Americans for Prosperity

The successes of the anti-cap-and-trade movement

I was struck on Thursday and Friday of last week by the extent to which activists on the right were deeply engaged on the Cap and Trade bill that narrowly passed the house last Friday.

The thing is, the media has not played this issue up. The same week that the House voted on the bill, President Barack Obama held a prime-time townhall on healthcare. Even the conservative media was mostly engaged primarily with the healthcare debate. Obama and the Democrats played and won the media cycle war.

But the conservative groups, especially Americans for Prosperity, and conservative blogs like Redstate and others kicked in. From both Republicans and Democrats, we heard about enormous call volume coming into the House. This provided a robust whip-like mechanism.

Activists understood that they were the difference between this bill passing and not.

Now the fight moves to the Senate. Already, we see Obama caving on key provisions of the deal that kept protectionist Democrats together. It is hard to see how the Democrats find the votes, especially when they need full support from the Midwest to keep their caucus together.

And next time, it is hard to see how the issue is kept under the radar. The American people will be much, much more deeply engaged.

We Need to Move Beyond Reagan

Bottom Line Up Front: No matter what America's short term future holds (a liberal White House, a liberal Congress, etc.), the long term future of the conservative movement depends on our ability to evolve in substance and unify around principles, not personalities.

Anybody who blogs on this site can list the reasons why they're an American conservative. In fact, many conservatives who don't blog, or those who don't even know what a blog is, can list their reasons with an adequate level of logic in their explanation. But not every conservative is called to be part of a conservative movement; or, more importantly, not every conservative is attracted to be a participant of one or more parts of the conservative movement.

The reason I was attracted to the conservative movement as a student at the beginning of this decade was because I felt that the Right, significantly more so than the Left, had a better combination of message and infrastructure that could consistently win elections and legislative battles. One of the reasons why? It seemed to me at the time that the Right was a lot more concerned with principles than personalities when it came to political battles, the old cliche being that "Democrats fall in love, and Republicans fall in line." The Right has lost this advantage, not only because of the Democrats have successfully evolved their infrastructure to fit modern times, as Jon Henke notes; conservatives have also become intellectually lazy. Case in point: our movement's continuing love affair with Ronald Reagan.

Dinesh D'Souza - 2008 Defending the American Dream Summit - Video

ARRA News Service - Dinesh D'Souza spoke at AFP 2008 Defending the American Dream Summit. An author and political science expert, D'Souza at age 26 was the senior policy advisor to President Reagan. The video has several vignettes. One of D'Souza's best is his attempt to explain to his mother, in India, about the American political system. He said, "there are two parties: the stupid party and the evil party. He is a proud member of the stupid party, but occasionally, (like with the bailout), we do things that are both stupid and evil - and we call that bipartisanship."




Thoughts from AFP: Where's the Conservative Movement

 I spent some time at Americans for Prosperity’s second annual conference in Washington, DC this weekend. I will have several things to say, but let me focus on a series of conversations that I heard in the hallways and at the dinners. Where is the conservative movement going?

First, this crowd is very pessimistic about the election. Nearly all were not supporters of John McCain in the primary, and they weren’t excited about a McCain presidency. But they didn’t think that they were going to have that problem. Everyone was talking about a Barack Obama presidency.

Second, people were worried about the Democratic agenda in the next Congress. Card-check, health care, and the environment all came up regularly. I also mentioned that the first bill signed into law in the Clinton Administration was Motor Voter, which provided, 3 years later, the statutory basis of  Obama’s lawsuit, ACORN v. State of Illinois.

Third, no one sees who the groups will be. Furthermore, the old conservative movement leaders weren’t there. I saw Grover Norquist and Ed Meese, but I didn’t see Morton Blackwell, Paul Weyrich, Ed Feulner, or similar figures. Interestingly, the old conservative movement leaders who were there were Reagan people but not Goldwater people. Many of the old conservative movement institutions predated Reagan.

Fourth, the fact that those leaders weren’t there raises the question: who will be the next leaders. None of these groups have a credible succession plan. The stature of these groups will likely collapse. National Review, which does have some wonderful people but cannot be said to be the opinion leader it once was, was cited repeatedly as an example.

Fifth, people hate the bailout. I think that we will find that this issue will resonate with the grassroots for years to come. If Republicans and conservatives build a real grassroots, the movement will be able to fund itself without the instincts that led to the bailout. This will bring, in some ways, the grassroots into alignment with the people responsible for building and executing the party apparatus. If we are not, we will continue to be dependent upon business leaders who saw the bailout as necessary. If the movement cares about taking control of the party, it will need to figure out how to fund the party. Otherwise, this tension will continue.

Sixth, there is a lack of leaders. People are interested in Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal. None of the other governors appeal. People know the names Jim DeMint and Eric Cantor. There aren’t other high-profile leaders that seemed to resonate. I don’t hear much interest in the other people who ran for President. The next round of GOP governors are going to create new models of conservative governance. And why didn’t no members of congress come to this meeting? Only James Inhofe, who got an award. Oy.

It really seems like it is time to build “the next right.” This old one doesn’t seem to exist any more. We will need new political leaders. We will need new organizational leaders. We will need new ideas.

I think that it is clear that AFP will be a leader in this space. AFP had more energy than any other group I have seen recently. They had 1,857 paid registrations in October 3 weeks before the election. Trade associations and unions put more people into rooms in DC, but I can’t think of any conservative interest group other than NRA which has a larger national convention.


A Porkbusters Call To Video Arms

Use phrases like "networked journalism" or "citizen journalism" in the presence of conservatives and you're likely to see a lot of blank stares. The few conservatives who are familiar with the terms are just as likely to scoff or shake their heads in disgust.

That's too bad because networked journalism presents a great opportunity for the right to counteract liberal media bias. In the past, readers and sources could only sit on the sidelines and gripe when the "professionals" shirked great stories or produced unbalanced pieces. Now we can do the work they won't -- or can't.

We don't need the liberal media because we have the Internet. If you can't beat 'em, then I say bypass 'em.

As the executive producer of, a video-sharing site designed to promote conservative values and principles, this is an issue I've discussed in theory several times in recent months. Now it's time to test the theory in practice.

Today, Eyeblast joined forces with the Porkbusters coalition to launch a networked journalism project dubbed "Porkbusters On Patrol." The gist of it is to recruit stringers to produce on-site video reports about the most egregious pork-barrel projects funded by the federal government.

This is a chance for The Next Right community to produce the kind of quality journalism we long to see in the mainstream media -- and to have fun doing it.

If you don't have a digital videocamera to shoot footage for a story in your area, you can apply to get one for free and keep it as payment for your contribution to this project. People who already have cameras will be paid for assigned stories. Eyeblast also will cover the mileage costs of citizen video reporters on assignment.

If I've piqued your interest, click on over to the new blog at Eyeblast for the details, and spread the word to anyone who might be interested. And share your thoughts on the project in the comments here and at Eyeblast.

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