Patterico's Pontifications

4/5/2011

The Right’s Missing Organizational Machinery

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 4:32 am



[Welcome to new readers. Lee Stranahan has agreed to guest post here regularly, so please come back here to patterico.com — and visit him at his own site. — Patterico]

[Guest Post by Lee Stranahan. Crossposted at LeeStranahan.com]

If you want to preserve the political status quo, feel free to ignore this post.

Ken Vogel has a piece over at Politico that conservatives, libertarians and independent political activists would do well to listen to. It has a somewhat misleading title — Right Seeks Edge in Opposition Warsbut the main thrust of the piece is that liberal organizations like Media Matters for America, Center for American Progress and Talking Points Memo are outflanking their political opponents and that currently there is simply no equivalent on the other side. The article mentions right-wing watchdog groups like Media Research Center, Accuracy in Media and Judicial Watch but sums them all up with this money quote….

“They’re not terribly effective. At all,” said a conservative activist who has worked with research groups.

Reading Ken Vogel’s piece gave me an affirmation of something I’ve noticed ever since I began to cautiously step out from the liberal world a few months ago – there are a few significant structural flaws on the right that allow the left to run roughshod with the truth. The reason I called Ken Vogel’s title somewhat misleading is that I don’t see the issue as being so much about "digging up dirt" on the opposition as it is about efficient objection handling.

There are two parts to the Democratic new-media machinery; information gathering and reporting from groups like Media Matters followed with rapid action from groups like MoveOn.org. And it should be noted both parts of this machine are in eternal fundraising mode, without apology.

It starts with the reporting. What’s significant about organizations like Media Matters for America and the news site Talking Points Memo is that they are effectively able to render what I’ve described in the past as "the optics of objectivity." In other words, without close examination they appear to be making factual arguments and a solid rational case against policy positions. They provide the grist for the mill that goes out to DailyKos diarists, left-wing bloggers and ultimately the mainstream media.

This is quickly followed up by some sort of action – the petition, boycott, letter writing campaign, protest, houseparty, meet-up, caller banks or other method of getting people involved. The purpose of this section is twofold. First, there’s the practical benefit of a congressman getting 1000 emails in his inbox, for instance. But beyond that, this sort of involvement has a psychological effect of making the participant feel like they’re involved in something bigger which in turn makes it easier to get other actions from them in the future, such as voting.

When I began talking to and working with people on the right, I was really surprised to find out that there was no equivalent of these groups group like MoveOn.org, for example. Forget ideology for a second and just look at the structure of what MoveOn does.. MoveOn.org is very good at organizing people, getting messaging out that penetrates the mainstream media, and doing the sort of fundraising that is necessary to keep its operation going. Additionally, a group like MoveOn.org is a very modern organization that doesn’t have significant overhead or an overly complex org chart. I produced and directed a number of videos for MoveOn and I can tell you firsthand that they are thrifty. For example, none of videos I worked on them with used (more expensive) union voice over talent.

Here’s a quick example of why this matters. The absence of a "nonliberal MoveOn.org" came up as a practical issue with me while working on the Pigford “black farmers’ story. While working on my documentary, I shot interviews with farmers who met with Georgia Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop and told him about corruption in the Pigford settlement, only to have him respond that they should keep quiet about the corruption because if Pigford were investigated "they’ll shut this thing down." Bishop has admitted to this conversation on the record and said that is not his job to monitor corruption.

If we had this sort of solid evidence of a Republican congressman knowingly allowing fraud to continue and it had broken in someplace like Talking Points Memo, it would have quickly turned into an action item by group like MoveOn then made national headlines and that politician likely would’ve been run out of town on a rail.

As it was we broke this information and released videos. We are able to get some press in Georgia and to get any number of people who read the story on the right to grumble about what a crook Sanford Bishop was – but with no real organizational machinery to get the story out and most importantly to get people to take action, the significant story withered on the vine.

How many stories get lost this way?

It’s not enough to complain all day that the mainstream media has a liberal bias. Okay, they do. But guess what? All you’re doing there is defining the problem. That’s an important first step but it’s not enough.

What you’re missing is a solution.

– Lee Stranahan

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Thanks to Instapundit for the link. Prof. Reynolds may be the closest thing we have to organizational machinery — and he’s (allegedly) just one man.

79 Responses to “The Right’s Missing Organizational Machinery”

  1. Lee, first Politico is a Journolist portal, not much different than the Huffington Post, second there is no name attached to that activist, third, when an organization like the Tea Party, arises, they blame it on Koch, or Scaife, what have you.

    narciso (b545d5)

  2. When you aren’t sheep, you tend not to run in herds

    Rodan (03e5c2)

  3. Allow me to wish you a belated welcome, Lee. I’m really enjoying your blogs. Thanks very much for the posts, and the thoughts.

    rtrski (c69273)

  4. It begins with the Soros/Fenton archipelago of organizations, take that Environmental Working Group report on Tea Party members who receive
    subsidies as of 2009, well one would wonder what
    is EWG, and what is their objection to subsidies, but from Kos to TPM to ABC News they spread it as gospel, with their own spin.

    narciso (b545d5)

  5. The problem isn’t so much the lack of a conservative Moveon, but rather a combination of the following:

    1 – The GOP leadership is tone deaf, they fail to take into account how what they say will play to the voters in the mushy middle. This allows the Democrats to take something out of context and depict the GOP as evil (for example, their claim that Ryan is going to destroy Social Security and Medicare. Of course they leave out the part where he’s replacing them with something better and more reliable).

