Traveling to New Orleans for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference was a fun experience, in many ways because I spent time with some of the folks I interact with online. When you are a blogger or work in new media, it’s rare you get to put a face with an email address, Twitter handle or Facebook page. But my Internet friends came alive once again, as they did during CPAC. Each time we convene for one of these conservative or Republican conferences, our bonds thicken, our message strengthens and our effectiveness increases.
Blogging and social networking isn’t new anymore but by historical standards, it is. The foundation we have been building in the past few years will serve as a powerful tool in keeping conservative principles alive and electing Republican leaders. How our cross-national relationships will effect future political influence is yet to be seen but it will definitely be important.
The characters on bloggers row during these conferences often include familiar faces but each time, there are some new ones. This year, I was privileged to meet some new folks, including Nice Deb, Rick Moran of Pajamas and Matt Armstrong.
I got to hang out with some of my favorite bloggers too, like my friends Melissa Clouthier, Tabitha Hale, Jillian Bandes and Ed Morrissey. At a special blogger event after a long Friday, folks like Andrew Breitbart, Anita Moncrief, Bill Smith, Soren Dayton, Stacy McCain, Jeff Blanco and Paul Croteau gathered for some amazing New Orleans originals like jumbalaya, fried catfish and cornbread muffins.
When I gather with my blogger friends in person, I feel more connected to them. Information sharing, link favors, valuable introductions and the ability to create excitement about a new idea or candidate becomes more fluid as we come to trust one another. We are the information drivers, clogging up the Internet tubes, starting viral videos, making grassroots activism come alive. National media take notice and politicians recognize the power we hold as a messaging platform infiltrated throughout the country.
Thankfully, the GOP gets it. Almost every event features special invites for bloggers, with VIP access and exclusive interviews with high profile individuals. House and Senate Republicans dominate Twitter, Facebook and blogging — communicating regularly with the new media activists messaging in the battle online. The conservative movers and shakers online are fairly young, offering a future of real opportunity and growth.
I loved hearing from Sarah Palin, Mike Pence, Michael Steele, Bobby Jindal, Newt Gingrich and more. But being with conservative bloggers in action – some of the most politically impassioned folks I’ve met – was the best part. Almost all of those I deal with are principled, accurate, dedicated and entertaining. They hold our politicians accountable, keep the eye of the news in the right place and rally the troops when it’s crunch time. They are the secret weapon.