by T.L. James | 12:44 pm, December 2, 2012 | Comments Off
The interview with Grover Norquist over at Breitbart.com has been getting a lot of attention over the past few days, mainly for Norquist’s prediction that a second Tea Party wave is coming. Professor Jacobson jumps on the bandwagon:
The first Tea Party wave was a threat to Democratic control of Congress, and the response was vicious demonization and false accusations of racism…
The movement can be its own worst enemy, if we allow personal interests in fame and fortune to override the message. We need to fight the self-aggrandizing tendencies in some of the more monied Tea Party organizations.
The second wave is an answer to the disaster at our doorstep, so expect the demonization of the Tea Party movement to increase. Dramatically.
Unlike the first time, however, we know what to expect. And unlike the first time, the economic problems facing the country are so severe that a movement based in economics and individual economic freedom will resonate beyond its base. [emphasis added]
So…we’re expecting another spontaneous outpouring of volunteer activism to just emerge, are we? Unlike the first time, will there be anyone offering to pay the bills?
That highlighted bit hits on part of the problem with the center-right movement in Colorado and the country at large (of which the Tea Party movement is a part), but it hits it from the wrong direction. It may not be his intent, but the casual reader can easily take Jacobson’s comment as implying that any Tea Party organizations with financial backing are somehow less legitimate than those with less or which are operated entirely by volunteers. There may be a problem with some of the monied organizations claiming to represent and/or lead the entire movement, but the larger problem impeding the center-right’s grassroots efforts is that most of them have no money. While for some observers this lack of funding may perfume the non-monied organizations with “authenticity”, it does nothing to enhance those organizations’ effectiveness or longevity.
One encounters this perception on the right quite often, and more openly stated than in this admittedly jaundiced reading of one line from one blog post. Center-right organizations like PPC, R Block Party, the various Tea Party and 9/12 groups, etc. are expected to show up at rallies, publicize events, pimp candidates and causes, get out the vote, educate the public, energize activists, persuade voters and legislators alike — in sum, to do all the activism and new media work at the grassroots level to support GOP candidates — and to do so without much if any financial support. And when I say “expected”, I mean it exactly as it sounds: it is taken for granted that center-right activists will show up at events at our own expense, with our own supplies and equipment, and work for free on behalf of a candidate or cause…and even provide work products (such as photographs, audio, and edited video in the case of PPC) for free to the campaign or organization involved. And in at least one case, a campaign has simply lifted our material without attribution, and told us to pound sand when we called them on it and requested attribution or compensation.
The right, ironically, has a far less capitalistic worldview than the Progressive left. The left, through unions, the Democracy Alliance and its siblings, the permanent Obama campaign, etc., seems to have no problem providing its activists with funding, apparently recognizing that while you may get away without paying for free milk, some recompense is necessary if you expect to move up to the enjoyment of hand-churned butter, gourmet ice cream, and a quality assortment of fine cheeses. Or for those with lactose-metaphor-intolerance: volunteers get burned out or have limits to their participation due to their need to make a living – the center-right will never match the successes of the left’s grassroots machine if no one is willing to fund the same kinds of operations and networking on our side.
Note to the establishment: if you continue to cynically expect and depend on freebies from your grassroots base, with little or no support in exchange, you’re going to continue to fail, and hard. After four years of using them up and throwing them away, don’t just expect (like Grover Norquist appears to) that another wave of center-right or Tea Party enthusiasm is going to materialize, sui generis, and do your heavy lifting.
It’s not that sufficient funding doesn’t exist on the right to build a grassroots machine capable of competing with the left’s, it’s that it this money is repeatedly pumped into the bank accounts of unaccountable interlocking networks of pathetic failure, or (locally) dumped into useless and outmoded gestures at levels that could have lavishly funded four years of operations for twenty or more PPC-sized organizations. The money is there, it’s just that while the left more often spreads its money across coordinated efforts with accountability for results, the right — still, after being warned of this for five years if not longer — pisses its resources away on ineffective and factionally-stovepiped dead ends.
If the “monied” people on the right can see fit to spend a little of their otherwise wasted money to build up a spectrum of grassroots organizations and enhance the networking and coordination between them, perhaps this “second wave” will in fact materialize, and by its better organization and support be more effective than the spontaneous and shoe-string first wave was.
Praise for PPC From Our Lefty "Fan"
- "Zany-ass bombast-entertainment...Hackneyed weirdo communist pseudo-nostalgia" --Alan Franklin, ProgressNow
- PPC Training for Activists
UPDATE: Something apparently got messed up with the PayPal buttons during this past weekend’s database glitch – fixed now. Yes, it’s that time again — PPC will be conducting training classes for center-right activists on Saturday, April 20 and Saturday, April 27, at Independence Institute in Denver. The tentative class schedule is as follows: Saturday, [...]
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