The Supreme Court will announce a series of decisions about the constitutionality of the health insurance law passed in 2010 later this month, and House Republicans are planning an experimental online effort to gin up renewed support for repeal.
The campaign, brainchild of National Republican Congressional Committee Digital Director Gerrit Lansing, takes a fresh approach to old-school petitioning, one that combines social media gizmos with a retro tech twist. (Part of the plan involves a computer printer that has its own Twitter account. Follow along if you can.)
Here's how it will work: On Thursday, the NRCC will roll out a series of brief videos featuring GOP lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, urging users to sign an online petition to repeal the health care law. On the screen, Republican online strategists have added a Quick Response Code to each video that directs viewers to wave a smart phone over the code, which will take them to an "I Want Repeal" Tumblr page. (In one video, the QR code is cleverly placed on the bottom of Sessions' shoe, which is perched atop the desk in the NRCC office.)
On the Tumblr page, users will find a 90-second rapid-fire video explaining the Supreme Court case—told from a purely Republican perspective—that calls on viewers to sign the petition.
Signers will then be directed to a live video of a computer printer—yes, an actual printer—inside the NRCC office on Capitol Hill where they will watch their name printed in real time on a paper petition.
The printer even has its own Twitter account, @nrccprinter, which will tweet out an announcement that you signed the petition, so long as you have a Klout score over 40. (Klout is an online service that measures online influence.)
Lansing described the process as an "an earned-media petition funnel that provides people an experience online with creative things that politics hasn't seen before."
"The livestream printout is self-consciously old-school tech," he said, "something @nrccprinter will make clear in his tweets."
Meanwhile, the NRCC will encourage users online to tweet for repeal using the hashtag #IWantRepeal, and they plan to deliver the petition to the White House later this month.
It's certainly a far cry from the days of dispatching clipboard-wielding interns to gather signatures.