EDITOR OF REDSTATE
Rebuild the Party: Technology Death by White Paper
I am very, very concerned about the direction we are headed in with technology in both the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Frankly, I am profoundly disappointed.The RNC effort is a frustrating exercise consisting of multi-ton white papers that will no doubt be ignored. Friday’s RFP to redo the GOP.com website has given the lie to the RNC’s efforts about transparency. Based on the lack of substance in the RFP, we can conclude that they either do not get it or they are back to playing the preferred consultant games and the RFP is just for show.Frankly, technological progress on the right is going to be made wholly removed from the RNC. Compounding the frustration with the Republican Party is the conservative movement’s efforts, which by and large are duplicative of the RNC efforts and with many of the same people. Just another working group with another white paper. To be clear, I have been asked to participate in several of these groups, but I have declined to do so with the exception of one — and only then because I have substantial faith in the ability of the leadership of the particular group to make things happen. Otherwise, I see no value in duplicative work that will generate paper, but few tangible other benefits.As I write, there are more and more developers out there who want to get involved. They do not know where to place their energies or what projects to work on. The processes within the party and without are so ineptly bureaucratic right now that these guys are getting shut out. Likewise, there are no filters in place within the processes and existing working groups to separate the wheat from the chaff. Having a bunch of people who consider themselves developers is different from having a bunch of developers involved.In lieu of another working group that will turn out just another white paper, I would really like to suggest we take substantive action. I believe strongly we should return to an idea I had that I call the Innovation Trust — a group that will seed the field to let a thousand flowers bloom.In short, the conservative movement, not the party apparatus, should form a group to seed some money to developers who can then work on technology ideas. Set up some competent middle men (yeah, I have a list of good people) who can vet the technology and get good stuff built. Bring right-of-center developers in from the cold. The Innovation Trust might have ideas of things that need to be built, but I strongly suspect there are developers out there who both have ideas and technical proficiency to build things, but need some guidance and possibly funding.Right now there are plenty of working groups out there. They are all coming up with a variety of white papers. No one is actually acting. I believe we need to overcome the inertia in the process by taking the risk to fund and build without another committee of 500 to wring hands and ponder deep thoughts. We need action.And that, at the end of the day, seems to be the problem. No one wants to take risk and no one wants to act. No one wants to chance misspending any more money, because so many have already misspent so much money. They did so unwisely, just hoping if they threw enough money out there, some would catch on.There are, adding to the problem, too many people who think a twitter/facebook combo and a Ning site are the answers we have been waiting for. Ning is not the answer. Facebook and Twitter might be parts of the solution, but most of what the people suggesting these tools are after is a way to further broadcast an existing message, not actually to allow greater grassroots involvement or more efficient deployment of campaign and political processes during election season.White papers will not fertilize the field to get the thousand flowers blooming. I am convinced that this must be done outside the party because bureaucratic inertia and ineptness within the party will stifle the efforts. I am also convinced that this project should take place with people considered based on merit, not on connections, spheres of influence, pre-existing involvement, or geographic location. At this moment, and part of the reason I write this, there are stumbling blocks to money — not ideas. I know a lot of technologists in what we sometimes call “fly over country” read RedState. And I know many of them will read this post. They are the ones I want to reach out to.I am fully aware that I and RedState are in a unique position to make happen things that might otherwise not happen. I would propose those small developers and designers who want to team up begin collaborating here.I’m very interested to see how deployable it is as a test — an initial test to see potential, overcome inertia, and get shituff done.Starting immediately, RedState intends to create a society of right-of-center developers. To get in the door, you will have to go through an initiation to prove you have what we are looking for. If you are interested, we will give you a small, straight-forward micro-project to complete. This is absolutely required.Once you have been vetted, we will work to pull together resources so we can expand collaborations, resources, find funding, and build great shituff for the cause.If you want in, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us about yourself including where you are at, what you are interested in, what your background is, and what development languages you prefer. The micro-projects are going to have time limits so don’t try to get involved until you are ready to get involved.To hell with the white papers. Let’s get shituff done.