By Ron VandenBoom
Once again an election year has rolled around and politicians from coast to coast are struggling to find the best and cheapest way to get their message to the people.
Enter the Internet. It's no secret that the Internet is the cheapest and one of the most effective ways to get a message to the people.
The Internet allows politicians to hoist their political banners 24 hours a day and post as little, or as much, information as they want. There are no interruptions from talkative reporters or by their competitors. There are no surprise questions and the candidate is free to post only the positive message with all the color, patriotism, and image carefully filtered in just the right mix.
Not only that, but it is there for anyone who wants to view it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for only pennies per day.
The Internet revolution is changing the way campaigns are conducted because the same principles that govern the small businessman to the major corporation, also govern local politicians and presidential candidates.
Over the next few weeks, I will take a look at some of the political websites that might interest Montanans -- starting with the Montana Republican Party website at www.montanagop.org.
If simplicity, like silence, is golden, then the Montana GOP site will make you rich.
The index page is the essence of simplicity with a clean, easy-to-use set of linked pages that practically jump off the screen.
The schedule of Lincoln Day Dinners and The Conservative's Creed are the only items on the index page to distract your attention. Your eyes are immediately drawn to Campaign 2000.
On this page you will find links to Republican candidates both with and without websites. Topping the list, of course, is Conrad Burns, the Republican candidate for reelection to the U.S. Senate. Links also exist on this page to the two candidates for governor, Judy Martz and Rob Natelson; Russell Fillner, candidate for secretary of state, and Elaine Herman, superintendent of public instruction. Last on the list with a website is Bruce Simon, who is running for state auditor.
The site offers links to other Republican politicians, like Governor Marc Racicot, but also to sites like the Montana Legislature, National Republican Senatorial Committee or Republican Presidential Task Force.
Conrad Burns' link will take you to an unfinished site that Burns promises will be up and running by the middle of February. You might want to check back then if you have not already been won over by his Democratic opponents. The site address is www.conradburns2000.com.
Martz and Ohs Victory 2000 site is located at www.martz-ohs2000.org. It contains everything you would expect at a political website -- speeches, "about us" pages, campaign news and contact pages. Don't be fooled, this is also where they hit you up for money.
Rob Natelson, too, has a site at www.natelson.com. Not quite as flashy as Martz' site, it still has all of the essential elements needed to Web campaign.
Check out his news events section and, if you really want a challenge, take his Interactive Poll.
Tune in next week when I take a look at what Montana Democrats have to offer on-line.
In the meantime, check out the Havre Daily News website at www.havredailynews.com