By: Brian Sikma
Democrats don’t have a monopoly anymore on successful innovation that uses the power of the internet and social media to further a broad based agenda for the country. A key member of the new House Republican leadership team has begun to reach out to the millions of Americans who are skeptical of some of the policies being proposed by the majority party in Congress. Rep. Eric Cantor and his team launched a brand new website at the start of the 111th Congress and it looks more like a campaign website than your traditional, limited interaction official Congressional website.
For years the role of the Whip was to count noses within the Conference and, when and where necessary, convince party members to vote the party line on crucial votes. While that traditional role is still very much front and center for Cantor, his deputy Rep. Kevin McCarthy, and their team, it has been expanded to include an effort that integrates the policy views of the base and the political activism of supporters with the overall whip process. Whereas the past operation of the office was confined to the hallways of Capitol Hill and private meetings and phone calls, this new operation leverages the input and output of Americans who will never work on Capitol Hill and yet have valuable contributions to make to the policy process.
On the Whip’s website you will find the traditional “About”, “Newsroom” and “Contact Us” elements combined with links to Cantor’s Whip Twitter feed, the team’s YouTube page, a blog, and free e-mail subscriptions to such publications as “The Whipping Post”, a summary of expected floor activity detailing days votes are expected on various bills and resolutions. Some of this information is new (Whips in the past never had a Twitter feed), and some of it has been available but just not easily accessible to the average person (the House schedule can be found online, but having it delivered an understandable format to your Inbox is quite a development).
A Republican Whip is limited to working within the bounds of his Conference. He has little influence over members of the opposing party, especially if the Republican party is in the minority. But with the American people allied behind the entire Conference’s effort to present serious, substantive, and positive alternatives, he can leverage grassroots activism that may one day generate a few Democrat votes for Republican proposals.
As Republicans prepare to do what they can while they are in the minority, their most powerful ally lies outside of Washington, D.C. The American people, when presented with the correct information and a compelling argument, agree with the principles of less spending, lower taxes, an economy driven by the people and not managed by the government, and the whole host of other ideals that guide conservative political thinking. To use this ally, however, Republicans must reach out and engage people where they are at. The new Republican Whip Operation does just that.