techRepublican: Building A Conservative Web Operation

(crossposted at )

James Durbin makes a valid point, one that most bloggers have been making for some time. The problem? That’s not how the Dems got started, nor is a massive wave of subsidization going to fix the online presence of the party of entrepreneurship.

Since the mythological epic of the blogosphere takes for gospel that George Soros is the puppetmaster behind and every successful project online, it stands to reason that wealthy Republicans should step forward and fund a host of projects — worthy or otherwise.

If you gave me NZ Bear, Patrick Ruffini, Wizbang and Polipundit (not to slight the others), I could build you a community that dwarfed anything the left has imagined. Why haven’t we done it? Money.

If it were this simple, why hasn’t it been done? Certainly there have been efforts at the state-level creating group blogs, taking advantage of Drupal and Joomla, and so forth.

Why hasn’t it worked? It’s not a question of money, but a problem of shellshock and a question of psychology.

Republican bloggers (and the vultures opportunistically circling who have nary a clue about how the culture operates) have somehow trained themselves to believe the best way to “win” the internet is to imitate the Dems.

That’s right. We governed Democrat-lite, why not run the web Democrat-lite? How? Why, with a Republican ActBlue, a Republican MoveOn, a Republican YouTube debate, a Republican MyDD, a Republican fill-in-the-blank.

It reads like a bad headline: Step 1: Copy. Step 2: Paste. Step 3: Profit.

This leads into my second point, a question of psychology. I am convinced Democrats treat the internet much differently than Republicans do, for many of the same reason why Democrats are so abysmal at talk radio while Republicans dominate the airwaves.

It’s not for lack of trying, but something about talk radio appeals to the Republican voter in a way it does not appeal to the Democrat. Same goes for think tanks (show me the liberal think tank with the clout of Heritage or Cato?), same goes for columnists. You could even draw the comparison between the legion of Republican bloggers vs. the monolithic approaches of DailyKos or MyDD.

The fact of the matter is that Republicans look for ways to sharpen ideas, while Democrats look for ways to become activists.

Case Study #1: Talk Radio. Democrats couldn’t translate their ideas into action via talk radio, so listeners became bored and left in droves.

Case study #2: The YouTube Debates. Talking snowmen? Great! But the debate was all style and little substance… did anyone learn anything about the Democratic candidates? Did anyone feel more empowered that a talking snowman asked questions? Frankly, I have a hard time believing that this “bread and circuses” approach to debating is passing for discourse… and there are many who feel the same way.

The YouTube debate is gimmicky, and entirely devoid of substance. Worse, it allows for precisely the same sort of questions the media was hammered for in the ’88 elections… is it that far of a stretch to imagine a modern-day Dukakis being asked the rape question by a YouTube talking snowman?

What should the Republican blogosphere look like in two years?

(1) Every Republican worth their salt in online communications needs to READ Alexander Schuessler’s “A Logic of Expressive Choice.” If you haven’t read this and do not understand the concept of expressive choice vs. rational choice theory, then you will NEVER get the web.

(2) Issue based organizations allowing users to define the movement. Critical.

(3) Developing the infrastructure to turn expression into activism. THIS IS THE MOST CRITICAL POINT OF THE EFFORT, AND ONE WHERE WE HOLD A SIGNIFICANT ADVANTAGE OVER THE DEMOCRATS. While Dems may look for ways to become active, no Democratic campaign or PR effort has ever defeated a mobilized conservative base.

(4) Quit imitating the Democrats, start innovating for Republicans.

(5) And the toughest pill to swallow… no one is going to invest in the Republican blogosphere until it can be demonstrated that the investment will produce shifts in the electorate.

Will it take $500K to start a Drupal site? Heck no.
Does it take $500K to build a forum? Absolutely not.
Should it take $500K for a Republican developer to sit down with a Republican designer and a Republican blogger and say “hey, what can we do to make an impact?”

That’s how DailyKos, MyDD, ActBlue, and a host of other “progressive” sites got started guys… and there many of us who are shocked that those with the ability refuse to act out of any motivation other than profit.

It will not take $500K to get Republicans moving online. It will take a couple guys, a couple more beers, some talent, a bit of spare time, a fire in your belly and some gravel in your gut.

Those are the only people I would give money to anyhow.

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