    2 – The GOP leadership is best when they have lots of time to explain their positions, they are terrible about packaging their message in nice five second sound bites.

    3 – The GOP leadership is too slow to respond to Democratic slurs, and when they do respond, too often it is something like ‘I’m not racist’ or “I’m not telling anyone to shoot their Congresswoman’ rather than turning the tables on their critics.

    Would such groups as you advocate help? Probably not. First, they represent and preach to the choir, and the challenge for the GOP isn’t reaching people who hate Obama but getting people who just don’t pay that much attention. Second, the topics these groups are interested in aren’t that critical to the target voters. No offense, but Joe and Jane Detached Voter weren’t getting riled up by the Pickford story, and it wasn’t because you didn’t get mass media coverage, they just don’t care that much about it, it is DC static ringing in the background, much less important than stories about how the economy and house prices are doing.

    steve (369bc6)

  6. Aren’t Breitbart’s sites part of the reponse? What about the Dailey Caller? I also wonder where TPM’s funding is comming from, he has way too much money to throw around it seems. Advertising can’t account for all of it.

    BT (74cbec)

  7. WaPo:

    The process of shutting down the federal government is underway. With the clock ticking towards Friday’s federal budget deadline and President Obama hosting congressional leaders for budget talks at the White House on Tuesday, top administration officials have instructed agency officials to begin sharing details of shutdown contingency plans with top managers. This marks the next step toward both curtailing government operations if a budget impasse occurs and informing federal workers whether they are considered “essential” personnel who would stay on the job despite a shutdown.

    POLITICO:

    Republican leaders are preparing the House for a government shutdown, as they plan to distribute a pamphlet about the mechanics of a partial congressional work-stoppage to all lawmakers’ offices Tuesday morning, according to several senior House aides.

    I’d say there is going to be a shutdown.

    Rodan (03e5c2)

  8. Very astute observation Lee, and useful too.

    I might offer a possible explanation being that on the right there is a lot more free, independant thought, and less looking to the leadership for “talking points”; so these outlets for crystallizing an effective “narrative”, to use a broad characterization, simply don’t exist. That’s changed a little the rise of some of the larger players in the righty blogosphere, but the message is still more specific to a particular site owner’s agenda.

    The second, and perhaps more important, factor is the even if such entities existed there would be little chance of the mainstream media being willing to pursue a story that doesn’t fit with the worldview, and again the desired narrative, of those who shape the overall broadcast and print content. There are myriad instances where serious developments are freely ignored by the MSM because of their incongruence with the desired message; one need look no further for an example than the “Pigford” story you and breitbart have been pursuing. One sees and hears virtually nothing about this outside of the right side of the blogosphere-and of course Fox commentators.

    Lee, that’s because, as you’re no doubt aware, the MSM is clearly allied, ideologically, with the progressive left; and I say that without intending to come off as condescending or insulting. And it may be cynical, but I fear that even if these entities existed, their spotlit stories du jour would still get virtually no play from the MSM.

    My Regards

    Bob Reed (5f2db5)

  9. Dude, only committed lefties read Media Matters for America or Talking Points Memo. Similarly, only confirmed righties read Hot Air or Media Research Center. It almost doesn’t matter what we say or they say or how reasoned our arguments seem. It’s not a conversation, and we’re not reaching anyone outside the choir.

    The only way any of us have any influence is when we can reach the mainstream media — which tilts way left but overreacts to things it finds in the blogosphere (especially things like Drudge).

    S. Weasel (062932)

  10. What is missing is not a rightist moveon.org, TPM or Media Matters. It is a right wing New York Times, Washington Post, ABC, CBS or ABC. Sure Fox outdoes CNN and MSNBC but where is a broadcast network that isn’t a subsidiary of the Democratic Party? Where is there a major newspaper that doesn’t follow the DNC party line? Where is there a movie studio that isn’t a pale echo of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi axis? AM talk radio? The “news” reports on those stations are provided by the networks and often sound like ads for Democrats. All news radio and news breaks on music stations could be written by Howard Dean. The left owns the propaganda industry and uses it.

    Even if there were right wing versions of every effective leftist website and organization, the ability to deliver those facts and opinions would be severely limited. There is no shortage of conservative and libertarian material. There is a shortage of delivery options. Until at least one broadcast network and one major newspaper are willing to buck the lefty monopoly in the media, expanding the audience for moderate or rightist views will be very hard.

    And where is our Soros?

    Ken Hahn (a84daa)

  11. And where is our Soros?
    Ken, haven’t you heard of the eeeeeeevil Koch Brothers? (Although they’re really Libertarian, the MSM lefties lump them in with conservatives).

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (2c3371)

  12. I agree with rtrski – I’m enjoying your articles lee.
    That aside, I o see your point but I’m not sure having machinary on the right is 1) a good thing, and 2) possible. The reasons are inter-related.

