Young Republicans Launch Rebuilding Effort; RNC Responds

RebuildTheParty.com is an effort by under-40 Republicans to take control of the direction of the G.O.P. An effort of Patrick Ruffini (and others) that was launched last week, the plan includes goals like “40 under 40” to infuse life into the party: “at least 40% of our challenger and open seat candidates for Congress are under 40.”

In response, the GOP launched RepublicanForAReason.com to solicit input that feels very, umm, one-way. One site is in-your-face slick and the other is approachable. Guess which is which? Right.

The younger group tips its hat to the Obama campaign and demonstrates that it understands that digital communication technologies have fundamentally changed how political parties and their members and supporters interact:

Obama’s winning strategy was built on the back of an inherently conservative idea: that we the people, acting together outside of government, can accomplish great things…

Just as Republicans must trust individuals and families with their own money, we must trust the volunteers who walk into our headquarters and train them to take responsibility for entire neighborhoods. We must trust the online grassroots who want to take action on our behalf, and who need a decentralized, peer-to-peer volunteer community supported by our campaigns to really be successful. That will require giving up some control — more control than our traditional institutions are used to giving up — in exchange for an exponentially larger and more effective volunteer/donor/activist ecosystem…

Because of the Internet, “us” becomes a force more powerful than any in politics. The ability to donate or volunteer instantaneously online gives the millions of “us” more leverage than even the most connected group of insiders. Only “us” will be powerful enough to fund the first $1 billion Presidential candidate. By embracing the Politics of Us, the Republican Party can rediscover its roots as the party of individual liberty and build a truly modern political army.

It’s clear from the demographic vote last week, where young Americans overwhelmingly voted for Obama, that the Republican party must figure out a strategy for wooing this group.

The leading “user submitted idea” on RebuildTheParty.com is indicative: “Reach out to Ron Paul and the Campaign for Freedom.” It has 2574 votes. Remember, the RNC would not let Ron Paul speak at the convention. Symbolic but reflective of very different world views, not just different approaches to communication.

The big question remains: Is either effort too little, too late? Is the cultural divide too great to overcome?

Only time will tell. But I don’t think that the RNC website, which feels very “Obama-like” or “Clinton-like” (as contrasted with McCain’s fairly vanilla site) reflects a break with the past as much as it is way to derail the true grassroots effort. What about you?

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