Riehl brings up a point I hear quite a lot:
How is it I am supposed to get all fired up about raising money for a GOP that hasn't really looked conservative and perhaps not even worth supporting for a number of years? People will blog AND raise money for things they believe in. Maybe if more Conservative and center-Right bloggers started to believe in the GOP, again - it wouldn't be such a difficult thing to do?
It's a good question, but ultimately a straw man. No one is talking about the right blogs becoming a cheering section for the GOP. This is not what the netroots are to the Dems. What I think I'm talking about is a rightroots that is an independent political force to change the GOP.
Case in point: the 2006 Rhode Island Senate primary.
Many conservative bloggers objected to the NRSC and the RNC propping up Lincoln Chafee. The objections were 1) why prop up someone who is probably a goner anyway, 2) why waste resources on someone on whose vote we could count on maybe a third of the time, when other conservative Senators were equally endangered, and 3) why blow the NRSC's national fundraising and reputation as a good steward of donor-activists' money in an uphill bid to save the most hated "Republican" Senator when the house was burning down across the board?
Republican bloggers fulminated over the race. They clearly wanted Stephen Laffey to win, or at a minimum to keep the national party from poking the base in the eye. But I didn't see very many fundraising appeals for Laffey to blunt the NRSC's $1 million+ infusion into the race.
Would such an intervention have constituted "cheerleading" or "shilling" for the national GOP? Hardly. It would have been the rightroots organizing against the national GOP!
Sometimes the party will be right, and sometimes the party will be wrong. Even as someone who's worked in the party, I want an independent force that can set it right when it goes wrong. We currently don't have that. And it isn't just fundraising, but knowing what buttons to push advocacy-wise. The biggest contribution of the netroots to 2006 wasn't the money they directly raised, but the "use it or lose it" campaign that pushed members with huge warchests to put some of that money into the bid to recapture Congress.
Has anyone even bothered to ask safe small-state Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) to unload some of his $14 million warchest to help save us from complete annihilation in the Senate? No. So, instead, we have the RNC taking out a $5 million line of credit.
How is helping conservatives like John Shadegg and Tom McClintock "shilling"? Should both be part of the next Congress, they will be reliable voices against all that is wrong with the current party. The pundit site of the conservative blogosphere may not want to help the GOP establishment, but they sure don't want to help the people fighting against that establishment either. This isn't just a refusal to help the bad guys, but playing Switzerland when there are actual good guys in the fight.
But then again, I return to my point about needing new voices. Many bloggers, and I think Rick Moran and Joyner channel this, style themselves as new-age George Wills -- pundits who are above all else committed to the correctness and consistency of their own ideas, not any broader party or even cause. Just as George Will won't become Karl Rove overnight, many bloggers won't change because activism is not their cup of tea. That's fine and respectable, but don't talk down the necessity of political action or pretend that punditry is the only way. Conservatism had a well-developed pundit class before bloggers came along. It is our activist class that is wanting.