You have to hand it to the President. He is very transparent about his vision for America and his ideological crusade to, in his words, “remake” this nation. He’s not the kind of guy who keeps you guessing. I actually like that about him. It’s his hubris but it’s also borne out of the simple fact he doesn’t have to obfuscate on policy.
Republicans like to mock Obama’s background as a community organizer who never ran anything before becoming president. The truth of the matter is that this community organizer has used a combination of high-tech and old-fashioned tactics to build perhaps the most effective political army in our lifetime.
President Barack Obama delivers a statement on Jan. 1 at the White House. Obama said he had fulfilled a campaign promise to make the U.S. tax system fairer with a deal to avert the fiscal cliff crisis that passed after a fierce duel in Congress. /Chris Kleponis/AFP/Getty Images
Last weekend, that political war machine, Obama for America, was transformed into a 501(c)4 organization, Organizing for Action (OFA). Unlike most Presidential campaigns following a second term win, Obama’s machine will just keep going and growing a bigger mechanism for swaying public opinion. Institutions like the Democratic National Committee are now secondary to the new OFA in many respects and in so doing, Obama has changed the workings of American politics yet again.
This isn’t sour grapes. It’s more than a little bit of envy with a lot of frustration thrown in. I don’t blame Obama for charging ahead with his progressive agenda and attempting to shove it down the throats of the American people. He’s been doing it for years – often with Republican help – and he believes he can continue to win.
The odds are presently very much in his favor. For all the Bush-blaming Obama has done, he came into office understanding that big government conservatism could create a launching pad for a return to liberalism or more radical progressivism in America. The GOP’s spending during the eight years of Bush made what we are seeing from Obama possible and he will continue to capitalize on it.
Obama is about to launch a new campaign that will pick up where the old one left off. He’s going to use the same tactics Communists used to control public opinion. Back in the days of the old Soviet Union, the massive state-run information apparatus would fill news outlets with a persistent message about how ‘evil’ the United States was and the danger it posed to the world.
The Obama strategy is to do the same thing, leveraging liberal media bias, the latest technology, robust data and grassroots community organizing techniques, to smear the Republican Party as extremist, out of touch and disconnected from the needs of the majority of Americans.
A few weeks ago more than three dozen liberal groups from Greenpeace to the CWA gathered in Washington to launch the ‘Democracy Initiative.’ Together, the groups working in concert will dedicate enormous resources in concert with OFA to drive the liberal agenda.
What does the national GOP have to counter this juggernaut? In short – nothing. Of course, Republicans are quick to remind anyone who will listen that they supposedly have the intellectual high road and to a degree they’re right. More people in this country self-identify as conservative as opposed to liberal. Ask virtually any group of people and the majority of them will tell you they would choose a government that costs less, taxes less and provides fewer services over a government that costs more, taxes more and provides more services.
The problem is that in any pitched battle with OFA, Republicans are faced with their own records of spending and giveaways that makes the President seem less radical than he actually is.
Republicans need to both hear and understand this point: Obama’s victory was not a vindication of his policies. It was the result of effective communication and an aggressive political infrastructure. He will win again and again without organized opposition.
Right now, the GOP is racing headlong into a three-alarm fire with a bucket brigade. Unlike OFA and the liberal groups pushing the Obama agenda, the GOP’s external groups and Super PACs wasted hundreds of millions on television ads in the last cycle and didn’t work in a coordinated fashion on engaging the grassroots. The consultants made a fortune and the party took a beating.
This week, the Republican National Committee will have its Winter Meeting in North Carolina. Over three days of events, there is a scant three hours of discussion combined on technology, get-out-the-vote operations, and communicating with the media. It’s logical to assume that a large portion of that time will be devoted to explaining the failures of the last election. They still haven’t learned.
At the grassroots level, too often Republicans and conservatives look up to Boehner and McConnell for answers, but regardless of what you think of them, the Congressional brand problem (being worse than the Republican brand problem) makes them ineffective spokespeople.
We can’t rely on solely Congress to combat Obama and drive a rehabilitation of the conservative brand. Bottom-up organizing on a national level is what is needed. Go around Congress. Look beyond tired institutions like the national political committees to solve the problem if they are too paralyzed to act. Stop thinking about the beltway and start acting locally.
Fiscal Conservatives and liberty-minded people need to organize at the grassroots level. You might be saying, “Well what about the Tea Party?” The Tea Party phenomenon is still with us, but it too was hijacked by right-wingers and political consultants who gave the left plenty of ammunition to scare the heck out of mainstream America. Tea Partiers need help in organizing and they need fiscally conservative versions of OFA to do it.
This is the way our system is supposed to ensure that the natural tension between freedom and collectivism is sustained.
Obama understands this better than anyone in recent history. He’s benefited from not having an organized opposition. OFA will sell ice to Eskimos while conservatives worry about labels, party affiliation and litmus tests when they should be worrying about how best to preserve freedom. The infighting, the lack of vision and the insular thinking on the right has to come to an end.
If the Republicans are just going to rely on Obama moving too far to the left for moderates and conservative Democrats, they have another guess coming. It’s time for a summit of conservative leaders and organizations to define a series of priorities and commit to aggressive, coordinated outreach to a broader range of people than ever before. It’s time for conservatives to stop the bickering and start cooperating and organizing. It’s time to raise an army to turn this mismatch into a fair fight for freedom.
~~ Hat tip to Paul who sent this article as a fb message. Thank you!