New Video Exposing Obama-Style Health Reform Sets Standard for the Debate

This new health reform video produced by Colorado's Independence Institute (disclosure: my employer) is a great example of combining original research with short, viewer-friendly animation to convey a clear message about the dangers of greater government intervention in our health care.

It tells the story of Oregon's experience with Medicaid rationing, specifically how organized special interest groups were able to use their lobbying power to give higher priority to providing coverage for more politically correct treatments (eg, substance-abuse, birth control, weight loss) while treatments for others got lower priority or no coverage at all.

This video is a sequel to a similar animated piece on Obama Care that highlighted the dangers of health insurance mandates, using the Massachusetts story and a bus hitting

We need to keep framing the story with honest arguments based in real-world policy examples that are easily accessible to everyday voters. Yes, I'm biased, but this is excellent work from a state-level think tank -- I'd like to see more emulating this strategy.

Can We Get Obama to Tell Us What He Thinks of Conservative Objections to His Health Care Proposal?

Given his aversion to the bubble of the presidency, willingness to admit when he screws up, and experience as a professor of constitutional law, it seems fair to conclude that while Obama may disagree with you on a particular issue, he's at least conversant with the counterarguments. Indeed, it's said that a good lawyer—and Obama graduated from Harvard Law magna cum laude—can argue both sides of a case. As such, I think the President would be open to the following question, which I submitted this morning for his upcoming online town hall meeting on health care:

What do you think—without caricature—is the strongest, most serious objection to your health care proposal, and how would you reply?

YouTube says the winning questions will be among the most popular ones, so if you're interested in which conservative criticism is most cogent, why not watch and share the above 16-second video? Let's see if we can replicate what Patrick Ruffini did in 2007 with YouTube's "10 Questions" contest.

Online Video is done right by Gavin Newsom



I don’t really think that any of Newsom’s policies are good.

But I did think that his online video announcing his gubernatorial campaign was great.   Here’s why:



1-   It was Short

For the love of God please NEVER put a video on the Internet that is longer then five minutes.  The shorter the better. 


2-   It was made specifically for the Internet

I have seen far to many candidates and politicians use their youtube channel for reposting entire news conferences, long-winded speeches and news clips. I am not objecting to this material being put up, but online video allows for so much creativity and yet I see so many campaigns just pushing what was already on TV, and what didn’t make it onto TV.     



3-It was professionally produced


Did you notice the upbeat music that fit well with the theme?   The multiple shots?   The flowing story line?   The fact that Gavin speaking was shot specifically for this online video?  The fact that this video had quick edits and was always visually interesting?   The consistent text?  The good sound quality?   

Notice how when you give an intern a $300 camera you got at Best Buy you don’t have any of these things? 

If you want your video to be good, expect to spend a little bit of money on it.  It will still be a tiny fraction of Television CPM.





This video was a very simple announcement:


San Francisco is doing great under my leadership.

I’m running for governor.

I’m liberal.

Join the Campaign. 


5-It spoke to a target audience.

Every time an online video is made there should be a specific target in mind: past donors, potential donors, gun owners, the media, young voters ect.


The target for this video was elite voters (voters that are informed and who’s political opinions are valued by their friends, family and neighbors) of the Democratic party, who will defiantly vote in the primary.


What did the video say to this very liberal group?

-I have little regard for the English language.

-Extremist government environmental policies create jobs.

-Government health care is wonderful and affordable because of me.

-Minorities like me.

-Government creates jobs that pay a “living wage”.

These are all things that the target audience wanted to hear.


6-It was used to in conjunction with the media.

The media talked about his video.  The story was about how he is cutting edge, and high tech.  As opposed to the story being about his problems: the failure of prop 8, his personal issues, ect.  He created the frame as opposed to letting the media frame him.


7-It was used in conjunction with the rest of his campaign.

The video promoted campaign stops he was going to be making up and down California.  And it asked people to “Join” his campaign (donate or volunteer).  


8-It was used in conjunction with other Internet properties.

Gavin twittered the video (where he has over 421,000 followers), put it on his facebook (where he has 50,000 supporters), his website (which gets more then 7 times the traffic of all his gubernatorial competitors combined), and he put it on the Huffington Post (where he is a regular contributor).

