Monday, May 11, 2009

Stone knives and bearskins

There is a moment in one of the most popular episodes of the original Star Trek series, "The City on the Edge of Forever," in which Spock explains amidst a tangle of wires and vacuum tubes from 1930s Earth that he is "endeavoring, Madam, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bearskins."

This quote eloquently captures the state of Minnesota GOP communications in the age of micromarketing, mobile phones, and social networking. Many of our party's chairpersons and officers, God bless them, have volunteered countless hours to successfully build the GOP and win elections in the 20th century using the same tools I saw in an old 1960s black-and-white Ronald Reagan GOP training film: phone banks and direct mail.

Our current leaders long-ago earned their delegate seats at the conventions, and leadership posts from the BPOUs to the national committee, with these tools. But the young upstart campaign volunteers of Democrat Party campaigns have grown ever more sophisticated in their use of technology to spread their message, persuade, and win elections, even as that technology evolves at an increasingly dizzying pace. These efforts are peer-produced and decentralized.

It's not technology for technology's sake; it is, pardon the cliché, part of the under-30 population's DNA. Facebook and cell phones are as much a part of my teenage kids' lives as television was integral to my growing up. First-time caucus goers from the 2008 election cycle are still wondering why they never received a single e-mail or Facebook friend invitation from their BPOU, or even know what a BPOU is. The party that dismisses or refuses to understand mobile tech, e-mail marketing, streaming video, podcasting, and social networking is the party that forfeits the future to the party that gets it.

Surely there are social marketing experts and web developers who would be willing to apply their talents and knowledge to bring the Minnesota GOP into the 21st century. So what's stopping them?


The elections of 2006 and 2008 will be showing in reruns in 2010 and 2012 unless the Republican Party of Minnesota finds a chair and deputy chair who get it. Grassroots activists who have spent the months since November 2008 creating and using their Facebook, Twitter, and Ning accounts, blogging, attending issue events at Trocoderos, and organizing the April 15 and May 2 rallies at the state capitol, already get it. So do Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee supporters. But the state party will be stuck with stone knives, bearskins, and minority status without a chair and deputy chair who are ready, willing, and able to lead the party into 21st century technology — at warp speed.

Minnesota GOP Leadership Debate
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Mixer: 6:30 pm
Debate: 7:00 pm
Moderated by Ed Morrissey, and AM 1280 The Patriot and
Annette Meeks, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota
Hosted by SD45 Republicans
Robbinsdale Hopkins High School [map]
10635 36th Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55441

Carrie Ruud, Tony Sutton, Dave Thompson, candidates for State Party Chair
Michael Brodkorb, Dorothy Fleming, candidates for State Party Deputy Chair
Other candidates to be announced

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