BELICH: Republicans Need a Tech 'Manhattan Project' to Win in 2024 and Beyond

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
(The opinions expressed by guest contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

As the 168 members of the RNC assemble in Dana Point, California to decide the future of the Republican Party for the next two years, it’s necessary to make a sober assessment of what’s been failing us for the past several election cycles. Notwithstanding the rantings on Fox News of a geriatric loser who oversaw the utter obliteration of his state party at the hands of the Democrats, the number one job of a political party is to successfully operate the mechanics of electioneering.


That means, above all, the responsibility of every committee of Republicanism, including the RNC, is to see to it that, across the country, more ballots for our candidates end up in the ballot box than for the other guys.

That will not happen unless the Grand Old Party gets serious about its tech deficit and launches a “Manhattan Project” to quickly address it.

How Democrats got past us

From the ‘94 Revolution through the early 2000s, the GOP had the best ground game in the business.  By 2004, the field program, driven by the RNC’s Data Warehouse, built the strongest national majority since 1928.

Then Big Tech happened.

Without going into the history of Big Tech and how it became powerful, it’s important to understand that it did so by developing data collection and data analysis technologies capable of handling data at a scale and complexity several orders of magnitude beyond what had ever been done before.  Out were database tables and in was the social graph. Out was Brand visibility and in was Profile Marketing.

By the 2008 election rolled around, it was possible, nay, standard even, using complex math to construct and data mine a profile representing every single person on Earth… especially YOU. They can model your behavior, infer your choices, predict your actions and eventually, manipulate your choices for any and every product they want to sell, including your vote.

And in that election year, they did. Big Tech freely and openly gave a quantum technological leap to the Obama campaign and Democrats generally. Yes We Can! (know everything about you)

Republican Problems

Democrats Built an Ecosystem

In tech terms, an ecosystem is that collection of companies, organizations, and projects that all work on related goals in the same general direction. Their products often interoperate and frequently share and enrich each other’s data. Ecosystems exist all across technology. Photoshop and its plugins are an ecosystem, as are aftermarket automotive parts and enhancements, for example.

A healthy tech ecosystem is also self-sustaining, in that it generates enough aggregate product traction that it draws investment and a continual stream of new players, new projects, and new innovations from other ecosystems. These new investors, developers, and companies continually refresh a healthy ecosystem with new lifeblood.


After 2008, Democrats took that trillion-dollar gift from the likes of Facebook and Google and turned it into a huge ecosystem of your personal data and your social issues. There are dozens of companies, organizations, and projects available for Democrats and their fellow travelers to manage every aspect of their activism, from communications to fundraising, from socialization to data enrichment.

The Democrat tech ecosystem even created a whole new segment of activism-oriented venture capital, called Impact Investing. These investor-donors prioritize the political mission over profit and rely on the overall health of the ecosystem to generate and maintain valuations. DEI and ESG, major problems now, started as aspects of this novel type of Democrat-biased investment strategy.

Frequently, proof-of-concept funding for ventures will come from nonprofits via stipend grants to individuals. The Reach app, famously developed by AOC’s campaign in 2018, and now the gold standard voter-outreach app among the Democrats is an example of this. After proving its success, Reach developed into a for-profit company with the help of impact venture investing.

With the free flow of investment cash, the Democrat tech ecosystem is able to attract committed, skilled technologists to help them achieve their political ends. These are politically minded, left-wing people, but they’re technologists and engineers first, political operators second.

The RNC under Reince Priebus attempted a venture fund in 2014, but it was little known and generally unsuccessful.  Having largely been shut out of Big Tech by left-wing bias and with little insight into the mechanics of ecosystem success, it’s no surprise the venture experiment failed.

Republicans Stuck: Broken Paradigm, Old Mindset

The Republican party, technologically successful in the before-times, has been caught completely flat-footed in the age of modern profile analytics. To hint at the generational nature of the tech gap, the GOP is stuck in the world of tabular data shaped like Excel spreadsheets and Democrats have moved onto the multidimensional algebra of the social graph.

We’re simply being outclassed.

The root cause of the problem is the technology of past success was built around the 1970s paradigm of direct mail fundraising. In its day, direct mail revolutionized political organizing and issue advocacy. It carried Republican candidates and related organizations aloft for decades. It brought us victories, brought the Majority, and put food on the tables of everyone in the Republican camp.


Don’t change what’s working, right? But what happens when it doesn’t work anymore?

The mechanics of direct mail haven’t translated very well into the online world. Appeal language and upfront response is easily captured by spam filters. Internet providers aren’t obligated like the USPS to carry the mail, and SMS messaging’s strict compliance rules can result in losing access to your own list and even fines negating what you’ve raised.

Also, low response rates incentivize more frequent, and more obtuse (i.e. MAGA 5X MATCH DONATE OR THE BUNNY GETS IT) mailings against larger and larger low-quality prospecting lists, reducing response rates, and goodwill, even further.

Perversely, this paradigm means data quantity is valued greater than data quality, resulting in large lists being treated as an asset in and of themselves and rented blindly at prices wildly in excess of their value.

In a world where data-driven profile marketing is now the norm, list value lies in the quality of the relationship and its common factors. A marketer must predict your likelihood of response using the full amount of data associated with your profile before he approaches you. (BTW, this is exactly how “Big Tech” became a multi-trillion dollar industry.)

The direct mail mindset is not compatible with modern expectations, and it needs to be retired.

Skill Inversion: Misplaced Value and Poor Quality

If you look at the existing Republican ecosystem, the companies within it, and the people running those companies, you very quickly see an undeniable pattern. Political operators everywhere. Political operators doing data analysis. Political operators building technology. Political operators designing interfaces. Resumes filled with campaigns and DC advocacy groups. Resumes filled with poli sci and history degrees. You see lots and lots of political actors branching into technology. What you don’t see are technologists bringing their value into politics. This is an inversion of skill.

Someone who is an expert at canvassing, for instance, might know full well how to effectively automate their existing skills in the existing paradigm into an app, but would otherwise have no concept of how to apply an entirely different approach for a superior outcome. Innovation requires comprehension of technologies and methods from other disciplines and ecosystems outside of one’s direct experience and training.


When facing an adversary that has outclassed you utterly by specifically avoiding that trap, this leads to an equivalent inversion of data quality, as mentioned above, and an inversion of the value-towards-victory the product purports to solve. A political operator can’t effectively oversee or manage a technology project beyond their experience, and when it’s attempted the result is overpriced, mediocre output.

Democrats understand this. Our side does not. Democrat operatives attract talent from the best and most inventive sectors of technology, and Republicans either hire mediocre, overpaid consultant teams, or their buddy with rudimentary coding skills who spends his free time engaged in political drama instead of exploring the capabilities of their code compiler.

Uncorrected, it’s a recipe for failure.

Infrastructure For Victory: Manhattan Project

What is truly remarkable — and proof that God is still on our side — is that despite their extreme advantage in skills, technology, manipulations, and the overt backing and bottomless resources of Big Tech, Democrats can only just barely manage to bring themselves to near electoral parity.

This means it’s not too late.

It means that a well-directed, properly supported, concerted effort by Republicans can build and deploy the tools and machinery needed to bring Republican Values back to its natural place as the dominant political force in American life.

This Republican “Manhattan Project” will need to attract top technologists, take direct responsibility for its most important and impactful tools, build a healthy ecosystem, bring data quality up to modern standards, and do so with the urgency of Victory in mind at all times.

To accomplish this we don’t need to throw money at the problem, or bodies, nor vent despair at the task. With some core development principles, the GOP will spearhead its way to a long-term majority and healthy, persistent, success.

The Democrats operate technology the same way they run their cultural infestation, by running many, many teams, some unwittingly, all in the same direction. We must do the same and bootstrap quickly.  The minimal iterations of victory tools, from all sources, must be publicly viable by no later than this November, preferably September, in order to successfully and securely iterate on features throughout the 2024 campaign year.


