A while back, I asked if anyone could tell me where the GOP’s netroots organizations were. All the really successful netroots movements — MoveOn.org, Dean for America, and so on — seem to have emerged from the left. I was curious if similar movements were springing up on the right.
Well, for my trouble I got some snarky comments, but nobody sent me a single suggestion of a place to look for a genuine GOP netroots site, so I let the matter drop. Lately, though, I’ve heard of a site that I think qualifies, so I thought I’d pass it along: GrassFire.org.
GrassFire is practicing a lot of the basic netroots philosophy. They’re doing microfinancing (to raise funds to air a TV spot). They’re doing online petitioning. They’re doing word-of-mouse campaigning. And they have a neat “MyImpact” feature that tracks how a message you send to your friends supporting a GrassFire campaign propagates out across the Net, bringing new supporters into the fold. In short, they’re doing a lot of things right.
However, they’re not doing everything right. They haven’t sussed out yet that microfinancing works better when you show people how the fundraising is progressing (the way Dean does with his “bats”). The language they use is the more traditional, old-style outrage talk; it lacks the humor and wit of some of MoveOn’s campaigns (though to be fair, that may be because their target audience is more accustomed to being mobilized through outrage-outlets like talk radio, so it would work better for them).
The biggest thing that jumped out at me, though, was that their overall look, feel, and tactics feel like they were lifted pretty much straight from MoveOn; it reminds me a lot of how Pat Robertson decided the way to counter the ACLU was to create the “ACLJ” (American Center for Law and Justice). That may be more of a complement to the MoveOn folks than it is a threat.
Still, it’s interesting to see evidence that people on the Right are clued in to the potential this stuff offers, beyond just dismissing it as hippie fantasy. I imagine we’ll be hearing more from GrassFire as time goes on.Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at December 31, 2003
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