Should the Rightosphere Get More Involved Party Activism?

by Sal on February 10, 2009

in Election 2010,Election 2012,Politics

Stepping away from the stimulus over saturation as of late, John Henke at The Next Right has an interesting post today comparing the relative role that the Conservative blogosphere plays in Republican party politics as opposed to the role that the Liberal blogosphere plays in Democrat party politics.  Henke points out how the Left “net-roots” blogosphere played a key component in grassroots organization and fundraising for the 2008 campaign, and played a large part in the Democrat Party’s 50-state strategy and its sweeping victories in congressional races across the country, not to mention the Presidency (did you ever think you’d see HuffPo at a Presidential press conference?).

Henke wonders if the Right will adapt such a movement, but sees it as being more difficult because Conservatives are currently somewhat alienated from their party.  Many of us feel that we as Conservatives are taken for granted by our party, and therefore are not likely to take marching orders from the party as the left is.  The Conservative blogosphere also has traditionally been more interested in debating ideas and issues rather than engaging in grassroots political activism.

The idea and debate surrounding forming a “rightroots” movement similar to that of the left has been around for a while now.  It has been championed by Patrick Ruffini, co-founder of The Next Right and Rebuild the Party, as well as John Hawkins at Right Wing News.  Hawkins, in a post from just before the election, outlined the components necessary for building a sucessful rightroots movement.  He outlines the components of fundraising, online enthusiasm, and providing financial assistance to influential blogs to allow them to grow and in turn influence more people.  Efforts are also needed by blogs to help with activism on specific issues and legislation (which the Conservative Blogosphere has done quite well throughout this stimulus debate), and with get-out-the-vote efforts.  The Conservative blogs also have to network together and collaborate rather than just be silos of punditry.

I don’t often visit liberal blogs, but I will occasionally browse the Daily Kos, MyDD, the Huffington Post, or Democratic Underground, just to gauge their reaction to specific issues of the day.  One area that I’ve noticed that they all pay attention to is specific local races, such as open congressional races.  For example, there are currently two special congressional elections to fill vacancies, one in Virginia and one in New York state.  The netroots are actively monitoring polls, targeting people in those districts, and engaging in fundraising for those candidates.  On the right, there are sites trying to do this (The Next Right is actively fundraising for the NY-20 candidate, Jim Tedisco, who has a good shot at winning), but elsewhere on the right you barely see a mention.

The question comes down to whether Conservative bloggers are content with opinion-making and news finding (a very important function, to be sure) or whether we want to get involved in actively helping to shape the future of our party.  We cannot and should not imitate the lefty-nutroots exclusively.  They have had a habit of being shrill and earning the nutroots nickname that they have been given.

The right, for the most part, should continue to focus on ideas, policies, and issues.  This does not mean, however, that the right can’t get involved in organization.  We do not have to become party-loyalists to a fault.  We should only promote candidates that reasonably fit with our ideals (we do not need another Arlen Specter).  It may very well be that this is all naught, that we will continue to win or lose based on ideas.  Yet one cannot discount the left’s success with the Internet in 2008, and a conversation should at least be started, here and on all Conservative blogs, about what our role as bloggers and readers/commenters on blogs have to play in our national politics going forward.

The blogosphere gives a voice to anyone who wants one, and gives those who write and follow blogs political clout that was impossible in years past.  As we move to the 2010 and 2012 elections, I imagine that role of the blogosphere will be a critical factor.  The precise role of the blogosphere, however, will evolve and continue to change as time goes on.  What that role will be for us and for other blogs on the Right is still an open question.

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