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Young GOP Activists Working to Rebuild Party Online

While much of the Republican establishment bloviates about the injustice of President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of Rep. Rahm Emanuel for his chief of staff, the younger, smarter elements within the GOP are getting to work. Their mission: modernizing the Republican Party by eliminating the structural and technological deficiencies that benefited the Democrats.

At RebuildTheParty.com, a coalition of young GOP operatives, including Patrick Ruffini of The Next Right and Eric Erickson of RedState.com, argue that the key to winning the elections of the 21st century lies in mirroring the Internet-based, grass-roots models established by the Obama campaign and the GOP primary insurgencies of Rep. Ron Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

In addition, their plan calls for the Republican National Committee to develop and adopt the newest technologies to serve their cause, train legions of new campaign workers and activists and focus on fielding a new generation of younger candidates. The coalition hopes to force the RNC to adopt and implement the plan ahead of the 2012 election.

2008 made one thing clear: if allowed to go unchecked, the Democrats’ structural advantages, including their use of the Internet, their more than 2-to-1 advantage with young voters, their discovery of a better grassroots model — will be as big a threat to the future of the GOP as the toxic political environment we have faced the last few years.

The time is now to set in motion the changes needed to rebuild our party from the grassroots up, modernize the way we run campaigns, and attract different, energetic, and younger candidates at all levels[...]

The challenge is daunting, but if we adopt a strongly anti-Washington message and charge hard against Obama and the Democrats, we will energize our grassroots base. Among other benefits, this will create real demand for new ways to organize and route around existing power structures that favor the Democrats. And, you will soon discover, online organizing is by far the most efficient way to transform our party structures to be able to compete against what is likely to be a $1 billion Obama re-election campaign in 2012.

I’m generally not in the business of giving Republicans advice, but I would have to agree that, structurally, adopting the plan is probably the smartest thing the GOP could do right now.

However, it appears to be lacking any recognition that on Tuesday, the American people overwhelmingly rejected the hyper-partisan rhetoric of recent elections. This plan seems to be an effort to double-down on partisanship, and it runs the risk of further alienating the non-conservative base majority of the electorate, which could push the GOP further into the wilderness if Obama has a successful first term.

That said, if the last few election cycles have taught us anything, dating back to the 2004 Howard Dean campaign, it’s that the Democrats have been light years ahead of the Republicans in developing the Internet as a tool for political organizing, communicating and fund-raising.

Progressives would be wise to take note that a new generation of Republicans is well aware of this imbalance and working actively to address it.

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