The Republican National Committee will unveil a new website early Tuesday morning that promises to increase grassroots participation and offers improved navigability and smarter marketing and fundraising tools for the GOP, according to party officials.
Upon reaching the new GOP.com, RNC Chairman Michael Steele takes a virtual step onto the computer screen and leads users on a tour of the site's new features.
“Notice anything different?” asks Steele. “It’s the new GOP.com. It’s a forward-looking, open-platform for the party of new ideas. If you’re a Republican activist, this is your space.”
The developers of the new website hope to capitalize on the organic activism that gave way to Tea Parties across the nation by “creating a larger, more informed, more organized, and more energized Republican community.”
Conscious of the propensity for online social networking to mobilize activists, the new website was designed with an unmistakable attentiveness to social media and blogging, having devoted a significant portion of the landing page’s real estate to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.
At first glance, the RNC’s new digital threads look nothing like a typical political website. From the dynamic logo featuring user-submitted pictures of supporters to the refreshingly simple navigation menu, the revamped and reorganized GOP web presence represents a commonly-preached but rarely-practiced belief on Capitol Hill: that the best ideas come from outside the Beltway.
Said one RNC official familiar with the project: “We tried to break the mold here. None of the firms we hired have ever worked in politics.”
In addition to seamlessly incorporating prominent social networks like Facebook and Twitter into their new platform, the RNC also revised their now-defunct in-house social network, myGOP. Renamed to represent Steele’s embrace of organic activism and community engagement, their new social network, dubbed “OurGOP,” allows users to organize by location, issue, or candidate slate.
And as a supplement to the new “you-centric” social network, RNC officials note an additional innovative feature: users can securely login with third-party credentials, including OpenID and Facebook rather than creating a new account.
The new website is the latest aspect of Steele’s comprehensive rebranding campaign for the GOP, who weathered two consecutive election-year losses in 2006 and 2008. The 2010 midterm elections, Steele hopes, will be different. And that difference will be fostered by surging online conservative activism.
“At GOP.com something new is happening. And that something is you,” said Steele in his video introduction.
The Democratic National Committee gleefully noted the error to reporters this morning, echoing the “it’s funny because it’s true” criticisms voiced on Twitter today.
Suggesting the blank page is somehow emblematic of the GOP’s withering crop of leaders, one DNC spox told Talking Points Memo "there are no future leaders in the GOP. As the GOP continues to champion the same failed policies of the past, recycle the same failed leaders of the past like Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich, and fails to get that the American people aren't looking for a party that just says 'NO' to progress, we rate this claim 'True. So, very true.'"
Hoping to recover from their early-morning fumble, the RNC updated the page to reflect Steele’s belief that 'action begins with the individual, and that grassroots activism holds the key to future GOP success.'
“Who are the future leaders of the Republican Party? You are -- you, the people who make America work,” the new site reads.
The page does not currently feature any prominent Republican elected official or activist, but says supporters may send an email to [email protected] to acknowledge “stand-out, Republican leaders who don’t get the acclaim they deserve.”