Online video must work hand in hand with every e-platform you have at your disposable to ensure proper distribution.


9-Awesome subliminal messaging!

“Stop looking back and start looking for solutions.”

“We can’t afford to keep returning to the same old tired ideas and expect a different result.”

“We need new ideas and bold fresh innovative solutions.”


Jerry Brown is older then dirt.



Bryan Barton is a political consultant based in Sacramento specializing in online video.

You can email him at

Or check out his videos he has made for Congressman Tom McClintock, The San Diego County GOP, and the Tea Parties at


Barack Obama Stole Your Future

Kerry on tax cuts via Jim DeMint

I'll file this under "reasons why I am glad George W. Bush won a second term."

Interestingly, this is from Sen. Jim DeMint's YouTube channel. Are we seeing a new trend in politicians using social media to directly engage in arguments and conversation with and about their colleagues? I think it's a great move for conservatives, Republicans, and Americans.

DeMint's proven himself this Congress to be the most reliable conservative voices in the Senate, and his online effort to get his message out is pretty cool to see. It reminds me of what Rep. Buck McKeon is doing over on the House side: taking advantage of technology to serve the people in new ways.

Video is great way to reach people, let them know what their colleagues are doing and saying up on Capitol Hill. DeMint's YouTube channel has the feel of a local townhall meeting back in the district or state, but done through the power of the Internet so that everyone can access the information. There are floor speeches, media appearances, and handheld camera responses to see what's going on in the Senate. Keep it coming, I say.

Mike Warren blogs daily at Vandy Right.

Challenges to a Wiki White House

Right there with expectations to redirect the nation’s slumping economy and achieve miraculous Middle East peace, are the expectations for a new generation of openness and transparency from the Barack Obama White House.

Recently, I joined a panel called “Wiki White House” hosted by the New America Foundation and Wired magazine as the token conservative.  More a pragmatist than a dreamer, I reveled in the opportunity to highlight where the Obama team’s efforts at openness should be lauded and where they should be met with a skeptical eye. 


1. Updating the antiquated weekly radio address format by offering it on YouTube.  The Bush White House broke ground by offering the weekly radio address as a downloadable podcast, but the times call video.  I’d place my bets on the Bush White House offering a YouTube version of the address had he taken office in 2008, but unfortunately many Republican (and Democratic) Senators and Governors are still afraid to go there).

2. Accepting submissions for ideas to improve health care (presumably followed by other key issues).  Even after the FISA debacle – where Obama’s supporters used his own campaign website to protest his position – the Obama team recognizes that the American people want a stake in the process of shaping their man’s positions and policies.   

3. Opening up comments on the White House YouTube channel (itself a new addition, although as of this post, Minority Leader John Boehner’s YouTube response to the weekly address had not been approved).
 4. Prioritizing continued communication to and engagement of the 13 million people signed up for email and the 3 million participants. (much to conservatives’ dismay…more on that later)

5. Easy-access specific agenda items on nearly two-dozen issues on

6. Forming a Technology Innovation and Government Reform (TIGR, pronounced like the Winnie the Pooh character) team for the transition.  


1. Deleted Blagojevich comments on  What standard will the White House apply to user-submitted comments?  A pre- or post-censorship model forces the White House (and any agencies who follow suit) into assuming responsibility for every comment up there.  Once you delete one comment, you effectively say the remaining comments are acceptable.  Removing a comment from a campaign site is the campaign’s prerogative; campaigns are public.  Removing a comment from a government site, namely the White House, opens one up to potential First Amendment infringements.

2. Executive orders signed before opening to public comment (or merely giving a heads up). Being transparent about sweeping executive orders before singing them is more important than providing an inside look at the whistlestop tour taking Obama to DC for the inauguration.

3. Whether we will see more meetings opened up via YouTube video.  (These types of videos hint that we will, but as tough decisions are made, will the White House be as willing to pull back the curtain to the public?)

