It looks like Barack Obama's success on the Internets is waking Republicans up to the fact that there's votes on them thar computer thingies. Just wait till they figure out Blackberries and blogs and stuff. All them new fangled things just confuse the hell out of Republicans.
It’s time for Republicans to get serious about the online revolution before it’s too late. While the Democrats keep extending their political reach into cyberspace, too many in our party keep pretending the Internet will go away.
Like a predator approaching an ostrich with its head in the sand, the Internet will not disappear. In fact, the Internet is quickly consuming many aspects of our lives, including how we engage with the political world. To ensure our party’s future, Republicans must start to navigate this intersection of technology and politics as deftly as the Democrats have.
In this election cycle, Democrats have used the Internet to build a campaign infrastructure, allowing them to outraise, outorganize and outcommunicate Republicans. We can scoff at Howard Dean, but he used the tools of the Internet to build a national fundraising base of small donors and activists. Likewise, Barack Obama is poised to be nominated largely because he knew how to deal with the distributed, open nature of the Internet.
Obama’s success resulted directly from his deft use of the Internet. This happened because the information superhighway isn’t a toll road. Anyone with a broadband connection, whatever his or her political persuasion, can create a viral video capable of changing minds and propounding ideas — and extending the reach of his or her candidate.
The open Internet is antithetical to the hierarchical, top-down model that heretofore dominated American politics. The Washington-centered model of campaign committees and big-money fundraisers and media buys is rapidly collapsing. And the Republican Party needs to embrace that change.
As Republicans, we must not only adopt the new techniques and structure of Internet democracy, but also understand the importance of preserving the open nature of the Net as a policy issue. The tools that are available at low cost to Republicans are only there because of an Internet ecosystem that has managed to remain open, despite the efforts of phone and cable companies.