Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Conservatives: Next Steps # 1

On this day last week, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States

On this day in …
* 1620, in what is now Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod, the Mayflower Compact is signed on the Mayflower, establishing the basic laws for the Plymouth Colony. 
  * 1864, during the American Civil War: Sherman's March to the Sea --- Union General William Tecumseh Sherman begins burning Atlanta, Georgia to the ground in preparation for his march south
* 1918, World War I ends: Germany signs an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside of Compiègne in France. The war officially stops at 11:00 (The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month)
* 1926, U.S. Route 66 is established
* 1930, patent number US1781541 was awarded to Albert Einstein and Leo Szilárd for their invention, the Einstein refrigerator
* 1967, during the Vietnam War: In a propaganda ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, three American prisoners of war are released by the Viet Cong and turned over to "new left" antiwar activist Tom Hayden
* 1998, President Clinton ordered warships, planes and troops to the Persian Gulf as he laid out his case for a possible attack on Iraq.  Iraq, meanwhile, showed no sign of backing down from its refusal to deal with U.N. weapons inspector

Our life in these United States is a journey.  Sometimes we get a bit lost and the journey is continued in a circular fashion, covering the same ground we've already been over.  Most times we move forward.  Sometimes as we do so, we're not even aware of it.

This past week, in addition to the understandable self-congratulatory pronouncements and writings by Liberals and Democrats, there has been a significant amount of Commentaries and questions about, by, and for The Republican Party, Conservatives and Conservatism. 

Some of these statements have been understandably reactionary; it's difficult to stop something that's been in motion, and the inertia of the election effort is not something that dissipates at midnight on November 4th; it tends to continue in it's trajectory until it ceases due to having expended it's energy.  After monitoring the broadcast and print news, as well as the radio and web channels, the head of steam pressure built up by the election effort is almost evaporated.  But I expect that like a whistling kettle that's been turned off, we'll continue to hear the hiss for a bit longer.

A number of paid pundits who must meet a weekly deadline to have their column printed in the NY Times, or their daily radio or TV show, have been making knee-jerk forecasts and recommendations about what Conservatives should do; what Conservatives should stand for; what direction the Republican party should take; and who, or who should not be included.

My advice:  Don't take any action now.....just gather as much data and empirical evidence as possible; analyze it; then think about what has been observe and quantified.  From that position, formulate your plans.

It appears that there is confusion and muddling of talk, on the one hand, of Principles, and on the other, strategy and tactics.

There is nothing wrong, or out of date, with Conservative Principles.  However, there is much to be changed about Conservative strategy and the tactics used in prosletyzing and promulgating them.

It's not that Conservative Principles need to be changed or updated in order to appeal to minorities, it's the way that they are packaged and presented.  Blacks and Hispanics voted down same-sex marriage proposals; a broad spectrum of people voted for a person who seemed to posses a more appropriate demeanor to addressing the financial crisis, and there are a number of other issues that are not inherently Right or Left.   For example: family; education; security; health care; the economic upward mobility and job opportunity; and taxes.  Presented effectively, those issues can be the basis of a much broader and diverse Conservative movement. 

Along this line, the old cliché that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery should be applied to Obama's approach to organizing.  Those Conservatives who are not familiar with Saul Alinsky's "Rules For Radicals "  and "Tactics For Radicals", need to get up to speed quick.  Despite Alinsky's Communist forbearer's, and his own Socialist politics, his structured methodology is non-political and very effective.....witness Obama's results against Clinton (an Alinsky student, but not an effective practitioner).  

Another aspect of Obama's campaign that needs to understood and incorporated in ongoing Conservative strategy was the use of technology and organizational approach.  Bret Swanson nailed this in a recent column, titled Obama ran a Capitalist Campaign:

Mr. Obama, following FDR's mastery of radio and JFK's success on TV, is the first candidate to fully exploit the Web. The community organizer seemed to realize that new social networking and video technologies were perfect for politics. It didn't hurt that Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes worked for the campaign. "What ultimately transformed the presidential race," Joshua Green of The Atlantic wrote in June, "was not the money that poured in from Silicon Valley but the technology and the ethos."
The results of Mr. Obama's decentralized Web effort were staggering: 8,000 Web-based affinity groups, 50,000 local events, 1.5 million Web volunteers, and 3.1 million donors who contributed almost $700 million. Republicans, Charlie Cook reported on Nov. 3, believe their large but impersonal centralized databases could not match the tacit knowledge, individual initiative and agility of Mr. Obama's diffuse social networks.
Such creativity could bubble up because Mr. Obama was stable at the top. Not just anyone could recruit an army of volunteers and let them run free, establishing their own networks, offices and events. Because Mr. McCain lurched from one message and tactic to the next with dramatic frequency, his supporters froze. They spent more time defending or deciphering his shifting policies and tactics than they did organizing and persuading. Mr. Obama's even temper and relentlessly consistent message, on the other hand, encouraged supporters to take risks without the worry of being blindsided
Along this line of understanding Obama's campaign tactics, one issue that needs to be addressed immediately by the Bush Administration and Dept. of Justice; examination of the under $200 dollar list of Obama donors.  The McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulation needs to be thrown out (it is seen in some quarters that John McCain was hoisted on his own petard of a law that basically stomped on the right to freedom of speech), but in addition to that,  Obama's campaign should be investigated now so that we can all be assured that the $600 Million raised was done legally.

More to come on this subject.....


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