The Republican Party's attempt to engage with America via an Internet forum (AmericaSpeakingOut.com) got off to a rocky start after the site was swarmed by Internet "trolls" suggesting ideas like criminalizing divorce and mandating child labor. But the "Republican Reddit" has a serious idea at its core — asking grass-roots conservatives what they want. Users suggest and rank policy ideas, and GOP lawmakers are considering compiling them into a "Contract With America"–style policy document. Why are Republicans turning to the Web for guidance? (Watch Michele Bachmann plug the GOP initiative.)
Republicans are playing catch-up with the Tea Party: The House GOP is "taking a page from the Tea Party movement," says Chris Good in The Atlantic, mimicking the crowd-sourced "Contract From America" produced by the grass-roots organization in April. Republicans concerned by the rise of the fringe movement may not be too keen on the "Contract With America–style platform document" we'll no doubt end up with.
"House GOP's new contract: A page from the Tea Party"
The GOP is attempting to fix the broken culture of Washington: The reason we're doing this is because the ruling Democratic party has ignored the "vocal wishes of the American people" for too long, says Rep. Tom Price at the National Review. The public's voice should be "the most powerful in Washington," and yet it has been drowned out by the "ideological ambitions of the liberal majority." This "interactive approach to governing" will finally allow the American people to be heard.
"When citizens engage, America wins"
But haven't they heard? The Internet is for scorn: Alas, despite the vaunted "technical sophistication" of the website, says Nick Summers in Newsweek, it was quickly bogged down by hundreds of "inane, racist, absurd, physically impossible" suggestions, including drafting "an army of ninja cats." These presumably weren't the "high-minded ideas about the federal budget and terrorism" the GOP wanted to hear.
"We need to train an army of ninja cats: a GOP site gets hijacked"