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No Candidate Is an Island, and Other Lessons from Republicans to Their Party

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, February 20 2009

In the afterglow of their recent gathering of the tech-minded, the RNC launched a Ning network. The aim of the off-the-shelf social network was to capture the wisdom of the GOP grassroots on the ways that the party can use tech to rebuild itself into a stronger, more nimble (and yes, more electorally successful) institution.

It's probaby fair to say that the RNC Ning hasn't exactly turned into a bustling beehive of activity. The "mobile" section, for example, has four topics and a total of 24 comments. That said, a few intriguing ideas have popped up, including one from techPres contributor Patrick Ruffini. The GOP, says, Ruffini,
needs to embrace the Obama-inspired idea that fundraising isn't an "independent variable."

In a nutshell, Ruffini's argument goes that GOP dependence on big donors -- and even deep-pocket self-funders -- is a dangerous thing idea. Why? Because both create an independence from grassroots networks. What Obama realized, says, Ruffini, is that fundraising isn't purely transactional; it's one thread in the rope that connects a candidate to his or her networks, and supporters to one another.

A couple of the other more popular ideas on the RNC tech Ning hub: David All's call to figure out how the GOP can tap into the "long tail" of political engagement ("The 20-minute a day activist who sends emails while waiting in traffic") and Moshe Starkman's discussion of whether Republicans should build "our platform" using ".NET framework, Java, or open source technologies like PHP."