From six years ago this month:
It is clear that few people want to talk about grassroots politics. That dirty work is for political campaigns, their consultants, and the good little people willing to volunteer at that level. We can ignore the topic if we want to, though it isn’t going away.
Several days have passed since this column addressed the information war so let me restate our premise in two paragraphs:
The old media is never going to be our friend and no one is expecting Hollywood or K-college education to go conservative or even play fair any time soon. Those are our society’s primary institutions for conveying information.
The new conservative media and web presence is good and getting better but the web even perfectly utilized will never be enough. Republicans and conservatives need to build alternative channels — pipelines — to get information to the uninformed and misinformed — and much of those will have to involve more local grassroots-like activities. And it’s possible — since there is an “idle army” out there willing to be mobilized.
I’ve addressed that “idle army” more than once. It includes every Republican and conservative not currently involved in genuine outreach to the uninformed and misinformed. And yes, that’s just about every one right of center. Sounds like bad news but it doesn’t have to be. If more of those folks actually got off their backsides we can win the information war and save the country.
In Jeff Shaara’s historical novel about WWII, The Rising Tide, the author takes the reader to the aftermath of the battle of Kasserine Pass. It is a famous American defeat in the deserts of Tunisia in early 1943. The author has German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel surveying the dead and machines that littered the field.
Of Rommel, Shaara writes:
His attention was drawn forward, a wide clearing beyond the bridge, a vast sea of destruction, blasted tanks, half-tracks, trucks attached to artillery pieces. He saw now that much of the equipment was undamaged, some of it half-burned in mud-filled ditches, crews abandoning their vehicles to escape on foot.
Shaara includes more — things like boxes of unused shells, crates of magazines and ammunition “of every sort” — the description goes on for a half a page. Then he writes:
Rommel stayed silent, felt the hard weight of what he was seeing. It was unending, an ocean of American steel, every truck fueled and equipped, a silent army, missing only the men who had pulled away, who did not yet have the heart to stand and make a fight against Rommel’s powerful machine. But they will, he thought. They will learn and adapt, and they will come again. They are children with too many toys, but after this fight, they will have grown, and they will have learned, and they will bring their machines and their equipment back into the fight, new trucks and new tanks and new airplanes. (See the hardcover, chapter 23, pages 298 and 300.)
It’s an easy thing to assert that conservatives have produced a large body of research, opinion, and evidence from countless examples — that prove conservative principles work when applied. So like the potential for machines and equipment — the arsenal available for those on the political right is easily compared with the potential of the U.S. in World War II.
When it comes to manpower there is a debate about just how many conservatives there are — though polling numbers have been consistent that self-identified conservatives (30+%) outnumber self-identified liberals (20+%). It’s also easy to assert that unless our side goes on the offensive and gets aggressively into political evangelism our numbers will decline.
The problem, as always, is the rest — those who self-identify as an independents. Since Democrats are in the mass communications business (and Republicans aren’t), most of those mushy-middle independent types break left on election day. Yes, Republicans do better in smaller turnout off year cycles, but that isn’t good enough. We need to gain governing majorities and win the White House with a candidate at least as conservative as Ronald Reagan.
Up next: Who is right, the optimist or the pessimist?
Image credit: www.telegraph.co.uk.