Paint Silicon Valley Red — the Republican Party Needs Nerds
Losing any demographic or group of people carries broader implications, usually beyond that particular group.
For instance, the gender gap allows a Democratic fundraising and messaging edge; Painting Republicans as “anti-immigrant” hinders potential Republican outreach in minority communities, reducing entire sections of states from contention. Liberals caught insulting Bible-believing Christians and Appalachian voters have put millions of voters outside of the Democrats’ reach. Parties must also accept that they are oftentimes bound to, and penalized for, the voiced ideologies of commentators in the pundit-class.
Some of these perceptions carry little intellectual truth, but in politics, perception is reality. This governing motto should be coupled with something I frequently remind my colleagues: voters rule at the end of the day.
Much of what is happening is cultural. That being said, converts and skeptics alike make decisions based off what they perceive.
Republicans must choose a few key demographics and go on the offense. One of those fronts must be Silicon Valley.
Ebay’s Meg Whitman, Hewlett-Packard’s Carly Fiorina, and former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner are all from the old guard in Silicon Valley and have stepped up to the plate, donating money, time, and putting their names on the ballot (in the failed state of California). Then there are GOP-friendly donors, also from the old guard, like Michael Dell, Scott McNealy, Tim Armstrong, Steve Ballmer, Larry Ellison, and libertarian Peter Thiel. However, Republicans are losing small government minds like TechCrunch.com founder Michael Arrington, again, because of perception.
Businessman Mitt Romney may have done some good in the Valley, but failed Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and the lot of them are weighing the scales against Romney’s venture capital background and Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Ca.) impressive work in the House.
The new guard governs most. It lives on Facebook, Google, and Twitter where mainstream culture is made and destroyed, with their executives and engineers acting as curators or guardians of this sacred melting pot.
Losing this generation of Valley minds would not be just another missed opportunity; it would work as a net negative against the party in its entirety. Republicans would instantly be pinned against entrepreneurs, a group of people generally seen as friendly supporters.
Nerds are kings. The world is governed online, then transmitted offline. Nerds for Obama exists… and it’s cool! The GOP needs blog publishers making the some ridiculous memes and animated GIFs of Democratic gaffes as are made of Republican gaffes. It needs graphic artists on Deviantart.com making idols of Reagan, Coodlidge, and our small government heros. And it needs new ways to organize and mobilize those sympathetic to the message of individual freedom over collective government suffering.
Engineers helped the Obama campaign completely retool its data, volunteer management, GOTV, its — everything effort. And what happened when they got top talent? They built a first-rate machine. They beta-tested, they built, they dared, they dreamed, and they executed. These are methods that only some campaigns are doing far too infrequently. There was no failed ORCA episode with the Democrats. Or denial afterward. Ugh.
Republicans need, and are the right choice for the Valley.
Largely, GOP policy positions are appealing to these young vibrant minds. Republicans are pro-legal immigration, and harbor, more specifically, a strong desire to increase the number of highly skilled workers and experts that are let in, as well as increasing H1B visas.
While the debate over net neutrality wages on, conservatives have a compelling case to keep any new regulations off the Internet, and have successfully prevented legislation that favors large established tech powers (powers which Democrats have been pushing for years, despite a steady chant of doom and gloom accompanied by a message of fear, saying that users’ ISPs will cut them from websites they rely on like Google’s search engine or Netflix).
Republicans are widely accepted as being more small business and entrepreneur friendly, proposing and implementing a series of legal and tax benefits and protections. Intellectual property has been fiercely protected in the United States by both parties; however, a conversation over copyright law has been raging on for decades, and it has been an international one.
Countries like Brazil have a wealth of creativity and content, with few rights protecting the creator, prompting some here to question the paradigm of balance between protecting the inventor and promoting innovation on first-gen material.
Democrats stand with Hollywood over the most stringent of protections, refusing to evolve with more humans sharing more information than in all of history combined.
The conservative-wing of the House Republicans, the Republican Study Committee (RSC), recently published a policy brief encouraging a visit back to the drawing board on copyright laws that might get some online content publishers and innovators happy.
During the editing phase of this piece, the RSC’s Executive Director Paul S. Teller relented and pulled the brief. Did I mention we have a credibility problem? Or that Republicans are seen as the party protecting big business (for example, say Hollywood)?
Targeting the Valley and its cousins, Austin and Dallas, Texas, Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan, Seattle, Washington, and, New Yor… well, maybe not New York city… the party can start building relationships, and more importantly, a perception about the brand. Earning votes, funding, and friendships must be followed by recruiting and innovating this crucial demographic.
Republicans cannot afford to wait for another Al Gore “I invented the internet” moment. They don’t need to restart or do a system restore, but must aggressively plot a plan and establish a presence in hopes of making strides in Silicon Valley.
I volunteer to go spread the gospel.