Beached Whales and Drowners of Kittens – a Meditation on the Lack of Infrastructure in the Republicanverse
by Eileen | 4:39 pm, January 8, 2013 | Comments Off
If the Republican Party were a private company, it would be in need of a bailout and Republican politicians would be calling for the state to allow it to fail.
You find me at the halfway point of a series on what the right ought to change about how it works. Getting smart about money and getting decent about dealing with people are on that list. So is a call to start taking the granular work seriously.
Granular work. What do I mean by granular work? It’s the details, the long game that involves building and maintaining an infrastructure between campaign seasons. It requires a sense of the value of time and the centrality of relationships with voters. Basically, it means building a proper pyramid – start at the bottom and mind your foundations.
For a campaign: I mean more field staff and fewer consultants, and field staff hired early. Talking directly to voters instead of robo-dialing them. Townhalls and meet-and-greets replacing push polls. Maximizing field offices and putting all those hard to describe, impossible to measure services last. In short, emphasis on direct contact and the bulk of the resources devoted to front line activities. How anyone expects to win races with so many people on the payroll who never actually have contact with voters escapes me. If you don’t think the stuff I recommend works, consider that it’s precisely what the Obama campaign did.
For the bevy of think tanks (most of which are glorified advocacy outfits who fancy themselves as rarefied bastions of public intellectuals – but I digress) and non-profits…ah, there is so much room to improve. First, start talking to one another for crying out loud. We’ve got huge gaps in key areas and absurd overlap on other areas. It seems everyone wants to be the founder or the owner of something. Meanwhile, who’s paying attention to what we need and what we don’t need more of?
And, on that note, what sort of half-assed quartermaster is letting so many resources going to seed? Except they aren’t going to seed…they’re just going away. Right now, we’ve got time to start getting out into the field and talking to that multi-headed beast – the American electorate. Which could turn into good will and valuable datasets and a worthwhile network. Instead, people who accomplished nothing in the 2012 cycle are off to Tahiti. And that just galls me because I can’t stomach that some people don’t do anything remotely productive are paid well enough to go to Tahiti. But it also highlights one bothersome aspect of our operatives. They measure what they did by output over outcome – yeah, you robo-dialed a million-billion people and printed almost as many glossy flyers, but what did you actually achieve for all that? Then, they feel worthy of rewards, praise, and (of course) more funding based on a lot of dizzying output, regardless of how little they really accomplished.
Now, I know someone out there wants to scoop up a bunch of people who holds bachelors in some made up field, like Communications, and set them all to ‘strategize’ a way to improve the sorry lot of our electoral fortunes. I sat here screaming about the need to pay attention to what we have got and build new things where we need them, to stop duplicating. So, of course, you think you’ll do that. The political landscape is littered with the festering zombies of your predecessors. Start putting them out of their misery and thereby freeing up money and manpower for real work. Granular, gritty hands-in-the-dirt work.
Everyone wants to get paid to think about changing things because, in reality, that means no real objectives, and that, in turn, means playing lots of Minesweeper. I know this because that’s what I do when I don’t have enough real work and am feeling lazy.
So let me try to explain what I mean. I don’t think coordinating what we have covered, what we need to work on, and what skills and resources we have – something we sorely need to do – will be well served by yet another office full of egotists who talk far more than anything else. I am also certain that announcing some privileged group will be in charge, will be telling everyone else what works, has no value.
A lot of people – a hell of a lot – fancy themselves managing some sort central hub or parent group. Spontaneous organization, you brain dead cows. Everyone wants to be the über-boss but none of the promised benefits of all that ‘coordination’ are happening…just the same old crowd getting tipsy together and agreeing with one another while rafts of people are left out of the conversation. Offices full of those damn ‘strategists’ and the only thing that ever gets delivered is lunch. Which, by the way, you can’t afford. Brown bag it, you tits. And eat outside. It wouldn’t kill any of you to spend more time talking to people outside your immediate circle.
Not just infrastructure. Smart infrastructure. Enduring projects that keep ticking away between elections, with offices in (gasp) rural America. Gigs that have measurable goals, goals that are themselves causally related to getting voters to go to the polls and vote for liberty and markets and baseball and everything else that makes us a great nation. Stop snarling about Barry and the Dems and how awful they are for running a permanent campaign. They kept talking to people and constantly reminding voters of who they were. They were building the most droolworthy list you’ve never seen and spending masses of times listening to what people wanted and testing messages. We could do that. Instead, we never do get past the sitting-in-the-conference-room stage.
Oh, and on that testing messages thing? It’s best done well in advance of D-Day. ORCA? Beached, dead, and stinking. Some people are so besotted with ideas that it comes as a revelation when certain heterodox characters advocate putting idea into action. My god, we had our asses handed to us and we’re still so busy congratulating ourselves on having thought about tracking turnout that we don’t consider the total and abject failure of that plan to be the real focal point.
Granular. You either need people to vote for you or you need people to support whatever message your little outfit is pushing. Everything that isn’t actually accomplishing that is fluff. Stop being fluffy. Most meetings are fluff. Anything described with more than 40% buzzwords, not counting articles, conjunctions, and prepositions, is fluff. Business trips where you don’t meet at least five new people for every old friend with whom you get drunk – high, boozy fluff. Hiring people for any reason other than pure merit? That’s the kind of fluff that can drown a kitten.
The Republican orbit is choc-a-block with kitten killers
There’s a certain margin for graft and nepotism; there unfortunately must be. Humans will never truly practice meritocracy. But it’s out of control in our little camp. After the major donors’ pets all get jobs, after the people who are owed favors and the people who know damaging secrets get paid back, after the top tiers finish making sure all their own kids are drawing a salary…there’s so damn little left to accomplish anything. Yet another aspect of the top feeding itself while steadily eroding the base. Corruption aside, it’s wildly counter-productive. By definition, nepotism is the active avoidance of meeting new people. And we are in a business that depends on growing your network and convincing strangers to give your guy a six-figure salary for a job with so much time off the French call it laziness.
Focus on doing what you do well really well. Stop trying to expand into things where you (a) aren’t needed (b) don’t have anything to contribute and (c) can’t afford to be. For all the groups where the Board of Directors outnumber the actual staff and most of the work gets done by interns, that last one’s for you. We have precisely zero need for yet another over stretched (c)(3) failing at six things. One thing well. One thing well. I’ll come over and write it on your mirror in lipstick…you kitten drowning bastards.
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