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Turning the GOP Platform into a Group Project

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, May 25 2010

Today is, finally, the day that the House GOP has chosen to launch its promised America Speaking Out platform. The social media-infused tool set is their bid, more or less, to cobble together a sort of Contract with America 2.0. Visitors to AmericaSpeakingOut.com share and policy proposals and the like. Thumbs up and thumbs down are tallied. Activity badges will be earned.

The platform is being unveiled as I type at a press conference at DC's Newseum. But you can get a feel from Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the Chief Deputy Republican Whip, in his America Speaking Out promo video above. "Today," says McCarthy in his opening remarks, "America sees an arrogant Congress, that refuses to listen to the people."

For a certain Young(ish) Turk set in the House Republican caucus, one closely identified with Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), these new colloborative tools of the Web look like a way to gain traction in the public realm. Think YouCut, here, too. Minorities in the House always face the challenge of breaking through from legislative obscurity when the majority -- Democrats, of course, in this case -- not only own the ball, but the field and Gatorade bottles too. From the Republican minority's seats in the House, it must look like a happy circumstance that the attention-grabbing collaborative tools of new media age also happen to play into the complaint that this Congress is disconnected from the public. What remains to be seen, though, is whether giving the public a chance to help sketch a political platform for a possible Republican majority to come in November actually makes people feel better about the gap.

UPDATE: This America Speaking Out experiment from House Republicans is -- drawing from a suggestion in this CNN.com piece and a reference in O'Reilly's Alex Howard's Twitter stream -- running on Microsoft's brand-new entrant into the political software market, a platform called TownHall that we profiled here.