A Major Reason Why The Netroots Is Kicking Our B***

This is a debate worth having. -Patrick

After countless blog posts and articles on why the Left is dominating the Right on the web it has become abundantly clear to me that a major reason for this phenomenon is that the Left places ideology before partisan politics. The Netroots grew by offering liberal activists countless opportunities to voice their opinions and organize on the Web. They did not compromise their wrapped ideology to defend apostate Democrats.

The prime example of this is the campaign against lifelong Democrat Joe Lieberman. This game plan took a page from the rise of the modern conservative movement. Buckley's National Review vigorously opposed the popular Republican Dwight Eisenhower on several occasions. When Richard Nixon wandered to the Left the conservative movement rallied behind the challenge of Representative John Ashbrook. And there are countless other examples of conservatives directly challenging Republicans when the Republicans acted like liberals.

Over at the Corner Byron York lifts quote from Kos:

 Markos Moulitsas made these statements minutes apart on MSNBC:

I'm not going to carry water for Barack Obama…I'm not going to be like the Republicans who excused George Bush time and time again.

He goes on to state that questionable assessment that Obama is not tacking to the center.

Which should not blind us to the lesson to be learned from the above tactic. Several studies have shown that web activists are driven by causes. The Left's success is testimony in support of that assessment.

The Rightroots is suffering from the lack of sharply defined ideological goals. Our most potent issues, defense of the traditional family, right to life, English as the official language, opposition to illegal immigration rarely make it to the Right blogs.

On the contrary Instapundit and the Pajamas Media crowd support gay marriage. The free market, neocons defend open borders. And most blogs refuse to call out Republicans when they are wrong.

If we keep this up our web movement will be still born in the crib. We can not be or be perceived as apologists for the Republican Party. Conservative principles must be our guiding light.


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Something we can all agree on or hopefully

The thing that is true for all conservatives is that we want less government.  At the present time wasteful spending in washington continues to grow as everyone else in the country tightens the budget.  Being fically responsible is something that the federal government does not understand.  And, we are the party that should be offering them that brand of government.  The type of government where more money is left in our pockets.  Leave the money at home to be spent locally where the members have a better idea what their needs are then someone in Washington.

And, i completely agree that there are only a few organizations as a whole that will stand up to republicans who do not fit certain expectations or have proven that they are not conservative and are Republican In Name Only. 

So yes we should be letting each other know who the good candidates are out there and who are the bad.  Those who have lost their way in the party it is time to go back to the private sector and it is about time we start letting them know it to.

I agree and want to add one point ...

Along with a lot of wasteful spending is the belief that the government should be more deeply involved in all aspects of our lives. The Democrats have had that mindset since the Progressives and some Republican agreed, but Bush's "compassionate conservatism" concept tried to make big government a necessary good and part of the conservative movement. The Bush Administration supported the extension of the Federal government in many areas including education (remember the Bush -Ted Kennedy team?), health care, housing, bailouts of financial institutions, etc. Bush believes an intrusive Federal Government as a necessary good not the problem that it is.

Disagree with several premises

I think the notion that conservative blogs are apologists for the GOP is pretty much false. 

There was a great deal of internet/talk radio mojo going on when "Shamnesty" was the talk of the town.  In fact, "Shamnesty" and "Grahamnesty" are still in general usage on the intertubes.

English as the official language is a proxy for the real issue of illegal immigration, and it's a battle cry that rings hollow to legal immigrants to whom conservatism might otherwise appeal.  While the sentiment behind it is certainly understandable, fighting for Official English is ultimately a counterproductive endeavor that is better served by fighting for secure borders.

I take exception the remark about "freemarket neocons".  Sure, you have the Bill Kristols and Grover Norquists of the world, but I think they're in the minority of Republicans.  Even the most adamant of free market proponents knows that open borders are incompatible with a welfare state.

I think this is an overly broad characterzation of the PJM crowd, and on the whole I think conservative blogs are not very forgiving of RINOism.  We must not read the same blogs.



You Make some Good points and ....

