From the Dispatches archive six years ago today — mustering the idle army for the political ‘information war’:
There’s a lot to say on this topic of the political right’s decades-in-the-making communications failure. In a sentence, we need to take the Republican Party and the conservative movement to communications school.
While there certainly are a scattered few activists and politicians and consultants out there who understand the ugly reality of how our side hasn’t been in the fight, their numbers have been too small to make an impact on the activities of the rest.
Americans who support the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution despair when they see the mighty array of lefty organizations. Well, let me tell you a secret: a massive potential army exists on the political right.
Here’s an overview of what constitutes that army:
- Individuals of all ages — high school to retirees.
- Small informal groups.
- Medium sized organized groups.
- Patriot and Tea Party groups.
- Issue advocacy organizations.
- Think tanks.
- State and local Republican Party organizations.
- Every single elected conservative Republican whether they hold a large or small, partisan or non partisan office.
Unfortunately, this is a mostly-idle army. Anyone who has attended political meetings and events of all sizes for the past few decades has bumped into it. What’s striking is how many good, talented and dedicated people participate in those meetings and events. It’s also striking that the energy mostly dissipates after the meeting/event is over. Nearly everyone leaves not knowing what practical steps they can take to help the cause.
We can and need to do better on all fronts. If this was a business a lot of people would’ve been fired a long time ago. The problem is that often failure pays as much as success so accountability doesn’t apply like it does in other areas.
Alexander Hamilton had it right in Federalist #21:
The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men.
If only politics was like sports or business. Coaches of losing teams get fired. The most clueless political consultants are among the most highly paid. Lousy professional athletes don’t enjoy long careers. Most GOP politicians do. If a small business doesn’t make enough profit to cover expenses it eventually shuts down. Your average conservative political activist keeps going and going like the Energizer Bunny with little to show for their efforts. Think tank employees fill warehouses with little read reports but their donors seem contented.
I’m guessing that many conservatives can’t, for the life of them, figure out how they can do better. They don’t seem to understand what the political left has been up to 24/7/365: propaganda through all available communications vehicles. Although they might not have access to all the same vehicles, they had better get about creating some new ones.
Today we heard from Hamilton. Tomorrow let’s hear from Jefferson.
Image: Alexander Hamilton.