A conversation with a twenty-something American (Part 1)

“I read your article from today,” one smart young person recently began in an email to me.

“However, as a member of the jaded populous I just wanted to weigh in with the kind of (expletive deleted) attitude you may be facing so that maybe you can address it.”

I’m happy to. But no one should be confused about my own (expletive deleted) attitude. Politics usually isn’t fun – but like the sewage treatment or waste disposal business, it’s one of those inescapable parts of life. And as the old adage goes, democracy is a lousy form of government except when compared to all the others.

The note continued:

“You make the great points about the importance of being involved. If you haven’t done the things mentioned here then you’re not really participating. If you haven’t heard from your party then they’re remiss so hold them accountable. All great points. However, to those who are completely incensed at what’s going on, a ‘grass roots’ effort sounds a little too ‘in the weeds’ for those of us non-politicos. I can’t stand the idea of starting in the mail room at this point. It seems far too late for that, especially considering the ‘talent’ we have at the front.”

Believe me I know what she’s saying. I argue that without better folks at the top, we’re never going to be able to attract quality people in the numbers necessary to mount a successful defense against the radical left.

Solid progress can be made quickly, but for it to be sustained it will require a political troop surge.

There are a lot of different kinds of talents needed – from those who can run for office – to those who can lead the party – to those who can provide the necessary support at all levels. The fact is there are plenty of people willing to spend time in the mail room because that’s all the time or energy they have left to give at the end of their day.

While not everyone needs to start in the mail room, effective leaders do need to be aware of the sheer volume of work required to succeed in impacting the public. Since anyone paying attention knows that Republicans are only going to be able to extract so much cooperation from the mainstream media – efforts to bypass the press often requires putting together mailings – and mailings require volunteers.

That answer might seem a bit too much ‘in the weeds.’ The fact is, though, the execution of any large endeavor is going to require some weed work. Shortcuts can be purchased in the near term if money is available. Wealthy candidates run for office all the time and hire consultants and pay mail houses to do the little work for them. Unfortunately, most local GOP organizations aren’t going to start out with these big budgets.

She continued:

“The idea of approaching a good ole boy monolith is about the last thing that I, and I would guess many people, want to take on. I think that’s why the TEA Parties really took hold. People who had previously had little political involvement felt as if they could affect a change without having to go through all the same old traditional channels.

For too long people, me included, have felt like their passionate sentiment has been watered down to 2% milk by their own party structure. I don’t mean to sound like a petulant kid who wants what they want, when they want it, but I personally have a visceral reaction to getting involved in established politics.”

Actually, I couldn’t agree more with those sentiments. A few thoughts. First, there’s a long list of issues that need to be addressed, and while we hear from candidates who campaign supporting good solutions, there hasn’t been much follow-though once they win office. Why? Because there hasn’t been a political force backing up those right-thinking elected officials.

Second, the list of issues – from abortion to tax reform to Medicare, Social Security, and even countering the behemoth that is the teacher unions is going to require more organized force than we’ve seen. There is no short cut. Any political success that isn’t ephemeral will have to be manned by committed citizens willing to accomplish all facets of political battle.

That’s exactly why we need a Republican renaissance and political reformation. Until better people step up – albeit as pioneers – and help clean out the proverbial barn, the crummy culture that exists in much of politics will continue to deter honest, professional people from stepping forward to be more than a citizen in name only.

Up next: The discussion continues.

©2009 John Francis Biver