    For one thing, you are right that these organizations make people feel like they are a part of something. Most conseratives however don’t need a political organization to provide that. I have my family, and I’m a part of that and our struggle to get by, and as a Christian I have a cause and something I belong to: Christ and his church respectively. I don’t have a need to belong to anything extra (as The Duke said “A man’s only good for one promise at a time”). That need to belong is already fulfilled in what I consider to be more worth-while things, and I’d wager most conservatives are the same way: we don’t feel the _need_ to belong to something like a right wing moveon.org, that need having been met in other ways.
    Also: For most conservatives, even the most political junkie-ish of us, politics is not our identity, something we are interested but not something that is our identity. For alot of the activist left, their politics IS their identity which means they are far more motivated any other person could be.
    Further: Such things take time and (in conjunction with the above) most conservatives have things to do that the count as more immediately important. Again, if your identity is not in your politics, devoting the time to “be involved” is a much greater sacrifice. That’s why the Tea Party came when it did: All of a sudden government was encroaching on those things that are important and part of the conservative identity: family (esp. children whose future they felt was threatened) and individuality.
    Finally: You admit to seeing the lies and tactics used by the left to further their causes (valid causes or not). Fact is: the truth is harder to convey sometimes. Explaining why the entitlement will hurt us is more complicated and less applicable for a outrage inducing sound bite then simply saying “There is no debt”. It’s alot easier to get a message out when you don’t have to be thorough, explain it, or even tell the truth.
    One last point that touches on the “is it good” aspect: suppose we develop a massive right wing infrastructure to “get the message out.” What happens when we win? I fear that to create an infrastructure any way close to what the left has, we would have to become something than what we are. Consider modern feminists. They see sexism and evil whereever they go, esp. where it doesn’ exist. They got so caught in the fight and made it such a part of them, that when the fight was over…they couldn’t adjust and continue trying to fight a battle that was pretty much won before I was even born. They can’t let go of that. I have no desire to become that. I’m sure there is some middle ground, but we need to realize that realistically we couldn’t mimic what the left does without becoming what they are. And I like politics being a hobby, not an obsession.

    lowercaseM (9c232e)

  13. As an addendum, I would like to add that much of what I said refers to the obsessive activist leftists: the ones you’ve seen willing to do anything to push an agenda no matter who is hurt, and not intended to mean _everyone_ who has politics to the left of me.

    lowercaseM (9c232e)

  14. Explaining why the entitlement will hurt us is more complicated and less applicable for a outrage inducing sound bite then simply saying “There is no debt”. It’s alot easier to get a message out when you don’t have to be thorough, explain it, or even tell the truth.

    I doubt this explanation is sufficient.

    The argument against abortion can be trimmed down to three words, “Abortion Kills Babies”. and yet that is not enough to convince even forty percent of Americans to make having an abortion a capital crime.

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  15. “It’s not enough complain all day that the mainstream media has a liberal bias.”

    Halleluyah!

    I have been saying this to me Conservative friends for DECADES. Unbiased Media is a fantasy. it never existed. It CANNOT exist, so long as the media are run by and with human beings. It is impossible to report all the data available on every story. Every reporter will necessarily have to decide what stories are important and what data are important to those stories. Even with the very BEST of intentions (if being politically neutral is well intentioned, a position I disagree with strongly) a reporter’s personal bias will affect his reporting. It is not possible that it would not.

    If you read H. L. Mencken’s Autobiographical works and other accounts of working in the newspapers of that era it quickly becomes clear that we have also fallen for a second myth about the media; the notion that there was a time when every city of any size supported two newspapers with opposing bias. Many cities may have had two papers, one for each major Party, but in general only one (the one supporting the party in local power, and thus getting the government notice publishing contracts) made a profit. The other was usually supported by some local man of wealth with political ambitions who belonged to the opposition party.

    I don’t know where the myth of Unbiased Media came from, and to tell the truth I’m not much interested. in the real world, if you want to get your side’s message out, you are going to have to buy a few media outlets. Period.

    C. S. P. Schofield (8b1968)

  16. lee

    i wonder how much organizations like MRC, big gov. big journalism, big everything, etc. factor into your argument. And there is less central control on the right, but we have pretty good impromptu connections. the way we responded to rathergate is a good example.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  17. C.S.P.,

    The problem is not our longing for some mythical past when we had an objective press corps. Very few conservatives believe that was ever the case.

    No, the lamentation you hear is that we don’t even have a team on the field. Journalism as it is practiced today is a vertically-integrated industry that produces little except “progressive” pap.

    What Lee misses, I think, it that all these leftist front groups are part of that industry. There can be no right wing equivalent because those right wing groups that do TPM-type stuff pretty much just export their output into the void. There is no conveyor belt of newspapers/TV/Movies to move their ideas to a mass audience.

    The Right is a perpetual insurgency against the Leftist establishment. Essentially, we are the guerrillas while the Moveons are the COIN forces.

    A Balrog of Morgoth (75def3)

  18. the way we responded to rathergate is a good example.

    What strikes me about Rathergate is that the right had absolutely incontrovertible evidence of MSM fraud, and rather than coordinating a response, the perfect response of outrage and pointing to the evidence spread like wildfire, and yet much of the MSM refused to grant the truth.

