For more, see this take on the fundamental insincerity of YouCut
Just got a call from a reporter looking for context on the latest pay-attention-to-me trick from House Republicans, announced today by Eric Cantor — they’re now going to allow citizens to vote every week via email or text to pick their favorite from a list of five potential budget cuts, on which the Republican House leadership will then attempt to force a floor vote via parliamentary maneuver. It’s a gimmick, of course. The proposed cuts will be cherry-picked to feature items designed to annoy the conservative base (taken out of context, almost ANY government program can be made to sound stupid), and none of them is likely to pass. Plus, the last time I checked, we don’t DO budgeting by direct democracy, particularly considering how well the budget-by-citizen-initiative process has worked in California.
But it’s a good excuse to email that activist list every week, and if it helps keep the base engaged through the summer (remember that Congress will go out of session early this year to begin campaigning) and recruits a few new potential donors, then it might do them some good. Gimmicks are no substitute for a comprehensive online outreach plan, though, and this initiative also has the secondary effect of opening Republicans up to criticism of their OWN record on the budget — something onto which Democrats were quick to hop. (For an earlier look at Republican crowdsourcing, see this piece on Tim Pawlenty.)
Update: 70,000 names in the first day? Not bad! Of course, we don’t know how many of them are NEW list members, but still. But also still a gimmick…