Tuesday, June 12, 2007

We Didn't Start The Grassfire: Conservatives Use The Internets Too

In the past, I've admittedly been rough on conservative efforts to seize the opportunities of the Internet. (See QubeTV Article.) I promise to be nice this time because GrassFire.org really is a well designed home for conservative Viralroots movements. They've produced some commercials that have comparable production value to MoveOn.org commercials (albeit without celebrity endorsement.)

They also have issue blurbs and each issue has a "take action" button that leads you to specific instructions on acting on that issue. And they have petitions. Their "Tell Congress You Oppose The Amnesty Bill" petition has 668,766 signers. Okay, I lied. They're not getting off that easy. Part of the power of the Internet is that content is mostly explicitly targeted by users through search. This is as opposed to advertisers posting billboards or TV ads hoping to hit people interested in what they have to offer by targeting demographics. The Internet is an active medium. If I'm interested in signing an anti-amnesty bill, I will find one through search and I will sign it. Now, if I were spearheading a petition against illegal immigration, I would want as many signatures as possible. Period. And since we've seen that this is an issue that transcends party lines, I would rely on the power of search to bring those signatures to me rather than relying solely on a conservative demographic. Merely grouping such a petition with other hardcore conservative content clearly scares away non-conservatives who stumble upon this petition via search. I say this because the GrassFire Anti-Immigration Petition also asks one chime in on pro-life, pro-family and pro-gun issues where it clearly need not. I mention this only because my Libertarian leanings draw me to supporting secure borders, but one look at the GrassFire petition and I go running for the hills. I guess this is a really long way of saying that there is party politics, and there is grassroots politics. And often, grassroots is about issues that transcend party politics. And you can make that work for you by remaining focused on individual issues and keeping it non-partisan, thereby opening up your support base to all voters.

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