    Even to this day I’m sure many of them would say something along the ‘fake but accurate’ line, and a few might even pretend it’s remotely possible the Word document was made on a 1970s typewriter.

    So there’s a big difference. The right can tell an urgent truth pretty well, but lacks the discipline or structure to coordinate an MSM narrative that isn’t an urgent truth.

    The MSM has the power to ignore issues because they have an audience that relies in print or TV for information, but thankfully that has already changed a lot in the past ten years.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  19. I think lowercaseM has a lot of the answer. The political left has a lot invested in government and is therefore more active in supporting and defending it.

    The right has other interests. One example; Microsoft had almost no lobbying organization in the early days of that company. They were too busy writing software. Then, during the Clinton Administration, they realized that they were the target of some regulatory activity. They had gotten big enough that they were in danger of getting hit. I can’t recall the issue but I remember the story.

    The right isn’t interested in government if it will leave us alone. I spent years on the California Medical Association’s commission on legislation in Sacramento. We would meet every month and each of us (there were about 30 people on the commission) would have 20 or so bills to analyze and discuss. Every month ! The CMA was totally defensive.

    We didn’t want anything, contrary to some propaganda, but to be left alone. Every little group wanted a piece of the action, usually Medicaid, but often it would be a group of technicians of some sort who wanted a license for something. That’s how we got inhalation therapy technicians licensed. The pulmonary docs thought it was a good idea. We tried to tell them they would find the licensed techs opening storefront therapy clinics to compete with them. The same thing happened with nurse practitioners. The rural GPs thought they would be there to help them. If you plot on a map the nurse practitioners, the vast majority are in inner cities running their own clinics.

    Now those little clinics may be a good idea. My point is that unintended consequences follow every piece of legislation or regulation and trying to explain what will happen is a waste of time. The left (and I don’t mean the doctors in my example although many are more liberal than the old moss backed GP) but it happens that those who go to government for stuff tend to be the left.

    The right keeps getting surprised when they get another regulatory burden or tax or something. They just aren’t oriented to think of government.

    Mike K (8f3f19)

  20. No. We do not need more spin masters.

    What we need is a truly independent and professional press, and a population educated enough to appreciate and expect honest reporting. That’s the path to freedom and away from some other manipulative clique.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  21. What we need is a truly independent and professional press,

    That would be wonderful, but let’s consider if it’s realistic. Some of out political issues are powerful ones that get right to the heart of who we are. Are there people out there who can resist seeing the world through their political views? Yes, but not enough, and we certainly can’t trust a profession to reliably be truly independent. If by ‘professional’ you mean objective, it’s doomed from the start by human nature.

    a population educated enough to appreciate and expect honest reporting

    Perhaps they should be educated enough to see journalism as inherently biased, and thus they should seek out what the bias is and make sure they aren’t being manipulated by a clique, as you say.

    I agree we do not need more spin masters from the other direction. I do think we need far more MSM voices who reject the views that dominate the MSM today, and are willing to point out that those views are controversial. The MSM acts like it is leading the discussion, or that one direction is progress, instead of acting like most of its members have taken a side. If you define ‘professional’ as journalists who openly note they have taken a side, while recognizing the other side and giving it a voice too, I think this is more realistic and also it’s much more interesting. Usually the only times we get news coverage like that is when the factions are represented by shouting spin artists, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  22. My guess is the conservative groups aren’t as effective as the liberal ones because they are too busy following the liberal playbook of responsible dialogue and positive rhetoric that liberal groups themselves never play by. Nobody likes a bunch of namby pamby pussies. If people would start taking to the streets in Madison, for example, and getting in the union thugs faces, even to the point of cracking a few skulls, the people would be on our side, because the other side started it. But we need to show we’re up to the challenge, otherwise people don’t know they can depend on us protecting their ASSets. These are troubling times we are living in. Scary times. Interesting times.

    ThePaganTemple (d61826)

  23. What I want, and hope to see in my lifetime, is a press honestly divided as to opinion, each flock gathering under management/ownership in sympathy to their personal bias, writing stories with honest points of view. The pretense of “Un-Bias” leads only to weasel-worded pap. The great crime of the New York Times is not that they have a political agenda, but that they cannot write for sour apples. H.L. Mencken was an elitist, and I disagree with his politics on many points, BUT HE COULD WRITE! Consequently, I am willing to read his work, and am sometimes persuaded to his point of view.

    Again; quit whining about “Liberal Bias” and buy some goddamned newspapers!

    C. S. P. Schofield (8b1968)

  24. Dustin – when I say independent and professional, I don’t mean unbiased. And yes, that is the education in critical thinking I have in mind.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  25. It’s probably because there’s not much of a market on the right side for apparently being objective. The thing that seems to drive much of the GOP base is red meat. (I understand this is a gross generalization, but think about which organization most members of the GOP base is more likely to fund).

    Jim (87e69d)

  26. Why buy newspapers and reward bad behavior? Its not that they have a liberal bias in their editorial pages, its that they let their liberal bias influence what stories they cover and to what extent they cover them, even to the point of outright lying about things like, oh I don’t know, maybe the political bias of the shooter of Gabrielle Giffords is one example that comes to mind. No, I’m not going to buy any newspapers, and I have officially stopped watching the Big Three Network news programs. It’s all bullshit and I refuse to patronize it.

