Wednesday, May 05, 2010

GOP reaches out, goes high tech with an online portal to write it's "Commitment to America"

GOP about to go online with 'Commitment to America'
Washington (CNN) -- Remember the 1994 "Contract with America" that propelled Republicans back into the majority of the House of Representatives with its author Newt Gingrich as their speaker?

Well, 16 years later, it's back to the future -- the GOP is again drafting a blueprint designed to take back control of Congress. But this time, it is looking for authors everywhere, and if you want help write the 2010 GOP "Commitment to America," you can take out your iPhone or BlackBerry and point your browser to a new GOP website coming soon.


The online portal will allow anyone to log on and create a personal "profile," similar to Facebook. Users will be able to vote up or down on other people's submissions -- similar to the "like it" thumbs-up feature on Facebook. Proposals can be sorted by how popular they are, or how many "votes" they receive.

Visitors to the site will be anonymous and those setting up profiles can choose their own names, but the site's managers will verify e-mail addresses and postal codes. There will be a filter to weed out offensive language.

California Rep. Kevin McCarthy is leading the effort and he said if Republicans want to connect with voters, they have to prove that their policy proposals aren't cooked up by a group of insiders in Washington.

House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio tapped McCarthy, 45, to craft the 2010 equivalent of the 1994 "Contract with America." But McCarthy said he doesn't want his effort to be compared with Gingrich's '94 playbook and said he's using the "Commitment to America" as a temporary name that's likely to change after the public weighs in.

That's where the new technology comes into play. To connect to other popular social media sites, the GOP's website will also have Twitter and Facebook components. Like those sites, users can participate in the ongoing political debate from their laptops or from mobile devices like iPhones and BlackBerrys.

To encourage people to come back and be part of an online community, users will accumulate "points" every time they submit an idea or engage in a debate. McCarthy compared this to getting frequent flyer miles or points with an airline.

But users won't get prizes or free flights, just the bragging rights that they are helping the GOP write its agenda.

The site will include a few major topics like "jobs," and "the economy," but won't have any specific proposals laid out by GOP lawmakers. McCarthy said the goal is for "the public to take ownership."

The site will allow a continuing debate about the merits of the party's policy priorities. Once it goes live, Republican House members will have a widget posted on their Congressional web pages that will link to the main GOP "commitment" site on a real-time basis.

Although the software to do all these things is already available to the public -- NASA uses a similar web portal -- Republicans pointed out that no other political organization has yet used it this way.

McCarthy described the effort to come up with the party's policy priorities as a three-phase project. [...]

Hmmm. It sounds... interesting? I tend to think of anything to do with "social networking" as shallow crap, but then I don't use most of that stuff either. The article goes into some detail as to how it should work. It is pretty cutting edge. I suppose we shall have to wait and see what results from it, before we know it's merits. I think it's a good move for the GOP, and if they can make it work, it could be a great move. We shall see.

No comments: