GOP launches new tech innovation initiative

The Republican National Committee today announced the launch of a new initiative to recruit the kind of high-tech, hack-minded innovators who’ve revolutionized campaign methods more effectively for Democrats in recent years.

Para Bellum Labs “will help create a culture to allow the RNC to innovate faster and recruit more talented people who can build digital platforms to understand public opinion, engage voters and power elections,” according to the RNC’s news release, allowing the party “to continue building a new tech-centered mindset, while increasing visibility and credibility in the tech community to attract top talent who want to solve big tech problems.”

It’ll start with a tour of five top engineering schools and a political hackathon to be held sometime soon.

“The RNC has a role to lead on data and digital for the good of the party from the top of the ticket down,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in the news release. “Through Para Bellum Labs we will continue bringing in top talent to inspire innovative products to power campaigns and change the way we do business in the Republican Party.”

The GOP has been at a deficit for this kind of thing, as was clearly evidenced in 2012’s presidential election.

But the new initiative’s name already is taking some heat from some quarters. “Para bellum” is Latin for “prepare for war” (often used in the adage, “Si vis pacem, para bellum” or “If you want peace, prepare for war”), but that’s not the problem.

“Parabellum” was used by a German arms manufacturer as a name for its signature guns – first for the light machine gun used during World War I, and later, the Pistole Parabellum or Luger pistol known for its use by German troops in World Wars I and II.

So Gawker’s headline reads “The GOP Just Named its Hot New Innovation Lab After a Nazi Pistol.”

National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Rabbi Jack Moline issued a statement saying he’s “astounded and sorely disappointed that the Republican National Committee would put so little thought into the message of their new venture. Using the phrasing ‘para bellum’ not only exploits horrific symbolism, but also communicates a fatalist and violent message toward any who differ with you.

“The RNC should immediately repudiate the name of this venture, denounce the approach it suggests, and apologize to all the people this names offends – those of the Greatest Generation, those who have ever been victims of gun violence, and those in the Jewish community and beyond who were victims of the Nazi genocide,” Moline said.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • JohnW

    “Stupid is as stupid does” Forrest Gump, 1994

  • Elwood

    Oh, please! It’s Latin, folks. Some people who are so eager to find fault need to lighten up.

  • JohnW

    My understanding is that the GOP plans to stick with the Latin motif for all of its various electioneering “strategery.” For example, the code word for their various voter suppression initiatives is “Antebellum.”

  • Elwood

    Actually, their motto for the midterm elections is “democratum solongum”.

    Sometimes expressed colloquially as “Adios m**********r”.

  • Marga

    It is amazing just how many people still don’t know how to use a search engine.

    It reminds me of the Oakland City Council which had to have activists tell them that the corporation to which they were going to award a major contract to build a surveillance center, was also involved with the deployment of nuclear weapons. The Council had previously rejected another company for that particular reason. All you had to do to find out that this company was also involved, was google its name and “nuclear weapons”.