…at what precisely?
Erick Erickson over at RedState reminds you why conservatives have failed to deserve victory:
Leaders of both parties only pay attention to money and serious primary challengers. They have the money advantage. As for conservative primary challengers, conservatives have put up quite a few, but most are terrible, few win, and even fewer win the general election. Conservatives have done better on the Senate side, but some of the folks tea party groups and others stood up to challenge incumbents on the House side were downright embarrassing.
That last bit just turns people off. There’s no sense in putting up primary challengers if they don’t have a shot to actually win. Eventually the bulk of Republican voters will get worn out and go back. In the meantime, the leaders are still leaders and have effective scapegoats to blame.
The fact is conservatives need to show conservatives can win. They can make a first stand in Virginia with Ken Cuccinelli. But they must do more — we must do more.
Amen to that.
So what is it that we must do nationally? Erickson lays out six excellent points… the question is how do we apply them to Virginia?
I’ll take a stab at that. But the diagnosis of the Republican Party is effectively laid out here by Erickson:
In the past decade, conservatives have also lost a lot of brand recognition. The GOP and “conservatives” are used interchangeably. People now read National Review to find out what Republican leaders are doing instead of conservatives. People check the American Conservative Union scorecard to see how Republican a person is, not how conservative they are. Too many conservative organizations are draining donors dry with no real results to speak of. A heck of a lot of conservative organizations will disappear overnight when their geriatric leaders die because they’ve become too wrapped up in the identity of their leader, not in the cause they have long claimed to serve.
Anyone question that at all? Here’s the key lesson: Obama For America (or Organizing For America) is its own monster — self funded and pure, and completely divorced from the party structure. The progressives on the left have their own echo chamber — lists, volunteers, news outlets, information, diagnosis, pressure groups, media, and so forth. If conservatives and liberty-minded Americans ever intend to be victorious with a message of free markets, free minds, and a free society… then we must do likewise.
Here’s six steps that Erickson recommends:
First, stop inviting squishy Republicans to take the flag flanked stage at conservative conferences thereby providing conservative bona fides to those who do not deserve it.
Tired of seeing moderates take up the banner of Tea Party conservatism? Me too.
Tired of seeing candidates who make losing a professional point of pride? Me too.
Tired of seeing “severe conservatism” at CPAC? Or so-called “conservative” conventions hard wire themselves to political outsiders that are conservative one day, moderate statesmen the next, and then rock-ribbed Tea Party warriors the day after? Me too.
Now this doesn’t mean we have to start booing them off the stage… but it does mean that conservatives statewide need to start thinking about the movement rather than the party. Think process; not personalities.
Second, conservatives should set up a super PAC dedicated to defeating Saxby Chambliss in Georgia and maybe Lindsey Graham in South Carolina. Don’t do a major super PAC to do both, but one for each.
VCAP is an old idea. But here’s the real kicker folks really need to consider.
Precisely what conservative groups are there in Virginia truly worth our support?
The Family Foundation comes to mind. But in terms of a solid Heritage Foundation sort of group keeping tabs on Richmond — what do we have?
Third, conservatives need to invest in their ground game. They need to begin tomorrow using technology like Political Gravity or similar software to organize and outmaneuver the GOP itself. They’ll need to work to unify early behind Senate challengers in Louisiana and elsewhere too.
In Virginia, we have Voter Vault. Or whatever its successor has been named, which takes an act of Congress to access and has even less tech support behind it than your run-of-the-mill MS Excel spreadsheet from the mid-90s. Virginia conservatives would be well advised — once we get our Virginia-centric Heritage or OFA-clone operating, to tackle this first.
Fourth, they need to use off year elections at the municipal level next year and ballot questions to begin testing the data.
…provided we don’t then spray Roundup all over the green shoots of conservative leadership and force localities to raise taxes to meet state mandates such as VRS.
Fifth, they are going to need to convince the grassroots that the GOP is salvageable by convincing the grassroots to clean house in primaries with credible challengers.
There’s the real kicker. How do you tell certain self-appointed “leaders” that they aren’t electable? Egos last… the movement first.
Sixth, they need to actually practice discernment. There are a lot of self-styled conservative groups and consultants out there not worth a warm bucket of spit. There are a lot of candidates who talk the talk, but are terrible candidates who cannot win general elections. Conservatives need to discern the good from the bad. They can start by taking direction from groups like Heritage Action for America, Senate Conservatives Fund, Club For Growth, American Majority, the Madison Project, and a few others that have solid records and are actually interested in winning, not just losing well, and then are willing to still stand on the ramparts fighting when everybody else is caving to the glow of orange tans.
Well said — and there’s plenty of masquerading consultants and organizations out there that talk a good game… but do precious little when it comes to advancing the colors, so to speak.
So what practical steps should be taken? If I could sit down a group of 150 volunteers and 15 conservatives willing to plunk down or raise $10K a piece?
(1) Start creating a shadow party: our own lists, our own reps at unit committees, our own district reps, and our own network of volunteers.
(2) In order to be a part of this movement, you must pay $10/mo to be in the family. Go find out what the signers of the Declaration of Independence gave up… $10/mo is cheaper than taxes.
(3) This shadow party needs to cultivate its own media, talking points, and issue papers.
(4) …then it needs to start identifying, recruiting, and training candidates to run for local and state offices — including unit and district chairs at RPV.
(5) …and tell the consulting class to take a flying leap — no more making money off of the hopes and aspirations of those who seek higher office.
(6) Figure out this will be a six year fight… and then stick to winning via process rather than winning via election. Elections don’t end the fight… and there’s tremendous work to do to turn back the socialist weeds that have grown in the garden of liberty over the last 80 years.
There is nothing worse in the world than a lazy conservative who thinks the fight is over once the elections are done. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s why liberals are so successful at rolling conservatives in public office — every tax hike means a conservative has to work harder; every spending cut means a liberal loses their job. Tell me… who has more to lose? And is it any small wonder why liberals band together so quickly (and violently?) while conservatives passively take every hit that comes?
Churchill had it right. Deserve Victory.