Another Large Influx of Grassroots Conservatives
Among the millions of newly-active grassroots conservatives in politics, thousands of the best are coming to the Leadership Institute to study how to win.
Institute staff and volunteer experts are teaching at dozens of Institute political training programs across America, co-sponsored with LI separately by Tea Party Patriots, Tea Party Nation, Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Works, FreedomFest, and many other grassroots-based organizations.
In early July, LI launched an online, on-demand, and free offering of twelve activist training lectures for members of Tea Party Patriots, our first major project of this type. See TeaPartyTraining.org.
Many people have asked me if I think the remarkable new conservative grassroots activism will continue all the way to the November election.
My answer is simple. Yes.
Why has this activism developed? Because of citizen rage at the unprecedented number and variety of power grabs by the Obama Administration and the Pelosi/Reid Congress.
Our nation has seen nothing like this before, not even during the expansions of government in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
Political activism now caused by citizen outrage might decline if the leftist power grabs ceased. But Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are ideologues. Their power grabs will continue through the November elections, so I fully expect the level of conservative outrage and activism to continue and even to grow in intensity.
In fact, I expect a lame-duck session of this Congress after the election to continue until the new Congress convenes next January. Nancy Pelosi could probably pass the Communist Manifesto on the floor of the House, so the leftists won’t want to waste a minute as long as their congressional majorities last.
Another matter I see and hear often these days is the suggestion that all these new town hall and Tea Party folks are so far out of the mainstream of politics that they are somehow incompatible with previously-active conservatives. That’s baloney.
In different ways, I have taken part in three waves of newly-activated conservatives entering politics.
I became politically active during the conservative awakening around Barry Goldwater in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I was a member of the original Steering Committee of National Youth for Goldwater in 1963 and his youngest elected delegate to the 1964 Republican National Convention.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I spent a lot of time helping conservative religious leaders who recruited millions of theologically conservative Americans into politics for the first time. On the White House staff, I served as President Reagan’s liaison to the emerging "religious right."
Now in 2010, my Leadership Institute staff, faculty, and I are training thousands of newly-activated conservatives who watch horrified as those now in charge of our government try to shred the Constitution, grab all power, permanently destroy all their opponents, and spend our country into bankruptcy.
There’s a pattern to these three waves.
In each case, the left and the mainstream media (not much difference) claimed that the newly active conservatives were ignorant extremists who could not possibly succeed in politics, were incompatible with previously active conservatives, and even were racists.
Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
New waves of active conservatives nominated Goldwater, nominated and elected Reagan, and appear likely to be decisive in the 2010 elections.
Moreover, the new activists don’t drop out of politics. Many like me from the Goldwater era are still active. Social-issue conservatives who changed the direction of America in 1980 still work effectively in the public policy process.
The process is cumulative. Huge numbers of new activists who get their first taste of politics in conservative grassroots activity in this election cycle will keep fighting for their principles for decades to come. Some will become a new generation of leaders.
Then there’s the fond hope of the left that their enemies can’t possibly work together. We’ll see.
Centrifugal forces try to pull apart the elements in any coalition. Different elements have different priorities, and some of those priorities sometimes conflict.
However, there are centripetal forces which pull people together in politics.
When the same organizations and the same leaders work side by side against the same enemies in a long series of election contests and legislative battles, they tend to become comfortable together. They frequently confer, make plans around the same tables, and get to know each other on a first-name basis.
They learn which of their allies are trustworthy and come to like them.
Before long the leader of one group goes to dinner at the home of the leader of another group. And when he arrives at the front door, the dog there wags its tail rather than barks.
Through such processes, movements and normal governing majorities are born.
Unity is easier in an embattled minority where survival is at risk. Centrifugal forces grow in strength after a principled minority defeats its opposition. Foolish elements of the new majority, heady with success, may take actions grossly offensive to other groups in their coalition.
Power does tend to corrupt, and success stimulates hubris—as Republicans found to their sorrow in the past decade.
Conservatives now have it in their power to use the Republican Party to build a stable, governing majority.
Content-free Republicans will not be persuaded by sweet reason to change their ways. Nor will many of them change for fear of future defeats by conservatives.
Many of the content-free Republican elected public officials and party officials will have to be replaced before that party can be reliable for conservative principles.
Republicans made big mistakes in the last decade, particularly regarding big spending and government growth. They’d better not look like Obama-lite after the 2010 elections. If they do, grassroots conservatives will promptly turn against them, producing devastating effects in the 2012 elections.
Using the Republican Party as its principal vehicle, resurgent conservatives in 2010 will break the statist consensus in America only if they nominate and elect people who could not have been elected in recent times.
That can be achieved only by conservative Republican participation.