Are the Rightroots More Conservative or Republican?

Rick Moran poses some pointed questions I'm eager to respond to and plan to shortly. -Patrick

Patrick Ruffini and Mindy Finn have a nice write up in today’s Washington Post regarding their new web effort Rebuild the The website features a list of endorsers that constitutes a who’s who of the rightysphere as well as a plan they would like to see the GOP adopt that, includes the recruitment of 5 million new Republican online activists, reorganizing the RNC, developing a new fundraising model, and rebuilding the grass roots infrastructure of the party.

All ambitious goals to be sure. But are they achievable?

Everybody agrees the GOP must become more web savvy and that a better connection has to be made to conservatives online. Few would also argue with the notion that efforts must be made to catch up to the Democrats in online fundraising and organization. But then we have the problem with the Republican party itself and its refusal to get serious about the kinds of reforms that would make a conservative like me proud to belong once again.

If Ruffini wants me to promote candidates, raise money, and urge volunteers to work for campaigns he better put a burr under the ass of the party leadership and get them busy on changing just about everything about the organization that contributed to its defeat these last two elections. These are not just technical adjustments or changes around the edges. We are talking about fundamental alterations in people, policy, and ideology that would make the Republican party worth getting excited about again.


Republicans are about ready to fall into a couple of traps that losing parties apparently can’t avoid when the dust settles following a debacle such as they have experienced the last two election cycles. The first is the belief that the reason for being rejected by the voters is that their candidates weren’t “pure” enough ideologically and that only by pushing forward “true conservatives” can the GOP find its way back.

I don’t dispute the necessity for putting up more conservatives for office. But the idea that you can have some kind of lock step litmus tests to determine who a “true” conservative might be is nuts – and counterproductive. There are plenty of competitive congressional districts where one of those “true” conservatives would get slaughtered by most Democrats. When 70% of the country does not identify itself as “conservative,” you are deliberately setting up the GOP for defeat if you advocate only “real” conservatives receive support.

There are candidates that would be completely acceptable to the vast majority of conservatives who would fail some of the litmus tests given by the base. A party that seeks to diminish its ranks by making membership dependent on a rigid set of positions on issues is a party doomed to maintaining its minority status. The Democrats made the exact same mistake in 2000 and it cost them in 2002 and 2004.

Only when they stopped listening to people like Kos and recruited dozens of candidates that reflected the realities of their specific district did they break through in 2006 and 2008. These candidates were not hard left ideologues but much more pragmatic in their politics. That didn’t mean they were “conservative” or even “moderate.” It means they were attractive candidates with decent name recognition, well funded, well organized, and in tune with local concerns. And they wiped the floor with our guys.

The other trap the GOP appears to be springing on itself is the idea of “me-tooism.” “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” may have worked for Bugs Bunny, but to see Republicans seeking to alter the disastrous Bush/Obama policies on bailouts only by proposing less money or nibbling around the edges rather than uniting to oppose these fundamental alterations in American society only proves that the vast majority of them are not worthy of conservative support. On this, the most important issue that has come before the Congress in a generation, the GOP is failing the test.

Pat believes that changes in the party can be effected by uniting the conservative community online and forcing the GOP to make necessary alterations. I believe he is being overly optimistic. What should come first, party reform or rightroots activism? What good would all of Pat’s great ideas be if they came to fruition and the GOP was still a party of pork-loving, deficit embracing, open border hugging, lobbyist kissing corrupt hacks? Is Ruffini saying that by initiating the kind of activism he is looking for online that the party will, either naturally or by osmosis, magically reform itself into an organization that conservatives would feel justified in backing?

This, is not an insignificant point. As is stands now, the rightroots are more conservative than they are Republican. And the noises being made by many GOP officeholders are not encouraging. The transformation of our economy into some kind of quasi-socialist managed disaster is going on with barely a peep from Republicans. Yes there are some like Senator Inhofe who are trying to hold the line. But if the GOP is interested in employing the conservative online community in a bid to help the party back to power, it would be helpful if a few more congressmen and senators joined the fight, proving that they were worthy of conservative support by acting like, well, you know, conservatives.

In the end, despite the undoubted genius of Ruffini and his friends, I can’t see him making much headway until the Republican party rediscovers its fundamental philosophy and its primary purpose for existing; to elect honest and ethical candidates who espouse conservative values . Not litmus tests but rather shared principles of governance with room for disagreement and debate.

Can Ruffini’s template for conservative activism and organization goad the GOP into that kind of a reformation? I think Pat is counting on that happening. But from where I’m sitting, it would appear to be an uphill battle to motivate online conservatives to join a cause where their activism would be exploited by those who don’t share their principles or care for their opinions.

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you don't read kos much.

Martin and Tester sound very different, and yet he's supporting them both.

Pragmatism dictates we return to principles

Yes, of course the 'rightroots' is conservative not GOP, and a quick gander at the venting of spleen over McCain and various GOP actions on say Malkin's site, or that preponderance of Freepers in the 3rd party camp, or the various rightroots RonPaulites, or people like a certain Rick Moran who seemed at times wobbly on the whole electing McCain idea, or ... you get the picture.

