By Donna Cole. MediaPolitical Editor at Large, Passionate Pachyderms Senior Editorial Columnist.
As a media critic, and a journalist, I have discussed many times in posts about ethics and integrity. I have discussed the difference between off the record, and on the record, and how sometimes you have to weigh things, whether or not at times one should just eat things and when it is in the better public interest to just lay it out there. These are not easy decisions to make, and because I was recently put in one of these positions I have decided to make what I feel is the right choice, and lay it out there. In thinking about this, it opened me up to a broader topic, and that is why I made the final decision to openly discuss this subject.
I recently had a discussion with my editor about promoting the website I now work for, Passionate Pachyderms. He said I should post links on Facebook group pages. I have always felt uncomfortable about doing this, because I felt like I was invading another space without permission. But when I wrote a piece on Gov. Scott Walker, a glowing piece, I thought I couldn't go wrong by posting on various county's Republican Party Facebook pages. I learned a lot in this process.
The first thing I found out is that not many county Republican Party organizations even have Facebook pages. Some of them were open pages where anybody could post anything, others were closed, meaning you had to a member to post. So, I posted my column on Gov. Walker on the open sites, and I clicked the "Join" on the closed ones. Hoping to join and spread the word.
The next morning, I got a message from the person who runs a particular closed Republican county party's Facebook page telling me they did not allow people who lived outside their area to join. We had some back and forth, and were both respectful of each other, but in the end this person patronized me by saying they loved my work. Yet, I have never had a comment, much less a "like" from them on any post I have ever made. And they were not interested at all in posting my Walker piece on their so personal page. It's their loss.
This is a major problem with the Republican Party. If this particular county apparatchik wants to keep their little club closed, that is fine. But it does nothing for the rest of the party or spreading our message. I'll be honest, it pissed me off and that is why I am writing about this. It's time this stuff be said, and I am going to say it now.
When the Republican Party finished it's autopsy of the 2012 election, one of the main things they found was that basically Republicans have no clue how to use the internet to spread their message. And it seems to me that nobody got that message.
I want to be clear here. I am not a member of the Republican Party, I am a Constitutional Libertarian who supports Republican candidates because I see no other political option. I have a background in advertising and journalism, and it just kills me to see that the Republican Party literally has no clue how to use the media for their gain.
I was not angry this party hack rejected me from his county Republican Party Facebook page, I was angry he rejects everybody who he doesn't know lives in the neighborhood. I was also angry when I did a county by county search and found that only about 25 percent of county Republican parties even had Facebook pages. This led me to do a general search on Google to see how many had actual websites. Again, I only found that about at best one third of them did. And what I found was horrible. I found one website that still had on it's main page something from 2010. I found another that while it had recent updates, it looked like a message board from 1996. This is unacceptable.
I found there is no continuity between these websites and Facebook pages. Some were "X" county GOP, others were Republican Party of "Y" County. The same could be said for the websites. Unless you are good at Google research, which I happen to be, some of these sites were almost impossible to find. And I actually got out a physical map of Wisconsin, and did this county by county.
Here are the problems I see. Remember, the Democrats are killing the Republican Party on this stuff. Every single county should have a Republican website. And all those websites should basically be the same. They all should be "X" County Republican Party. There should be a main site that links to each county. Each one of these sites should be updated at least once a week. With regard to Facebook, and other social media, the same should hold true. The pages should be uniform, and these social media sites should be updated daily. They should each have Twitter feeds, and send out several messages a week. Those counties that have Republican representation should have those elected officials working with these websites and social media formats.
I have come to the conclusion that the reason Gov. Walker won the recall election is because the Democrats pissed off the middle ground voters so bad they went for Walker. The Republican Party did not go out there and win that election, like Democrats do when they are not made stupid by rage.
While I understand why some of these local Republican sites may want to keep themselves closed, Larry, Jerry and Earl sitting around on their private page are not spreading the message. If the best idea they had in the last 10 years to get out the vote was a pancake breakfast, that is not a formula to win future elections. And if that hurts somebody's feelings, good, it was meant to.
