Is it possible to muster the idle army on the political right into constructive political action? There certainly is no shortage of frustration and despair on the part of conservatives and rightly-motivated Republicans. That doesn’t win the information war, however, or get more good guys and gals elected. Only effective grassroots political activity will save the nation.
So, who wants to get their hands dirty? I’m not talking about the kind of mud that sticks to your hands while you’re planting flowers in your yard. A better analogy is what sticks to your car tires after you’ve driven through a field near a pig farm; it actually leaves a film all over your car. And yes, not only do I have many years of experience in grassroots politics, I spent two summers while in graduate school working for a company that hired me to inspect and monitor corn fields spread over four Illinois counties. Thus, I speak from experience on both counts. The bad news is that sometimes you can’t avoid contact with the pig farms.
The aversion to politics that most normal people feel is a hurdle we’re going to have to get over if we’re ever going to achieve governing majorities at the state and federal level. That was the topic of the email exchange we started looking at last time. It was with a smart, successful 29-year old young lady in Texas. Let’s begin where her email said the following about her own dislike of party politics:
I can’t speak for others but I have two major reasons for not wanting to get involved in established political organizations. One is that they are either too large or too incestuous to get anything done. And second, those individuals that I’ve seen enter with great messages and great intentions wind up getting spit out a polished but limp version of what they entered as.
The necessarily alliance with various interests for political gain inevitably ends up with the ultimate compromise of values and results in hair that has been so over-processed it doesn’t move and no there is no longer any real passion behind their original message.
I guess your response might be to get behind those people who don’t follow that path and support those that are true believers, but I just don’t see them entering into the scene — especially when it involves a decade long (or more) process. Plus, if they have any political aspirations at all which would incline them to put up with that crap, that probably means they are tainted and not worth having.
The reason for these few columns about this email is because I know the sentiments of this person are shared by countless rank and file Republican voters across the country. She made several good points — yet the political work still has to get done and by someone.
There continues to be a lack of enough good people on the field. The process will always be messy — it was messy during the founding era and it has been throughout history. Political science and political philosophy are built upon unchanging human nature, and so we can expect a less than perfect result no matter what.
My argument is simple: it doesn’t have to be this bad when it comes to government policy — and our proof is — that there was a time when it wasn’t. Traditional values were common sense. The government was limited. Free enterprise was the route to progress and elevating standards of living.
And to her point about those with ambition almost being disqualified because of their ability to tolerate what amounts to a political sewer — I can only agree that too often that is the case. But I have met many honest and well meaning people whose ambition was — and remains — admirable. Those individuals would have more successes to boast about if they had more people backing them up doing the important mailroom and weed work (as mentioned in part one).
Her email continued:
There needs to be a more accessible route for real people to public office. If term limits are not on the table (and they’re really not in the timeline we’re talking about) — I think the next best option is an express route for ‘Joe the Plumber’ to run for office without putting fifteen years, several million dollars and his family at stake to be able to do what the founding fathers pictured as our country’s future.
That’s a fine idea, but any candidate will still need an organization filled with like-minded, eager, and ready to work in the weeds Republicans who will fund his campaign so the candidate doesn’t have to put in years and spend millions and worry about any past mistakes in his personal life that the press will find to try and disqualify him.
Who is going to advise the candidate on the many political and policy matters? Who will support him so he can be a bulldog once elected so he’ll voice his opinion strongly on everything from values to virtue to what it takes to make America victorious over Muslim extremists? Without that force backing him up — guess what — he gets watered down to 2% milk.
Sometimes, though, as the founders demonstrated — a person does have to lay it all on the line. The more people who step up and do the work of a pioneer, the easier it will be for others to follow on the path that has been cleared.
A strong Republican Party run by properly motivated professionals is the best, more accessible route for “real people” to hold important public offices.
Up next: The conversation concluded.
First published in June 2014.
Image credit: www.fourwheeler.com.