Ruffini's Ron Paul/GOP Activist Concerns

http://www.patrickruffini.com/2008/04/18/the-gop-and-the-six-million/

Take a moment to read Ruffini's latest post – this one addressing the continued activism of Ron Paul's supporters (clever bunch) and the need for McCain to generate a broader little grassroots enthusiasm of his own.

I always appreciate Patrick's thoughtful analysis but a couple of his points tie to a larger problem with this cycle that I have been trying to process.

His larger point seems to be that the RNC and McCain campaign are not doing enough to excite and empower the GOP base's most influential and dedicated activists (he calls them the 6 million). He argues that "top down" poll-driven strategies won't do the job because the idea or cause that excites them (presumably to 2004-like levels of activism) "won’t come from a “MoveOn of the right” occupying a D.C. office suite funded by an initial round of 7-figure commitments." Ruffini ends the post by arguing that "we need to be focusing on the best minds on empowering David-with-his-slingshot from the Six Million. Even if that means a little less emphasis on the Sixty Million in the short term."

Thinly veiled shot at Freedom's Watch aside he has indirectly touched upon some of this election cycle's dynamics that I don't think I have seen anyone address up to this point.

What first stuck out was the inherent contradiction in (rightly imho) claiming that a groundswell of enthusiasm cannot be messaged or manufactured but must occur organically. The accuracy of this claim however gets lost in a contradictory spin-cycle when he follows that up with his thought that "the best minds" need to focus more on "empowering" activists (which contextually sounds alot like working to stir up enthusiasm) and focusing less on the "Sixty Million" (obviously directed at the McCain Team's eschewing of a 50%+1 strategy in lieu of a broader based strategy) in the here and now. I agree that you can't hope to press the right messaging button to auto-generate a powerful grassroots movement and for that reason I disagree with the notion that those at the top (RNC, McCain Campaign) should work harder to "empower" the grassroots.

For months now pundits have scrambled to explain the unpredictable as candidates they never thought had a shot (Obama) and candidates they had left for dead (McCain) plowed their way to the top and along the way they have grabbed at every possible polling trend they could find to make their case. As a result the "Change for D's/Security for R's" myth was propagated along with several other theories that ricochet off-target.

Its not that I don't think that, at some level, a broad swath of R voters feel that security interests are preeminent or that on the D side an equally sizable voting block don't want change – its just that I am not convinced that our monolithic polling methods are suitable to provide the evidence needed to tease out the root causes of this election's swings.

8 – 10 months ago who wasn't blown away by the passion that was exhibited during the immigration debate? Not fast forward – anything dramatically different about our immigration policy? Nope. And yet all of that passion and anger…gone.

The point? For reasons I will get into another time I am not sure that this is going to be an election where we can expect a groundswell of enthusiasm (although, admittedly anything could happen). The good news is that what the D's are experiencing isn't a true groundswell either – sounds ridiculous I know but I think that the fund raising etc is more a reflection of the intensity that back-to-back terms of someone from the other party will generate with a heaping teaspoon of candidate charisma thrown in for good measure.

Remember Obama "never had a chance", Romney's finances, resume and telegenic personality made him a force to be reckoned with and all of the Conservatives who were disenchanted with their top choices were going to throw every ounce of support and money they had behind Fred Thompson.

The only thing constant in this race is that there are no constants.

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2 Responses to “Ruffini's Ron Paul/GOP Activist Concerns”

  1. jk Says:

    Does that mean that it is consistently inconsistent? Or is it a race that is constantly without consonants? Incontinent? Wait, that can’t be right either.

    The fact of the matter is that McCain is never going to get the groundswell that Bush had for a bunch of reasons, and even if he did it would be outweighed by the Obama movement (or flock, whatever). So to win, Republicans are going to have to do more with less. And because the Republicans are behind in things that can be force multipliers, such as the use of the internet and social networking, they have a few choices to go for a win:

    1. Play catchup fast in developing tools to allow for the maximization of minimal volunteer effort with reduced money.

    2. Initiate new (and risky) efforts to leap beyond current campaign constructs. Such a big move could be disastrous but also could have a huge payoff in a time when the GOP stock is low.

    It isn’t exactly an inconsistent constant, but I am fairly sure that if the GOP sticks to the traditional playbook, the Cult of Obama will steamroll.

  2. aureliusmaximus Says:

    It has been well established that we are behind in certain areas of the technology race but as I have said elsewhere – if we agree that the participatory tools of web2.0 are indeed force MULTIPLIERS doesn’t it stand to reason that there needs to be something to multiply?

    The Dems see the light at the end of the tunnel and are ecstatic that after 7+ years, their time of wandering in the desert might soon be over. That enthusiasm is expressing itself in various ways, through various issues – all of which lend themselves to the expansion and diffusion social networking and other web2.0 apps offer.

    Republicans? Not so much. We firmly support finishing the task in Iraq but it is a tough, arduous battle and tough, arduous battles are great for revealing resolve but horrible and generating enthusiasm.

    Do I agree that there are a ton of tools that we are not currently using (or not currently using to their fullest capabilities)? Absolutely.

    Am I convinced that if we were to roll out a slew of new widgets and programs tomorrow that eclipsed the Dems’ use of tech that we would see some massive, more motivated than ever before in history, grassroots movement materialize before out eyes? Not in the least.

    Am I confident that when the time comes we have the talent within our party to create the necessary infrastructures to facilitate the mass diffusion of a future organic grassroots movement? Beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    Did I just channel Rumsfeld to a ridiculous degree indicating that I should probably go to sleep now? You betcha. (But will I? Nope.)

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