Gary Andres makes a very important point about the Left's new infrastructure in a recent Washington Times article. The whole thing is very worth reading, but I want to focus on the infrastructure.
Democrats regularly benefit from well-organized, well-financed and effective outside liberal advocacy groups who relentlessly investigate, attack and criticize Republicans. The GOP lacks this kind of advocacy infrastructure.
Glenn Reynolds calls this sort of thing "battlespace preparation". It's an appropriate term.
These outside groups have long existed, but the rise of the new media has accelerated the Left's political machine. The organic elements, such as Moveon.org, Daily Kos, MyDD, Atrios, Talking Points Memo, etc, arose between 1998-2003, and they have been reinforced since then by very savvy, cultivated elements, such as the Center for American Progress, Media Matters, the Center for Independent Media and many more.
The Left has taken their existing coalition and grassroots-based infrastructure, and combined it with this new internet-based Progressive Infrastructure to move messaging, mobilization and money into more effective channels. They have seen three benefits from this.
- Better information and strategy coordination among coalition groups and the broader movement
- New channels for signaling and mobilizing the activist base
- Better targeting and influence of the media
Gary Andres continues...
Liberal activists have grown increasingly restive and well-organized over the past 15 years. Their grievances mounted when Republican political power grew in Washington between 1995 and 2006. Impeachment, the disputed 2000 election and the Iraq war all have helped focus liberal anger like a laser. [...]
[The Right has] also suffered over the past decade because they lacked a coherent narrative about what they would do with government once they controlled it - or at least a vision that could sustain a majority of American public opinion support. They needed new ideas and communications channels for these policies. Liberals are working on such a comprehensive model. [...]
[The Right] will never possess liberals' passion for the prize. But they need to build new advocacy institutions simply to fight back against the increasingly sophisticated and effective liberal infrastructure. If they don't, the "just leave me alone" conservatives will get some unwelcome company, overrun by the insurgent liberals at the gate.
This cannot be emphasized enough. The Right is not just being beat at the polls. That pendulum will swing back and forth. The Right is being beat at the communications game. You cannot lose the communications game and expect the pendulum to swing back in your direction. It may swing away from the Left again, but it will not swing back to a "limited government, leave-us-alone" Right unless the Right can identify its unifying grievance, and communicate a clear, coherent, consistent and compelling narrative - an alternative vision of government to the one currently being sold.
New distribution channels do not simply allow us to communicate "more"; they will allow us to move messaging, money and mobilization outside of the traditional establishment channels - from the entrenched bureaucracy of the Right, to a new, more vigorous and relevant "leave us alone" movement.