Change Won't Come from the Top Down

Save the GOP alerted this Kos nugget on Our Conservative Movement Leaders retreating to a country estate in Virginia to plan the future for us:

I attended one of these for our side in early 2005, and the experience was so miserable that it ended up being a major inspiration for Crashing the Gate. It was full of the same progressive "leaders" who had gotten us into our predicament, and their solutions were the same bullshit that had gotten us in the mess in the first place. So I left that retreat even more motivated to wage war against our party's political and issue-group establishment. Our victories in recent years have come, in large part, from our ability to bypass that crowd.

Those early tensions are mostly erased, as a new balance has been struck by issue groups more and more aware of the need to be part of a holistic progressive movement, rather than focus obsessively and divisively on their own single pet cause. It really is night and day. But that didn't come out of that conference. And it certainly wasn't billed as a way to generate a new grassroots movement. The notion of having a bunch of top-down movement leaders create a new "national grassroots" operation by fiat from up and above, by the same jokers who created the mess the GOP is currently in, is pretty laughable.

I believe we have fallen prey to the same problem that befell the left in its years in the wilderness. You had environmental groups, abortion rights groups, womens groups, unions, minority groups --  but no progressive movement.

Today on the right we have social conservative groups, economic groups -- subdivided into tax cutters and spending hawks, national security groups, gun groups, etc. but no truly mass-based conservative movement. Perhaps the best exponent of across-the-board conservatism is Rush, but he has no lists and no way to mobilize his audience directly to donate and volunteer.

When conservatism was a minority we may have needed single issue groups to pick off, say, pro-gun union members. But since Reagan, an entire generation has grown up thinking of themselves as nothing but conservatives. And they have no representation among the 1980s-era groups.

Whatever happened at that country estate will be irrelevant to the future of the movement. I'll bet not a single person under 40 was even at the table. The future will be shaped digitally, Here Comes Everybody-like, on blogs like this one, RedState, Save the GOP, the American Scene, and the dozens I have a feeling will be created in the wake of Tuesday's wake up call.

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Can we get past the age question?

I am 51 and am just back from working on a campaign that was lost by a 27 year old manager who couldn't break free of tactics that may have worked in the 90s but were obsolete by 2006.  I also happen to be the best internet researcher in our office (soon to be shut down thanks to the youngster!) and the only one who monitors blogs on a daily basis.

So you bet that not a single person under 40 was even at the table?  Maybe and maybe not but the real question is not age but attitude.  How many people at the table, regardless of age, were so invested in obsolete organizations and rigid dogmatism that they automatically reject any proposal that does not pass an ideological litmus test laid down in 1983?  How many are willing to dump 40 years of campaign strategies that have become shopworn and predictable.  (Like hoarding financial resources until the last month of the campaign so the opposition can build up an insurmountable lead but the manager or consultant can shine because they closed a gap that never should have opened.)

I have watched Virginia Republicans lose multiple state wide races because 20 something managers were so tied to their polling data and campaign manuals, they were unable to apply common sense to winning elections and now I've seen the same thing happen to my boss.  Contrary to popular belief on the net, young people do not have a monopoly on adaptibility.  Indeed, if you attend some of the same Hill staff meetings I do, you find they can be among the most rigid and unimaginative thinkers in the room.

We need innovative thinking to salvage the conservative movement and/or the Republican party and a great deal of that thinking is available from people with grey hair.

You're right

It's the age of the ideas, not the age of the people.

Take it from this age peer of "Woodbridge"

a lot of us old Reaganites forgot more practical politics than the newbies ever learned.

Cyberspace may have radically changed how we deliver the message and obtain funds for the message; but to differ with Marshall McLuhan, the medium is not the message.

 

DITTOS - It's not age, its attitude

We have our 'elites' and our 'power structure' and it just got broken.

There are 60 year old regular-guy conservatives in the grassroots and there are 22YO staffer sucked into the establishment power structure. Who will lead us forward? The grassroots bottoms-up listeners, not the careerist operatives trying to hijack the people's concerns for someone's personal ambitions.  It's not age, it's attitude. We need servant-leaders.

It's servant-leaders vs careerists and opportunists.

I am 44 and this statement applies to me:

But since Reagan, an entire generation has grown up thinking of themselves as nothing but conservatives. And they have no representation among the 1980s-era groups.

I am a manstream unhyphenated conservative. I am annoyed by the 'I wont vote GOP because they are only 80% with me' and the neo- paleo- and non- /RINO variations on the basic conservative core principles.

My core principles and the core principles that I think the Republican party should adhere to are here:

http://travismonitor.blogspot.com/2008/11/republican-core-values.html

Here's my take on the Republicans core principles: The GOP is the party of liberty, limited government, judges who rule on law and not make them, law and order (rule of law), traditional values and family values, free enterprise, equality of opportunity, strong national defense, Constitutional rights and individual responsibility.

Let me add "Federalism and Government that is as close to the people as possible."

If we can rally around the core principles and get ourselves unified, we will be in much better shape.