I stand by the conclusion that the Right's blogosphere is much more tied to the Republican Party line than the Left is to the Democrat Party. (By the way it will be interesting to see how the Left deals with Obama as he wanders from the reservation.) Compare conservative radio with conservative blogs. Rush, Levin, Ingraham, regularly tee off on Republicans when they they go against the conservative movement -- the blogs, with the exception of Malkin, generally ignore transgressions from conservatism or offer a passing comment. Compare the Right blogosphere with the Right radio on immigration, expansion of government, global warming, the assault on the family structure and you will see what I mean. Show me a front page story on the Next Right or Pajamas Media or Instapundit expressing the conservative position on gay marriage or any other social issues.

I do not get your point against campaigning for English as the official language. Poll after poll has shown that legal immigrants agree with that position. And of course enforcement of immigration laws should be a top priority. I wish you were right when you write that even the most adamant proponents of the free market oppose open borders. Read the editorial pages of the NY Sun and the Wall Street Journal and you will see that the point I am making is valid.

Spirit of 94

First, I didn't say that the most adamant free market folks were necessarily for tighter immigration, just that if pressed, even the WSJ would acknowledge that open borders are incompatible with the welfare state.  Of course, they would stress the "welfare state" part more.  And I did say that such folks exist, but I think they're the minority of R's.

My point about the English as Official movement is that the advocacy of that position necessarliy implies bad things about (in particular) the Spanish language and those who speak it as a primary language.  Things can get ugly pretty quickly when you're attacking an integral part of a person's culture.  But by focusing on secure borders and rule of law you not only avoid many of those types of criticisms but the language problem eventually takes care of itself.  In short, secure borders is easier to "market" and is generally more effective from a policy perspective.

As to the general nature of the preponderance of conservative blogs, I guess we just fundamentally disagree on that.  I'll leave you with this bit from Ace of Spades.

"Spirit of 94: A call to arms"

Demographic reality and political perception

Much of elite opinion believes two things:

a) We need illegal(or expanded legal) immigration since there is a huge shortage of young Americans willing to do physical labor

b) The crime issue is an artifact of the 1970's and 1980's and no longer is a matter of public concern.

Both these perceptions are based on the American birth rate 1972-1979...where for an extended period U.S. births...which had been at 4 million plus during the 1950's and early 60's, dropped to barely more than 3 million/yr.

Add 20-25 years to the these dates and we have a shortage of a) young workers and b) young criminals during the time of the millenium., especially as opposed to the large labor pools and high offender populations of the Reagan era.

Now, annual birth rates in America are back over 4 million, Which means the perceived "labor shortage" of the late 1990's/early 2000's will quickly self-correct. It also means the number of 16-24 year old men will increase, adding to the potential pool of offenders in the "most likely to offend" age bracket.

Public policies based on importing young unskilled labor are going to be very self defeating in the not too distant future.



Patrick, I respect your values but I have to disagree

that our most potent issues (if "our" means Republicans in general as opposed to a specific group of social conservatives) are, as you wrote, defense of the traditional family, right to life, English as the official language, opposition to illegal immigration.

I'm passionately with you on two out of those four:  right to life, and English as the official language.  I'm sort of with you on opposition to illegal immigration - completely so with illegal criminals and less so with illegals who work hard and pay taxes.  I totally agree with Justin Chaffetz that it is immoral for us to create a slave labor class of illegal immigrants - all the more reason I support a guest worker program that many conservatives refer to as "Shamnesty".  It beats the hell out of serfdom.  The longer we seek perfection instead of progress, the more we impose this immoral culture by essentially doing nothing until we can do it perfectly.  This is like saying I'm never having kids until I can become a perfect parent.  Ha!  See? 

Regarding defending the traditional family,  whether or not my gay cousin marries his partner is not going to diminish my marriage. I suspect this is where some of the PJM'ers are coming from as well.  At the same time, I am very concerned about the slippery slope of Western Culture changing 3,000 years of successful implementation which might prompt various forms of marriage that we haven't anticipated and which may create highly unexpected results.  I can see the ACLU law suits already, demanding that we must allow group marriage, polygamy, marriage between siblings, between people and their pets, etc., or we're "violating their constitutional rights".  I fear that it could get absolutely, totally crazy.  I don't see it as much an issue of defense of traditional marriage as I see it as an issue of halting alternative marriages that could go way beyond the requirements of the relatively small but powerful and wealthy gay special interest groups.

