New Grassroots Activists Rising?

(New Grassroots?  That’s Us! – promoted by Patrick)

Today's Boston Globe (12-26-07) has a fascinating article on a new generation of grass roots activists having their collective impact on the Republican Party. Check it out:

Here are a few passages which caught my attention:

Not long ago, the only conservative interest groups with real clout in the nominating process were such legendary powerhouses as the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, the National Rifle Association – which drew from large donor lists cultivated over decades and supplied eager volunteers in political contests across the country.

Today that interest-group coalition faces collapse. Social and economic conservatives, two key Republican blocs, have yet to unite behind a common candidate, depriving groups such as the Christian Coalition of a rallying point. That uncertainty has caused grass-roots activists to go follow their own path, often at odds with party elites….

The fair tax supporters and home-schooling advocates, with their strong and visible preference for Huckabee, are filling the void among grass-roots activists. Huckabee's rise in the polls, activists and analysts say, is a sign that new, decentralized groups are learning to exploit the disarray among the party's old-guard institutions.

The bulk of the article focuses on home school activists as well as “fair tax” advocates who support a national sales tax. But of note also was the fact that national conservative groups such as the Christian Coalition are witnessing a gradual erosion of their own grassroots network.

Last year, the Iowa chapter of the Christian Coalition became one of several to break from the national organization amid infighting and financial problems. “They're a disaster, they're not credible anymore,” said Steve Scheffler, president of the rechristened Iowa Christian Alliance. “They're out of sync with the base completely.”

A Christian Coalition spokesperson did not respond to a call for comment.

The alliance has already distributed its version of the Christian Coalition's famously influential voter guide – which includes candidates' positions on a range of conservative concerns, from abortion to private Social Security accounts. Yet it appears less interested in delivering votes than asserting its “new sense of liberation,” as Scheffler put it.

While the article focuses on how the new activists are having an impact in Iowa & across the country, could said activists have an impact here in Massachusetts? I'm not aware of any active “fair tax” groups in the Bay State but I do know that the amount of home school advocates in Massachusetts continues to climb. It remains to be seen just how organized & effective they are but I hope Torkildsen & Willington are making an effort to identify home schoolers & reach out to them.

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  • The Angelic One

    I forgot to include Tony Blankley’s backwards glance on the historical political coalitions of the past century as well as his suggestions on what the current conservative coalition needs to do in order to maintain its nationalistic hegmony. Check out his editorial on the online Washington Post:

    Please note Blankley’s not embracing any kind of libertarianism usually touted on this site. With the nation becoming more anxious about a variety of national & international factors cited by Blankley (along with the rise in the US of a community-centric Hispanic culture), the political party which successfully melds a practical ideology that nurtures, supports, & sustains BOTH individualism AND communitarian values will be the party that dominates the American landscape for the forseeable future.

  • Vote3rdpartynow

    I saw this article this morning.

    My take away was that the article was intended to suggest that the Republican Party and its interests are deeply fractured and no longer being led by the powerful Christian Right, gun lobby or family values groups.  I don’t necessarily disagree, but would argue the Boston Globe’s assessment of why.

    I think they want people (their readers) to believe that the GOP is in shambles simply because there is no clear frontfunner in the primary race for POTUS.  Strange how they didn’t see the same in the Democrat side of the race.  Instead they see a race more directly influenced by home-school parents and fair tax supporters.  I think they are wrong.

    I don’t see a weakening of the Christian Right in any way.  In fact, with all the Christmas ads being run by POTUS candidates I would suggest just the opposite.  Instead, I see a strengthening by lesser interest groups that now have access to the marketplace of ideas through venues such as YouTube, blogs and elsewhere on the Internet.  Essentially, it is the same power that is driving the subscription numbers of the Boston Globe down the toilets.

    I see the home-schooling and fair tax issues on the horizon, but they aren’t directly influencing the race today.  They will become more important in later elections when the social agenda of the gay lobby demands more education in public schools regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered issues.  A polarizing effect will occur with those people that don’t want that stuff forced on their kids.

    As for the fair tax, I don’t see much happening there.  I think it may be Huckabee’s weakest platform issue.  There is simply no way to dismantle the IRS and all of its ugly realities.

    I have been doing a lot of research of late on political religious websites.  I think they are behind the curve on getting established, but with Huckabee’s rise to fame in this race it may be the kick they need to get organized and activated.  The liberal left doesn’t realize that the harder they try to force their agenda on us the more we will work to counter their efforts.

    As for the impact in Massachusetts – we have alredy seen what foolsihness is going on in Lexington with schools bullying parents into having their kids exposed to the gay/lesbain lifestyle.  It is going to go over-the-top very soon and their will be a big pushback.

  • wavemaker

    the Globe would characterize the coalition of NRA-Focus of Family and Christian Coalition as “collapsing” because its members hadn’t begun to coalesce around a single candidate yet — more than a month before the first primary!

    What interest groups are supposed to be is bottom-up, not top-down. That’s not the way it works much of the time (especially for, say, labor unions), and to the extent that the leadership fo the se grous finds it nettlesome that they aren’t able to corral their members behind one guy at this earl date, why, that is a GOOD thing, and doesn’t suggest a “collapse” at all — except in the concentration of power at the top.

    The fact that multiple candidates have attracted support from significant segments of each of these groups is a good thing. It says that (a) their positions on issues of importance are satisfactory, and/or (b) the rank and file of those groups has learned something about the risks of ideological absolutism (which might explain why Pat Robertson would endorse Rudi – but I rather go with the explanation that Pat Robertson is a fruitcake).

    That’s my take.

  • Knightbrigade

    I don’t think the Christian organizations are on the verge of collapse, I just think they are splintered amongst the GOP candidates. Values voters will always be there, it’s just about FINDING the right candidate for them. Small groups are just getting more involved. For example look at Ron Paul, even though his poll numbers don’t show it, his followers are some of the most rabid/active.

    I think the Globe is taking a slice in current time, and trying to project what they HOPE will happen. The Globe hopes conservative activists are split or sit home for the general election…Ain’t gonna happen.

    As for the NRA, being an active member for over 25 years I can safely say the NRA (WILL) be a factor in the GENERAL election.

    I think Peter and Rob are actually re-organizing the MassGop ACTING like grass-roots activist, but from within. I think it’s pretty cool. Even though we are out numbered by moonbats many times over, it’s seems to be the way to approach.

  • Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno

    I was listening to Rush’s show yesterday.  Something I never do anymore as I’ve grown somewhat tired of his act. A Mike Huckabee/ Fair Tax supporter called and the fill in host asked him a simple question.  

    “If an item cost a dollar before your sales tax, what would it cost with your sales tax?”

    Now if you’ve been following the Fair Tax movement you’d know they are bandying about a 23% tax figure.  So I guessed the answer would be $1.23.  Well no it is $1.30.  You see they are falsely using a 23% sales tax figure to mislead.  Their reasoning is that income taxes are marginal like a gross profit calculation. i.e. if you make 40k and are taxed at a 10% rate you pay $4000.  Well thats not how value added taxes work.  Value added taxes work on a markup approach.  A 5% sales tax is in the end a 4.76% tax using their logic.

    While I still think the idea of substituting the income tax with a national sales tax is a good idea, I wish the Fair Tax people would be more forthcoming with their numbers.

  • Rob Willington

    A few years ago while working in the State House I helped TeenPact reserve a room for a day of education on Beacon Hill.

    I met a lot of homeschoolers through TeenPact and we have continued our relationship.

    In terms of doers, home schoolers are some of the best out there.  They will make more phone calls and knock on more doors than most organizations – they are fantastic and a real asset to our movement.