4.  Whether true transparency will come along with prompts for mass participation.  The briefing book effort through asked for input on policy to be catalogued in a briefing book for the new President.  Yet, input is the first step, collaboration is the next.  Will the public’s ideas be considered in policy meetings, or was the briefing book effort a gimmick? A true collaborative effort would call for the White House to post the outline of a policy proposal, and invite input Wiki-style, then posting the final product for collaborators to see the fruits of their labor.

5. If you do allow mass participation, how do you ensure the conversation is not dominated by a loud, angry minority without censorship? On one hand, the loud and the angry can discourage participation by the engaged, yet tempered. On the other hand, if the administration demonstrates that active participation matters, that ideas from the rank-and-file are considered and folded in, the often inactive have an incentive to collaborate.  And what about the bi-partisan approach President Obama has promised?  If the Obama for America group will be depended on to act as grassroots lobbyists for the administration’s agenda, doesn’t that give grossly unbalanced influence to political, partisan activists?

6. Despite the demands of open government advocates on the Left who worked stumped their heart out for Obama, the administration has yet to announce a senior White House level CIO or CTO.  Who is leading the technology innovation charge? This video demonstrates that the administration is taking tech innovation and government reform seriously, but they’ve yet to give a reason as to why no CIO, and given the power Obama is amassing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a White House-level official would be preferable to a Cabinet position by the open government crowd.

7. Finally, while the Obama administration’s overtures to focus on tech innovation and government reform win them mad props by the media and Obamamaniacs, will they overlook the basics?  When a blog that strikes a partisan, propagandistic tone serves as the only source for White House happenings, it’s beginning to look like they will.  Where are the press releases and the speeches? 

The question the Wiki White House event sought to answer: what happens when “change” meets the obstacle of bureaucracy in governance? This is a question certainly that the Obama administration grapples with – with power brings the pressure to control ones environment.


Despite the challenges, we should expect for a White House that focuses more on transparency, open, collaborative governance and technology innovation than any other.   

Yet, if and when they falter, it’s the minority party’s job to hold the vehicles of power accountable.  Yet, we must do so by setting an example, not as hypocrites.  We can't let bureaucracy be an excuse; we must challenge the status quo like John Culberson did when he started tweeting from the House floor and House Republicans did by refusing to let the majority ban linking out to YouTube and other social media from House web properties.  We can’t ask of the Obama administration what our own fail to offer.

One man’s challenges are another man’s – or party’s -- opportunity. 

Will the Republicans Have a YouTube Response to the President's Saturday Address?

Okay, so here's a question. Two months ago, Barack Obama made the entirely obvious and predictable move to put his Saturday address as President-elect on YouTube, something we can expect to see continue this week as President. It's understandable that George W. Bush didn't break with eight years of precedent to follow suit, but now that they've had two months to prepare, will the customary Republican response also be by YouTube, or will it be radio-only, setting up an unfortunate contrast between a 21st century President and a 20th century opposition? 

If you think we have more important things to worry about, like the stimulus or health care, I agree with you. I think it's silly to have a debate over whether the address should be on radio or the Internet, and that's exactly what the unforced error of sticking with the outmoded radio address will provoke. Does anyone know anyone who actually listened to the radio addresses anyway? Even when I listened to talk radio, I only ever saw them replayed on cable news, and so a video format would work much better there.

Hopefully whoever is coordinating this, which I assume is some combination of House & Senate leadership, will have gotten the memo now that they've had two months to prepare. At noon tomorrow, we can expect to see the most open ever, likely with a blog and YouTube channel -- with many of the restrictions on Executive Branch web activity conveniently reinterpreted or eventually done away with by Executive Order in a couple of days. Obama will bring the new media savvy of his campaign to the White House, with an eye towards doing to Republicans in governing what he did to them campaigning. We need to be ready.

This isn't the end of the world, but optics do matter in situations like these. Stephen Harper hanging on as Prime Minister in Canada can be chalked up to at least partly to a media flub like this one. At the height of the parliamentary crisis last month when the Liberal-NDP coalition had the votes to oust Harper's Conservatives, Liberal leader Stephane Dion went on television with a poorly produced and widely criticized tape-delayed rebuttal to Harper that was a factor in his early removal as Liberal leader. The new leader, Michael Ignatieff, has been noticeably cooler to the idea of a coalition.