    ThePaganTemple (d61826)

  27. Dustin – when I say independent and professional, I don’t mean unbiased. And yes, that is the education in critical thinking I have in mind.

    OK, I see what you mean. This makes perfect sense, actually. Instead of shameless CBS or ABC style shilling, have some kind of professional standards.

    Can you give an example? I’m thinking you mean like Fox News’s straight news coverage, where I don’t see any illusions of objectivity, but rather a goal to provide the information about various POVs.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  28. Sanford Bishop is corrupt and he makes America suck harder than it would otherwise, which is unfortunate.

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  29. Jim, you must not look at leftist blogs. It is nothing but red meat. And they delete any comment that doesn’t follow the party line.

    Mike K (8f3f19)

  30. Where are the liberals strongest? Union members, youth, minorities, etc. Analyze those groups and identify how their opinions are formed. I dare say very few Democrat voters form their opinions by reading newspapers. Conservatives must realize there is a science to persuasion and longing for “fair and balanced” reporting in newspapers is targeting where the Demos and independents aren’t to be found anyway. We need to join the 21st Century already.

    Facebook, Twitter, web sites, blogs, YouTube, broadsheets in college and business lunch rooms, etc. will connect with more voters and potential voters not in the conservative camp than print media ever will. Work with inner city ministers, sponsor clinics and youth athletic leagues – demonstrate that non-government organizations can meet community needs. Hold job fairs – undercut the meme of conservatives hating the [name of group here]by providing value. Give the demographic voters a reason to doubt what they are being told by the left.

    My daughter is 22 and understands where liberal spending policies and nanny state dictates are taking her future – but she is astonished at how few of her college friends understand what is happening before their very eyes. Is there a way to reach college age voters in the next 18 months and peel away some of the group that otherwise will vote for Obama because he is cool? Sheesh! This isn’t rocket science.

    in_awe (44fed5)

  31. To enlarge on lowercaseM’s comment, most of us don’t ‘believe’ in an ideology in the same way people of the left seem to.

    We believe, or have faith, in other things, not necessarily religion. We don’t agree amongst ourselves about many of these beliefs, or how to prioritize them. We generally come to these beliefs on our own, by thinking them through.

    When one believes, or has faith, in something, one is invested in it – to a certain extent it is part of one’s identity. So where a person of the left has belief or faith in a political ideology, telling them something confirming their investment can stimulate them to action, and make them feel good.

    For most on the right, we get no feel-good in being told something about fiscal responsibility or small government. The things we do believe in are so varied that I don’t think they could be successfully appealed to politically by the kind of structures that work for the left.

    And the older I get, the more it seems that maturity (not age) is a factor. To the less mature, acceptance by peers is tremendously important. We observe the pressure to conform is intense on the left. To the mature, it is more important to meet one’s own standards. On the right, pressure to conform is not very effective, most of us will simply blow it off.

    jodetoad (7720fb)

  32. Mike, I don’t read leftist blogs as a general rule. But think about whether a “fact-based” right wing watch group would be considered a wimpy, RINO-like creature by most of the people on the hard right. I think it would, which is why I don’t see something like that being successfully funded and available.

    And many right wing blogs also delete/ban people who don’t talk the party line.

    Jim (87e69d)

  33. Dustin –

    Yes, but minus the constant coverage of missing blondes and the commentators yelling talking points at each other.

    Alternate media might provide a better alternative.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  34. No question conservatives lose the propaganda war. More can and should be done.

    However, it is a rigged game and we should not aspire to winning. Lies are not labeled as such. Neither is truth. It is an impossible hurdle to overcome.

    Rush is right. Again. Simply keep hammering the facts. Don’t worry about the gatekeepers.

    Ed from SFV (4a7c52)

  35. At the risk of repeating what lowercaseM and Ed from SFV said: It seems to me that community organizing, and that’s really what places like TPM and Moveon.org are based on, is a top-down scheme. Someone from JournoList or another approved voice speaks and the left-wing organizers spread the word. But, by definition, successful conservatism is a small government, grassroots-driven effort. That’s why the Tea Party works and the NRSC/NRCC don’t. It’s not that Tea Party people are so brilliant and the Republican leadership are dunces. I’m certain that most GOP leaders are smarter than the likes of Harry Reid, but they’re leading people who are rarely willing to follow.

    DRJ (fdd243)

  36. Welcome, if ever so hesitantly, to the dark side, Mr. Stranahan.
    Two quick points:
    1. Others have made this one; there is no one on the right like a Soros or Peter Lewis systematically funding these types of organizations. Without the moola they won’t exist or at best won’t be effective.
    2. More importantly, the MSM function as the amp to Media Matter’s and TPM’s guitar licks.
    Their junk gets picked up because they have a pipeline directly to their ideological compatriots in the mass media. The right has very few ideological compatriots in the mass media so the Pigford stories die an unnatural death, throttled in their cribs.

    Brian B (a82fac)

  37. Lee, not to discount what you’re saying — there’s always room for improvement — but you may not have realized yet that the news media, Politico in this case, often treats the conservative movement in a “gorillas in the mist” sort of way, as Jonah Goldberg put it. They don’t know anything about us.

