Sunday, July 29, 2007

Republicans: "We're losing the youth! Quick, quash the YouTube debate!"

Image from KCRG.com

Seems young folks are turning away from the Republican party in a pretty big way. Given this reality, one would think Republicans would jump at the chance to engage young voters by having a YouTube sponsored debate like the one the Democrats had. But it look like it might not happen:

NYT:
The Republican CNN-YouTube debate, scheduled for Sept. 17 in Florida, may move to another date, given reservations that some of the presidential candidates have expressed about both the date and the format.
Xinhuanet.com (why does China's official news agency often come up first in Google searches about American politics?):
Four days after the Democratic presidential debate hosted by CNN/YouTube.com, only two of the nine Republican presidential candidates have agreed to participate in a similar debate for their party on Sept. 17.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and congressman Ron Paul of Texas are the only two that have agreed to take part in the debate, co-hosted by the Republican Party of Florida, according to a report published by The Washington Post Friday.

"Aside from those two candidates, we haven't heard from anyone else," said Sam Feist of CNN, which is co-sponsoring the debate with YouTube, the popular video-sharing site.

Melissa Ryan on MyDD:
It looks like the GOP YouTube debate is a bust. The partisan Democrat in me is of course happy see see the GOP show it's true colors. Is anyone surprised that most of the Republican field fears having to answer questions submitted by ordinary Americans? But I also crave opportunities to get people reengaged in the political process, no matter what their affiliation. For that reason I'm disappointed that the Republican debate may not happen.
Bwhahaha! Recipe for becoming a minority party:
  1. Alienate minorities by leaving them to die (Katrina) and demonizing them relentlessly (immigration).
  2. Turn off the next generation of voters by failing to understand new media (YouTube), and whipping up furor about issues that young folk think about completely differently (gay marriage).
  3. Staunchly stand by George Bush as it becomes abundantly clear that he is a hideously bad president.
  4. General awfulness in so many areas (Fiscal Policy, Iraq, Gonzales, etc.) that your brand is tarnished for decades.
Some right-wingers do understand the importance of the Internet. The folks at RedState are wisely asking the Republican candidates to reconsider their shunning of YouTube:

Republicans cannot write off the Internet. Thus far, the Democratic candidates have dramatically outperformed Republicans online, most alarmingly in online fundraising. We believe this is a direct result of failing to effectively engage the medium and seize the tremendous opportunity of bottom-up grassroots activism. If you approach the Internet from a position of paralyzing fear, you will be out-gunned, out-manned, and out-raised at every turn. It is fundamentally unacceptable to surrender to the Democrats on one of the most important battlefronts of this election.

And Republicans cannot write off the youth vote. A recent poll showed Democrats with a staggering 24-point advantage among 18 to 29 year old voters. Once a generation of voters is lost like this (just think of the New Deal or Reagan Generations) they are extremely difficult to get back. We are under no illusions that a YouTube debate alone can change that, but denigrating the way millions of young Americans live and communicate does not help.

(HT: Terryus commenting on MyDD) I think the Republican party as it currently exists is going to have a very hard time being empowered through "bottom-up grassroots activism". How can authoritarians really empower their base to make real decisions? What if the base wants things that big corporations don't? (Witness the paralysis on immigration reform.) It's been an enormous struggle to for "bottom-up grassroots activism" to change the Democratic party, and there's still so much to do. I think the Republican hill will be even steeper to climb.

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