Over the past week, I've noticed folks having many takes on why the right has not been able to match what the left has created online. There have been many good arguments for the cause of that failure, but I think I've noticed the biggest one that has yet to be discussed.
For years those on the left have bemoaned the fact that conservative talk radio has overtaken the airwaves and helped launch many successful endeavors. They tried at first to create their own talk radio movement, but that flat out collapsed. Their next move was to suggest the bringing back of the archaic 'fairness doctrine'. This also failed, for now.
With no other place to go, hard driven liberal activists went to the only place they really could, online. It was here that they were able to take advantage of the speed of the internet and it's ability to build online communities. They created open transparent web sites where activists were able to be localized, communicate, exchange ideas, and raise money for causes they felt strong about. The result of which is now a technologically savy online liberal machine that is able to pull large numbers of individuals and money to any cause in a matter of hours or days. It's quite a formidable enterprise, and one that should not be underestimated by Republicans focusing on the 'old way' of doing things.
Now it's the conservatives who bemoan the fact that we are the ones being left behind on the net. We're all sitting here now trying to figure out how we can build something similar to counter the online liberal machine. It's my belief, that we have the opportunity to build something to rival our friends on the left, in fact I think we even have an advantage that they never had, and that is the power of talk radio.
I know it's simple to say that, but sometimes the answer to the hardest problem is just a simple answer that's right in front of your face. Talk radio has been right in our face for years, and it's really about time that someone finds a way to take advantage of what we have in it.
When people tell me that the left is kicking our ass online, I've always replied that we were really kicking their ass on the air waves and that if we wanted our own Moveon.org style site, we could have one if talk radio just got behind it. Nothing like that has happened though, and people still just talk about "where's our Moveon?"
For conservatives online, our inability to link with talk radio is comparable to the US Navy heading out to battle without it's feared aircraft carrier battle groups. The Navy's strength and power is primarily built around those battle groups, and they couldn't expect to take the fight to our enemies without them. Conservatives similarily have this in talk radio, yet in no real sufficient way is talk radio's true power being harnessed here on the internet.
Conservative talk radio is our version of the aircraft carrier. Much of our conservative strength is built around it and we use it to project our influence. The liberals wisely fear it's lethal power, yet when it comes to the battle online, we leave them tied up back in the harbor.
To this day, historians debate on what would have happened if the American aircraft carriers weren't at sea during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. It would have been truly catastrophic and left both Hawaii and the west coast almost defenseless. If conservatives were to lose talk radio one day, where would conservatism be?
We have to remember folks, that a big goal of the netroots was to create something to counter our talk radio. If they succeed in sending more liberal Democrats to the House, Senate, and even the White House, they just might wind up sinking talk radio for good by bringing back the Fairness Doctrine.
Yes, it may sound extreme, but when did that ever stop the left?
It's my belief that at some point in time, maybe when circumstances demand so, someone or some group will figure out how to work with the vast talk radio platform and create an online organization that will rival and one day surpass what the left has built online.
When will that be? I don't know, but I hope it's sooner, rathan than later. It's time to bring the massive firepower of talk radio and our best online minds together now before it's too late.
That's just my two cents.
Lane is the founder of the former Blogs For Fred Thompson and currently runs Blogs For John McCain.