    Ever heard of the Heritage Foundation? I’ll take Heritage, for both policy content and scholarly research, over the Center for American Progress any day of the week.

    As to TPM, I’d hold up National Review Online, Hot Air and Ace of Spades. To say nothing of WattsUpWithThat, the most heavily trafficked climate blog out there.

    Point being, it’s laughable that Politico would come up with Media Research Center, Accuracy in Media and Judicial Watch as examples of conservative networking. The MRC has a following, but the other two are basically ego trips.

    FYI.

    When it comes to

    km (117a66)

  38. In my experience, I can do my best to educate the unwashed masses only in small doses. Probably because I work with *average Joe’s* that care more about American Idol and Dancing With The Stars than they do boring politics. They cannot, or do not, care beyond what is spoonfed to them by Matt Lauer in the mornings, or Katie Couric at night. Period.

    Kirstie Alley (11d55c)

  39. Damn sockpuppet. Sorry.

    sybilll (11d55c)

  40. It was a lot funnier coming from Kirstie.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  41. Looking at the big picture, I believe it is much harder to hang onto conservative values and a Constituional government than it is to tear down those values and usurp power. The Ultra Left has a cause they believe in and since Wilson, have wanted to tear down the very things that have made our country strong and great, effectively infiltrating our education system and our media so that they can brainwash us and finding ways to co-opt fly-over country and the workforce through farm subsidies and unions. The question then is how do we effectively hang onto conservative values and regain a Constitutional government with more passion and concerted effort than those who are well-entrenched and attacking everything we hold dear? What does it mean to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic?

    frugalferret (ae10d6)

  42. To all criticizing this article or offering apology for why we on the right have no matching machine, I want you to know that this is why the left will win if things continue this way.

    Excellent article. You have done a real service with this.

    nobody (2c86d6)

  43. Mr. Stranahan is correct, and I believe that the reason for it is that conservatives mistakenly believe that it is dishonorable, or at least inappropriate, to use the tactics that the left uses. There is a sense that we should treat the left like decent human beings.

    In fact, there is nothing decent about the left. They have zero honor, and they are destroying the country. They should be viewed with the same ruthless attitude that one would view enemies in war. Do not think for a moment that they are basically decent people who just happen to disagree with you. They stoop to insane, illegal tactics, the vast majority of which occur behind the scenes. The ones who do not, tolerate the ones who do, so they are just as responsible.

    Show no mercy to any of them. Go for the throat of their institutions and people.

    Wendy (71831c)

  44. I’ve always thought that the fact that the right side of the blogosphere doesn’t get daily marching orders was a feature, not a bug.

    I used to laugh and laugh during Rathergate when the Kerry campaign insisted that all the skepticism about the (phony) Killian memos was being coordinated by Karl Rove.

    Beldar (cd529f)

  45. Yes, this is a good article. First, we have to remember that for many years the Rs thought they had a good organization. The direct mail activities of the 80s was the envy of the Left. Rove’s GOTV program in the 2000’s was very good.

    Did they use the bully pulpit to advance conservative ideas…hardly. With some exceptions they governed as lib-lite…accepting the premises of the libs…esp. in the Climate Change stuff. Fred Upton (R) banned our light bulbs. McCain was hot on cap and trade. Many, e.g. Jim Talent were hot on ethanol.

    Part of this is because it is very hard to speak truth to power. Going against AGW will get you ridiculed in the MSM. Going up against Wall Street, GE, big labor is going to be very tough.

    Our guys talk a good game…but are they willing to risk their careers an talk about GS, GE? Are they capable of having a nuanced talk about TARP? Can they confront an anchor of the Sunday talkies with his/her slanderous bias?

    rk (22895e)

  46. And many right wing blogs also delete/ban people who don’t talk the party line.

    Hilariously ironic, given that my comments at Media Matters destroying Boehlert’s dishonest posts never get approved.

    Meanwhile, I continue to approve Jim’s comments even after he told me “F*ck you, Patterico” and has repeatedly impugned my ability to do my job.

    Patterico (9b9b52)

  47. Mr. Stranahan is correct, and I believe that the reason for it is that conservatives mistakenly believe that it is dishonorable, or at least inappropriate, to use the tactics that the left uses.

    That is a pretty stupid idea.

    If a tactic works, it is appropriate. If it does not work, it is inappropriate.

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  48. You deserve those comments, Patterico, given how thin skinned you seem to be. And I remember a few times you’ve told me to go “F*ck off”, so it’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Besides, you said you wanted honest name calling, not PC stuff a few months back.

    But try to post a comment on Debbie Schlusell’s blog she doesn’t like. Or go try to hit back at someone insulting you on Hot Air. See what happens.

    Jim (ad29d8)

  49. It wouldn’t matter how many ‘cracker jack’ outfits there were on the Right, since the MSM has a major antipathy towards any message from that sector, and tends to downplay (which is a best case scenario) any message that they receive from anyone to the right of Common Cause.

    AD-RtR/OS! (5b4a2f)

  50. Comment by Michael Ejercito — 4/5/2011 @ 6:56 pm

    The ends justify the means? I disagree.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  51. I’m with Stashiu. I saw a lot of a-holes from 2000-2008, willing to say and do anything to hurt W politically, basically transferring their hatred to Palin, and now in a holding pattern for the next big target (Paul Ryan, I assume).