And that's a good thing. We dont need a GOP cheerleading squad (although mid-campaign, it wouldn't hurt to stop fragging the nominee ;-) ) we need the diversity of voices and journalistic efforts on the right to be a source of ideas, information, activism and wisdom, to 'find our way forward'.

The first is the belief that the reason for being rejected by the voters is that their candidates weren’t “pure” enough ideologically and that only by pushing forward “true conservatives” can the GOP find its way back.

We need to be pragmatic about these things, ie "do what works", but pragmatism demands we think about the GOP brand and realize that the so-called RINOs ruin the 'brand'. That is what has happened, and you acknowledge it with your attack on 'me-tooism'. Such an approach kills the motivation to support the party, and McCain suffered from it, if you consider the number of conservatives (in the millions) who didnt vote for him. If you look at McCain, he could have attacked Obama on taxes, cap-and-trade, amnesty, and several other agenda items .... if he were any other nominee except himself! We sent a me-too guy in there and he had no real campaign to run on, except he was more experienced than Obama!

The election result is a final repudiation of the myth that running to the middle works for the GOP. That doesn't mean the polar opposite, running pure conservative, is the 'solution', but to me it means that CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES ARE NOT THE PROBLEM.

The problem with Bush was performance. Yes, he won the Iraq war, and he and the military deserve praise for it. But winning it in 2008 instead of 2005 or sooner has cost us huge credibility. Fiscal issues have hurt the GOP image, and of course the economy crisis has, rightly or wrongly, been laid at Bush's feet.

In the end, despite the undoubted genius of Ruffini and his friends, I can’t see him making much headway until the Republican party rediscovers its fundamental philosophy and its primary purpose for existing; to elect honest and ethical candidates who espouse conservative values . Not litmus tests but rather shared principles of governance with room for disagreement and debate.

This is a good way to put it, but there is devil in the details of what agenda to wrap aroud that.

The GOP brand is now a confusion in people's minds. You are right that we could rebuld the brand by simply standing up and opposing the Obama/Democrat agenda that is excessively socialist. That means saying no to the NewDeal 2.0 they have planned, opposing cap-n-trade, etc.

Pragmatism requires a return to principles, and once those principles are well-laid out, the agenda will fall into our laps - Stop the Obama/Democrat socialistic tendencies.


You first say this:

the idea that you can have some kind of lock step litmus tests to determine who a “true” conservative might be is nuts – and counterproductive.

And then move on to this:

In the end, despite the undoubted genius of Ruffini and his friends, I can’t see him making much headway until the Republican party rediscovers its fundamental philosophy and its primary purpose for existing; to elect honest and ethical candidates who espouse conservative values .

Rediscovering a fundamental philosophy of conservatism can't be separated form establishing a litmus test for conservatism. Those who don't accept the philosophy by definition won't be "true conservatives".

The Democrats don't have this problem. They are clear about where they want to go and how they want to get there. Until we get that sort of clarity we'll be resticted to running on the "we're not the Democrats" platform. And frequently we'll be wrong about that.



GOP needs a more robust agenda than

Stop the Obama/Democrat socialistic tendencies.

To rebuild they will need actually  policy proposals for what do do about:

-47 million uninsured, many more underinsured, and fast rising health care costs

-rising unemployment ,   headed toward greater than 10%?                                                                

-dependence on foreign oil and rising energy costs (gas prices will not stay cheap)

-ongoing housing crisis

I think republicans in congress should take the lead in finding places to cut the budget to decrease (at least slightly) the the likely  huge deficit spending of the socialists dems in DC..  Isn't there major savings to be found in places like the farm bill?


Second this!

It's not enough to simply pontificate to "stop Obama/Democrat/socialistic tendencies."   Depending on how things go the next couple years, you may find a receptive audience to those ideas but how would you expect to convert that to votes if you don't offer competing proposals and policies?  In the absence of those, all that voters and especially young voters would have to go on are the Bush years -- which frankly have been pretty much an exercise in socialistic tendencies a la the Medicare drug bill.  Another thought:  you MUST in some way credibly address energy independence and climate change if you ever hope to win more young voters.  If you have credible science to back the claims that climate change isn't occurring, you need to present them clearly, front and center.  If you don't have solid science, you need to stop denying it is occurring and address it.  Young people feel their lives depend on addressing energy and climate issues.

there is no credible research saying climate change isn't


All of the proponents of no climate change are paid for (often covertly) by oil companies. Can we say corporate propaganda?

Jeepers creepers, even EVOLUTION has scientific alternatives present in peer-reviewed literature! Even GRAVITY! (I read that paper, so believe me it exists. somebody hates dark matter)

Thing is, climate change is simply the following of a trendline, that has been crosscorellated to the Nth degree. I mean, they have statistics from an iceberg race in Alaska, ice cores under Antarctica, etc, etc. This has been studied, if not excessively, pretty damn close.

