community…. A polluting factory doesn’t just cause damage to the factory owners, but to people in the area and even farther away. If it pollutes into a river, then people downstream may not be able to use the river for their livelihood….

      Whereas if I want to worship peacefully or marry another guy the conservatives pass amendments to constitutions making it illegal for me to do something (marry who I want) that they themselves can do).

      SO don’t tell me that liberals tell people how to live their lives and the conservatives do not.

      What “politically correct training” is done at the University of Delaware in order for students to live in dorms?

  • epiphyte

    Just curious SD – do you class the Obama administration as part of the totalitarian left? If so, I guess it was just poor execution that led them to allow the New York Post to put out another issue the day after publishing a cartoon that portrays the president as a dead monkey. Shouldn’t they all be in the Gulag by now? For that matter don’t you think it’s foolhardy to express your right-leaning thoughts in public? If this were really a totalitarian regime that would be a terminal mistake. Fortunately for all of us your assertion is just so much BS.
    BTW if you’re such a libertarian I’ve got a question for you. Do you agree that any and all officially required affirmation of the nature or existence of deity ought to be banned?

  • superdestroyer

    epiphyte,

    When you hear about green initiatives, you are giving the government the ability to control everything. Look at the Obama Administartion is giddy with the idea of using Co2 regulations to control the economy. Image what the government will be able to tell you to do when it comes to co2 non-point discharges. Look at how Attorney General Holder is excited about using civil rights laws to control where people work, where they go to church, and what they do in their personal lives. Look at how the education department is more interested in social engineering than in academic learning.

  • Timetheos

    “The two topics where 20 somethngs are libertarians are sex and drugs. On most other topics they are about even with Mao.”

    Obviously you are exaggerating, but it does lend credence to the argument that the Republicans and Libertarians are increasingly finding themselves a minority, regional party. Sure, they will win some elections, but the long term trend is against them. The pendulum is swinging back.

  • superdestroyer

    Timetheos,

    When did the government tell you where to live, what to drive, how to get to work and what you could do that work. The left is in love with the idea of national industrial policy, green initiatives to control transportaiton, housing, and commerce. Most 20 something who are interested in politics are leftist because they believe they will be the order givers instead of the order takers. The prep school, Ivy league educated liberals have spent the life avoiding the problems of the government (bad schools, high crime, inefficiency) but all seem to love the idea of using the government to tell others how to live.

    What besides sex and drugs to 20 somethings care enough about to want the government to stay out?

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