My point is that if the Republican Party is so conservative that its constituents believe that people like myself should be Independents, that is fine as long as we're all clear about that.  But since it appears that moderates are actually the majority, that could be a self-defeating strategy.   If we want to have that big tent party coalition, we might be able to define core issues in a more general way that would appeal strongly to moderates as well as conservatives so that we can all work toward the same firm goals.  For example:

  • I would frame defense of the traditional family as promoting domestic partnerships that do not tamper with long-established marriage definitions.  This could halt the implementation of multicultural and deviant marriages as accepted marital norms and allow anyone who wants to share benefits and inheritance for whatever reason to do so.  It promotes both freedom and the common good.
  • I would frame right to life as not only protecting the unborn, but also as protecting women from the harmful consequences of terminated pregnancies through counseling and preventing unwanted pregnancy.  Now it becomes a feminist issue for women's rights once again - only from a more conservative perspective as opposed to an irresponsible, libertine one.  This promotes both the sanctity of life and the common good, and allows women to choose to take better care of themselves.  It's a self esteem issue and promotes sanctity of both the woman's life and the unborn's life.
  • In addition to English as a second language, what about promoting common communication practices while preserving individual cultural traditions?   We would have to be willing to promote legislation that no one is allowed in a public school without taking ESL courses, no Mexican textbooks will be donated from south of the border, no bilingual classes will be conducted unless the schools no longer wish to receive federal funds.  This promotes assimilation, efficiency in government, education and employment while respecting people's differences and backgrounds.
  • In addition to simply opposing illegal immigration, we must be willing to legislate that we stop giving federal funding to sanctuary cities, stop granting citizenship based on birth to illegal parents, and be ready to engage in a solution immediately which will provide a path to citizenship for desirable citizens who are already here.  Let's also return the National Guard to the borders to stop those we don't want to enter illegally, and deport criminals immediately and stop housing them in our jails.  Last but not least, let's be clear that we really are willing to pay higher prices for services that are produced by people earning a living wage for back breaking work such as picking vegetables and performing janitorial and child care duties.  This could be a tough sell for working families and for those who are already angry about energy costs, but we have to find a way to sell it if we want real change. 
  • We must ask ourselves if the right goal of the Republican Party is strictly for limited government, or if the real goal ought to be for effective government that spends money in a manner that works for the common good, but is accountable to the taxpayers with metrics and reports to prove it. 

If we agree on the goals, we can frame the issues in such a way that they appeal to moderates, centrists and all flavors of conservatives, not just socialcons.  This is exactly the approach Douthat and Salam recommend in Grand New Party, holding up the Tommy Thompson Republicans as one of the few really effective models in using unorthodox tactics including spending money and using government to eliminate welfare, reward families and children remaining in school, which in turn come back to boost the economy.  Achieving conservative goals with moderate methods is possible, but it's not a straight line.  "It's going to be hard work, and some people might even make a face" - Bush, 2004.  Bush failed because 9/11 overtook him, he took his eye off the ball, and his cronies suffered from too much power and a distressing lack of imagination and vision.  I know we can do better, but as great as I think conservative values are, I see that sometimes the right way to appeal to the general public enough to successfully implement them might be to go down a more moderate path.


The real reason...

...that the Nutroots appear to be "kicking our butt" is that the internet skews younger and more urbane, and, especially at this time, there are a lot more kids who think it's cool to swarm message boards and truthy sites than grown-ups who do.  That provides a massive reservoir of hits and a huge feeling of empowerment on the part of the Nutroots' leading nuts - and it only takes a relative handful of nutjobs to create the internet impression of overwhelming opinion  It happens to make for, feed, and feed off of peculiar eruptions of virtual fascism, such as the bombardment of online fora and polls by Ron Paul supporters, and these days by Barack Obama supporters:  Wherever right and left have the option to meet and the site isn't heavy-handedly policed by moderators, the left will tend to take over. 

Rather than wonder why the Nutroots appear to be more influential than the Rightroots, you might instead ask why fascism is more a phenomenon of the left at this time than of the right.  I think there are numerous mutually reinforcing reasons:  It's overdetermined.  Youth movements tend to be fascistic.  It may not be desirable, it may not even be possible for the conservative right ever to dominate the net in the same way that the fascist left does.  To do so the conservative right would have to turn into something different - which is of course an absurdity:  You can't jump over your own shadow. 

