We’ve been talking so much about technology around here lately that I just had to post this story, despite the fact that it has nothing to do with Arkansas directly.
It seems that the GOP has decided that the best way to increase their odds for taking over the House in November is by promoting their own agenda rather than simply bashing “the Obama agenda.”
Problem: they don’t have an agenda.
Solution: “Hey, let’s use that ‘internetz’ thingy I keep hearing about!”
So on Tuesday, they set out to resolve that shortcoming. They announced that they would solicit suggestions on the Internet, then have members of the public give the ideas a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. Call it the “Dancing With the Stars” model of public policy.
Republicans were very pleased with their technological sophistication as they introduced the Web site, America Speaking Out a ceremony at the Newseum. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who created the program, said that to get software for the site, “I personally traveled to Washington state and discovered a Microsoft program that helped NASA map the moon.”
With such high-tech software, it is no wonder that the GOP leaders have high hopes for the website.
“I would expect the ideas that come out of this Web site and the involvement of our members will lead to ideas that we can attempt to implement today,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) proclaimed. “We want to continue to offer better solutions to address the problems that America is facing, and we see this as a giant step forward, directly engaging the American people in the development of those solutions.”
House Republicans had experimented with reality-show-style policymaking before. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) has been having Internet users vote on which government programs to cut, but that experiment was more tightly controlled.
This one, McCarthy said, would do nothing less than “change the course of history.”
With that kind of hyperbole, one would hope that the website would inspire some fantastic ideas, and it has. If, by “fantastic,” you mean “fantastically hilarious.”
“End Child Labor Laws,” suggests one helpful participant. “We coddle children too much. They need to spend their youth in the factories.”
“A ‘teacher’ told my child in class that dolphins were mammals and not fish!” a third complains. “And the same thing about whales! We need TRADITIONAL VALUES in all areas of education. If it swims in the water, it is a FISH. Period! End of Story.”
Some of the uglier forces of the Internet found their way to the House Republican site. “I oppose the Hispanicization of America,” said one. “These are not patriotic people.” Another contributor had parody in mind (we hope): “English is are official langauge. Anybody who ain’t speak it the RIGHT way should kicked out.”
And, my absolute favorite:
“[W]e need to reframe the discussion” about the BP oil spill to counteract the “environmental whackos” worried about wildlife. Republicans, this person proposed, should argue that “BP is creating a new race of faster dolphins. These fish are unable to compete against the fish of other countries, but now their increased lubrication will allow them to fly through the water. Faster fish = good.”