Organizing Your People


Julian Sanchez has a very thoughtful critique of the “rebuild the party” initiative to upgrade the GOP’s use of high-tech tools. I agree with everything he says, but I want to emphasize a point hidden within one of Julian’s points:

Moreover, you’re still fundamentally doing political organizing. Part of what made Obama’s vaunted online operation succeed where Howard Dean’s fizzled—and this is something his online people themselves always stress—was that it was an organic component of the broader brick-and-mortar campaign.The core skill set here is still political: What you need are people who know enough tech to understand how the different tools can work with each other, and with more traditional tactics, toward the ultimately non-technical goal of persuading moderates and mobilizing your base. The tech is only useful in the hands of people who are, first and foremost, good at doing those other things.

The fact that online political organizing is still political organizing leads to, I think, a larger issue here. Organizing suburban evangelical mega-churches did a lot for conservatives. But adopting suburban mega-church organizing tools wouldn’t be a very smart strategy for progressives. The audience is wrong. Conversely, outreach to black ministers does a lot of good for Democrats but doesn’t work for Republicans — the black churches are full of black people and black people don’t like Republicans. And at the moment, neither does the core audience for things like Twitter and Facebook. Under the circumstances, it’s difficult for the GOP to do lots of useful organizing on social media platforms.