The real reason....

...why the Nutroots appear to be "kicking our butt" is because they are fascists?

I don't understand your point. What is your definition of fascism here as it applies to your post?


ex animo


Young people are not exclusive to the Nutroots

If you want to see young conservatives who are on the web but not active go the annual Right To Life march in DC. You will see hundreds of thousands of teenagers and college aged students marching in the dead of winter on behalf of right to life.

There are also young people in pro-life groups in universities throughout this country and there are potential recruits in Young Republican groups, Newman Society chapters, YAF, Young America's, etc.

From the 1970's until both Bushes capitulated to the big government crowd and downplayed  socially conservative young people were in fact active on the ground and on the web. But today, with no national candidate appealing to a conservative agenda they are not engaged.

See Patrick's post today on David Brooks and Bill Kristol. Its a fine analysis with what is wrong with Mushie Republicanism.

Of course young people aren't ALL left

We're talking about mass phenomena.  If college students were 80% - 20% pro-Obama, that would still leave millions in the minority group.  African Americans appear to be somewhere between 85 - 95 % pro-Obama, meaning there are millions of African Americans in the 5% - 15%.  Mobilizing anti-Obama students and anti-Obama blacks might be a great and worthy service, but it would be foolhardy to assume that merely adopting the tactics of the other side would get you very far.

In other words, what if the nutroots are a symptom?

I don't think that we should get caught up in terminology or side details, but, just for the sake of discussion we can define fascism as the politics of power for its own sake in the modern era, and then, if necessary (if, indeed, this conversation continues at all), we can refer to historical examples for further clarification.

Bullying one's political adversaries into silence is one classic fascist tactic.  80 years ago, it would have been a gang of hooligans busting up a meeting.  Today, it's a gang of net hooligans forcing a popular columnist to shut down his comment threads by swarming them with foul insults and other verbal assaults.  Obviously, the phenomena aren't the same - they're merely similar.  Likewise, the Daily Kos diarists aren't Brownshirts, and the "new class" or "creative class" supporters of Barack Obama aren't the same as the good German (like the Italian, Japanese, and also American) academics and university students who mobilized en masse 70 - 80 years ago, answering a romantic call to action in order to overthrow the old and embrace the new, but mobilization of a sliver of society, members of a peculiar sub-class or stratum, in such a way as to magnify their importance far beyond any even notional democratic or conventionally measurable economic weight isn't as new as this telecommunications technology that we happen to be exploiting at this moment.

I know that many of the participants at this site are focused on practical, nuts and bolts approaches to political organizing, and wouldn't want to hear an argument that would sound defeatist even if not remote and theoretical.  My point remains that what drives Daily Kos, Huffington Post, TPM, and the rest may not be something that conservatives should try to duplicate, or could duplicate without becoming something other than conservative.  The point is at least worth considering before too much energy is devoted to efforts and projects that may be hopeless and self-defeating, flawed in their very conception and self-assumed objectives. 

Yes, how true.

The same thing has happened to me here, where a gang of net hooligans have tried to force me to shut down my comment threads by swarming them with foul insults and other verbal assaults, but I never thought them fascists. I see now, by your definition, they just might qualify. 

For the record, when I used the term, a "fascist state", I am using that term as defined, for the most part, by Franklin D. Roosevelt: "The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power."

Today, our liberty is not safe because the (always) formidable power of the state has combined, is combining, will continue to combine, with the growing political power of the "taxing class" to become far stronger than the political power of the democratic state. This is evident when the people are no longer "asked" to pay for the actions of their government. The people will eventually pay, of course, as they always do, irrespective of their type of government, but not by the authorization of a democratic state, which is, in and of itself, yet another example of a fascist state.

ex animo


What does "kicking butt" mean? And does it matter?

Can someone please define what "Kicking our butts" means?
What exactly has the Nutroot Left accomplished? I would like it quantified, categorized and defined, because we may be thinking different things here.

The whole issue of the general relationship of 'conservative movement' to party versus the liberal activists relationship to their party is IMHO *different* from the issue of who's doing better *online*.

