Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ruffini on 'Rightroots'

Patrick Ruffini engages the ideas bandied about by Jon Henke, Ace and John Hawkins about expanding and empowering the conservative blogosphere:
Most conservative blogs are still stuck in 2003 -- both in terms of the overwhelming focus on media criticism and punditry, and the tendency to outsource electoral politics to the Republican Party. . . .
Building critical mass behind an independent online movement on the right will probably require new people. The old blogs that have been with us since 2003 will not go away. But they'll need to be joined by people who care more about Indiana's 8th district than Islamofascism, and MN-SEN more than the MSM. . . .
Almost without exception, conservative bloggers are hobbyists, and those that aren't are usually employed by old line conservative media. A lack of politically sophisticated full-time bloggers, as well as dependence on existing center-right institutions, is holding the rightroots back from becoming a full-fledged counterpart to the netroots -- one that is not beholden to the Republican Party or the offline conservative movement.
Very interesting points on which to expand. A few relevant points to consider:
  • There is an institutional division between the conservative movement and the Republican Party. The movement is based in 501(c) think tanks and advocacy groups which are, by law, separate from the Republican Party. Persuading the conservative 501(c)s to support the blogosphere -- and to do so effectively -- would be a major accomplishment. As to the official GOP, their demonstrated preference has been to exploit, rather than support, conservative bloggers. This stems from the fact that the GOP's career political operatives have the utmost contempt for volunteers and amateurs, which is how the party operatives view bloggers.
  • An outright alliance with the GOP requires an abandonment of independence. This, I think, is the really big stumbling block for (most) conservative bloggers. The Republican Party's never paid me a dime. I am not beholden to them, and don't want to be. The GOP pays big commissions to professional fundraising operatives. Why, then, should I offer myself as a volunteer fundraiser for Republicans? I'd be happy to sell them an advertising spot on the page, but it makes zero sense for me to give them freebies. It's kind of like the old adage, they're not going to buy the cow if they're already getting the milk for free.
  • Nothing's stopping conservative bloggers from plugging individual candidates. I hate to bludgeon readers with the obvious. I've linked Allen West's Web site several times, but I don't feel like I always need to say, "Hey, you people, go give him money right now." At some point, you have to credit your readers' intelligence. Are my readers so stupid or lazy that they won't do anything to support good candidates without me explicitly telling them to? If conservatives can't figure out this kind of stuff without my help, we're screwed anyway.
Bottom line: Conservative bloggers aren't going to get respect from the GOP by volunteering themselves as partisan shills. To the extent that conservative bloggers are to blame for a lack of support from the Republican Party, it's precisely because too many bloggers have been too willing to do the GOP's bidding for free. If you offer yourself as a doormat, don't complain about the footprints on your back.

BTW, as much as I admire Ruffini's quip about caring more about MN-SEN than MSM, can he tell me why any conservative should care about the re-election Norm Coleman, who voted "yes" on S.2611? It would seem to me a very bad thing if Coleman could piss all over the base like that and get away with it. Maybe I'm not "politically sophisticated" enough to understand this.

10/28: Whose party is it, anyway?
10/27: 'Trust us, we're professionals'
10/27: Romney aides slagging Palin?
10/26: Schmidt pushed McCain to back bailout
10/25: GOP gotterdammerung
10/25: GOP to base: 'Drop dead'

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