The site provides a forum for a broad, public discussion of the GOP’s agenda, in a similar vein to the Administration’s Open for Questions, or the RNC’s previous effort to open its platform to broad participation.
This effort is a bit different, though. Unlike Open for Questions, it’s intended to be an ongoing, permanent forum. And, unlike many other similar efforts connected to campaigns, this is not an electoral effort, but an official site made by Republican leadership in the House. The site reflects the nature of party leadership in Congress — official, but not non-partisan, ideological, but not campaign-related.
Perhaps most interesting about this effort is the attempted balance between top-down control and bottom-up participation. Erring too far in either direction could lead to either a cacophonous free-for-all, or a list of press releases. Here’s the site’s explanatory statement, which suggests a balanced approach:
This site was developed by House Republicans as part of an official effort to increase the dialogue between Americans and their Congress. Here, Americans are provided a new platform to share their priorities and ideas for a national policy agenda. As Republicans, we are committed to our principles of limited, more accountable government; economic freedom; lower taxes; fiscal responsibility; protecting life, American values, and the Constitution; and providing for strong national security. This is an open forum, however, where all Americans are welcome to respectfully offer their opinions, regardless of party affiliation and whether we endorse them or not. It is our hope the active engagement of the American people will produce a robust debate that will aid in the construction of a new American agenda.
Better tools for listening are in everyone’s interest, and House Republicans deserve credit for a forward looking experiment with public dialog online.