In the months that followed last November's losses, conservatives did their share of soul searching and looked for ways to counter and improve on the left's success. Today, their labors are beginning to bear fruit. Ruffini's and All's websites strive for a similar goal: to give the right the same tools that already exist on the left, enhancing them for the next level of Internet activism.
"Republicans needed a serious and trustworthy counter to ActBlue," Ruffini told me. "We keep hearing from donors that they don't want their money going to candidates who aren't where they are on immigration or spending. Rightroots is the answer for Republicans and conservatives who want to support candidates in tune with their values."
In a case like Ogonowski's campaign, supporters didn't have to write a check to the National Republican Congressional Committee. Instead, they could log on to Rightroots and send him a donation. "Supporting your favorite candidate will be as easy as buying a book off Amazon.com or a song off iTunes," Ruffini said.
Slatecard was founded on the notion that conservatives identify with issues. The site gives the community the ability to assign "issue badges" to a particular candidate, making it easy to see which candidates share the same values, hence the name Slatecard. All and business partner Sendhil Panchadsaram have come up with 26 "issue badges" that users can associate with a candidate. Rudy Giuliani, for instance, has badges for "Defeat Radical Islam," "Social Centrists" and "Tax Simplification."
"Slatecard is what ActBlue would look like today if it was created in 2007 in a Web 2.0 world," All said. The site allows users to connect with candidates on a variety of social networking websites, making it a one-stop destination. It also employs a ticker function to see what's happening in real time.
After listening to months of carping by the online right, Ruffini and All have responded to the call for action. Their new creations won't bring instant parity to online fundraising, but after years of lagging behind the left, Rightroots and Slatecard are showing signs of not only catching up but breaking new ground. Maybe soon the left will want to emulate them.
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