The task ahead – political structure counts

Yesterday I started writing on the topic of just how big the job ahead is for reform-minded Republicans. If the goal is to really implement policies based on a traditional values/limited government platform, a lot has to change for those on the political right. It’s going to take an army of activists who are in it for the long term.

A couple of years ago I was using the expression that it was time for a political troops surge. Last year I suggested that the radio talk show hosts start focusing more on the need for genuine grassroots activities to supplement the big media found via the web and cable news. Radio and TV show host Glenn Beck has actually been doing just that, and of course as I keep noting, the advent to the TEA party movement is just what the doctor ordered.

But if those new TEA party like groups are to get traction and have a real impact, as SurgeUSA’s Bruce Donnelly says, it’ll have to pivot from protests to helping get good candidates elected.

A Chicago Tribune headline yesterday read:

Illinois tea party at a crossroads

Protest movement has vocal supporters, but lacks structure, unified strategy

I didn’t bother linking the story because there’s nothing much in it – but the headline is obviously right by implying that structure and strategy are important. What is the structure for? It’s so an effective political force exists to enforce good behavior and punish bad behavior on the part of elected officials.

Building such a force is an enormous task. Even with the new political energy that’s in view, there’s the additional need to channel it into effective activities. A lot of good can happen this election year but this project of building will have to be ongoing. Not only are conservatives up against public sector union employees and tax eaters of all stripes, they’ll be facing well-heeled lobbyists and interest groups.

This was in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

‘The Mystique of Washington’

For lobbyists, this is the Golden Age.

“Washington now consumes an historic 25% of the private economy, so the Beltway business of political mediation has never been better. The larger the scale of this government expansion, the more Americans will spend to avoid or benefit from it. The only way to limit the influence of lobbyists is to limit the power of government.”

Talking about citizen-led grassroots efforts can start to sound stale without specifics. Recently a colleague attended a set of sessions presented by the Leadership Institute.

In the session the oft-used quote from Abraham Lincoln was used:

“Organize the whole state-divide each county into small districts and appoint in each a subcommittee-make a perfect list of voters and ascertain with certainty for whom they will vote-and on election day see that every Whig is brought to the polls.”

What’s clear is that grassroots activities aren’t anything new. What’s also clear is that Lincoln’s 170-year old admonition hasn’t exactly been followed by enough conservatives in recent decades.