Sunday, June 5, 2005

Blogs and politics

Not sure how I missed this nugget from ArchPundit a couple weeks back, but I wanted to respond to Vasyl’s comments. Vasyl said:

Well, reporters read blogs. So do opposition researchers. In an era of online access to a lot of information about candidates, a stray comment by a candidate or political party on a blog can form the core of a pretty devastating 30-second television ad.

Fundamentally, there is a conflict between what makes for a good blog and what makes for smart campaigning. … I’m in complete agreement that there is a segment of the voting population that can be reached through the web. The DPI does a poor job in this area. Just put me in the cautious category when it comes to free-wheeling blogging.

Vasyl’s right, though I’m not sure we’re in as much disagreement as he thinks. Larry (ArchPundit) and Tim have both done a pretty good job outlining what’s wrong with the state party site, but I’m not sure Vasyl’s main concern (that of a “free-wheeling blog”) is really much to be concerned about. A state party website that just made it simple for local party leaders to feel connected to the state machinery would be a huge step up; a set of headlines about what the party’s up to that could be syndicated out to local party websites would be even better; a private site that lets local leaders network with each other and share best practices would be ideal. (I like the IL GOP’s speakers Bureau idea, by the way.)

The problem isn’t that this isn’t happening online, it’s that it’s not happening at all. The Illinois party isn’t doing this infrastructure-building offline either — I haven’t received a single piece of information from the state party, and I’ve been the chair of the local party for a year now. (In fairness, I received one phone call, after I called to ask about the sorry state of the website last summer.) Without that kind of operation, our ability to build a farm system of candidates from the most local of positions up to state-wide races is significantly hampered.

There’s clearly a role for an online component of this strategy. Like Larry said, it’s neither the most prominent part of that strategy nor the most critical. But it is important, and could provide the foundation on which a more engaging, energizing state party could be built. Let’s hope.

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