    I do not want to be like those people. As sure as I am of my politics, I don’t think it’s OK to see politics as entirely about effective power gaining tactics.

    This makes the right fundamentally less effective at politics than the left, but I think DRJ’s point about the Tea Party is hopeful. A disorganized mass of people can be far more effective in 2012 than they were in 1976 or 1992. I definitely think we can afford to wear the white hat.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  52. Jim,

    You’re a liar. Link me those numerous comments where I told you to “f*ck off.”

    And there is a difference between the faux “civility” I decried and the actual honest civility I seek here.

    The key concept is honesty. I haven’t seen that from you.

    Patterico (9b9b52)

  53. What seem like successful short-term tactics may not work in the long run. For instance, Obama got elected in part because he promised change from Bush policies, but as President he adopted most of the Bush anti-terror policies. Clearly his campaign promises were good tactics because they got him elected, but they aren’t as good now if they contribute to his defeat in 2012 and discredit liberal policies in general.

    Was that a successful tactic? Yes and no. I guess the final verdict is still out.

    DRJ (fdd243)

  54. Here’s one I can find–you called me an asshole, rather than telling me to f*ck off. I’ll look for others.

    “66.Q: What’s the difference between the public employees in Wisconsin and Patterico?

    A: The public employees in Wisconsin work harder, are smarter and are more respected.

    [This is why I moderate you, big boy. Don’t bother commenting today. You get a one day timeout and anything you post will be deleted summarily. But I’ll put this up, just so people can see what an utter asshole you are. — P]

    Comment by Jim — 3/10/2011 @ 5:27 am

    Jim (ad29d8)

  55. May I just mention here that the fighting Texas Aggies just won the women’s NCAA championship. Thanks.

    Ag80 (98fa24)

  56. Really? The public is more right wing than ever. This fearsome machine seams more an impotent relic than anything.

    anon (17c098)

  57. The ends justify the means? I disagree.

    Where has the moral high ground got us?

    And I certainly do not want to copy all of the left’s tactics- just the ones that work.

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  58. I saw that, Ag80. Congratulations to the Lady Aggies, you and Gov. Perry, who won a case of Virginia’s finest wines.

    DRJ (fdd243)

  59. And I certainly do not want to copy all of the left’s tactics- just the ones that work.

    I think you have a good point, but expressed it a little unclearly. When I think of aggressive political tactics that the left used to win power, I think of a lot of things I don’t find acceptable.

    I think DRJ’s on the right track here. The right doesn’t need to emulate the left, or have elites helps us coordinate. We’re the right because we’re individualistic. We’re the right because we want less control. I’m sure you can name a few great ideas the left has used that the right should use, but the larger picture is that the Tea Party is a new way of conducting politics.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  60. So, Jim. You first say I have told you to “f*ck off” many times.
    When I call you on it, you cite an occasion where you took a personal swipe at me and I said you were acting like an asshole.

    Looks like you lied and can’t back up your lie.

    And you say I “deserve” to be told to “f*ck off.”

    You know what? You get a time-out, again. Longer this time, since you can’t seem to refrain from making this personal. You may comment again starting Monday, April 11.

    Unless you leave further insults or personal attacks in moderation. If you do that again, consider the vacation from commenting indefinite.

    Any regular commenter want to object to this arrangement? I am happy to listen.

    Patterico (9b9b52)

  61. Jim is an intolerant POS.

    DohBiden (984d23)

  62. There’s not an organization because we’re all busy working. If we walk away from that and get on the gov’t dole, or get a Liberal handout from Soros, or get a friend in the gov’t to write our little group a grant from the taxpayer’s purse, then yeah, we’ll be more than happy to organize. Meantime, we have to keep a roof over our heads.

    Moreover, I don’t see the GOP doing a damn thing about training up young people, or getting involved in education in any meaningful and dedicated way. The moral day-trading of the Republican set is all about whatever gets us through today. They don’t even try to own the narrative of the moment, much less the long vision. I’m a lifelong Republican, but some criticisms of the mindset are justified: short-sighted self-interest is why we’re in this mess. Even Newt couldn’t hold the line for more than 18 months before he gave Clinton his heart and soul.

    Saying all that, the Tea Party is organized, just not where the politically connected pundits can see it: they’re all at church, along with all the others beneath your notice.

    Joan of Argghh! (d4f298)

  63. Most of the sane comments are spot-on. We work and we don’t run in herds. The difference now is the internet. We didn’t in the past even know that others like us existed. Now we do, and we can communicate. That is why the left wants to regulate the net. They know the danger it presents to them. Also, with the economy coming to the fore in importance, I think we will see all stripes of conservatives and libertarians finding ways to tolerate and live with each other. We must hang together, or surely we will hang separately.

    teapartydoc (1734c7)

  64. “On paper, the reformers were severely disadvantaged. Both candidates agreed to run on only $300,000 in public financing, meaning they could not directly operate on the scale this election required. The unions’ well-established political organizations, compounded by likely-stronger recall petition teams that they were able to re-purpose, looked to be an enormous advantage. The Prosser campaign’s LACK of infrastructure was so severe that Prosser suggested on The Mark Levin Show that people “simply…talk to their friends” because “there isn’t really an adequate office, ISN’T ADEQUATE staff, to handle all the volunteers. It will be interesting in the coming days to hear if and how the Tea Party movement managed to organize for this election so quickly.”

