House Republicans unveiled a new website today, AmericaSpeakingOut.com, through which they'll solicit ideas for a Contract with America style platform document. Visitors can submit and vote on platform ideas for the House Republican Conference. The idea was hatched by House Minority Leader John Boehner and led, at Boehner's request, by California Congressman Kevin McCarthy.
In launching the site, House Republicans are taking a page from the Tea Party movement, which in April unveiled and promoted the Contract from America--a Contract with America style document created by Houston-based Tea Party activist Ryan Hecker. Hundreds of thousands of people voted for their favorite principles online to create the Contract as an open-sourced platform for the Tea Party movement. That document, unveiled ahead of nationwide April 15 Tea Party events, was praised by prominent Republicans including Boehner, who said in a press release that the Contract from America should be required reading for every lawmaker.
The GOP has done something like this before, when McCarthy solicited suggestions for the House GOP platform online in 2008 at gopplatform2008.com. Brendan Buck, the House GOP spokesman for AmericaSpeakingOut, points to that endeavor and says the idea for AmericaSpeakingOut didn't come straight from the Contract from America.
Hecker, for his part, likes the House GOP initiative. "I think it is great that House Republicans are listening to the people and borrowing from the tea party movement and the Contract from America project," Hecker said in a press release. A handful of GOP lawmakers and candidates have signed onto the Contract from America since its inception, including Sens. Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn.