Could today be a turning point for GOP tech?

February 21, 2013

If grieving is the first step of dealing with loss, that has been on full display over and over and over in the media over the past few months. The GOP has been ripped to shreds for its failure to compete with the Left on technology. To their credit, digital operatives at the RNC have been very candid about the organization’s need to catch up and have been very open to conversations and feedback about what they could improve.

But week after week, the media gleefully paints a picture of the GOP in shambles, with the New York Times Magazine this past weekend even displaying pictures of ancient electronic devices, like an old typewriter with the caption “GOP Laptop”.

This morning, however, may spur a turning point. The National Journal published a lengthy, well-attributed piece titled How Republicans Are Looking to Close the Digital Divide Against Democrats. As opposed to the wailing and gnashing of teeth that has permeated past articles about GOP technology, this one was different. Experienced operatives, including former RNC eCampaign directors Cyrus Krohn and Michael Turk, pointed to solutions the GOP could embrace to recapture the technology lead it held in the mid-2000s.

The author of the piece, Elahe Izadi, summarized the solutions as such:

  1. Give ideas room to breathe, and engage GOP techies.
  2. Come to terms with the hierarchical nature of the party.
  3. Pour resources into digital nuts and bolts.
  4. Develop and test like crazy in 2013.
  5. But remember, technology isn’t the silver bullet.

These five points are spot on and critical to the GOP’s path to creating a culture of innovation. They are very similar to suggested solutions I outlined back in November in a column titled “A GOP Tech Future.” All of these solutions are focused not on a specific widget or platform, but on an ecosystem of collaboration and innovation that then supports the use of new systems and that respects the contributions of technologists.

This effort is not idle wishing for technologists to have the respect of their party elders. It’s about winning elections. And I’m glad to see the conversation has shifted.

Put away the black cloth of mourning. Open the shutters. It’s a new day, ripe for new ideas.

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