So let's not have a needless round of stories about Republicans being behind in tactics and technology, shall we? Let's keep the focus on ideas by avoiding needless bad publicity and bringing our communications strategies into the 21st century.

RNC Virtual Forum has teamed up with YouTube to bring you the first RNC candidate virtual forum.  The campaign for RNC Chairman has been refreshingly open and transparent as we consider the candidates that are running to lead our GOP.  The forum will continue in this direction of decentralizing the Republican Party and enable you, the Party faithful, to have a stronger voice in this process.

  • Get your camera out. Don't worry if it's not the latest and greatest HD flip cam.
  • Upload your video.
  • Vote up – or down -- your peers' questions.

The election is right around the corner (January 30th) and this will be your last opportunity to engage the six candidates that want to lead our Party.  The top ten questions will be presented to the candidates and they are encouraged, and expected, to answer all ten questions. 

Are We On the Verge of a Rightroots Movement?

It’s been a while since I’ve heard chatter on the blogosphere about building a Rightroots movement (I last commented on it at the end of October). However, over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a number of major developments that suggest we might be on the verge of establishing a true and effective Rightroots movement.

When John Hawkins wrote about this topic, he noted that (emphasis added):

One of the biggest problems online — and this extends outside of the blogosphere — is that there are far more liberals online than conservatives and they’re much more enthusiastic.

Because of that, huge websites that can drive a lot of traffic like Digg, Fark, and YouTube have come to be dominated by liberals, even though they aren’t liberal per se.

Over the past few months, some great minds on the Right – people like Patrick Ruffini, Mindy Finn, Eric Odom, and Michael P. Leahy – have taken the lead in organizing conservatives online. As a result, I believe we’re witnessing a substantial increase in both online participation and enthusiasm among the Rightosphere. Although we haven’t fully established ourselves on Digg or YouTube (yet), we have taken Twitter by storm – and establishing a significant conservative presence on other websites may be coming very soon.

And so without further ado, I wanted to take a highlight a few fantastic websites/projects that have come to fruition since the election that are helping to organize a Rightroots movement. If you’re not already active with them, you should definitely check them out and consider getting involved.

  1. Rebuild the Party – When Patrick Ruffini and Mindy Finn initially started Rebuild the Party, it was simply a forward-looking plan for the Republican Party (albeit a phenomenal plan that I have enthusiastically endorsed). However, it has since blossomed into a substantial movement. Over 7,000 people, mostly ordinary citizens, have endorsed the plan. All but one of the candidates for RNC Chair has publicly announced their support for it. And over 2,100 folks have jointed the Rebuild the Party Action Network. This is a very strong showing of the Rightroots who are clearly looking to rebuild after the devastating results of the 2008 election.
  2. News Platoon and DiggCons – A number of folks, led by Eric Odom, launched the #dontgo Movement in response to the Congress’ unwillingness to pass offshore drilling legislation in August. And although #dontgo remains the umbrella organization, Eric has recently released a number of notable new spin-off projects. One of them, News Platoon, is building a state-by-state grassroots network that offers “REAL news stories across” a given state. New Platoon’s first state, Tennessee, is in beta. The other project that Eric just today released, Diggcons, is aiming to even the conservative hand on Digg, where for the most part the Right is held to a whisper.
  3. Top Conservatives on Twitter – Michael P. Leahy started Top Conservatives on Twitter as “a rallying point for conservatives on Twitter.” The #tcot hash tag has been one of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter for weeks now. The list started out with no more than a few hundred names; it has since ballooned to nearly 2,000 users, and 15 RNC members have signed up on Twitter.

With websites and projects like these springing up across the nation, I truly believe that we are witnessing a new conservative online movement. We may not yet have established a true Rightroots movement, but I am starting to think that we are getting very close. A critical next step will be using peer production and mass collaboration to our advantage.

Medium of the Moment

Patrick Ruffini has excellent advice this morning for campaigns: go multi-channel.  His point is that when you do "new media" you better make sure you do ALL new media. I believe there's one more element we need to throw into the mix: timing.

More on this soon.  


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