Monday, September 21, 2009

Republicans and the Social Media Revolution

Back in February, interestingly, I thought Meghan McCain had a good point when she argued that "Republicans don't get the Internet."

Not any more.

With Americans witnessing the dramatic impact of Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, which along with Fox News has been the main outlet breaking the ACORN prostitution scandal, we're really seeing the power of conservative online politics hitting home. The Washington Times featured an item yesterday describing Breitbart as a "
conservative rebel with a cause." And because the leftist press is irked at their comeuppance at the hands of a couple of brilliant young conservatives, they're now sliming James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles like only true dirtbags know how.

That's why I find this piece at the Los Angeles Examiner puzzling, "
GOP Fails to Recognize Power of the Internet." The author, Jim Kouri, argues that "Say what you will about the left-wing bloggers and left-leaning Internet web sites, they are a power to be reckoned with, according to a growing number of conservatives." Yet Kouri provides no quotes from conservatives to support the statement.

No matter.

This is something I've been thinking about this last couple of weeks amid the Big Government ACORN rollout. I recall earlier arguments that the party out of power will be most adept at deploying new social media for political action. Daily Kos, once the granddaddy of radical left wing blogs, is now a shadow of its former self. Daily Kos' traffic numbers in 2009 are down substantially. Jon Henke wrote a dramatic post in April comparing Kos' numbers to Michelle Malkin's Hot Air (a difference of 15 million visitors in Hot Air's favor over the March-April timeline). As Henke added then, "I suspect we'll be rediscovering something we had previously learned in the 90's and 00's: the Internet is good for insurgencies and opposition."

This is a good social science topic, by the way. Facebook and Twitter have been driving conservative mobilization all year, and while much of the activism is explicitly non-partisan (protesters are mad at both parties more often than not), events will clearly benefit the GOP when next year's elections roll around. Conservatives not wanting to waste a vote will rally to the Republican banner in the years ahead. And if the GOP doesn't learn the lessons of 2008, when small-government conservatives got pushed aside by the nomination of John McCain, the party may as well sit on the sidelines of power for a couple of more cycles.

An interesting related essay: "
The Obama Roadblock: Why He's Sagging Online" (via Memeorandum).