The Grassroots Versus the Establishment

Sarah Palin has polarized the establishment from the grassroots in a way we haven't seen in quite some time. This is happening both within the GOP and in the war between the GOP and the media/Democrats. Establishment Republican consultants are still waiting for Palin's first  round of interviews to declare this a done deal, though the speech last night went a long way towards assuaging their initial concerns.

But the fact still remains that if you are thrilled about Palin, you have a grassroots sensibility. If you are not, you have an elite/establishment sensibility. The delegates on the floor are the grassroots. Mike Murphy and Peggy Noonan are the elite. The dividing lines have always been there, but Palin provides the ultimate litmus test.

You can put me firmly with the grassroots on this one.

Before Palin, McCain was running an establishment campaign. He had a conventional strategy, relied on big dollar fundraisers, and didn't fire up the base. Part of this was who John McCain is -- he is not instinctively a red meat kind of guy. While McCain's bipartisan bona fides allow him to run stronger than a generic Republican, it was unclear that he could get the volunteer energy to squeeze out those last three points that only a good GOTV operation can bring. That's because the party faced an almost epic enthusiasm gap. This enthusiasm gap threatened to negate any of the benefits of McCain's bipartisanship. McCain's initial approach would bring him close -- but not close enough.

Palin injected a badly needed jolt of people power into the campaign. The maverick spirit is not gone. It's been reinforced in some key ways. McCain is still the same bipartisan guy he always was -- but Palin provides the grassroots with a reason to crawl on glass to make the phone calls and knock on doors and get out the vote. We didn't have that before. We have it now. Polls don't completely factor it in -- and the establishment tends to discount it as playing to the base. But it is the dark matter of campaigns -- that stuff that gives the campaign a good vibe that lets it put its best foot forward. 

Last night represented a triumph of grassroots politics in a campaign we thought had left it for dead. And just as with Republican icons before, the establishment will once again be proven timid and wrong. 

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over 120,000

that youtube is up to over 123,000 views in just one day - amazing

Grassroots triumph or just another sellout?

Okay, the grassroots are out "crawling on glass" to mount a good GOTV operation for John McCain.  But the fact remains, McCain is still the same bipartisan guy as he always was -- where is the grassroots triumph in that?

What you are describing is yet another sellout of the conservative grassroot base of the Republican Party by the political elite of the party.  What you are describing, my dear friend, is how the heart and soul of the Republican Party can be duped into running like lemmings over the political cliff of liberalism, and think it progress.  Last night did not represent a triumph of grassroot politics in a campaign. It represented yet another sellout of the grassroots by Establishment Republicans, using the innocent and well-meaning appointment of one, Sarah Palin, as their  Republican icon.

ex animo


But can they govern?

Here’s the problem Patrick: I seriously question whether the “grassroots Republicans” have enough talent to effectively GOVERN. Sure, they can win elections, but the grassroots types - like the Monica Goodlings of the world - have generally proven incompetent in office.  And isn't effective conservative governance the bottom line here?

There should be a healthy tension between the two camps, like there was during the Reagan Administration. But never forget Ronald Reagan needed Jim Baker - the ultimate establishment guy - to be “Ronald Reagan” once he was in office.