Before cell phones – wires had to be laid throughout the country so people could hear that familiar dial tone and connect with others. Today, phone companies are still building cell towers to cover the globe so mobile phone users will hear a “yes” when asked “can you hear me now?”
Likewise, the existence of a political infrastructure makes all the difference for political leaders who seek support not just on election day – but for enacting policy reforms once they’re elected. Without political infrastructure, the odds of reaching enough people and winning their support are greatly diminished.
Too many Republicans still hope the media will carry their message of reform. A good number of folks genuinely believe that all the communications work – can you hear me now? – can occur through individual campaigns.
A recent example of this is the talk of running a Republican for Cook County Board president. Yes, miracles happen. But even if a Republican got elected to that important spot, that person would have little institutional support inside or outside of government. The chances that lasting change resulting are practically nil.
If you doubt that – I’d point you to the history of the President Bush/Speaker Hastert years in Washington, D.C. Both men claimed to be conservatives. Neither governed that way because they had no back-up. Neither man had the vision – or high quality staff – to help them realize what was missing.
What was missing was an effective political party, as we noted here.