Sunday, January 24, 2010

Republicans Won the Internet?

Conservatives are enjoying great success with social media. The Massachusetts senate race illustrates that fact very vividly.

Liberals are wailing and gnashing their teeth, but they are learning. And eventually they will catch up. In the meantime, we need to accurately acknowledge who has been responsible for winning recent online battles.

I disagree with those who say that in recent elections, the GOP "won the internet." Republicans didn't win the internet. Grassroots conservatives did. Scott Brown's remarkable win in Massachusetts gives the impression that some Republicans have awoken to the power of social media, but the Beltway GOP has no bragging rights.

As evidenced by their surprisingly weak presence in the online world, few Republican leaders understand how much the social media have changed the world.

Twitter has changed the game entirely. William Jacobson takes note:

While Facebook and blogs were important to fundraising and messaging, Twitter is what allowed pro-Brown activists to stay in contact with each other, to feed each other news links, and generally to keep up each other's spirits at a time when the radar was showing that Brown had no chance.

I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that this was the first American Twitter revolution.

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) told us this was coming:

We could move heaven and earth when the American people understand the power of social media, and everybody is simultaneously, of their own free will, asking their elected representatives to take action. There's not an elected official in the nation who could withstand that. And we the people, we'll take back our government — once people understand how easy this is.

The results of the Twitter revolution have been amazing, but the GOP should not take credit:

January 19 was an amazing day for grass-roots conservatism. But the Beltway GOP should be warned against unjustified triumphalism. They were late to the game. Activists still haven’t, and won’t, forget the massive amounts of money Washington, D.C. Republicans wasted on Dede Scozzafava. And Scott Brown quite noticeably didn’t mention the word “Republican” once during his prepared remarks...

The Brown victory was very clearly a strike against machine politics of all kinds and business as usual in Washington. That includes top-down meddling by tired old GOP operatives. The party bosses have tried to install their preferred Senate candidates in Florida, Colorado, and California. They will use Brown’s win to argue for more “mooooooderation.” As I wrote yesterday in my analysis of how Brown unified a center-right-indie coalition, that is not the lesson of the Massachusetts miracle.

The social media are important tools, but they won't help to get the GOP very far if establishment Republicans don't embrace and hold on to conservative principles. The vast majority of conservative bloggers and social media users are more loyal to their principles than they are to the still-tarnished Republican brand. If the GOP abandons its conservative base, the internet ATM will break down and the online soldiers will log off.

The Tea Party movement has gravitated toward independent candidates who are willing and able to take on the establishment machines (e.g., NY-23, MAsen, Chuck Devore). The strong anti-incumbent sentiment rolling across the land will favor candidates who don't come across as old-school insiders. If the GOP doesn't figure that out pronto, we will soon see the same kind of apathy on the right that we currently see on the left, and the Democrats will hold on to more power than they deserve.


Conservatives: Beware of McCain Regression Syndrome

Candidates who would have had no chance before the Internet can now overcome huge odds.

Illinois Senate Race: The Beltway GOP establishment has made another BIG mistake.


WomanHonorThyself said...

youre right so lets keep up the fight! Ahhh Happy Sunday my friend!:)

Proof said...

It was conservatives and not the GOP. I heard about Scott from someone online and sent my contribution and did what I could to spread the word, conservative to conservative. The "party" never came into play, other than the 41st vote against health care that he represented.

RightKlik said...

WHT: Happy Sunday!

Proof: GOP needn't take credit for anything except getting in the way!