    If Prosser loses would better organization and availability of experienced vanguard organizing troops have swung this key election his way?

    http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/2011/04/whoever-wins-wi-supreme-court-election.html

    Viator (c5da79)

  65. BLUF: I think that Lee Stranahan is like the old soviet officer defecting to the west.

    Thanks for the great advise on how best to beat their machine (the one you worked so well with), but that’s not what should have motivated you to hop in your Mig and come to us.

    Lee? How about you build that machine and let that be your contribution? That’s how it works over here.

    …oh yeah – go junior!

    Station Atlanta (2b3f17)

  66. I think a number of the earlier commenters hit it, as did Joan of Argghh! – Conservatives are very much less likely to take marching orders from some group.

    I also think that the lack of a major newspaper that even leans CENTRIST much less right is a difficult hurdle to cross.

    Vivian Louise (eeeb3a)

  67. Great comments. A lot of good analysis into the nuts and bolts of elections.
    A number of comments have touched on the notion that Lefties are different from conservatives. It’s true. Socialists need the group communication and interaction on a constant basis. It reinforces their belief system. Like a psychological fix. Conservatives tend to have stronger, more stable personalities. We don’t need the group for validation-sometimes we think doing things in groups is just plain dumb.
    But we do need the organization. Unfortunately, Republicans don’t like to go public because they lack the courage of their convictions. They just don’t go door to door to canvass, march, or protest.
    Hopefully, Tea Partiers can be the synthesis needed to be competitive.

    E. Fluvius Maximus (d9f563)

  68. Post number 10 by Ken Hahn nails it. In addition, the NYT news service spreads its message far and wide through hundreds of smaller papers which publish its “news” the next day.

    PSJ (b61100)

  69. Jim is apparently opting for the indefinite vacation.

    Patterico (5794e3)

  70. Post number 10 by Ken Hahn nails it. In addition, the NYT news service spreads its message far and wide through hundreds of smaller papers which publish its “news” the next day.

    How did the New York Times get such a reputation that smaller newspapers (presumably outside of the NYC metropolitan area) would simply print their stories?

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  71. The NYT used to be a real newspaper, Michael. They even used to be biased towards the right. They should have been the WSJ of our era, focused on getting important information about business from the heart of NYC to the rest of the world with a mission of minimal fuss and maximum clarity. That was a product the world demanded, but the NYT’s leadership decided to push democrat politics and elitist fluff.

    This is all explained in Robocop 2.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  72. That was a product the world demanded, but the NYT’s leadership decided to push democrat politics and elitist fluff.

    I wonder if it had anything to do with the NYT’s market, which would pretty much lean left.

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  73. Liberal dominance over education has to be broken to make any general strategy work.

    Bob Miller (4e0e98)

  74. Damn straight, Bob. Ayers and many like him have been focused on education for over a generation, and that’s probably the true heart of the problem in this country.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  75. As someone else has already noted, the Democrats have a lock on government and organized public/private labor. That alone is a significant achievement. Just look at all the money that the Democrat party receives:

    http://www.distributedrepublic.net/archives/2011/03/01/truth-about-money-and-politics

    If that link doesn’t work, go to Open Secrets.org:

    http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php?order=A

    I don’t know about you, but I think every conservative blog in the USA should display this chart on their website. It is absolutely stunning.

    sgi (40aa52)

  76. For about 20 years it’s been my fantasy, if I were to become super-rich, to buy the NYT and use it for good.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  77. comment cross-posted here and over at LS site:

    Lee, the cause of the problem you’re posting about was noted many years ago, by P.J. O’Rourke in the excellent and should-be-required-reading-in-high-school AND college essay collection, ‘Parliament of Whores‘:

    “How come,” I asked Andy, “Whenever something upsets the Left, you see
    immediate marches and parades and rallies with signs already printed and
    rhyming slogans already composed, whereas whenever something upsets the
    Right,you see two members of the Young Americans for Freedom waving a
    six-inch American flag?”
    “We have jobs,” said Andy.

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (c9dcd8)

  78. Bravo, Mr. Stranahan! Please continue to keep your eyes open, write about what you see, and let the chips fall where they may. We need many more such people.

    In re the many people who have commented that honorable conservatives cannot win against liberal dirty-pool and scorched-earth tactics — and those who have responded to them (both the “why should we want to adopt such abhorrent ethical standards” and the “what good are ethical standards if we keep losing” folk)… let me point out that there is another way.

    It doesn’t have to be all one or the other. The Marine Corps has a simple motto to cover this: “No better friend, no worse enemy”. And I’d very much like to address my counterparts on the Left that way. When a person, or an organization, is willing to listen to me and give me the benefit of the doubt, I’m more than happy to return the favor. If they give no quarter, neither shall I. (If you like, think of this as an example of the iterated prisoner’s dilemma.)

    respectfully,
    Daniel in Brookline

    Daniel in Brookline (68f35a)

  79. Sorry, that link didn’t work. Let’s try again.

    Daniel in Brookline (68f35a)


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