House Republicans plan online community, to find a voice and set the tone

By Perry Bacon Jr. and Paul Kane, The Washington Post

Called “America Speaking Out,” the site borrows from the approaches of popular Web sites such as Wikipedia and Starting this week, people will be able to go to, submit ideas, rate those of others, and post their comments on Facebook and Twitter through the site.

The most prominent users will earn “badges,” thoughthe GOP has not yet determined what rewards people could get. House Republicans also will go on the site and interact with users. Up to a dozen staff members will be monitoring the Web site, party aides said, both to keep it running properly and to filter out inappropriate messages.

The Web site formally starts the GOP’s process of touting its own vision and policies to voters, after spending most of the last 16 months bashing President Obama and congressional Democrats.

And Republicans, aware that some of the anti-Washington fervor among the public is aimed at both parties, don’t want to simply put out a formal agenda without buy-in from voters, particularly conservatives. So, along with the site, House Republicans will hold town hall meetings around the country starting next week. They want to use this process to get ideas for the “Contract With America”-style policy document they are set to release closer to the election, which would list principles and proposals that Republicans would adopt if they won control of the House.

“Will there be items on this page that we disagree with? Yeah,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), a member of the House Republican leadership and one of the initiative’s architects. “But this is about an open discussion of the ideas. One of the biggest problems is no one believes anybody in Washington is listening.”

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