As part of its effort to reinvent itself, the Republican National Committee launched a completely redesigned website earlier in the week. The problem is not so much that the website is laughably buggy. Although it certainly was buggy. Not only did it crash during the conference call announcing the launch, but when it launched the “Future Leaders” page was blank, prompting The Daily Show to ridicule the next generation of Republicans as “404 Not Found.” And that was only of a number of other gaffes, which Marc Ambinder catalogs here. As John Cook remarked, the website’s name—”GOP beta”—seemed to unintentionally reveal “a rich metaphorical truth.”
The real problem is that the makeover the Republican Party is attempting is completely superficial. The party isn’t going to change its image by launching a sleek new website or getting a Facebook page, any more than Michael Steele is likely to seem cool by calling his new blog “What up?” It is not enough to declare that the new site “is a forward-looking, open-platform for the party of new ideas”—they have to actually present some new ideas. As Ambinder says, the problem is that the party portrays itself “as something it’s not: diverse and ready to embrace new ideas. That may be what the party leadership aspires to, but, at least when it comes to diversity, a few pictures of Hispanics and African Americans doesn’t make up for … well, the history of the party.” If the Republican Party wants to attract new voters, it will have to put forward a platform that appeals to a broader range of people. The launch of its new website would have been a great opportunity to do just that.