I wrote the following today to people who are playing key roles in the online effort to get John McCain elected President of the U.S. (POTUS). The following is in small part "inside baseball," but it shows the reality of what's going on online.
The big issue is what we can do to get people to reach out to others (and sometimes that will mean reaching out merely to a spouse or to a few neighbors). Right now, many people online are not truly "into" the presidential race. After March 5, that will begin to change rapidly.
Our main goal should be to get onliners to do SOMETHING positive for McCain. There are a few people (Cindy at The Pink Flamingo, Sanity 102, the two Beths, Sharon Caliendo, Greg Alterton) that will accomplish a great deal. I want them to know that they have friends (me and thee, among others) who will do what they can to assist them.
McCain supporters online aren’t ready yet to launch a highly systematized organizational effort -- for example, the kind Joe Trippi had for Howard Dean -- on the Net. However, McCain supporters can and will do a lot better than is occurring now.
Where the MV08 effort is going very wrong is in its egotism (lots of titles for people with questionable online skills), its litmus tests (so-and-so is not a "true blue McCain supporter"), its acceptance of stereotypes ("drugged-out college students"), and its overall chuminess. Some people (especially me, as well as Beth 1 and Beth 2 and Sharon) have complained about MV08's being politically tone-deaf and suggesting that some members of the community won't complain but will just tune out the supposed "leaders."
Who exactly gave a biased, angry individual like Sheridan Folger the "authority" to control the on-line effort? A question that I fear won't ever be answered.
The online effort must be in large part a teaching/learning experience. When bloggers or others ask how they can help John McCain, people who know the answer should tell them -- and do so respectfully As I suggested, we can't ask online volunteers to do more than we can legitimately expect from people who have limited time. Those who are really going to help McCain must proceed with a good dose of humility.
In talking at length to Sharon last night, she mentioned that activist students at the University of Oklahoma (Norman) and Oklahoma State University (Stillwater) are very much for McCain, perhaps by 2-1 or even 3-1. That’s also true of several colleges in PA (Grove City College being one). We need to have online sites that welcome such students and work with them to maximize their influence.
A few years ago, students in PA played a major role in Club for Growth leader Pat Toomey's challenge to Senator Arlen Specter. A generation ago, conservative college students helped Nixon to bury McGovern (1972). We can't win this election merely with support from suburban males over the age of 40.
I'm hoping that people like Christopher in MI will work with us to bring in younger people. I'm ready to do whatever it takes to get people, young and old, in the McCain camp.