If you had been at the DMYR happy hour on Friday like members Melinda and Michael, you might just have made it into the news:
Republicans said Obama has done an excellent job so far of using the Web to garner support and now they are trying to do the same.
“Obama definitely did that extremely successfully and used technology to his advantage and that’s definitely something Republicans need to start utilizing as well,” said Melinda Canter, a member of the Denver Metro Young Republicans (DMYR).
Canter met with a handful of other members at a Denver bar for a happy hour session that was largely organized online. New member Michael Borts joined DMYR after finding the group on Facebook.
“The Democrats are using the Internet and blogs and I think it’s important for the right wing groups to do that too,” Borts said.
It’s amazing how things have changed in such a short time. When I started blogging shortly after 9/11, the blogosphere was virtually owned by the right, and looked to be another right-owned new medium akin to talk radio. The “Progressive” left did an excellent job of organizing itself online following Howard Dean’s aborted 2004 Presidential campaign, however, and did great things with the new social networking tools that emerged shortly thereafter.
Meanwhile, despite being the early adopters of the internet for political purposes, the right’s online presence stagnated, and only now are GOP officials listening to what some of us have been telling them for two-plus years about the powerful new media, messaging, recruitment, and organizing tools available to them (often for free). One has to hope that the McCain-centered fiasco that was 2008 was not just the end result of running a campaign and a party “the old fasioned way”, but the end of that obsolete way of thinking within the party.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s well worth reading Matt Bai’s (somewhat toadyish) book The Argument, which tracks these efforts on the left from the pre-Dean proto-nutroots through the late stages of the Democrat primary season. While hardly a paint-by-numbers guide for replicating their success with new media and online organizing, the book contains many useful insights into not only the nuts and bolts of the nutroots movement but the organizational battles between different power factions within the party as they struggled to control the emerging movement for their own ends.