(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.