3 very smart young conservatives on how to close the technology gap

So how does the GOP get back in the game when it comes to using the new technologies of the 21st century?

First, get one nationally syndicated talk show host who is known as the "Father of Blogging." Then get three very smart, very tech savvy young conservatives who are already looking at ways to revolutionize the Republican party.

Put them on the air at the same time and you get a fascinating discussion about what the future might hold for Republicans if they can make the necessary reforms to become competitive with Obama's Democratic machine.

First, what we're up against. This from a transcript of Hugh Hewitt's show from last Wednesday where the talk show host interviewed Pat Ruffini, David All, and Rob Neppell.

Pat  Ruffini: Yes. Very clearly...it's very clearly the case. Obama is not President-elect without the internet. He would not have been the nominee without the internet. And had we had a much closer race in the general election, two, three, four points, maybe, had we not maybe had this economic crisis crop up, the internet and the youth vote would have been the deciding factor in the general election as well. He's got a network of ten million people on e-mail that are now going to be called upon to pass his agenda. So every member of Congress can expect at a minimum a couple thousand phone calls when one of his bills comes up, because he's built this huge network that he's now going to unleash on passing his policy agenda. Beyond that, he went into cell phones numbers, you know, announced his vice presidential pick by cell phone. He's got a database of six to eight million cell phone numbers. Some think, I would be surprised if Republicans have a database of six to eight thousand cell phone numbers. So that is a huge, those are huge numbers, huge advantages, and it's going to have to be, I think our number one priority tactically, like David said, we're going to have a rich, vibrant debate about what our message should be. But I think everybody...and there is going to be plenty of disagreement on that. But I think everybody can agree, in this particular area, in technology, is something we need to get serious about fast.

This huge advantage just didn't appear overnight. Much can be attributed to the way that the left side of the internet developed. They built online communities and email lists that eventually morphed into a fundraising apparatus and a cadre of political activists.

Hugh Hewitt has two specific ideas of where to start the reform process:

Hugh Hewitt: Number one, I believe the RNC ought to establish an approved vendor list, that is people who actually know what they're doing in the world of online political campaigning. And then number two, the NRSC and the NRCC ought to announce that unless and until a candidate has retained someone from that list, they will not get a dollar of their funds, because they're not serious.

Rob Neppell, who developed the Porkbusters program, had this response:

Neppell: I think they're great. I'll go you one better on your first idea for an approved vendor list. I mean frankly, I'd just like to see a vendor list. I don't think we've done enough so far to really coordinate amongst ourselves, certainly not anything from any central authority, to really just establish a map of the territory of who is doing what, who has what skills, what companies are conservative-friendly, so to speak, or in this space with an ideological bent that are on the conservative team. So number one, I'd just like to see that start. Number two, I'd add to your idea in that one idea I've suggested for, you know, actually several years now is having some kind of a conservative strike team that would be made up of people like Patrick and David and myself who could come in and talk to a campaign and say okay, here's our bag of tricks. You know, David, here's what he's got, these are the kinds of things he can do, this is what I can do, this is what Patrick can do, and here is the tool kit of all the various offerings that we can bring to the table for your candidate, you know, online in a box. And that's never going to be one size fits all, but having some kind of a consistent review process, and really a QA check that would be provided by a small team of folks like us, I think would go a long way to just getting a baseline of understanding and competence out across consistently with campaigns.

This is a fascinating discussion on the future of the party and what kinds of reforms we can expect.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky