“Political tanks” – Real Grassroots versus “failed systemic arrangements”

David Freddoso, the author of the best seller, “The Case Against Barack Obama,” was on the radio with the Champion News team back in 2008. On the show with us he referred to what the Democrats do politically as constructing and utilizing “corrupt systemic arrangements.”

From government employees to unions to the myriad other camps of willing troops dependent upon government largess, the Democrats have all the “volunteers” they need to get their message spread and campaign work accomplished. As I noted:

Republicans will have to rely mostly on an all volunteer force, so the need to build the GOP is not an option. We need to organize a sufficient force that can not only retake power, but then govern properly.

Instead of a vigorous and activist filled Republican Party, however, what was once a grand old party is now a dilapidated mess too often dominated by RINOs and pay to play Republicans. Countless outside interest groups have started that could’ve accomplished great work during the past thirty years, but very few that still survive amount to much.

Government has been increasing in size faster than population growth for a long time. And because Republicans failed to use the power they held in Illinois in the 1990s and nationally during the past decade, Democrats took over and now the tax, borrow, and spend trajectory is even worse. Anyone who is going to tell me that conservatives have had their grassroots act together during all these decades is living in a world I’m unfamiliar with.

In my last column I noted the truly fantastic work being done by the free market and traditional values supporting think tanks like the Heritage Foundation. Half the battle has been handled effectively. There is an abundance of thoroughly researched policy ideas that mirror the GOP platform and which are ready to be advanced in the minds of voters and implemented into law.

So why aren’t they? It’s the failure of what can be called the “political tanks.” For the sake of brevity, let’s sum it all up. I’ve written at length about how our elected officials need to stop pretending it’s the 1950s and do their jobs according the world we live in during this new century. Instead of seeing that the moving of public opinion is job one, they prefer to mostly hide out until a few weeks before election day.

Another huge part of the problem, as I noted above, is the lousy shape of the no-longer-grand GOP. We’ve offered a basic outline of the role of local Republican organizations here, but most busy Americans will agree with me that those groups are shadows of what they can and should be. They’re mostly invisible to the communities where they exist. Invisible = useless.

The experience of the Illinois Family Institute’s Dave Smith and Americans for Truth about Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera during the Protect Marriage effort back in 2006 was revealing. Some people still talk in terms of the “conservative movement” that exists in Illinois. Dave and Pete discovered that there isn’t one. Our archives tell the tale for any who wish to learn more about that important lesson from recent history.

It’s not complicated, folks. It’s not about creating organizational hierarchies, giving each other titles, turf wars, fancy stationary and Roberts Rules of Order. It’s about using all available means to inform as many people that live on your street, in your neighborhood, town, and region, about the candidates and the issues.

What conservatives have been good at is holding small meetings, where endless talk substitutes for outreach. Instead of door to door, mailings, radio, well advertised public forums, conservatives instead hold meetings. And more meetings. And they talk on the phone. And they send each other emails. And schedule another meeting.

And those who profit from the status quo – Republicans and Democrats alike – are the beneficiaries, since more would-be voters aren’t finding out how they can elect new leaders and bring about real change.

We don’t need to create a grassroots bureaucracy. We need locally run Republican and independent groups doing the work of democracy – which means connecting with as many fellow citizens as possible with accurate and persuasive information on a sustained basis.

The effectiveness of that activity is always measured on election day. How many strong leaders win office? It’s also measured through public opinion polls – how many would-be voters understand the problems and the proposed solutions? How many Americans are ready to throw the bums out when ill-conceived policies are enacted? And it is measured through how our state legislature and federal congress act. They only do what they can get away with – and it’s clear they’re still getting away with economically immoral behavior.

©2010 John Francis Biver