It's surprising that so many people aren't concerned about our Class M Status.

Nevermind whether we're responsible or not, we live on the inner edge of habitability -- that means that our greenhouse layer is thinner than most habitable planets, and that making it any more reflective may mean the end of life on earth.

Rightroots and Republicans.

I think the 'rightroots' are more libertarian than the GOP or the country as a whole. That already limits their effectiveness.

Republicans as a whole are pretty conservative.

Lastly we have the GOP leadership, who can't be described as anything but liberal.

The rightroots are quite socialy liberal and very fiscally conservative. The GOP base is much more socially conservative and not quite as fiscally conservative. And the party elite is both fiscally and socially liberal. I don't think that three elements as disparate as those can coexist for long. At least one needs to be replaced.  So coming up with a way to break that logjam is an urgent matter.

That's what I've seen too

I think the future of either party is the battle for libertarian values, of which the Millenial generation seem to hold in slightly higher amounts than past generations. (Although it's a communal libertarianism rather than an isolationist libertarianism, if that makes sense.)

I wish you were right but I can not agree

No generation trully favors limited government and much of today's youth wouldn't even know what the concept means.  everybody wnats government to do something to fix this or that problem, even though when it does it is an epic fail.

Alotugh I don't know what you mean by a "communal libertarianism" unless you mean it in the same way Noam Chomsky refers to his beliefs as "libertarin socialism" in which case it is a contradiction in terms.

When all you've seen is increased gov on both sides

How would you know that limited government is even feasible? It doesn't seem EITHER major party will lower gov't, so I think that many younger voters like myself let social issues determine how they vote.

By communal libertarianism, I mean freedom for the most people possible while understanding that 'no man is an island'. I mean, look at our economy. It tanks, and takes half the world down with it. No matter how much one would want us to be isolationist, I don't think we can be.

Plus, the internet is bringing more people together all over the world. However, young people do not want to be spied upon, and tend to be against FISA and the Patriot Act, as well as being for more libertarian issues like gay marriage.

Are we over reacting?

I am a moderate republican so I may be looking at this a bit different than a lot of people who post here, but I wonder if we are over reacting to what has happened. We are only 4 years removed from owning the White House, the Senate and Congress. Granted it hurts now because we have lost those, but not by a historic amount. The vote was 52%-46%. When we look beyond the presidential election many of the newly elected congressional members while democrat, would probably be better described as blue dogs. I am currently profiling one on my BLOG, Bobby Bright, who sounds like a fairly moderate guy. Did the nation really go through a sea change, or is it just a.) fed up with Bush and b.) scared to death of the financial collapse?

I feel like with the inevitable turnaround in the economy we will be right back where we started- a 50/50 nation. I am not arguing that we should close our eyes and wish our problems away, but a little perspective is good too.


I take the word 'RINO' to mean...

...that only complete and utter homogeneity of thought is permissible.

I believe that, in part, due to use of terms such as 'RINO' that the Republicans fully deserve to lose election after election until they can come to value engendering broad appeal.

The nation is still center-right; but that should not be interpreted as right-center.

Dean's strategy was to run a viable candidate in each district.  The Lefties are upset that the flakiest SOBs under the sun were not recruited as candidates.

In this regard, these Rightists are their mirror image; they embrace intolerance as their delineator.

They embrace defeat as their due. 

The word "conservative" no longer describes...

The word "conservative" no longer describes or encompasses the concerns of the electorate. The electorate that Rightroots and the GOP  "should"  want to pull back in to the fold.  We are not thinking in terms of potential.   The reason Rightroots and other conservative initiatives are making "ZERO PROGRESS"  is because they're deteriorating into "factions" & are all completely distracted.  Some are actually seeing this as an opportunity for profit, gain and power.

Meanwhile no one of any significance is trying to get their finger on the pulse of the tens of millions of "estranged" eligible voters/non-voters/former voters.  Trying to re-form some sort of bond with them.  Re-establish the lines of communications.   The first steps are not being taken!   Instead the same old worn out, "passionless" rhetoric.  "Fiscal Responsibility. Familiy Values...blah blah".  Worn out terminology.   So Mom and Pop Middle America watch daily as their Nation begins to drastically  weaken and desolidify.  They worry and grieve for their offspring and wonder what sort of dark future is in store for them.  Some sub-3rd world barrio of a nation.   Our enemies are beginning to circle like vultures. 

Rick Moran says "put a burr under the ass of the party leadership".   There is no leadership in this party!  They have managers. The elitist/globalists that have a strangle hold on the GOP must be dislodged.  Purged.  An unpleasant task that "no one of any significance" seems to want to take on.  Once accomplished the GOP must start anew as the party that puts Nation First.                                                       DD


reform of the party didn't

reform of the party didn't get very far this election, something that is needed. In order to win back the uninformed illuminati voters (the ones who just jumped at the word "change") reform is essential. We must be thoughtful and relevant to more than just one sect.