If Republicans want to win..

If Republicans are going to win anything again, they need to:

Come up with a clear, simple, forceful message.

Stop trying to pander to liberal moderates; address moderates as a group.

Run an organized campaign that attacks substantive issues with clear memes.

Avoid scandals involving bathroom sex, corruption, and so on.
 

Moderates want COMPETENCE not mush

 I had and I am sure you may have had this too: multiple conversations where it became clear people were voting with practically zero ideological inkling at all. And in reviewing the election results, It hit me like a thunderbold this election as to why the GOP was losing moderate voters who seemed to lemming like run to liberal Democrats: This was not an ideological loss at all - ie neither the RINOs nor the conservatives were rejected for their respected ideologies. ALL the Rs were rejected for a simple reason: Failure to perform up to snuff in office.

We've been here before. Here's a study from 1982 from an academic who figured out that the Reagan win did not indicate a conservative shift in the electorate:

http://www.csulb.edu/~astevens/posc420/files/hibbs.html

Moderates picked Reagan because Carter was a failed President. Now, alas, that may indeed mean that if Obama succeeds, he gets 2 terms. But that wont make the country more liberal (just our policies).

I mean, think about it - how many people actually up and decided "I am voting for Obama because he is very liberal and so am I." with only about 20% of the electorate self-identified liberals, perhaps no more than half did that. They voted for "change". but change from what?

Change from things getting screwed up.

The lesson here is simple: THERE IS NO IDEOLOGICAL CURE WHEN THE PROBLEM IS NOT IDEOLOGY IN THE FIRST PLACE. IT WAS PERFORMANCE, COMPETENCE & RESULTS.

Stop trying to pander to liberal moderates; address moderates as a group.

We have tried pandering to moderates by chucking out our principles, or by pandering too much. It ends up not working. Why? For the simple reason that you end up serving mush and its not "MUSH" the moderates want - its COMPETENCE. They want what works and are not actually "in between" conservatives and liberals, but are rather like cafeteria pickers, they have picked some from column A and some from column B. they want to go with what WORKS.

So what they really need out of us is COMPETENCE. So how to win them:

  • Stick to our core principles, but present them in reasoned and non-threatening ways. Don't be extreme.
  • Don't be meanspirited/racist/denigrating towards any group
  • I suspect that negative campaigning that paints the other side as extreme without making you look shrill would work (but shrillness backfires viz. Dole ad)
  • Exhibit and excude confidence and competence - show that you are for what WORKS and can deliver on it.
  • Similarly, you will want to win them on other character traits, ie , openness, honesty, integrity, ethics, intelligence/thoughtfulness, caring/compassion, willingness to listen to voters, pragmatism

I dont think right-wing elected officials lose based on ideology per se, they lose the middle voters when they can be cast in negative personal light due to their positions. Did they not listen to voters, did the come across as too rigid, or did they fail to show that they are thinkng and caring? If you CAN show you are thoughtful, caring and are listening to voters, then you CAN win the voters over while still holding to conservative principles (although they may need to bend to pragmatic considerations from time to time).

Now if someone can give me a role model of this on GOP side, I'd like to know who it is.

Moderates want COMPETENCE not mush. And if we deliver it consistently, we can get back to winning.

Avoid scandals involving bathroom sex, corruption, and so on.

Yeah, that would help too.

Caveat

Well said, this seems very likely to work. However, I have a question: what if competence conflicts with principle? The goal of the conservative movement, after all, is to achieve various ideological things - what happens if those things make it harder to govern well?

On traditional values, for example - the War on Drugs costs an incredible amount of money and is exacerbating problems of poverty, crime, full prisons etc.

Or take a precept of small-government conservatism: if wealth redistribution becomes practically nil, inequality does grow and that leads to lots of problems that affect ordinary people. Aren't they going to perceive this as incompetence?

yup. and carter wasn't incompetent with the economy

economists revere Volkher for a reason -- he destroyed Carter's presidency to save the nation.

Competency should trump ideology. Why do things that are idiotic, just because you don't like the solutions???

Carter was to economics

what LBJ was to fighting wars in Asia...."we destroyed the village in order to save it" 

Obama is president solely because of voters too young to have lived through the Carter years; well, now's your chance if you missed it the first time 

I disagree

The Carter administration had to deal with stagflation caused by the price shock of the OPEC embargo. Carter brought in Paul Volcker to fix the problem and he did.. by drastically squeezing the money supply (remember 18% interest?) in order to bring inflation under control.

It worked, but the recession it caused paved the way for the Reagan landslide. There's really little controversy about the history of this. Reagan also reappointed Volcker, for the record.

The current economic situation is not similar to what Carter faced.

 

Exactly!

"Here's my take on the Republicans core principles: The GOP is the party of liberty, limited government, judges who rule on law and not make them, law and order (rule of law), traditional values and family values, free enterprise, equality of opportunity, strong national defense, Constitutional rights and individual responsibility."


Perfect. Absolutely perfect. How to get there though - that's the question .. And as I said in a previous comment on a different post by Patrick, we need to do it locally.