Now, I hope you have some basic understanding of what I am talking about here. I know many grey hairs in the party might not get it, but you just need to trust me on this one. Getting out the vote is not Larry taking Aunt Martha to the polls when the Democrats in Milwaukee County have like 10 buses raking in people to the polls because they threw a BBQ dinner. We need to match that, and then some. We match this vote for vote by doing it in the rural counties. Go out into the trailer parks a year before an election, start identifying voters, target them, throw your own BBQ and introduce them to your candidates. Get them jazzed up. Come election day, they will be ready to vote for you, and another BBQ for them doesn't hurt either.
We know how effective the Democrat's War on Women is. It cannot be denied that it has worked well. But let me show you something. Remember when the Obama campaign came up with the "Life of Julia" website. It was a timeline of a single woman, living on welfare from the cradle to grave. We right wingers made fun of it, pointed out how sad it was, etc. Why didn't any of the eggheads at the GOP think of this? An alternative.
Why didn't we make a website called "The Life of Maria"? It would show a young girl who made good grades in school, worked hard despite her social situation. She would follow abstinence in her youth. Maybe she couldn't afford college, so she joined the military, or went to technical school while working in a low wage job. Then improved her life later education wise which led to a higher income. She married, and didn't have children without a husband around. She lives a responsible life, one in which she has faith. This woman could be an example to young women, a message of personal responsibility.
Maria's timeline would show how she made responsible choices through her whole life. I think this would be genius to do, but I realize many Republicans are terrified of this message. This would sell well in the Hispanic community. Demanding men be faithful, women are empowered and religious faith is at the center of the community. THAT IS A FREAKING WINNER MESSAGE! Why don't you guys get that? Laughing at "The Life of Julia" was all well and good, but without offering something different, it's just laughing. And who is laughing now? Not us.
Why I said that many Republicans are terrified of this message is becaue they are terrified of attaching a stigma to social welfare. I am only 42, and I can remember a day when folks on food stamps were embarrassed to use them. Nobody wanted to be on welfare, but we must recognize that sometimes folks do have to, but the stigma of being embarrassed by it drives them to try and get off of it. Now, I see folks who just think the "food card" as they call it is something they are owed. I know liberals dispute this, but I have saw it with my own eyes, folks on food stamps buying top of line meats, steaks, racks of ribs, all name brand stuff, and they just swipe their card. They are not embarrassed by this. They should be, and Republicans should ram this message home, you ought to be ashamed of yourself if you are on food stamps having children out of wedlock and all this. These are messages that will not sell easy, but we have a generation of youth we can sell this to. Only we must message it correctly, and push the message hard. We can't sit back and wait until every four years to do it. It must be 24-7-365. On TV, on radio, on things like Facebook and other social media, the things young people use to communicate. They are not going to listen to grandpa talking about the good old days.
With this idea of 24-7 messaging and being embarrassed. While a Republican candidate has run several honorable and valiant campaigns against Gwen Moore in Milwaukee County for the House seat here, and with all due respect I say this, a white man with no money cannot win that election. The Republican Party needs to first of all start yesterday running ads on the 5pm and 10 pm news of every local station against Moore. Paint her picture with her own actions, make her an embarrassment to the people of Milwaukee. You run these ads during the local news because people who watch the news are more apt to vote. You make sure they know this woman, Gwen Moore, is a clown. Then, you find a younger black or Hispanic conservative woman to run against her (I have a couple in mind). Have her take this message of self responsibility down on Milwaukee's south side. You will terrify the Democrats. They will say, "You are not supposed to do that on our welfare turf." This is how you win elections, taking it to the enemy. When we make these Democrats have to fight on their own turf, we start winning the argument.
I am not sorry I said some things in this post that might have rubbed some people the wrong way, but the way you are running things now is the wrong way. I am interested in winning elections, from dog catcher to the President of the United States. I want to win those elections on our own terms, meaning with our own ideology, but we need to know what is beating us. And right now, we need to get the Wisconsin Republican Party better organized, we need to learn how to use the internet, and we need to get all our local parties connected into one big machine. This is how Democrats do it, and they been kicking our ass in national elections and in organizing. We need to stop playing defense, and kick some ass ourselves.
In conclusion, I really didn't mean to offend that party official who pissed me off so bad that I wrote this, but I do feel much better now. It's understandable you wouldn't want somebody like me to join your little country club. I am a woman with a brain after all, I'm sure that in itself scares you. However, I am glad you did it, because I said some things that needed to be said. I am interested in winning elections and doing it by spreading conservative ideology. I hope you figured that out and can at least agree with me on that point.