22 August 2009

Drive The Discussion Exchange '09

From a short little advertising spot on Facebook, I found a link to Drive The Discussion, a website focusing on young Republicans and how to revitalize and refresh the look of the Republican party. Pretty cool concept, I guessed, because the stereotype is that Democrats are supposed to be young and hip, while Republicans are old and stuffy. Case in point - the candidates for the 2008 Presidential Election.

They were holding an "Exchange," a discussion-based event sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida on August 22nd, 2009. Since it was being held 15 minutes away from me, why not attend something like this? It was free, it was on a Saturday, and it was important to me. I never thought I would learn so much and be as motivated towards my future and the party I support after having attended this event.
It was being held at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL and I got there right on time at 10AM, and found out the speakers didn't go on until 1PM, but we were free to hang out, talk to other young Republicans aged 18-35, check out booths, etc. They had some cool raffles, t-shirts,frisbees and other freebies, and I was interested in what was going on and what we were going to hear.

At 1PM, the speakers started giving their brief speeches about who they were and why they were young conservatives. We heard from former Miss California / Miss USA first runner up Carrie Prejean, who, as you can see from this video, maintains her conservative position against gay marriage, something that most likely cost her the Miss USA crown. Also, 14 year old Jonathan Krohn, author of Define Conservatism (at age 13!), and one of the most politically educated young adults I have ever met.

We then heard from Todd Herman, Director of New Media for the Republican National Committee, and learned about how to get the message out about our views online - NOT through Facebook and Twitter (which aren't searched through Google searches), but through blogs like this very one you are reading! Facebook and Twitter are great for spreading the word amongst friends, unless you are one of my friends who hate hearing about politics, but they just don't get searched, and therefore, as was the case and still is, they don't help spread the word enough towards people looking for answers online. So get yourself a blog and start getting your views out there for others to hear!

Here's an example Todd produced - search "obama ama rejected" in Google, do this for yourself, I'm not providing a link to it, and see what you come up with. Notice the headline from the (currently) 4th listing by the "All Barack Channel" as Todd called it:

AMA Straddles the 'Public Plan' Option

Doctors' Group Remains Wary of Government-Based Health Care Option

Now how condemning does this sound towards the truth that the American Medical Association outright rejected Obama's plan? How does this even point the finger at Obama, or even the AMA, directly? Why are they so lax on Obama's plan towards FREE (read: socialized) HEALTH CARE, but just searching the word "Palin" on Google brings you to some of the most damning, offensive, ridiculous websites the internet has to offer, right at the top of the list! The point is, you have to search for quite some time to find anything controversial on Obama, using many different search terms to get you there, but just put in any Republican's name and voila, plenty of anti-conservative websites abound!
You can even follow Todd on Twitter like I am! My Twitter link is right here, in case you missed the new link to it on the menu bar on my main page - you must be granted permission to follow me though. Next, we got to hear from Matthias Shapiro (website | Twitter), creator of the 10,000 pennies video in which he visually represents how the Obama administration needs 90 days to figure out how to take $100M out of a $3.5T budget. Check out his other videos here and learn something about politics at the same time! He was even invited to Washington to meet with Michael Steele for his video, and a cool video of him during that event with Todd Herman can be found here.

Next we got to hear a panel discussion from young members of the Republican party talking about ways to get people active in politics and how they became interested in politics. Ranging from a CEO of a tech company who just found politics to be valuable to a 26 year old female lawyer running for mayor of Fort Myers, FL. Even young Jonathan Krohn from earlier got to speak more about his views, very powerful stuff for any age group!

Then the Exchange '09 came to an end with motivational and inspirational speaker Bruce Jenner. Aside from being known by the gossip crowd as the step-father to the Kardashians, namely Kim who he said was the most Google'd name on the internet, he was the gold medalist in the 1976 Olympic Games for the Decathlon. He talked about reasons why he gave up so many years of his life to be the best in the world at doing something like winning the gold medal in the Olympics. Why would someone not work and focus on becoming a superstar in ten different events for the decathlon? Very powerful speech and had a great message for young Republicans to get motivated in things they believe wholeheartedly in.

While getting to meet and hear from such powerhouses as Jim Greer and Charlie Crist, the event was really focused on the younger crowd. Greer, while speaking to Crist, asked what demographic was the most important to pay attention to for the next election. Minorities, women, lower class, etc were all important demos, but one thing a lot of those have in common to are young adults, 18-35. They are the ones who played the most important role in the 2008 Presidential Election, and therefore must be a source of focus for the future.

This was a great event and I hope to participate in more just like it!