Real conservatives fed up with the GOP's power structure need to recruit real conservatives to run for Congress. We need to turn the establishment upside down. They've failed us, unfortunately, and we need to prove that its conservatism - not pandering to moderates and liberals that will reunite the party.

The future will be shaped

The future will be shaped digitally, Here Comes Everybody-like, on blogs like this one, RedState, Save the GOP, the American Scene, and the dozens I have a feeling will be created in the wake of Tuesday's wake up call.

Ha!  You read my mind: www.theconservativewilderness.com. Just started it this weekend - my first shot at blogging.

Voters in my home state of Maine just voted to repeal a tax hike enacted by the Democrat-led legislature, then re-elected the Democrats by even wider margins than before.  We're fresh out of ideas up here and I fear if we don't get something going nationally, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe may be the last GOP Senators we ever elect up here...

Can somebody please tell me....

 

Sorry -- "on Sun"... on Sunday 

 

ex animo

davidfarrar

 

 

Dead Right Freedoms Truth . . .

The lesson here is simple: THERE IS NO IDEOLOGICAL CURE WHEN THE PROBLEM IS NOT IDEOLOGY IN THE FIRST PLACE. IT WAS PERFORMANCE, COMPETENCE & RESULTS.

'Nuff said. The message was wobbly and weak. McCain, while a "great guy" is a centrist and Obama screwed him royaly on public finace and McCain never made an issue of it.

So what they really need out of us is COMPETENCE. So how to win them:

  • Stick to our core principles, but present them in reasoned and non-threatening ways. Don't be extreme.
  • Don't be meanspirited/racist/denigrating towards any group
  • I suspect that negative campaigning that paints the other side as extreme without making you look shrill would work (but shrillness backfires viz. Dole ad)
  • Exhibit and excude confidence and competence - show that you are for what WORKS and can deliver on it.
  • Similarly, you will want to win them on other character traits, ie , openness, honesty, integrity, ethics, intelligence/thoughtfulness, caring/compassion, willingness to listen to voters, pragmatism

Love it. This is where we need to be.

Change will come from the top down...

...only it will be disguised as a bottom up rebuilding.

When the architects of the rebuilding effort start referring to themselves as "we" and the membership as "donors and volunteers, you can rest assured things aren't going to change that much from the present structure.

Sadly, the same is true with Rebuild the Party effort.  If you don't believe me, look at what Patrick Ruffini and Michael Turk, "former RNC eCampaign Directors" have outlined as the foundation for their "new" plan.

True to form, there is no "About Us" button on this website. It never really gets around to telling us just who is proposing this plan. It goes on to suggest that other "ideas" can be submitted to the plan, but it never really explains who the "we" is that has the power to incorporate any additional suggestions into "The Plan," if, indeed, any other ideas will be added to the plan

Sure, the plan has co-signers, a "Coalition" if you will, but as far as I can see, what we have here is the work of a couple of former RNC eCampaign Directors trying to pass their plan off as some sort of grassroots effort, to be delivered to the top of the RNC, to be implemented from the top, down.

If Patrick Ruffini and Michael Turk were serious about creating a true grassroot plan to rebuild the party, they should actually go to the grassroots to get their plan. This means allowing the grassroot to present their proposals and to actually vote on the ones the grassroots want adopted into the plan.

What we have here is the classic, "We lead, You follow" mentality that must first be changed before any real rebuilding of the party can be completed.

 

     ex animo

 

    davidfarrar

 

Dems are talking NOW about taking your retirement savings

Good luck to all of you stupid folks who voted cheerfully for your OBAMA NATION. 

 As we speak here on this blog...Nancy Pelosi and and the dems are discussing (right now) to take your retirement savings and spread it around.  Their excuse to take your savings will be to shore up Social Security...in other words why should you have more than others that didn't work for it 

There goes your American Dream....YOU VOTED IT AWAY FOOLS.  You that have 401Ks and the like should be very afraid....most of you cannot even get any of it until you retire and so there is no way for you to protect it...KISS IT GOOD BYE!!!

only idiots put money into the 401ks without

expecting them to be taxed.

Surely you want to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan?

The Republican Party needs a designated driver

Every party includes at least one.  You know, that guy nursing a Coke instead of a beer.  The girl who stays sober while her friends get stupid.  The one holding the keys, ready to help their friends return home safely. The Designated Driver.  Every party needs one.  In the wake of Obamanation, the Republican Party surely does.  


We designated conservatives must be a light in the darkness, wherever we may be.  As designated drivers for our moderate republican friends who drank McCain's spiked Kool-Aid, it's time to take the keys to the Party bus and steer the GOP back home to core principles!
 
Am I discouraged about the 2008 Democratic Party election tsunami?  No.  I hold my candle of conservative values high.  To be successful in 2010 and beyond, the Republican Party and its candidates for national and state offices must hold up lit candles of conservative principles for everyone to see.  If we designated conservatives don’t stand up for our values, who will?
 
For more, visit the Designated Conservative.