Never Outsource Your Core

Elon Musk’s takeover and subsequent purge of Twitter is proof of something that is well-known in tech: adding more people to any project beyond optimal makes that project, or company, slower. For the GOP’s data mission, this means it’s not necessary to hire hundreds of coders and support staff. In fact, doing so would be massively counterproductive.

This means, for the most important projects, development must be handled internally and managed by a relatively small core team of technologists. A handful of lean-and-mean heavy hitters will outperform bloated teams of hundreds every time, and building that core team with top people must be the top priority.

The RNC has traditionally followed a corporate model for its technology needs, meaning it outsources most of its important functions to consulting firms, often without urgency and at a massively excessive price. This traditional method of outsourcing technology needs like a corporate conglomerate with unlimited resources will not work. Using this model, everyone involved gets fat from the trough, yet no one holds responsibility — either for failure or for the vision and conditions for success.

If any outsourcing is needed it should be done on a task or resource basis, and as directed by the Core Team. Coders can manage other coders better than political operators can, and can more easily see through the cruft and expensive padding of billable hours.

Build a Republican Tech Ecosystem

Outside of the core needs and the Core Team, the Republican Party absolutely must encourage and build a competent, healthy technology ecosystem around itself. We don’t have the option of using the ecosystem of the Democrats and ‘traditional’ non-profit organizations (which are also all Democrats).

It’s true that the tech industry is pro-Democrat and anti-Republican. This is due to 50-plus years of Democrat blood libel against us while they conquer literally all of our societal institutions. This also means that the “Big Tech” bias against Republicans is not merely a top-down imbalance. There simply aren’t all that many Republicans in tech and the few who exist fear for their careers in a deep, deep closet.

We have to get clever, and focus on technology — and on the values driving that technology.


With the Core Team developing the tech strategy, the GOP must revisit the tech incubator concept that Reince attempted in 2014. A tech incubator is a protected space where startup teams are encouraged to experiment and innovate toward their product vision and the shared overall mission.

A successful Republican incubator would encourage our closeted allies in tech to put their skills towards our shared values, as well as introduce our donor base to opportunities for “Impact Investments” that match these values with a solid profit motive. It would also extend grants to exceptional developers and aligned Open Source projects.

Data is Everything. Enrichment is Everywhere.

Democrats have been taught by their Big Tech partners that data is so supremely central to winning elections that traditional campaigning is often no longer even necessary. They’re right. As discussed above, it’s now possible to track and manage voters’ preferences at the individual level.

More valuable to us, this technology isn’t locked behind corporate NDAs. Modern data management and curation is generally available across the industry.  These technologies are part of the standard tool kit for a data-oriented developer. In fact, with the advent of “Big Data” tools and distributed analytics, managing the election-relevant data of every single voter in the US is a comparatively small operation compared to the superhuman daunting task of years past.

Data is everything. All other tools for victory flow downstream from data quality. This is the Democrats’ secret sauce and we cannot win without first adequate, high-quality data.

The act of curating, enriching, and validating data from 50 states and 3200+ counties can be easily managed by state and county Republican clubs if provided with adequate tools. In the industry, this curation and enrichment is called Fusion Analysis, and it’s a component of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). A political party is also inherently an intel network… Let’s use it.

Republicanism is the Majority. It’s time to manifest it.

The US Military teaches iterative decision theory as part of its combat operations process, called the OODA loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. The purpose of the OODA loop is to teach operators how to rapidly adjust their actions to the facts as they occur, and to do so “early,” which means not maintaining a course of action when it is no longer working.


The strategy of focusing millions of conservatives on DC dramatics is no longer working. The strategy of Big Money funding Big Media and hoping for Big Turnout is no longer working. The strategy of letting our enemy operate the machinery of elections unchallenged is no longer working. We are the majority. It’s time to win.

Sinistra Delenda Est!

(Jason Belich is a coder, systems architect, and overall technologist stuck behind enemy lines in San Francisco with over 25 years of experience developing mission-critical architectures and systems.)


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