And does kicking butt online matter?  I'm trying to convince a Ron Paul organizer and friend that it does. He's skeptical because he was saying all the online folks dont organize and dont vote. He was frustrated by successes online that didnt translate to much offline. I pointed out the fundraising and the fact that Ron Paul made it a lot farther than Tancredo or Hunter. Rudy G. made a funny comment in his concession speech; he acknowledged and praised the other candidates, and then noted Ron Paul "who won all the debates" and said how he'd get back to his hotel room and they'd report their online poll on CNN or whatever and Ron Paul would always win. "

If an online poll shows that Ron Paul won the debate, does it matter?

I am with the guy who describes the Nutroots as fascistic. Maybe its the wrong term, but there is an online bullying version of the brown-shirts that uses crowd-intimidation, personal attacks and foulness to run off the opposition. Who has time for that cr*p if you have a real life?

But then you have to ask: So what if they make a few sites sewers of leftist domination?

Does it matter that Kos has X many hits? Did it win the debate on Iraq? On FISA? On drilling? On cap-n-trade? I didnt notice.

So I'd like to know what precisely we are talking about when we say 'kicking butt' and what does it mean politically?

BTW: The left has always managed to focus better when out of power, since they are great at whipping up hate against the Da Man. 20 years ago Da Man was Reagan, now its Bush.

Kicking butt, cyberly..

...is the ability to turn online action into political action. In this regard, the right has a lot of catching up to do. It can be done, of course,  but not by this election period, but certainly by 2010, and 2012.

The key to its success is to realize the right's market is of a different demographic age than the netroots and, therefore,  requires a longer, more localized approach then the left's. In many ways, because of the age difference and its approach, turning cyber action into political action for this group will be achieved in far, far greater percentages than the left is presently achieving.


ex animo


Which True Conservatism???

The problem, which I keep bringing up, because I don't have an answer and haven't seen one, is which brand of conservatism is the "One True Brand" which we should all rally around?

We could spend a lot of time trying to define this, and there are a few efforts going on trying to do just that.

The Republican Party must be a big boat if we want to win elections and enact legislation.  So, I think the real question is what are the core issues that really define what we want out of government.

Personally, that is to be mostly left alone, for my rights to be protected both from other people, from other governments, and especially from our own governments (local, state and federal.) 

Safety nets are an important function of society, with government being a part of society.  But safety nets shouldn't provide a lifestyle.

Above all, I want to see the government be responsible with the money it collects.

Social issues ought to be debated through social means, the soapbox, newspapers, radio, tv, the internet, but the government ought to stay out of the peoples private matters for the most part. 

Convince other people that your way is right, and they'll likely follow you.  Coerce them, and they'll resent you for it, fighting you all the way.  I think the Christian way is to live by example, not using the power of government to force people to behave correctly.

But, that's just me.

Protecting our liberty in an increasingly fascist state...

...has been the true conservative ideal; is the true conservative ideal; and will be the true conservative ideal.

When state power is overtaken by the taxing class to the point where their union becomes stronger than the democratic state itself, we, as a people, will no loner be free.  When such a point is reached,  liberty will be sacrificed to preserve the fascist state.

My point being, as one fiscal conservative, I no loner believe we, as a people, have the political power to significantly lower government spending, irrespective of political parties.

ex animo



We can't be a boat but..


I know the boat analogy is popular, but it’s dysfunctional.  We did that and we compromise our principles every time we do that. Lets quit being the boat that does everything speedboats are speedboats not yachts and vice versa. We can’t all change ourselves. It denies our central principle of liberty (and it depresses the electorate).
Instead may I offer a different framework? Conservatism is a dock and Liberalism is a dock.  People will always be free to vote how they choose. We don’t have to be the “Ideology of Choice” but the “Ideology of Trust”. We can agree to disagree, but we can’t give:
-Politicians in our party a carte blanche, because they are on “our team”; politician involved in scandals can be independents. We don’t need them and we should have a zero tolerance policy. If they are a member of congress we should pressure the congress to have them removed, if they are at the state level we should start the recall petition, and not wait for the democrats.
Well lunchtime is over maybe I’ll finish my rant tomorrow. After all you can’t always feed the kids on comments.