This article was originally written in 2008 to reflect on where the Republican Party went wrong in the lead up to the 2008 Presidential Election.
On February 12, 2005, Gov. Howard Dean was elected Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Many political pundits on both sides lambasted his goal to make the “Democratic Party competitive in every race, in every district, in every state and territory, while integrating national and state party operations and standing up for Democrats’ core values”.
The prevailing argument was that the Democratic Party should focus on the traditional “Blue States” and solidify their hold on those Senate and Congressional Seats. Dean’s plan was to build a national organization that could increase voter turnout in any Blue or Red State. His “grand plan” was to be able to move grassroots volunteers and organizations from one state to another depending on polling numbers.
Howard Dean proved that the GOP really was the Grand OLD Party when it came to getting out the vote. Maybe the name for the NEW Democratic Party should be the Grand YOUNG Party (GYP).
On December 30, 2002 a “Master Plan” was given to the “GOP powers that be” that stated: “One of the many lessons learned is that the Democrats are GREAT at getting new voters to the polls on Election Day (how can we forget South Dakota in 2002). There are 16 States where there is an “Early Election Day”. In these States; Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming there are virtually no absentee voting requirements. We can, and must, encourage voters to “do the right thing” and vote early if they are not 100% sure they will make it to the polls on Election Day. These States make it easier for the voter and thereby can give us an insurmountable advantage. None of us want to go through a recount again, and by getting out the early vote, we can win many more States prior to Election Day.’
On May 8, 2003, a further developed plan stated “It is my well-founded concern that the Democrats will soon wake up and realize how effective proper use of the Internet will be.”
Dean’s plan for “how Democrats can and will win in every state, every county, and every precinct.
The Democratic Party is committed to winning elections at every level in every region of the country, and we’re getting started right now with a massive effort to fund organizers on the ground in every state.
Their ultimate goal? An active, effective group of Democrats organized in every single precinct in the country. Here’s what we’re doing to get there:
- The Democratic Party hired organizers chosen by the state parties in every state — experienced local activists who know their communities.
- We brought those organizers together for summits where they learned from each other the best practices for getting organized to win elections.
- Armed with the knowledge they’ve shared with each other, Democratic organizers returned to the states and recruited and trained leaders at the local level.
- Those local leaders recruited more leaders and volunteers until every single precinct in their area has a trained, effective organization of Democrats dedicated to winning votes for Democrats.”
What the Democrats did was not rocket science. What they believed the Internet could do was no surprise. The fact that they used the internet they way they did and the way we should have was the surprise. A surprise to everyone except for maybe Al Gore.
We had “The Plan,” we had the answers, but we forgot to read the book. Guess Howard Dean put more faith in a “Master Plan” than the Grand OLD Party cared to.
Governor Dean, you tried to become President in 2004 and lost. Without entering a single Primary in 2008, you won the Presidency.
Steven A. Castleton is a Republican Internet Strategist with Dionysus Consulting dedicated to raising the funds necessary to elect moral and fiscally responsible candidates. We also pride ourselves on our extensive pro-bono work. It is our belief that “our service to others is the rent we pay here on earth.” We have been and will continue to be pioneers at using the power of the Internet.
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