July 11, 2010

Steve Benen wrote about this latest Republican gimmick last month where the GOP is pretending that they actually want to listen to everyday Americans to help mold their policy agenda. As Steve asked in his post in June...

So, how's that going?

Its stated purpose is to provide people with "a new platform to share their priorities and ideas for a national policy agenda." ... But the project's usefulness in shaping a Republican agenda is questionable.

Last week, the top five entries in the "Liberty and Freedom" category were: ban handguns, "drop the idea that we're a 'Christian' country," declare abortion "none of the government's business," allow gays to serve openly in the military and legalize marijuana.

Republican leaders mentioned none of these when they began highlighting proposals from the project.

You don't say.

The Republican spokesperson on the initiative said party officials "are plucking out ideas" they like. "It's not a 'top vote gets in'" deal, he said.

That's not unreasonable, I suppose -- no one ever said this was some kind of game-show -- but it raises questions anew about why the gimmick exists in the first place. The ideas faring well on the Republicans' website are ideas Republicans don't like, so they're ignoring them. Fine. But why bother with a website at all if the party is only going to accept policies it already approves of?

And as Matt Finkelstein noted, Boehner Should Broadcast Lobbyist Meeting On "America Speaking Out" Website:

Yesterday, Roll Call reported that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) will meet with an elite group of lobbyists next week to hear “their suggestions for a new GOP agenda.”

The meeting, which is scheduled for July 16, is hardly surprising on its own. Republican lawmakers have habitually huddled with lobbyists to formulate their opposition to President Obama’s policies, so it’s only natural that they would take a similar approach to crafting their own platform.

It is, however, astounding that Republicans have the nerve to hold a private meeting with lobbyists under the guise of “America Speaking Out” — the party’s feckless initiative to solicit ideas from the American public.

None of that kept them from having Rep. Phil Gingrey continue to plug their gimmick in this week's Republican Weekly Address.

Transcript below the fold.

Hello, I’m Doctor Phil Gingrey, and I work for the people of Georgia’s 11th Congressional District.

Americans are fed up with how things are going in the country right now. They see more job losses, rising debt, and plummeting home sales. They feel let down by a government that passes one 2,000-page, trillion-dollar law after another instead of focusing on addressing the problems Americans worry about every day.

Republicans are listening and offering better solutions that get Washington out of your way, out of your pocket, and back on your side.

Just look at jobs. President Obama and Democrats in Washington are still trying to convince Americans that their trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ is working. But our economy has lost more than three million private sector jobs since February 2009. During that same time period, the federal government has actually grown by more than 400,000 jobs. More government, fewer jobs – that’s not recovery, those aren’t results, they’re just more of the same broken promises. Republicans are offering specific proposals to cut spending now. We can provide the fiscal discipline economists say is needed to create private-sector jobs and boost our economy.

Americans are calling for a return to common sense in how we solve problems – and how the people communicate with their government. Because even though the world is becoming more connected through the web, mobile apps, and social media, our government is growing more out of touch, doing an awful lot more talking than listening.

That’s why Republicans have launched America Speaking Out, a new project that is revolutionizing the way we govern by engaging the American people and seeking your ideas for making things better.

The hub of this unprecedented initiative is an innovative web forum – AmericaSpeakingOut.com – that allows you to submit your ideas for a new agenda, regardless of what party you’re affiliated with. Once you post an idea, it is then debated, discussed, and voted on. Republican lawmakers are also sharing their ideas and putting together new proposals based on your feedback.

We’re also taking America Speaking Out to your communities by holding town hall meetings in rooms just like this to get a real, face-to-face dialogue going about what we need to do to turn things around. I hosted one such event earlier this week at a senior center in the town of Rome, Georgia. The conversation was spirited, the kind you’ve probably participated in yourself recently – with people asking why we are spending so much and getting so little in return, with folks pleading for the president to stop doubling down on policies that are hurting instead of helping.

One father stood up and said ‘my family has to budget, so why isn’t Washington?’ A small business owner said he’s still struggling to figure out whether he’ll be able to continue providing health insurance for his nine employees after the government takeover of health care. But what got everyone nodding was a World War Two veteran who stood up and said ‘I don’t believe my children and grandchildren will enjoy the same freedoms and the same prosperity that I have enjoyed.

Americans are proud of this country, they want to see things get better, and they want to be part of that turnaround. That’s what America Speaking Out is all about.

“o I hope you will take this opportunity to visit AmericaSpeakingOut.com and contact your representative to find out about upcoming America Speaking Out town halls in your area.

“Thank you so much for listening.”

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