The GOP's Gettysburg Lost

When Lincoln buried the dead at Gettysburg nearly 150 years ago, he set the gold standard for political speechmaking.

When Lincoln buried the dead at Gettysburg nearly 150 years ago, he set the gold standard for political speechmaking. Fast forward to a new low for the GOP which lost ground just last weekend when the Young Republican National Federation (YRNF) held their convention to elect new officers...

Thirty-eight-year-old Audra Shay’s campaign to become the next chairman of the Young Republicans went from obscure to infamous over the past week, after The Daily Beast revealed details of posts of her Facebook account. Specifically, a thread where one of her friends posts that “Obama Bin Lauden [sic] is the new terrorist… Muslim is on there side [sic]… need to take this country back from all of these mad coons… and illegals,” and Shay responds eight minutes later with: “You tell em Eric! lol.”

Lincoln’s Union Army managed to stop Pickets charge. However the unsung GOP youth opposition against Facebook rants of Southern origin signals that the long battle to create America in Lincoln’s image continues. It’s worth noting this skirmish for three good reasons—one political, one social media and one that would have Lincoln spinning in his grave. First, in the annals of truly national campaigns, there are very few. Not only do presidential campaigns engage the entire nation but also key political party leadership jobs--the DNC and RNC Chairman races for instance, and the national chairs of the Young Democrats and Young Republicans and their junior version--the College Democrats and College Republicans. Second, it’s worth noting this election of a new national Chair because it’s the first verifiable, documented use of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. In the YR national campaign, these electronic tools have done more than influence voters’ awareness and perceptions, they have actually contributed to shaping the outcome of the election by virtue of providing a platform for research—just like newsprint did a hundred years ago. In this very publication, it was lamented by four professionals this month, that we have yet to see a campaign which was “decided” based upon the use of opposition research which includes Facebook texting and Tweets. Well, that can be said no more. The first days of using Facebook as opposition research has passed and it was not pretty. The third important reason to mark this occasion is that in an era when both the president of the Free World and the Chairman of the Republican National Committee are proud examples of American opportunity, it is worth noting that Young Republicans find themselves embroiled in an old, tired and worn out fight about intentions and racist language. They are looking backwards instead of forward. Audra Shay, newly elected scion of Louisiana style politics at the ripe age of 38 stated to the New Orleans Times-Picayune…

I offer no excuse or explanation, only my sincere apology to my family, my friends, and my party -- and most importantly, to all of those who were offended by them. I deeply regret that those same words have conveyed the impression that I harbor racist views and that those views are shared by my party and my supporters.

Dr. Dora Kingsley is founder of Trenton West, a national policy and opposition research firm based in California and Washington, D.C. As an adjunct professor with the University of Southern California’s School of Policy, Planning and Development, Dr. Kingsley has taught graduate coursework for fifteen years and is a lifetime fellow of the congressionally chartered National Academy of Public Administration.

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